Motion Control

Rocket Motor Design Could Boost Small Satellite Missions

Artists concept of a CubeSat onboard propulsion system. (Photo: Inside Out Visuals) Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory have developed a rocket motor concept that could be used to power CubeSat low-cost satellites. The Los Alamos team recently tested a six-motor CubeSat-compatible propulsion array with tremendous success.

Posted in: News, Motors & Drives, Power Transmission

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Morphing Wing Could Enable More Efficient Manufacturing and Flight

The entire shape of the wing can be changed by activating two small motors that apply a twisting pressure to each wingtip. (Photo: Kenneth Cheung/NASA) A new morphing wing architecture could greatly simplify the manufacturing process and reduce fuel consumption of aircraft by improving the wing’s aerodynamics, as well as improving its agility. The wing consists of a system of tiny, lightweight subunits that could be assembled by a team of small, specialized robots, and ultimately could be used to build the entire airframe. The wing would be covered by a “skin” made of overlapping pieces that might resemble scales or feathers.

Posted in: News, Motion Control, Motors & Drives

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Spherical Motor Eliminates Robot’s Mechanical Drive System

The spherical induction motor eliminates the robot's mechanical drive system. The SIMbot robot features an elegant motor with just one moving part: the ball. The only other active moving part of the robot is the body itself. A spherical induction motor (SIM) eliminates the mechanical drive system and can move the ball in any direction using only electronic controls. These movements keep SIMbot’s body balanced atop the ball.

Posted in: News, Motors & Drives

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New Steel Enables Better Electric Motors

Jun Cui of Iowa State University’s Ames Laboratory works with a metal spinner, which rapidly solidifies metal into thin ribbons. (Photo by Christopher Gannon) In order to make plug-in electric vehicles as affordable and convenient as internal-combustion cars, their motors must be smaller, lighter, more powerful, and more cost-effective. A research team is working to develop motors with the stator core (a non-rotating, magnetic part) manufactured with thin layers of a new “electrical steel.”

Posted in: News, Motors & Drives

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Motor Controller Provides Custom Electronic Control Solution

A Fortune 200 company needed a turnkey, DC voltage, agency-compliant electronic control solution capable of providing motion control with memory position capabilities and auto run/sense features for a multi-motor application involving four motors. Particularly important to the design criteria was the development of an interactive system of wireless remote control capabilities and other user interface devices, including iPhone and iPad interconnect devices. It was a complicated job, and the company would need to partner with experts who could deliver a time- and cost-effective solution.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Motors & Drives

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Process for Forming a High-Temperature Single Crystal Preloader

Non-contacting, acoustic pressure seals and preloader superalloys prevent fluid leakage.Friction has long been a thorny problem for sealing-device designers. Traditional sealing devices rely on a contacting relationship between surfaces and sealing elements to prevent fluid leakage, but in the case of moving elements, this contact produces friction that causes wearing and eventual failure of the sealing system. Friction also consumes energy and produces harmful debris. In a new breakthrough, however, researchers at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have patented an acoustic seal that generates a pressure barrier to prevent fluid leakage from a high-pressure area. Instead of using contacting components as a seal, the patented seal employs acoustic technology to generate pressure waves that control, mitigate, or prevent fluid leakage. The result is a very low-leakage, non-contact seal that eliminates problems associated with friction. In addition, when traditional seals are needed in extremely high-temperature environments, Glenn innovators have developed new processes to enable the fabrication of single-crystal superalloys that can increase the upper limit of thermal seals to greater than 2000 °F.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components, Mechanics, Fluid Handling

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Fluidic Oscillator Array for Synchronized Oscillating Jet Generation

This technology can be used in aerospace applications, shipbuilding, gas turbines, and commercial spa equipment.NASA’s Langley Research Center develops innovative technologies to control fluid flow in ways that will ultimately result in improved performance and fuel efficiency. Often called fluidic oscillators, sweeping jet actuators, or flip flop oscillators, these flow-control devices work based on the Coanda effect. They can be embedded directly into a control surface (such as a wing or a turbine blade) and generate spatially oscillating bursts (or jets) of fluid to improve flow characteristics by enhancing lift, reducing drag, or enhancing heat transfer. Recent studies show up to a 60% performance enhancement with oscillators. NASA offers two new fluidic oscillator designs that address two key limitations of these oscillators: coupled frequency-amplitude and random oscillations. One oscillator effectively decouples the oscillation frequency from the amplitude. The other design enables synchronization of an entire array. The new oscillators have no moving parts — oscillation, decoupling, and synchronization are achieved entirely via internal flow dynamics.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components, Mechanics, Fluid Handling

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