Special Coverage

Soft Robot “Walks” on Any Terrain
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Using Microwaves to Produce High-Quality Graphene
Transducer-Actuator Systems for On-Machine Measurements and Automatic Part Alignment
Wide-Area Surveillance Using HD LWIR Uncooled Sensors
Heavy Lift Wing in Ground (WIG) Cargo Flying Boat
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

Small Form Factor Computers Go Ultra-low Power

Agrowing number of mobile, space constrained or harsh environment applications are being designed for the military, industrial automation/HMI, digital signage and medical markets that are driving the need for ever-lower power consumption. These embedded systems have been underserved by existing SFF platforms that have not been able to offer ultra-low power operation, many times below 3 Watts, in a slim profile design. OEM developers have also been challenged to find computing platforms that deliver a flexible and scalable solution in terms of performance and rugged reliability with state-of-the-art interface and graphics support that mimics the same functionality as today’s smart consumer devices.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Architecture, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Embedded software, Architecture, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Embedded software, Human machine interface (HMI)

Carbon Nanotube Technology Promises a Revolution in Electrical Cabling

While carbon nanotube technology (CNT) has generated widespread interest for applications ranging from semiconductors to medical, one area that is a focus of research at TE Connectivity is high-performance electrical cables. TE has been actively researching CNT for wire and cable, including cooperative efforts with universities and industry leaders, and has prototype samples for evaluation. While there is still much progress to be made before CNT cables become main stream, we believe the technology is sufficiently advanced to meet specific niche applications such as satellites.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Electric cables, Electric cables, Conductivity, Nanomaterials, Satellites

Robotic Accuracy Improves Aerospace Manufacturing

Where accuracy is concerned, robots have traditionally relied on repeatability. In the past, robotic accuracy has not been developed to a level of maturity acceptable to standard production processes. Critical aerospace manufacturing techniques such as fastening and drilling were historically not held to tight tolerances. Typical tolerances for airframe assembly fastening were in the +0.030" range. The standard is set by the positional requirement for drilling of fastener holes, which is a key target application for robotics in manufacturing.

Posted in: Articles, Motion Control, Drilling, Fastening, Robotics, Quality standards, Quality standards

A New Era in Automotive Design Requires a New Era in Simulation Tools

Automotive design is going through one of its most profound changes since the gasoline engine eclipsed steam power. Fuel prices and growing environmental concerns have made efficiency the biggest prerogative in vehicle design since the gas shocks of the early 1970s. President Obama’s 2011 agreement with 13 large automakers to increase the CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards from 27.5 miles per gallon for cars and light trucks today, to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, will affect vehicle design priorities throughout the automotive industry.

Posted in: Articles, Homepage, Simulation Software, Computer simulation, Design processes, Market research

SAE World Congress Preview “Achieving Efficiency”

The 2013 SAE World Congress and Exhibition, taking place April 16-18 at Cobo Center in Detroit, represents an unparalleled opportunity to explore new technology through both technical sessions and the Innovators Only Exhibition. This year’s Host Company is Chrysler, and ZF will serve as Tier One Strategic Supplier for the event. Last year, more than 9,000 engineers, engineering managers, auto industry executives, and government officials from 45 different countries attended the SAE World Congress (sae.org/congress).

Posted in: Articles, Automotive, Career and professional development, Suppliers

High-Pressure Systems Suppress Fires in Seconds

Propulsion technology for rocket engines helps firefighters extinguish hydrocarbon-based fuel fires.

Orbital Technologies Corp. (ORBITEC) of Madison, WI, has been a longtime NASA partner, working with the Agency on numerous projects, many through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. ORBITEC collaborated with Marshall Space Flight Center to develop products such as a cool-wall vortex combustion chamber that represents a new method of rocket engine design. By feeding liquid or gas oxidizer into the combustion chamber in a manner that generates a swirling vortex flow, the design confines the mixing and burning of the propellant to the core of the chamber, keeping the walls free from volatile thermal stresses. ORBITEC applied this innovation to an advanced vortex hybrid rocket engine that combines solid and liquid fuel to power a low-cost, highly reliable, and versatile propulsion option.

Posted in: Articles, Propulsion, Hydrocarbons, Fire suppression, Fire suppression

Building an Immersive Training Platform for Infantry Soldiers

Developing an effective immersive training tool requires a fine balance of technology capabilities with human factors. Achieving a training goal to build squad leadership skills, squad-level communication, and mission rehearsal for an entire squadron brings together several components, including advanced body sensors that must translate physical movements, avatar actions, and high-resolution headmounted displays (HMDs) to immerse the user in the virtual world.

Posted in: Articles, Imaging, Virtual reality, Sensors and actuators, Sensors and actuators, Human machine interface (HMI), Head-up displays, Head-up displays, Education, Education and training, Military vehicles and equipment

Modular Software & Metallography: Automating the Analysis Process

Today’s micro-imaging analysis software systems provide users with a module-based approach that allows imaging and measurement to be customized to specific workflow environments. This type of interface flexibility also enables higher levels of automation and standardization — facilities no longer need to rely on small groups of microscopy experts to handle their imaging and analysis tasks. Today, guided, automated functionality based on specific software modules allows larger numbers of staff members to manage the creation, analysis, and distribution of material images. These modules are particularly useful in metallography applications, guiding users through every step of the image analysis process.

Posted in: Articles, Imaging, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Microscopy, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Microscopy, Automation, Metals, Test equipment and instrumentation

3D Printing: A New Mindset in Product Design

What is 3D Printing?

The terms “3D printing” and “additive manufacturing” refer to processes that automatically build objects layer-by-layer from computer data. The technology is already well used in many sectors including transportation, healthcare, military, and education. Uses include buildingconcept models, functional prototypes, factory tooling (such as molds and robotarm ends), and even finished goods (such as aircraft internal components). The aerospace and medical industries in particular have developed advanced applications for 3D printing. 3D printing is sometimes referred to as “rapid prototyping,” but this term does not encompass all current uses for the technology. Materials used in 3D printing include resins, plastics, and, in some cases, metal.

Posted in: Articles, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Additive manufacturing

Optical Thin Films on Complex Substrate Geometries

Anext-generation low pressure chemical vapor deposition (LPCVD) optical thin film coating process is permitting the manufacture of interference filter coatings, such as single wavelength, dual band and broadband AR, cold mirror, dichroic, and conductive. The enhanced thin film IsoDyn™ process, designed by Deposition Sciences, Inc. (DSI) is now being used to produce conformal coatings on complex substrate geometries. This capability allows for a myriad of new applications that may require uniform, multilayer coatings on complex shapes, ranging from simple ball lenses to almost any imaginable optical shape.

Posted in: Features, Articles, Photonics, Optics, Optics, Chemicals, Coatings Colorants and Finishes, Coatings, colorants, and finishes, Materials properties

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