Special Coverage

Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators
Automating Optimization and Design Tasks Across Disciplines
Vibration Tables Shake Up Aerospace and Car Testing
Supercomputer Cooling System Uses Refrigerant to Replace Water
Computer Chips Calculate and Store in an Integrated Unit
Electron-to-Photon Communication for Quantum Computing
Mechanoresponsive Healing Polymers
Variable Permeability Magnetometer Systems and Methods for Aerospace Applications
Evaluation Standard for Robotic Research

Temperature-Regulating Fabrics Keep Babies Comfortable

Materials designed for spacesuits now regulate heat in baby clothes and blankets.

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, Materials, Human factors, Infants, Thermal management, Fabrics
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The Heavy Impact of Advanced Lightweight Materials

Historically, high-strength materials have been heavy and dense. The need for high-strength but lightweight materials has become more widespread when designing everything from vehicles and aircraft, to buildings and wind turbines. These advanced materials are enabling engines to operate efficiently at higher temperatures, use less fuel, and emit fewer pollutants, as well as finding uses in many other applications.

Posted in: Articles, Materials, Technical review, Lightweight materials, Durability
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WCX17 WORLD CONGRESS EXPERIENCE

Experience The Evolution

More than 11,000 engineering industry professionals from 55 countries will experience the new WCX — the evolution of SAE World Congress (here) — to be held April 4-6 in Detroit, MI. Attendees will gain new perspectives in an engaging atmosphere that encourages discovery, and scout products and source solutions in specialized pavilions that showcase the power and potential of the evolving mobility industry.

Posted in: Articles, Automotive, Career and professional development, Collaboration and partnering
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Products of Tomorrow: March 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, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Product development, Research and development
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The Basics of Encoder Selection

Many small motor applications, such as robotics, industrial equipment, and consumer products, employ digital incremental encoders for feedback sensing. Encoder selection is therefore an important part of the system design process. Choosing the best encoder for the job requires knowledge of the most important encoder properties as well as the application’s control requirements.

Posted in: Articles, Motion Control, Electronic control systems, Integrated circuits, Supplier assessment
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Servo Couplings for High-Tech Systems

Proper coupling ensures a design will meet performance requirements and have a long, trouble-free life.

Couplings are a critical part of system performance in high-tech applications, yet they are often one of the last components to be specified. Selecting the proper coupling ensures the equipment will meet performance requirements and have a long, trouble-free life. Poor coupling selection can lead to high maintenance costs, frequent downtime, and imprecise positioning.

Posted in: Articles, Joining & Assembly, Motion Control, Power Transmission, Sensors and actuators, Materials properties, Fittings, Parts
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Metallic Glass Shatters Gear Limitations

Gears play an essential role in precision robotics, and they can become a limiting factor when the robots must perform in space missions. In particular, the extreme temperatures of deep space pose numerous problems for successful gear operation. At NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, CA, technologist Douglas Hofmann and his collaborators aim to bypass the limitations of existing steel gears by creating gears from bulk metallic glass (BMG).

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Metals, Mechanical Components, Motion Control, Motors & Drives, Power Transmission, Robotics, Robotics, Alloys, Glass, Gears, Durability, Spacecraft
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Adding SCADA to a Hydraulic Power Unit

With an increased focus on plant productivity and equipment reliability, Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems have become vital tools to reduce downtime while increasing asset reliability in hydraulic systems. A SCADA system is a computer system that essentially gathers and analyzes real-time data.

Posted in: Articles, Fluid Handling, Motion Control, Computer software and hardware, Hydraulic and pneumatic hybrid power, Productivity, Hydraulic control
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PRINTED ELECTRONICS: THE FUTURE IS FLEXIBLE

Chances are that most of us have used a printed electronic device, whether it's a security tag on a piece of clothing, or a plastic badge used to open the door of our workplace. Printable electronics have diverse potential applications in flexible solar cells, batteries, sensors, lighting products, medical diagnostic devices, drug delivery devices, smart packaging and clothing, and displays. Following are several innovative applications incorporating printable electronics.

Low-Cost Printable Electronics Fabrication

The need for low-cost and environmentally friendly processes for fabricating printable electronics and biosensor chips is rapidly growing. NASA has developed a unique approach for an atmospheric pressure plasma-based process for fabricating printable electronics and functional coatings. This system involves aerosol-assisted, room-temperature printing in which an aerosol carrying the desired material for deposition is introduced into a cold plasma jet operated at atmospheric pressure.

Posted in: Articles, Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Electronic equipment, Sensors and actuators, Additive manufacturing, Magnetic materials, Nanomaterials
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Laser Vision Helps Package Shippers See Clearly

An analyzer developed for Hubble mirror testing helps FedEx scan packages.

For more than 25 years, the Hubble Space Telescope has provided stunning photos of the universe unequalled in their depth, detail, and distinction. But in its early days, Hubble wasn't capable of sending back such breathtaking photos. Within weeks of launch, the images beamed back to Earth were fuzzy and out of focus. It was determined that Hubble's primary mirror had been ground to the wrong shape and was too flat by 2.2 micrometers, causing reflected light from the edge of the mirror to be focused on a different point than light coming from near the center. It was determined that the device used to create the nonspherical mirror had been incorrectly assembled, and the mirror's manufacturer had failed to notice the problem before Hubble was launched.

Posted in: Articles, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Lasers, Optics, Logistics
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