March 2019

On-Demand Webinars : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Testing and Inspecting 3D-Printed Parts

This one-hour Technical Webinar from the editors of SAE International and Tech Briefs Media focuses on additive manufacturing technology and the 3D printing of production parts for industries as diverse as automotive, aerospace, and medical.

Products : Electronics & Computers
New Product: TRACO POWER’s TIB 80-EX Power Supplies
The power supplies are designed for harsh environments and hazardous locations.
Blog : Robotics, Automation & Control
Answering Your Questions: Can Collaborative Robots Help Manufacturers Looking to Scale Their Business?
Cobots can help manufacturers automate tasks both known or unknown, says engineer Israel Nunez.
INSIDER : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Self-Contained Wheel Units Cut Vehicle Costs

Vehicles could be affordably produced for a wide variety of specialized purposes using a self-contained wheel unit that combines a wheel and an electric motor with braking, suspension, steering,...

Motion Design : Robotics, Automation & Control
Robots Quickly Track Moving Objects with Precision

Robots using a system of RFID tags can locate tagged objects within 7.5 milliseconds on average with an error of less than a centimeter. TurboTrack could replace computer vision for some robotic tasks.

Blog : Energy
Energy Monitor Helps Coast Guard Find Faulty Electrics on Board
The MIT system can monitor the behavior of electronic devices within a building, a factory – and even a 270-foot Coast Guard cutter.
Question of the Week : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Have You Used Sleep Tech Products?

This month’s Here’s an Idea podcast featured a variety of Sleep Tech products, including the Hupnos snore-preventing sleep mask, the temperature-controlled Ooler mattress, and the brain-activity-monitoring Dreem headband. Listen to our episode to learn more about each of the inventions.

INSIDER : Test & Measurement
Cancer Probe Could Spot Deadly Melanoma Early

Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is diagnosed in more than 130,000 people globally every year. Now, work is being done on a tool to help in its early detection: a simple, compact...

INSIDER : Aerospace
NASA Wants Student Ideas for Human Space Missions

The 2020 eXploration Systems and Habitation (X-Hab) Academic Innovation Challenge supports NASA’s efforts to develop technologies and capabilities that will enhance the human exploration of...

INSIDER : Materials
Materials Delay Frost 300 Times Longer Than Anti-Icing Coatings

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago discovered several unique properties of materials known as phase-switching liquids (PSLs) that hold promise as...

On-Demand Webinars : Manufacturing & Prototyping
CNC Machining: How to Reduce Costs and Accelerate Production

As one of the most common manufacturing processes for rapid prototyping and low-volume production, knowing how to design for CNC machining is an invaluable skill set for any product designer or engineer.

Blog : Robotics, Automation & Control
Answering Your Questions: When to Use Collaborative Robots in Manufacturing
A reader asks: What types of considerations need to be made before you go in on collaborative robots?
On-Demand Webinars : Automotive
Non-Contact Strain and Displacements Measurements in the Automotive Industry

3D Digital Image Correlation (DIC) provides the ability to measure non-contact 3D coordinates, displacements and strains of materials and structures. This unique capability allows the equipment to be used for rapid full-field measurements from material characterization...

Blog : Sensors/Data Acquisition
3D-Printable Sensor ‘Turns Blue’ to Detect Trace Amounts of Water
The sensor supports new ideas in food-quality control, environmental monitoring, and more.
Podcasts : Test & Measurement
Here's an Idea: Sleep
When it comes to a better night’s sleep, what role should technology play – if any at all?
Blog : Test & Measurement
Inside the Invention of a Snore-Stopping Sleep Mask – From Idea to Prototype to Product
It took two and a half years, 60 prototypes, and even some of his children’s craft foam, but Curtis Ray turned his idea into invention.
On-Demand Webinars : Imaging
Advances for Autonomous-Vehicle Sensing

Development of Lidar, radar, and camera sensing for autonomous-vehicle applications continues at a breakneck pace with the goal of reducing size and cost while enhancing performance.

On-Demand Webinars : Electronics & Computers
Pumped Two Phase Cooling- The Solution for High Heat Dissipation and More

The demand for more functionality in smaller footprints is growing across the product spectrum. To address the more challenging thermal management requirements resulting from this trend, packaging engineers are beginning to turn to Pumped Two Phase (P2P) cooling solutions....

Blog : Energy
High-Speed Jet Mixer Efficiently Turns Algae into Fuel
A new technology may lead to a more mainstream use of algal biofuels.
Question of the Week : Transportation
Will Carbon Fibers Find a New Place in Vehicles?

In a Tech Briefs article last week, Virginia Tech professor Greg Liu spoke about his team’s newly developed porous carbon fibers, and how the material may someday change how vehicles are built and powered.

Blog : Electronics & Computers
Readers Select 2018 Products of the Year
See which three products won our 2018 Readers' Choice contest.
Blog : Automotive
Calling All Innovators: 'Create the Future' Contest is Open for Entries
Your design idea could win you $20,000.
INSIDER : Power
Converting Wi-Fi Signals to Electricity with New 2-D Materials

Devices that convert AC electromagnetic waves into DC electricity are known as “rectennas.” MIT Researchers have demonstrated a new kind of rectenna, that uses a flexible...

INSIDER : Energy
Red Phosphorus Barrier Keeps Batteries Safe

Researchers at Rice University have made test cells for lithium metal batteries with a coat of red phosphorus on the separator that keeps the anode and cathode electrodes apart. The phosphorus acts...

INSIDER : Power
New Air-Cooling System for Power Plants Conserves Water

Most power plants in the United States are built alongside bodies of water to meet the demands of their cooling systems. Some of that water is lost through evaporation in cooling...

INSIDER : Energy
Expanding the Use of Silicon in Batteries — By Preventing Electrodes from Expanding

Researchers from Drexel University say that adding MXene to silicon anodes could extend the life of Li-ion batteries by as much as five times. It’s able...

On-Demand Webinars : Software
Multiphysics Modeling of MEMS

Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) are fundamentally driven by multiphysics phenomena, and as such, they require a modeling approach where the relevant physical phenomena are included and coupled. Join Dr. James Ransley from Veryst Engineering for a demonstration of how to use multiphysics modeling for these...

Blog : Sensors/Data Acquisition
On a Firefighter’s Jacket, a Self-Powered Tracking Sensor Takes the Heat
The wearable is fireproof, thanks to a carbon aerogel nanocomposite material.
On-Demand Webinars : Robotics, Automation & Control
Collaborative Robotics: Safely Connecting Man and Machine

It used to be that manufacturing robots were kept in cages, programmed by specialists, and often used only for a single task. Today collaborative robots are being used by manufacturers to automate tedious and dangerous jobs, while improving productivity. These robots, which can work alone...

On-Demand Webinars : Electronics & Computers
Design and Simulation of an Inverter Power Module for Electric Vehicles

Power electronics in an electric vehicle manage the transfer of electrical energy from the battery to various vehicle components such as low-voltage subsystems. The high voltage and current ratings at which the power electronics need to operate, together with fast switching...

Question of the Week : Electronics & Computers
Will ‘Structural Batteries’ Replace Conventional Ones?

Structural batteries are built into the actual configuration of battery-powered products – think the wing of a drone or the bumper of an electric vehicle. These batteries could reduce weight and extend range of a vehicle, but they're usually heavy, unsafe, or short-lived.

Briefs : Materials
Graphene's Magic Is in the Defects

A team of researchers at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering and NYU Center for Neural Science has solved a longstanding puzzle of how to build ultra-sensitive, ultra-small, electrochemical...

Briefs : Imaging
Using Inkjet Printers to Build a New Biosensor for Less Invasive Breast Cancer Detection

Researchers at the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NBIB) have created a novel, low-cost biosensor to detect Human Epidermal...

Articles : Electronics & Computers
Building Blocks for a Practical Wireless Sensor System

We recently interviewed Justin Bessette, Manager, Wireless Systems and Software Engineering at LORD Corporation, Micro-Strain® Sensing Systems, about the nuts and bolts of a wireless...

Articles : Lighting
Understanding Bluetooth Mesh Networking

Bluetooth technology is focused on short-range wireless connectivity. Most of us know the Bluetooth standard as the way we connect a phone to our car or a headset for hands-free operation. But...

Application Briefs : Internet of Things
Make Your Construction Jobsite Safer and Faster with Smart Sensors

Concrete is the material most widely used by humans — after water. As its ingredients are readily available almost anywhere in the world, it is the main component used by...

Application Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Driverless Forklifts

Although driverless forklifts have been around for about 30 years, it's only in the last 10 or so that they've been free to maneuver anywhere around their environment. In the early days, the machines followed a current...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Researchers Develop Sensors to Detect and Measure Cancer's Ability to Spread

The spread of invasive cancer cells from a tumor's original site to distant parts of the body is known as metastasis. It is the leading cause of death in people...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
New Wristband Provides Personalized and Real-Time Tracking of UV Exposure

A paper-based sensor, which can be worn as a wristband, features happy and sad emoticon faces drawn in an invisible UV-sensitive ink. They successively light up as you...

Products : Manufacturing & Prototyping
New Products: March 2019 Sensor Technology

Torque Measurement System

To address the demand for a more accurate, reliable, customizable, and easy-to-use force measurement device, Interface Force Measurement Systems (Scottsdale, AZ)...

Products : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
New Products: March 2019 Photonics & Imaging Technology

Machine Vision Cameras

Vision Research (Wayne, NJ) has introduced the Phantom® S210 and S200, 2Gpx/sec (16 Gbps) machine vision cameras. The S210 reaches 1,730...

Articles : Medical
Additive Manufacturing Using Infrared and X-Ray Imaging

Additive manufacturing is poised to liven the pace and scale of manufacturing. Deploying a range of techniques that use 3-D models to print objects layer by layer, it can generate a...

Briefs : Lighting
Text Tech: Navy Vessels Use Shipboard Signal Lamps for Text Messaging

Sponsored by the Office of Naval Research's (ONR) TechSolutions program, the Flashing Light to Text Converter (FLTC) features a camera that can be mounted atop a signal...

Articles : Data Acquisition
Deep Learning in Machine Vision

FLIR Systems has introduced their Firefly machine vision camera with open platform deep learning inference onboard. Deep learning makes it possible to easily develop high performance solutions for difficult...

Briefs : Nanotechnology
Nano-Optic Endoscope Sees Deep into Tissue at High Resolution

The diagnosis of diseases based in internal organs often relies on biopsy samples collected from affected regions. But collecting such samples is highly error-prone due to the...

Briefs : Energy
Individual Quantum Dots Imaged in 3-D for the First Time

Researchers have developed an imaging technique that uses a tiny, super sharp needle to nudge a single nanoparticle into different orientations and capture 2-D images to help...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
New Fast, Economical Bioimaging Technique

Researchers at Rensselaer Poytechnic Institute (RPI) have developed a new approach to optical imaging that makes it possible to quickly and economically monitor multiple molecular interactions in a...

Articles : Photonics/Optics
A New Route to High Sensitivity Pressure Sensors

Since their development in the 1950s, optical fibers have been used for power transmission, communication, imaging, and sensing. They are often used in situations where other sensing...

Briefs : Lighting
New Engine Optics to Fuel Future Research

An optical setup developed by researchers at Sandia's Combustion Research Facility and the Technical University of Denmark can now quantify the formation of soot — particulate matter consisting...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
A Marriage of Light-Manipulation Technologies

Researchers have, for the first time, integrated two technologies widely used in applications such as optical communications, bio-imaging, and Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) systems. In the...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Researchers Combine Metalens With an Artificial Muscle

Inspired by the human eye, researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have developed an adaptive metalens that is essentially a flat,...

Articles : Imaging
The Role Deep Learning Plays in Imaging Software

Deep learning technology is inspired by the way the human brain works, using trained artificial neural networks to perform recognition and decision-making tasks. A convolutional neural network...

Briefs : Medical
X-Ray Study of Low-Density Materials

It's hard to get an X-ray image of low-density material like tissue between bones because X-rays just pass right through like sunlight through a window. Sandia studies myriads of low-density materials,...

Application Briefs : Communications
Measuring Aging, Fat and Water Content in Meat Products Using Hyperspectral Imaging

The consumable component of muscle tissue in meat is approximately 75% water, 20% protein, 5% fat, carbohydrate, and minerals. The proportions vary depending...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Microfabrication Technique Modifies Semiconductor Material Atom-by-Atom

To keep up with Moore's Law — an observation made in the 1960s that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit doubles about every two years — researchers...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Precision Low-Speed Motor Controller

Innovators at NASA Johnson Space Center have developed a method for controlling precise motion of a brushless DC (BLDC) motor using relatively inexpensive components. Precision motors are usually quite expensive and inefficient when operating at slow speeds. Current motors are only capable of operating at...

Briefs : Data Acquisition
Composable Storage Platform for High-Performance Computing

Large-scale, high-performance computing — supercomputing — is essential to solving both complex and large questions. But storage platforms essential for these advanced computer systems have been stuck in a rigid framework that required users to either choose between customization of...

Briefs : Aerospace
Airborne Machine Learning Estimates for Local Winds and Kinematics

Future Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and air taxis will require advanced onboard autonomy to operate safely within complex and dynamic urban environments. Urban landscapes...

Briefs : Energy
Green Electric Monopropellant (GEM)-Fueled Pulsed Plasma Thruster

NASA required a rocket thruster able to produce a number of pulses at high specific impulse at a relatively low voltage (~300 to 400V). The key problem was that existing propellants for liquid-fueled pulsed plasma thrusters (LPPTs) required high voltages to ablate and accelerate...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Multi-Purpose, Flexible Wing Structure for Small Unmanned Aerial Systems

Small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), also known as micro air vehicles, are promising tools for a variety of military and commercial applications. Some small UAS have flexible wings and are lightweight, making them back-packable and easy to deploy. Most UAS that are...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
“Light-Written” Photonic Memory Devices

Light is the most energy-efficient way to move information; however, light shows one big limitation: it is difficult to store. Data centers, for example, rely primarily on magnetic hard drives in...

Briefs : Materials
Flexible, Spinning Heat Shield for Spacecraft

Heat shields are essentially used as the brakes to stop spacecraft from burning up and crashing on entry and reentry into a planet's atmosphere. Current spacecraft heat shield methods include...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
High-Power Thermoelectric Generator

Objects in our daily lives, such as speakers, refrigerators, and even cars, are becoming “smarter” day by day as they connect to the Internet and exchange data, creating the Internet of Things (IoT)....

Articles : Aerospace
Lightweighting in Aerospace Component and System Design

Lightweighting design is an extensively explored and utilized concept in many industries, especially in aerospace applications, and is associated with the green aviation concept. The...

Products : Software
New on the Market: March 2019

Controller and Datalogger

Watlow, St. Louis, MO, introduced a batch processing feature for the F4T temperature and process controller and D4T datalogger. The new feature helps collect manufacturing part...

Articles : Design
SAE WCX: Bringing You the Future of Mobility

WCX™ World Congress Experience 2019 — presented by SAE International — is for forward-thinking engineers, executives, OEMs, suppliers, decision-makers, disruptors, and the entire spectrum of...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
MEMS Switch Extends Life of Cellphones

A new type of microelectromechanical system (MEMS) was developed that uses electrostatic levitation to provide a more robust system. All cellphones use MEMS switches for wireless communication, but traditionally there are just two electrodes. The switches open and close numerous times during just one hour,...

Briefs : Aerospace
Variable-Depth, Multilayer Liner for Aircraft Noise Reduction

NASA Langley Research Center has developed a new approach for designing aircraft liner cores for noise reduction. The cores are comprised of multiple honeycomb-shaped chambers,...

Articles : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
The Heat Is On: A Guide to Specifying Insulation Materials

One of the first things an electrical engineer will learn is that the number-one enemy of designing and manufacturing any electrical/electronic product is heat. It's the one...

5 Ws : Sensors/Data Acquisition
5 Ws of 3D-Printing Piezoelectric Materials

Who

Piezoelectric materials are used in everything from cellphones and wearables, to robotics, energy harvesting, and tactile sensors.

Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Efficient Security for Cloud-Based Machine Learning

Outsourcing machine learning is a rising trend in industry. Major tech firms have launched cloud platforms that conduct computation-heavy tasks, such as running data through a convolutional...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Self-Stabilizing, Distributed, Symmetric, Fault-Tolerant Synchronization

Distributed systems have become an integral part of safety-critical computing applications, necessitating system designs that incorporate complex fault-tolerant resource management functions to provide globally coordinated operations with ultra-reliability. As a result,...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
System Selectively Sequesters Toxins from Water

Traditional methods, such as reverse osmosis, that remove contaminants from water are expensive and energy-intensive. Researchers have developed technology to remove contaminants from water,...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Delamination and Porosity in Composites and Adhesives Using Solid and Particulate Powdered Aerogel

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed a method that introduces solids and particulates — specifically aerogels — into composites or...

Briefs : Propulsion
Real-Time, Fuel-Optimal, Powered Descent Guidance Using Interpolated Time-of-Flight and Propellant Mass

Soft landing using rockets requires a trajectory to be planned for the lander from rocket ignition — typically several kilometers in altitude and moving at up to 200 m/s — to the point near the surface with near-zero velocity. The exact...

Briefs : Automotive
Generative Design Enhances Autonomous Vehicle Development

The technological ramp to fully autonomous vehicles presents significant challenges for companies developing autonomous vehicle programs. Advanced sensor technology, high-speed and...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
“Metallic Wood” Has the Strength of Titanium and the Density of Water

Titanium is as strong as steel but about twice as light. These properties depend on the way a metal's atoms are stacked, but random defects that arise in the...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Interoperable Intelligent Controllers for Process Management and Control Networks

NASA Johnson Space Center developed reprogrammable and interchangeable electronic controllers that can attach to a system or subsystem wirelessly or through plug-and-play capability. Originally designed to work with rocket engines, this technology can control...

Q&A : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Q&A: Siyi Xu, Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Cambridge, MA

Working with teams from Harvard, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Boston Children's Hospital, Siyi Xu developed a soft, non-toxic, wearable sensor that attaches to the hand and measures grasp force and the motion of the hand and fingers. The...

Briefs : Software
Small-Body Dynamics Toolkit Version 5.0

The Small-Body Dynamics Toolkit (SBDT) v5.0 is a collection of primitive-body-specific trajectory design and analysis tools written in MATLAB®. The SBDT gives the user the capabilities to propagate, analyze, and visualize spacecraft trajectories and the dynamical environment near realistic asteroid,...

Briefs : Software
Sublimable Propellant Source for Iodine-Fed Ion Propulsion System

NASA Marshall has developed a system for generating iodine vapor from solid iodine for use as a propellant in a Hall or ion thruster propulsion system. Xenon has generally been the preferred propellant for these spacecraft ion propulsion systems but more recently, iodine-based...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Fuel Cell/Fuel Cell Hybrid System

Fuel cells can deliver clean, reliable, and uninterrupted power nearly 100 percent of the time. Fuel cells offer the advantage of efficiency by converting chemical energy directly to electricity. They have no moving parts, thereby eliminating failures associated with pumps, blowers, heat exchangers, and other...

Articles : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Create the Future Design Contest Alumni Achieve Market Success

The Create the Future Design Contest, launched in 2002 by the publishers of Tech Briefs magazine, helps stimulate and reward engineering innovation. The annual event has...

Briefs : Materials
Composite Advances Lignin as Renewable 3D Printing Material

Lignin is the material left over from the processing of biomass. It gives plants rigidity and also makes biomass resistant to being broken down into useful products. Researchers combined a melt-stable hardwood lignin with conventional plastic, a low-melting nylon, and carbon fiber to...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Nanoscale Pillars Act as Memory Foam

A customizable nanomaterial was developed that combines metallic strength with a foam-like ability to compress and spring back. The material can store and release mechanical energy on the nanoscale, and...

Briefs : Transportation
Effects of Reynolds and Mach Numbers in Large Eddy Simulation of Supersonic Round Jets

Rockets/landers arrive on the Moon with supersonic speed and impact lunar regolith. There is no reliable software to computationally simulate in an effective way the supersonic plumes escaping from these rockets/devices. A Large Eddy Simulation (LES) model and...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Electronics Withstand Extreme Heat

Most electronics only function within a certain temperature range but blending two organic materials together creates electronics that withstand extreme heat. The new plastic material could reliably conduct...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Optimal Computational Vision Pipeline (OCVP)

Optimal Computational Vision Pipeline (OCVP) software uses a novel algorithm that allows overlapping point clouds obtained from sensors with displaced position and orientation to be fused together in a common coordinate system with a rigorously linear solution for position and orientation parameters;...

Articles : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Products of Tomorrow: March 2019

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...

Articles : Software
Facility Focus: Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

Since 1967, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) has been the United States’ premier particle physics laboratory, working on the world's most advanced particle accelerators...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Computer-Controlled Exercise Equipment

While a wide variety of computer-controlled exercise machines for training and rehabilitation exist — some of which can be automatically adjusted to vary resistance or incline — such systems provide for preprogrammed changes in load or resistance. What is needed is a system that overcomes the...

Products : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Product of the Month: March 2019 Tech Briefs

Boothroyd Dewhurst, Wakefield, RI, announced Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DFMA®) 2019 software for analyzing parts and assemblies. DFMA utilizes a question-and-answer interface that...

On-Demand Webinars : Green Design & Manufacturing
How to Optimize Environmental Monitoring Using Direct Mass Spectrometry

Conventional methods for analysis of trace volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in air, soil, and water usually involve significant sample preparation followed by slow chromatographic analysis. Direct mass spectrometry (DMS) provides opportunities for simplification – or even...

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