Features

Products of Tomorrow: April 2017

This column presents technologies that have applications in commercial areas, possibly creating the products of tomorrow. To learn more about each technology, see the contact information provided for that innovation.

Posted in: Articles, Products, Manufacturing & Prototyping
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Today's Automobile: Supercomputer on Wheels

With every passing year, it's getting more difficult to recognize the current crop of passenger vehicles as the descendants of Henry Ford's Model T. Those first mass-produced vehicles didn't even include a battery or starting system, relying instead on a hand-cranked engine with a magneto to provide ignition. As recently as 20 years ago, many cars were still essentially mechanical systems supplemented by hydraulic or electrical systems for handling functions like steering, ignition, lights, and audio entertainment.

Posted in: Articles, Automotive, Infotainment systems, Infotainment systems, Product development, Technical reference, Technical review, Autonomous vehicles
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Vibration Tables Shake Up Aerospace and Car Testing

Shaker tables developed for satellite testing will protect Webb telescope during launch.

Spinoff is NASA's annual publication featuring successfully commercialized NASA technology. This commercialization has contributed to the development of products and services in the fields of health and medicine, consumer goods, transportation, public safety, computer technology, and environmental resources.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Automotive, Vibration, Vibration, Performance tests, Test equipment and instrumentation
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Scanning Performance of Air Bearing Equipped Precision Motion Systems

Scanning is a common technique in applications ranging from high-resolution microscopy to industrial material processing. Scanning involves moving either a workpiece or an optic at a constant velocity while a reading or writing operation takes place. Air bearings are used for both purposes, especially when high precision and reliability are vital. While the physical act of writing an image or capturing an image differ by application and industry, all such applications share a common requirement — maintaining a constant velocity.

Posted in: Articles, Motion Control, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Automation, Bearings, Reliability, Reliability
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Four Ways to improve Production by Understanding the Physics of Servos

There is always a need to increase production in automation applications. Sometimes achieving improvements requires breaking the process down to its fundamental basics. The science behind the technology of servo-based motion control systems should be considered when attempting to eliminate inefficiencies. Four fundamentals to examine are inertia, resonance, vibration suppression, and regeneration.

Posted in: Articles, Motion Control, Finite element analysis, Electronic control systems, Electronic control systems, Automation, Productivity
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Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators

Hydraulics are rugged and deliver a low cost per unit of force, but electric rod actuators have attained higher force capacities while becoming more flexible, precise, and reliable.

Advances in motion control technology have prompted a new debate — do hydraulic cylinders or electric linear actuators offer the best solution for a linear motion application? Hydraulic cylinders provide high force at an affordable cost. Hydraulics are rugged, relatively simple to deploy, and deliver a low cost per unit of force. However, electric rod actuators (electric cylinders), particularly those with roller screws, have attained increasingly higher force capacities while becoming more flexible, precise, and reliable.

Posted in: Articles, Motion Control, Electrical systems, Flight control actuators, Electrical systems, Flight control actuators, Hydraulic control, Reliability, Reliability
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High-Power Fiber Lasers

New Applications Are Being Enabled by Dramatic Advances in Design and Performance

High-power (multi-kW) fiber lasers are revolutionizing industrial materials processing markets by offering an unmatched combination of performance, reliability, and cost advantages. For example, in sheet metal cutting (the largest application, with more than $1B/year of laser sales), fiber lasers provide the highest cutting speed (especially for thin sheets, the dominant application), scalability to thick sheets (>1”), and the ability to process a wide range of metals with a single tool. Along with low power consumption and high reliability, these capabilities result in the lowest cost per part. Fiber lasers have thus been the fastest-growing segment of the laser market for the past decade.

Posted in: Articles, Imaging, Lasers & Laser Systems, Photonics, Fiber optics, Lasers, Fiber optics, Lasers, Cutting, Manufacturing equipment and machinery, Reliability, Reliability
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Finding the Right Chip-on-Tip Camera Technology

You have a great idea that could potentially revolutionize your industry: a new surgical technique, diagnostic solution, or inspection system. You already know getting there will require the latest video imaging technology from an incredibly small, sub-millimeter, package; in other words, a distal chip-on-tip (COT) video camera. The COT needs to integrate into an elegantly designed, flexible device and allow video imaging into anatomy that was previously inaccessible, or image into the tiny dark crevices of our mechanized world. The technology has to be inexpensive, yet video performance needs to be competitive with larger sensor video products with which the market is already familiar. (Figure 1). So, where do you start to identify appropriate video technologies and vendors?

Posted in: Articles, Cameras, Imaging, Photonics, Integrated circuits, Optics, Integrated circuits, Optics, Product development, Supplier assessment
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Thermal Imaging: How Does It Work?

By detecting very subtle temperature differences of everything in view, infrared technology reveals what otherwise would be invisible to the naked eye.

Posted in: Articles, Imaging, Photonics, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Sensors and actuators, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Sensors and actuators, Heat transfer, Heat transfer, Visibility
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Six Questions About Today's Camera Market

Although camera components like CCD and infrared sensors have reached a level of maturity, imaging features continue to evolve. Analysts from the San Francisco, CA-based business consulting firm Grand View Research spoke with P&IT about current camera technology's most exciting capabilities, applications, and leaders.

Posted in: Articles, Cameras, Imaging, Photonics, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Optics, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Optics, Product development, Technical reference, Technical review
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