Mechanical/​Mechatronics

Stay updated on advancements in mechanical components and mechatronics systems. New technologies in MEMs, fluid systems, and propulsion are driving breakthroughs in transportation, electrification, autonomous driving, and manufacturing.

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Latest Briefs & News

Question of the Week : Materials
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.

Products : Sensors/Data Acquisition
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 : Photonics/Optics
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...

Application Briefs : Imaging
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 : 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 : 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 : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
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)....

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...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
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,...

Articles : Materials
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...

Articles : Test & Measurement
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 : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
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...

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;...

Products : Test & Measurement
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...

Articles : Communications
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...

Application Briefs : Transportation
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 : Transportation
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 : Software
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 : 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...

Briefs : Propulsion
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...

Articles : Communications
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 : 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 : Propulsion
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 : Propulsion
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 : Propulsion
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...

Briefs : Propulsion
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...

Blog : Materials
Porous Carbon Fibers: How a Car Could Someday Store Its Energy 'Everywhere'
Tesla uses batteries to store energy underneath the car seats. What if we could store energy everywhere on the vehicle?