Application Briefs

Machined Parts Accelerate Design Tests for NASA

Proto Labs, Inc.
Maple Plain, MN
877-479-3680
www.protolabs.com

University student Mel Du was searching for a source to manufacture metal parts for a student research challenge project he was working on for NASA. The project centered on designing, building, and testing an asteroid-sample retrieval and containment device for a simulated space mission. As part of the development stage, the team at San Antonio, TX-based Trinity University produced several prototypes on the school’s in-house, production-model, fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printer.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Aerospace, Additive manufacturing, Machining processes, Aluminum, Glass fibers, Polymers, Test procedures
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Control Solutions Synchronize Operation of Space Launch System Heavy Transporters

Beckhoff Automation
Savage, MN
952-890-0000
www.beckhoffautomation.com

Large NASA production facilities, such as the Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in New Orleans, are among the largest manufacturing facilities in the world, with more than 1,870,000 square feet of floor space for assembly and manufacturing space that NASA shares with commercial aerospace and U.S. government contractors. A major activity at MAF is the assembly of core stage components for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket program. The most powerful rocket ever built, the SLS will be capable of carrying the highest payload mass in history. When fully assembled, the SLS measures 322 feet high with a launch weight of 5.5 million pounds, and a payload capacity of 77 tons. NASA uses Wheelift® Self-Propelled Modular Transporters (SPMTs), manufactured by Doerfer Companies of Waverly, IA, to move the rocket components.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Aerospace, Electronic control systems, Electronic control systems, Ground support, Launch vehicles
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Anti-Creep Mechanism Enables Ultra-Precise Motor Table Positioning

Motion control is essential for the digitization and automation of high-tech equipment, but bearings remain basic to frictionless movement. Bearing Engineers, a bearing distributor, recently changed its name to Motion Solutions (Aliso Viejo, CA) to better reflect their evolution into a custom designer of motion solutions for high-tech electromechanical systems. Developing custom solutions has lead to developing lines of proprietary products that the company manufactures in-house.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Motion Control, Microelectricmechanical device, Microelectromechanical devices, Microelectricmechanical device, Microelectromechanical devices, Suppliers, Bearings
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Vibration Sensors Add New Touch to Prosthetics

The sense of touch is complex, and an instructor at the University of California – Santa Barbara (UCSB) has the technology to prove it. Yon Visell, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and his students designed an apparatus that captures the unique vibration patterns associated with touch-specific actions, from gripping a coffee mug to tapping on a flat surface. The findings could support new applications in prosthetics, robotics, and virtual reality.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Sensors, Sensors and actuators, Sensors and actuators, Prostheses and implants, Vibration, Vibration
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Solar Orbiter Instrument Filters Powered by Brushed Motor

maxon RE 13 brushed DC motors
maxon precision motors
Fall River, MA
508-677-0520
www.maxonmotorusa.com

In 2018, the European Space Agency (ESA) will send the Solar Orbiter into space. A joint project of the ESA and NASA, the Solar Orbiter will be an important milestone in the exploration of the Sun. An American rocket will take the probe into space, and it will travel for three years until it can begin its work.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Aerospace, Aircraft instruments, Aircraft instruments, Electric motors, Satellites
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Customized Drone Maps Glaciers

Using a custom-designed drone, a researcher from The Ohio State University mapped glaciers and wetlands in Peru’s Cordillera Blanca mountain range. Despite a discovered drop in glacier growth, the findings from the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) revealed a slightly more optimistic picture of the region’s water supply, which relies in part on the ice formations.

Posted in: Applications, Application Briefs, Imaging, Photonics, Cartography, Cartography, Terrain, Water, Unmanned aerial vehicles
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Super Pressure Balloon Provides NASA with Valuable Data

Super pressure balloon
Raven Aerostar
Sioux Falls, SD
605-336-2750
www.ravenaerostar.com

A super pressure balloon (SPB) designed by Raven Aerostar, and the largest SPB ever built, surpassed 31 days amid the stratosphere’s harsh elements as part of a NASA mission, demonstrating the scientific balloon’s extended flight duration and ability to maintain constant altitudes. The balloon carried a two-and-a-half-ton NASA payload.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Aerospace, Data acquisition and handling, Data acquisition and handling, Test equipment and instrumentation, Spacecraft
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New Spacecraft Design for Asteroid Redirect Mission

Geostationary (GEO) satellite
Space Systems/Loral (SSL)
Palo Alto, CA
650-852-4000
www.sslmda.com

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has chosen Space Systems/Loral (SSL) to conduct first-phase design studies for a spacecraft that can travel to an asteroid, remove a boulder, and redirect it into a lunar orbit to prepare it for a visit by astronauts in the 2020s.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Aerospace, Design processes, Particulate matter (PM), Spacecraft
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Motion Control Challenges for Deep-Sea ROVs

Deep-sea remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) present motion control design engineers with some difficult challenges. Applications may include ROV propulsion, position thrusters, dive vanes, rudders, or robotic arms. Some problems are common to all of them.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Motion Control, X-by-wire, X-by-wire, Autonomous vehicles, Marine vehicles and equipment
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Reducing Torque Measurement Uncertainty in Turbine Engine Testing

Torque is among the most important of all the measured quantities in applications ranging from characterizing high-power gas turbines, to determining the level of force required to open a screw cap on a medication container. As anyone who studied physics in high school should recall, torque is the tendency of a force to rotate an object about an axis, fulcrum, or pivot. Loosely speaking, torque is a measure of the turning force on an object such as a bolt or a flywheel. For example, pushing or pulling the handle of a wrench connected to a nut or bolt produces a torque (turning force) that loosens or tightens the nut or bolt. However, measuring torque accurately can be far from straightforward. This article offers an overview of one approach to reducing uncertainty in torque measurement using an example of turbine engine testing to illustrate the process.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Test & Measurement, Measurements, Gas turbines, Test procedures
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