Special Coverage

Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems
Bringing New Vision to Laser Material Processing Systems
NASA Tests Lasers’ Ability to Transmit Data from Space
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

USB 3.0: Addressing New Challenges in Machine Vision

Users of machine vision systems often have one common goal in mind: increasing system efficiency. Greater efficiency translates into high productivity. On the factory floor, higher speed in an automated optical inspection system, for example, contributes directly to profit.

Posted in: Articles, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Automation, Manufacturing equipment and machinery, Productivity, Inspections

Transitioning Application Platforms to Sandy Bridge

Intel’s new Sandy Bridge microarchitecture is changing how software applications run and perform on server platforms. In order for applications to tap the full power of these new devices, developers will need to update not only their application software, but also the hardware platforms on which those applications run. Changes to Intel’s Xeon® E3 and E5 series of microprocessors include new instructions used to accelerate common encryption tasks and floating point calculations, as well as increased core counts and cache per CPU. Paramount to adoption is the critical thinking that developers need to consider to successfully transition to the Sandy Bridge microarchitecture.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers

Strong-ARMing The Market

Embedded market applications have entered a new era thanks to extensive software support as well as the shrinking of borders between different processor technologies enabling the software ecosystem to expand to additional technology platforms. Consequently, the standard form factors at the board and module level must also be enhanced to fully realize the multiple interface options available with new processor platforms.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers

Factors to Consider When Selecting and Specifying LVDT Linear Position Sensors

Fitting the right type of linear position sensor to an application requires at least a working knowledge of the attributes of this electromechanical device. Starting with the basics, the LVDT (linear variable differential transformer) is a common type of linear position sensor widely used in electromechanical systems today. It consists of two basic elements: a stationary coil assembly and a movable core or armature. While most LVDTs are fundamentally AC-in/AC-out devices, some have electronics built-in to make them DC-in/DC-out devices. This gives rise to the terms “AC-LVDTs” and “DC-LVDTs”.

Posted in: Articles, Motion Control, Architecture, Microelectromechanical devices, Sensors and actuators

Industry Update: Analysis & Simulation Software

In our annual poll of executives at leading analysis and simulation software vendors, we found that more widespread use of the cloud, mobile devices, and touchscreen interfaces will be major trends for 2013. These trends will require that vendors take a careful look at their software interfaces to evolve accordingly.

Posted in: Articles, Simulation Software, Software, Computer simulation, Computer software and hardware

Create the Future Design Contest 2012

The 2012 Create the Future Design Contest — sponsored by COMSOL, Nordson EFD, and Tech Briefs Media Group (publishers of NASA Tech Briefs) — recognized innovation in product design in seven categories: Con sumer Products, Electronics, Machinery & Equipment, Medical, Safety & Security, Sustainable Tech nologies, and Transportation. On the following pages, you’ll meet the Grand Prize Winner, as well as the winners and Honorable Mentions in all seven categories. Congra tulations to this year’s winners, and thanks to the more than 950 entrants from 60 countries who submitted their design ideas. To view the entries online, visit www.createthefuture2012.com.

Posted in: Articles, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Design processes, Product development

Grand Prize Winner

Sensordrone: A Practical, Tricorder-Like Platform for Consumers and Mobile Device Developers

Mark Wagner, Ben Madoff, and Mark Rudolph Sensorcon, Buffalo, NY

What if sensors, meters, and instruments were just apps instead of single-purpose, bulky, expensive equipment? Sensordrone is a first step towards making this a reality.

Posted in: Articles, Software, Computer software and hardware, Sensors and actuators, Tools and equipment, Test equipment and instrumentation

Consumer Products Category Winner (Winner of an HP Workstation)

LumEN: Luminescent Solar Concentrators for Sustainable, On-Demand Electricity Production

Gianmarco Griffini, Massimo Micocci, and Francesca Ostuzzi, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy

Lum-EN is the first portable device able to harvest solar energy and deliver electrical energy on-demand, employing organic luminescent solar concentrators (OLSCs). High light-to-electricity efficiencies can be attained with little use of conventional solar cells.

Posted in: Articles, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Design processes, Electronic equipment, Product development

Electronics Category Winner (Winner of an HP Workstation)

Grid-X Cloud and Smartphone Accelerator

James Awrach SeaFire Micros, Beverly, MA

Supercomputers are linked worldwide, creating ultra-highperformance cloud, utility, and grid computers. The Bandwidth-Delay Product (BWDP), where “delay” is the roundtrip time for data transfer, defines required buffer memory. Grid-X addresses BWDP, and enables faster local and globally distributed supercomputing at lower power and cost. SeaFire also created a variant called Grid-X Mobile for smartphones.

Posted in: Articles, Electronics & Computers, Design processes, Electronic equipment, Product development

Machinery & Equipment Category Winner (Winner of an HP Workstation)

Thermal Stir Welding Process

Jeff Ding NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama

The patented thermal stir welding process is a new solid-state (meaning the weld metal does not melt during welding) welding process invented at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. The unique welding process de-couples the heating, stirring, and forging elements of friction stir welding, and allows for the independent control of each element of the weld process. An induction coil first heats the weld joint material to a desired plasticized temperature, at which time the weld joint material moves into a through-thickness stir rod that stirs the already plastic material. The stir rod can be independently controlled to rotate at a desired rotational speed or RPM. Upper and lower non-rotating containment plates, also independently controlled, compress or squeeze the plastic weld zone to consolidate the plasticized material as it is being stirred. The stir rod protrudes through the center of the upper containment plate, through the weld material thickness, and is captured by the lower containment plate.

Posted in: Articles, Mechanical Components, Adaptive control, Manufacturing equipment and machinery, Welding

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