April 2020

Special Reports: Defense
RF & Microwave Electronics - April 2020

In this compendium of recent articles from the editors of Aerospace & Defense Technology and Tech Briefs, read about how advances in RF electronics are enabling new applications in space and ground...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Algorithm Helps Swarming Robots Avoid Collisions
This technology could help control driverless cars and automated warehouses.
Square trusses replace round for enhanced strength and robotics compatibility.
This technology cancels out the vibrations of a satellite by vibrating the solar panels in the opposite direction.
Rugged tablets from Teguar Corp. can be used to monitor manufacturing operations.

Robot-assisted surgery has advanced dramatically over the past decade in almost every surgical sub-specialty. Robot-assisted surgery is usually performed using surgical robot systems that...

Articles: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Resolution, Accuracy, and Precision of Encoders
Here's what you'll need to know when you’re choosing an encoder for a motion control system.
As advancements in technology continue to define how pneumatic or electromechanical linear devices lift, move, or place a load, the requirements of excellent closed-loop positioning and accuracy greatly increase
The domino effect is used to design deployable systems that expand quickly with a small push and are stable and locked into place after deployment.
Articles: Internet of Things
Reimagining Robotics in a Connected World
Manufacturers are beginning to realize the same benefits by cloud-connecting their equipment and processes on the shop floor.
Products: Motion Control
New Products: April 2020 Motion Design
Motor drivers, position sensors, offset couplings, and more.
Manufacturers, medical device companies, and others can use this 3D printing software driven by artificial intelligence (AI).
Facility Focus: Robotics, Automation & Control
Facility Focus: California Institute of Technology
See some of the world-changing tools and technologies launched by Caltech scientists, from earthquake monitoring to helping the blind see.
Apps could take up less space on a smartphone and apps could download instantly.
Special light sources and sensors see around corners or through gauzy filters, enabling reconstruction of the shapes of unseen objects.

Even though ultrasound has been studied by scientists for many years, its capabilities in practical applications are yet to be fully harnessed.

Applications include powering portable electronic devices and sensors, and harvesting waste mechanical energy for aircraft, automobile, and other transportation equipment.
Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Additive Manufacturing Method for Sub-Microscale Three-Dimensional Structures
Applications include MEMS, microlattice fabrication, and other sub-microscale 3D structures with a broad range of materials.
Products: Manufacturing & Prototyping
New on the Market: April 2020
Vision-based 3D printing, network analyzers, particulate sensors, and more.
Briefs: Communications
Laser Radio Transmitter
This device transmits data via a semiconductor laser, opening the door to ultra-high-speed WiFi.
Q&A: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Q&A: Simple Solar-Powered Desalination
Lenan Zhang and his team at MIT developed a small, economical, highly efficient device to provide fresh drinking water using only the Sun for its energy input.
Briefs: Electronics & Computers
RFID-Based System Enables Internet of Things
The technology could help in elder care with sensors throughout a home.
A wildfire-preventing gel; NASA's 3D tissue models, and more.
The coating could make lightweight lithium metal batteries safe and long-lasting for the next generation of electric vehicles.
A wearable energy harvesting device could generate energy from the swing of an arm while walking or jogging.
Hardware and software tweak microwave patterns to discover the most efficient way to identify objects.
Articles: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Choose Surface Treatments Early to Avoid Future Problems
Surface treatments have limitations that demand attention early in the design process.
The new body armor can safeguard against even more powerful firearms during combat.
Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
High-Area Rapid 3D Printing
This new 3D printer can print an object the size of an adult human in just a couple of hours.
The coating protects parking decks, bridges, concrete piers, offshore platforms, buildings, and cooling towers.
The adhesive that binds wet surfaces within seconds could be used to heal wounds or implant medical devices.
Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Soft, Flexible Materials with Enhanced Properties
These materials can be used in soft robotics, self-healing electronics, and medical devices.
Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Method for Electrospinning Customizable Nanofibers
The electrospun nanofibers are used for wound healing and 3D matrices for biological tissues.
Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
PLCs Directly Access Internet Information
The newest PLCs can directly access Internet resources, much like a mobile device, to obtain information for improving operations.
A new method provides a more efficient, safer, and cost-effective way to produce cadmium telluride material for solar cells or other applications.
Fuse devices enable circuit safety in high-power applications, such as motion control and alternative energy generation, in addition to electric vehicles.
These carbon-based fillers can be used in thermally conductive clothing such as liquid-cooled garments.
This imaging technique could impact optical communications and signal processing.
This work could accelerate the development of flexible electronics.
The lasers are small and efficient enough to fit on a microchip.
Technology used to search for extraterrestrial life can characterize radioactive material.
Applications include homeland security, vehicle anti-collision systems, telecommunications systems, and industrial instrumentation.
Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Using Sound and Light for Ultrafast Data Transfer
This method could lead to the transmission of data at the rate of 100 gigabits per second.
5 Ws: Manufacturing & Prototyping
5 Ws of the 3D Skin Printer
The handheld 3D skin printer can deposit sheets of skin to cover large burn wounds
Housed in a chip, it lets IoT devices communicate with existing WiFi networks.
The basis for the technology is a special resin that can be cured with UV light.

Robots are in high demand as medical professionals seek hands-free ways to disinfect environments and contain the spread of coronavirus and COVID-19.

On-Demand Webinars: Manufacturing & Prototyping
From Drudgery to the Effective Use of Design and Process FMEAs

In many industries, FMEAs are considered drudgery, contributing little – if anything – to valuable technical knowledge of the product design and development process, as well as to process design and continual improvement, while chewing up resources and time in...

White Papers: Test & Measurement
Automated Solutions for Head-Up Display Measurement

Head-up display (HUD) technology is one of the largest growth areas in the automotive market, and standard measurement criteria are rapidly being defined to ensure HUD visual performance...

On-Demand Webinars: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Heavy-Duty Engine Design for a Transitioning Market

An uncertain regulatory climate. Augmenting with electrification. The potential for automated and partially automated vehicle operation. All these trends are affecting the way engine developers are approaching near-term engine design and development cycles. What are the most significant...

INSIDER: Robotics, Automation & Control
Foldable Robots for Future Moon Mission

The newest edition of NASA's small, foldable robots successfully traversed rugged terrain in the Mars Yard at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

White Papers: Photonics/Optics
12 Lens Considerations for Thermal Infrared Cameras

Whether you're an engineer, a procurement agent, or in business management many things should be considered when selecting the right lenses for your thermal imager, or infrared (IR) camera....

INSIDER: Electronics & Computers
Ultra-Low Power Chip for IoT Wi-Fi

More portable, fully wireless smart home setups; lower power wearables; batteryless smart devices, could all be made possible with this new ultra-low power Wi-Fi radio. It is housed in a chip smaller...

Microelectronics like semiconductor devices are at the heart of the technologies we use each day. As we move into an era where we are stretching the limits of Moore’s Law, it is...

Wearable tech and electronic cloth may be the way of the future, but to get there the wiring needs to be strong, flexible, and efficient.

A new manufacturing process could produce flexible electronics for things like virtual reality-enabled contact lenses, solar-powered skins that mold to the contours of your car, and...

White Papers: Test & Measurement
Learn About the Challenges in Field Test Sound Measuring

Noise reduction is vital with off-highway equipment. Test data shows how much noise a product produces and assists manufacturers in meeting noise level requirements. The ISO standard...

Question of the Week: Automotive
Is Anonymization the Best Way to Protect Personal Data?

A Tech Briefs reader recently asked our industry expert:

White Papers: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Enable Greater Factory Intelligence

Today’s factory intelligence is the collaborative orchestration of people and machines. By blending intelligence from multiple sources, factories are truly becoming smarter. But it’s not just about the...

In just three weeks, the Innovative Genomics Institute (IGI) at UC Berkeley built a robotic COVID-19 laboratory.

White Papers: Medical
How to Define a ‘Medical-Grade’ Material

Every plastic has a unique combination of chemical properties, surface structure, biocompatibility, color, and mechanics. Learn which plastics are "medical-grade,” and see what characteristics...

Question of the Week: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Have You Cloud-Connected Your Equipment and Processes on the Shop Floor?

Our April Motion Design feature article highlights how manufacturers are reimagining robotics in a connected world, employing processes like real-time analytics, predictive maintenance, online support and diagnostics, and cloud backups.

On-Demand Webinars: Photonics/Optics
High-Powered Directed Energy Laser Projects: Destroy the Target, Not Everything Else

Applying the stable and repeatable characteristics of lasers to high-powered directed energy applications has ushered in a new era of efficient weapons for the military. The development of these weapons comes with challenges that users of high-powered...

White Papers: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Discrete Sensors for Industrial Applications

There are many types of object detection sensors available on the market. Some of them, such as limit switches, require direct contact with the object. Others, such as proximity sensors, need to...

White Papers: Automotive
Modeling the Lithium-Ion Battery

Lithium-ion batteries have become the most common batteries for consumer electronics, industrial, transportation, and power storage applications. The increased demand and the pressure for improving battery...

White Papers: Robotics, Automation & Control
Practical Guide to Programmable Logic Controllers

The Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) has revolutionized the automation industry. Today, PLCs can be found in everything from factory equipment to vending machines, but prior to January 1,...

White Papers: Automotive
The New Mobility Industry

There’s no doubt about it. The world has gone digital, and the same is true for the mobility and transportation industry. From smarter vehicles to autonomous ones, it’s going to take new partnerships and...

White Papers: Medical
The Hospital of the Future Starts Today

Advancements in technology are revolutionizing the way healthcare providers deliver patient care. From Electronic Health Records to Digital Pathology and AI, technology is fundamentally changing the...

White Papers: Motion Control
Noise and Signal Distortion Considerations for Encoders in Motion Control Applications

An encoder is an electro-mechanical transducer that converts mechanical rotary motion into digital signals for the control of machinery. Encoders are used...

White Papers: Medical
Considerations for Connector Design in Mobile And Patient-worn Medical Devices

Medical device designers face some of the most stringent requirements in the world. Everything must be safe for the patient and safe for the operator. In...

White Papers: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Why 3D Printing as a Service Could Become the Next Big Thing

Additive manufacturing (AM), also known as 3D printing, has finally arrived as a viable option for not only creating functional prototypes but for producing high-quality parts and...

White Papers: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Design Optimization Strategies: Transitioning from Traditional Manufacturing Technologies to HP Multi Jet Fusion Technology

The highest value for additive manufacturing is achieved when 3D printing is introduced into the very early stages of...

White Papers: Manufacturing & Prototyping
HP Multi Jet Fusion Technology

Three-dimensional printing of useful objects and machine parts is becoming a reality. 3D printing offers the ability to produce — both rapidly and at low cost — short runs or one-of-a-kind parts.

White Papers: Manufacturing & Prototyping
HP Multi Jet Fusion Color Technology and Workflows

Color helps us understand an object’s purpose — it guides our eyes and heightens our emotions. Consider the power of color in the products that surround you. A red warning sign tells you...

White Papers: Electronics & Computers
Intelligent Switches Pave Path to Optimum Human-Machine Interface

With programmable displays, switches have evolved into a flexible, reliable, customizable interface that designers can acquire off the shelf. As electronic systems have become...

White Papers: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Mass Flow Explained: Thermal Versus Differential Pressure

There are several technology options in gas mass flow measurement devices, including variable area, Coriolis, and ultrasonic, but the two that are most frequently compared against...

White Papers: Medical
Selecting and Justifying Sample Sizes: Where to Begin?

The International Organization of Standardization (ISO), American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), and other standards committees are known to provide valuable information...

White Papers: Imaging
Active Alignment Speeds Up Optical Systems Manufacturing

Optical alignment and micro-optic positioning are challenging, time-consuming processes. Tiny positional variations in photonic and optical manufacturing can mean the difference...

White Papers: Test & Measurement
Single Frequency Fiber Lasers for Doppler LiDAR

RADAR (RAdio Detection And Ranging) is the process of utilizing electromagnetic waves to determine the location and velocity of distant objects by analyzing changes to the reflected signal....

White Papers: Imaging
How Mode-Locked Lasers Affect the Past, Present, and Future of Two-Photon Microscopy

For more than 100 years, fluorescence microscopy has been utilized in biological sciences as a means for identifying the spatial distribution of molecules...

White Papers: Aerospace
Laser Requirements for Time Gated Active Night Vision Imaging Systems

In 1929, physicist Kalman Tihanyi made a significant impact on the world when he invented the world’s first night vision camera. While the original night vision imaging...

White Papers: Medical
Fundamentals of Confocal Raman Microscopy

Microanalysis using Raman spectroscopy is an invaluable tool for providing high-resolution images of complex molecular samples. Since the Raman effect results from inelastically scattered laser...

White Papers: Robotics, Automation & Control
Why Spin Testing Matters for eDrive Systems

As the race for improved electric drives for electric vehicles, drones, and hybrid drive/propulsion systems accelerates, the need for testing of rotors used in high-speed electric motors is also on...

White Papers: Power
Selecting the Correct Level of DC-DC Converter for Your Application

Most power systems for high-reliability applications can be constructed from standard power modules. The typical scenario requires various DC output voltages and power...

White Papers: Test & Measurement
Accurate Measurements of Extremely Small Capacitance Values

Increasing range of required capacitance values on both high and low ends stipulates development of new measurement tools. Increasing operating frequency leads to a need of...

White Papers: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Gasket Tape – Silicone Sponge and Silicone Foam for Long-Term Sealing Performance

Electrical equipment deployed in a range of environments often needs long-term protection that requires a sealing solution to last for years. Some housing...

White Papers: Test & Measurement
Engineer’s Guide to the Digitization of Analog Signals

Learn about the most common technologies for digitizing analog signals for digital logging and processing, and understand the variables that impact the quality and consistency of an...

White Papers: Automotive
High-Performance Starter Contactor Design

Shifts in the vehicle market are forcing changes in internal combustion engine (ICE) starting technology. Most substantively, the advent of start/stop engine technology requires a much longer...

White Papers: Medical
Materials for Critical Response Medical Applications

With the Coronavirus (COVID-19) stressing our global healthcare system to its limits, Ulbrich remains a fully operational medical metal manufacturer, able to meet your alloy needs related...

White Papers: Test & Measurement
Fundamentals of Electrical Safety Testing

Electrical safety testers – often referred to as “hipot” testers – are an integral part of electrical and electronic equipment manufacturing. Hipot testers get their name from the high...

White Papers: Electronics & Computers
Photodiode Basics: Selection & Operation

A photodiode is a semiconductor device with a P-N junction that converts photons (or light) into electrical current. The P layer has an abundance of holes (positive) and the N layer has an abundance...

White Papers: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Tips for Reducing Error When Using Eddy Current Measuring Techniques

Inductive eddy current technology is an extremely versatile non-contact method for measuring an object’s position, distance, or vibration. Unaffected by environmental...

White Papers: Medical
Accelerating Next-Generation Sequencing Secondary Analysis with Dell EMC Isilon and NVIDIA Parabricks

Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) is a combination of laboratory instrumentation technologies and analysis methods to identify patterns in...

White Papers: Photonics/Optics
Thin-Film Interference Filters for LIDAR

Arguably the most versatile active remote sensing technique, LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) is used across platforms and across disciplines. Long known to be one of the most important...

A Berkeley Lab system provides a much more sensitive probe of the chemical state of battery electrodes, especially when the battery is operated under high capacity mode.
Question of the Week: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Can Solar-Powered Desalination Solve Water-Scarcity Challenges?

“Seawater is a very abundant resource for clean water, but the problem is how to desalinate it,” MIT researcher Lenan Zhang told Tech Briefs in our April issue.

Blog: Materials
Super-Porous Material Gives Hydrogen-Powered Vehicles a Boost
A team at Northwestern University is developing a material so porous that if you were able to unfold a gram of it, you could go farther than a football field.
On-Demand Webinars: Photonics/Optics
Optical Coating Design

Most precision optics, whether used in scientific, medical, industrial, or military applications, incorporate some type of thin film coating to enhance their capabilities. This Webinar from the editors of Tech Briefs Media delves into some of the more popular types of coatings, what they do, and how they're...

To speed up the design process, researchers from the University of Texas are finding more efficient ways to predict, or "learn," a rocket's behavior.
Tech Talks: Materials
What to Know: Forming Thin Metal Parts

Metal parts are part of almost every electronic, rocket, and medical device. The parts need to be reliably precise in order for the application to work successfully. This Tech Talk examines the best practices of forming a photochemically etched metal component.

On-Demand Webinars: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Rapid Decompression and Sealed Containers: Why Choose Magnet Valves?

When transporting sealed containers by air, protecting against rapid decompression is a constant concern. Traditionally, spring-actuated valves have been used to address this design challenge. Magnet-actuated valves are a relatively new technology that provide distinct...

White Papers: Materials
Developing Surface Treatment Processes for Bonding Dissimilar Materials

A recent concept in automotive lightweighting is the joining of dissimilar materials. The purpose is to tailor the materials in a structure to ensure that each part of...

ApolloBVM – an open-source emergency ventilator developed by Rice University students – could help COVID-19 patients who are less-critically ill while they await...

White Papers: Medical
The Liquid Lens Evolution

Before liquid lenses, a user would have to design some type of mechanical focusing into their optical system, which meant having a device to raise and lower the optics to enable them to refocus on different heights...

A team used to making pollutant-detection systems is adapting their technologies to spot coronavirus.
Question of the Week: Robotics, Automation & Control
Will 'Metal-Air Scavengers' Power Vehicles and Robots?

Penn Engineering researchers have introduced a "metal-air scavenger" vehicle, which gets energy not from a battery, but from breaking chemical bonds in the aluminum surface it travels over. The technology, which works like both a battery and an energy harvester, has 13 times more energy...

White Papers: Motion Control
The Medical Device Maker's Guide to Customizing Linear Motion

Medical device manufacturing is challenging. Linear motion components are vital parts of the process, but off-the-shelf components often don't work or fit, or fail to perform....

On-Demand Webinars: Motion Control
Advantages of Smart Servo Steppers vs. Smart Brushless Servos

For years the difference between brushless servos and step motors was understood. That has all been blurred with servo vector control of step motors and the growing popularity of smart motors. Understanding these technologies is key to selecting the best product for specific...

Blog: Aerospace
Mars 2020: Looking for Signs of Life in the Jezero Crater River Delta
By taking a closer look at the delta deposits on Mars, Stanford University researchers concluded that the Jezero Crater is still the best place to search for signs of life on Mars.
On-Demand Webinars: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Large Cable, Large Problems: Considerations for Innovation

Government emission standards have led to the rapid projected growth of EVs, HEVs, and PHEVs, which in turn is leading to the rapid increase in use of large gauge wires and cables. Harness manufacturers must take care to ensure quality connections in the harsh environments where...

On-Demand Webinars: Robotics, Automation & Control
Collaborative Robots: Are They as Safe as They Sound?

Collaborative robots are the fastest growing segment in industrial robotics – for good reason. They’re flexible, easy to program, and when compared to their “older generation” industrial counterparts, far safer and less expensive, as well as faster to deploy. But those who use...

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