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

How Metal 3D Printing is Redefining Part Design

It's one of the basic rules of manufacturing: As part complexity increases, so do machining and assembly costs. But what if there were a different way to produce metal parts — one with fewer limitations than traditional milling, turning, and grinding processes, and able to build complex parts in less time and with little human intervention?

Posted in: Articles, Manufacturing & Prototyping

Sizing and Selecting Linear Motion Systems

The LOSTPED acronym can help designers avoid mistakes by reminding them to consider all the interrelated factors during system development and specification.

Virtually all manufacturing processes incorporate some type of linear motion. A common mistake that designers make when sizing and selecting linear motion systems is to overlook critical application requirements in the final system. This can lead to redesigns, and may also result in an over-engineered system that is costlier and less effective than desired. “LOSTPED” is a simple acronym that guides the designer in gathering the information needed to specify the appropriate linear motion components or modules in any given application.

Posted in: Articles, Motion Control

Piezo Technology in Pneumatic Valves

Solenoid devices are the standard for electrically controlled pneumatic valves. However, piezo valves offer many advantages over their solenoid counterparts, and open entirely new areas of application.

Pneumatic valves made with piezo technology offer many advantages. They are small, lightweight, extremely precise, durable, fast, and save energy. Piezo valves do not need energy to maintain a switching status, and therefore generate almost no heat. What's more, piezo valves can potentially be operated without any noise. Another key advantage is that they always work proportionally.

Posted in: Articles, Motion Control

Adding Simple Vision Systems to Collaborative Robots

Upfront evaluation can help determine if a vision system is the best solution for an automation application.

Adding vision to a collaborative robot can open a world of possibilities for automation applications. With a vision system, a robot can inspect parts, check specific features of a part, recognize a part to pick it up, count items, adjust its path using visual feedback, color sort, and so on. The breadth of applications requires careful consideration to ensure selection of the right technology for the job.

Posted in: Articles, Motion Control

Intelligent Robotics Safeguarding

Traditional robot applications limit operator access to hazards through hard-guarding and protective devices that either detect and stop the hazard, or prevent access into the safeguarding space until the hazard no longer exists. The introduction of power- and force-limited robots used in collaborative applications changes this environment. Reduced or nonexistent hard-guarding, along with continuous motion and interaction between the robot and the operator, makes the environment inherently dynamic and uncertain. Methods to reduce risks to a tolerable level include limiting forces and speed, but these measures can yield unacceptable production rates.

Posted in: Articles, Robotics, Artificial intelligence, Risk management, Robotics

Novel Threading Enables New Approach to Golf Clubs

Fastener threading technology used on shuttle engines reduces vibration in golf clubs.

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, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Collaboration and partnering, Vibration, Fasteners

Using Sensor Fusion to Analyze Laser Processing in Additive Manufacturing

Sensor: “A device that detects or measures a physical property and records, indicates, or otherwise responds to it.” A sensor is a device that detects a physical quantity and responds by transmitting a signal.

Posted in: Articles, Imaging, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Lasers & Laser Systems, Photonics, Lasers, Sensors and actuators, Additive manufacturing

Bringing New Vision to Laser Material Processing Systems

The use of modern laser technology has become standard in industrial manufacturing thanks to its speed, accuracy and effectiveness. Lasers are used to engrave parts, electronic printed circuit boards or chip cards. They perforate packaging; structure semiconductor wafers; drill, cut and weld plastics or metals; and create highly complex structures via 3D printing.

Posted in: Articles, Imaging, Machine Vision, Lasers & Laser Systems, Photonics, Lasers, Additive manufacturing, Manufacturing equipment and machinery

3D Imaging Reveals Sub-surface Battery Flaws

Ed Barnard

Traditional imaging technologies have been used to investigate overall solar efficiency, but many of the methods only offer surface views. A new – and “exciting” – ultra-fast laser technique developed at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory provides a deeper look and maps a solar cell in three dimensions.

Posted in: Articles, Imaging, Photonics, Batteries, Imaging and visualization, Lasers, Solar energy, Performance tests

Autonomous Vehicles Open Up New Roads for LIDAR Growth

Laser range-finding, or LIDAR, is a way of measuring distance, directly analogous to radar except using radiation in the near infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum rather than the radio waves used in radar. LIDAR techniques are used for a variety of final applications including terrain-mapping for geology, urban planning and archaeology; distance measurement for surveying, golf, hunting, military applications, and docking of large ships; and speed measurement for traffic monitoring and speed limit enforcement.

Posted in: Articles, Imaging, Lasers & Laser Systems, Photonics, Measurements, Lidar, Autonomous vehicles

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