Special Coverage

NASA Supercomputer Simulations Reveal 'Noisy' Aerodynamics
Robotic Gripper Cleans Up Space Debris
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

Factors to Consider When Selecting and Specifying LVDT Linear Position Sensors

Fitting the right type of linear position sensor to an application requires at least a working knowledge of the attributes of this electromechanical device. Starting with the basics, the LVDT (linear variable differential transformer) is a common type of linear position sensor widely used in electromechanical systems today. It consists of two basic elements: a stationary coil assembly and a movable core or armature. While most LVDTs are fundamentally AC-in/AC-out devices, some have electronics built-in to make them DC-in/DC-out devices. This gives rise to the terms “AC-LVDTs” and “DC-LVDTs”.

Posted in: Articles, Motion Control, Architecture, Microelectricmechanical device, Microelectromechanical devices, Sensors and actuators, Architecture, Microelectricmechanical device, Microelectromechanical devices, Sensors and actuators

Industry Update: Analysis & Simulation Software

In our annual poll of executives at leading analysis and simulation software vendors, we found that more widespread use of the cloud, mobile devices, and touchscreen interfaces will be major trends for 2013. These trends will require that vendors take a careful look at their software interfaces to evolve accordingly.

Posted in: Articles, Simulation Software, Software, Computer simulation, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware

Create the Future Design Contest 2012

The 2012 Create the Future Design Contest — sponsored by COMSOL, Nordson EFD, and Tech Briefs Media Group (publishers of NASA Tech Briefs) — recognized innovation in product design in seven categories: Con sumer Products, Electronics, Machinery & Equipment, Medical, Safety & Security, Sustainable Tech nologies, and Transportation. On the following pages, you’ll meet the Grand Prize Winner, as well as the winners and Honorable Mentions in all seven categories. Congra tulations to this year’s winners, and thanks to the more than 950 entrants from 60 countries who submitted their design ideas. To view the entries online, visit www.createthefuture2012.com.

Posted in: Articles, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Design processes, Product development

Grand Prize Winner

Mark Wagner, Ben Madoff, and Mark Rudolph
Sensorcon, Buffalo, NY

What if sensors, meters, and instruments were just apps instead of single-purpose, bulky, expensive equipment? Sensordrone is a first step towards making this a reality.

Posted in: Articles, Software, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Sensors and actuators, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Sensors and actuators, Tools and equipment, Test equipment and instrumentation

Consumer Products Category Winner (Winner of an HP Workstation)

LumEN: Luminescent Solar Concentrators for Sustainable, On-Demand Electricity Production

Gianmarco Griffini, Massimo Micocci, and Francesca Ostuzzi,
Politecnico di Milano,
Milan, Italy

Lum-EN is the first portable device able to harvest solar energy and deliver electrical energy on-demand, employing organic luminescent solar concentrators (OLSCs). High light-to-electricity efficiencies can be attained with little use of conventional solar cells.

Posted in: Articles, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Design processes, Electronic equipment, Electronic equipment, Product development

Electronics Category Winner (Winner of an HP Workstation)

Grid-X Cloud and Smartphone Accelerator

James Awrach
SeaFire Micros, Beverly, MA

Supercomputers are linked worldwide, creating ultra-highperformance cloud, utility, and grid computers. The Bandwidth-Delay Product (BWDP), where “delay” is the roundtrip time for data transfer, defines required buffer memory. Grid-X addresses BWDP, and enables faster local and globally distributed supercomputing at lower power and cost. SeaFire also created a variant called Grid-X Mobile for smartphones.

Posted in: Articles, Electronics & Computers, Design processes, Electronic equipment, Electronic equipment, Product development

Machinery & Equipment Category Winner (Winner of an HP Workstation)

Thermal Stir Welding Process

Jeff Ding
NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama

The patented thermal stir welding process is a new solid-state (meaning the weld metal does not melt during welding) welding process invented at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. The unique welding process de-couples the heating, stirring, and forging elements of friction stir welding, and allows for the independent control of each element of the weld process. An induction coil first heats the weld joint material to a desired plasticized temperature, at which time the weld joint material moves into a through-thickness stir rod that stirs the already plastic material. The stir rod can be independently controlled to rotate at a desired rotational speed or RPM. Upper and lower non-rotating containment plates, also independently controlled, compress or squeeze the plastic weld zone to consolidate the plasticized material as it is being stirred. The stir rod protrudes through the center of the upper containment plate, through the weld material thickness, and is captured by the lower containment plate.

Posted in: Articles, Mechanical Components, Adaptive control, Adaptive control, Manufacturing equipment and machinery, Welding

Medical Category Winner (Winner of an HP Workstation)

Prosthetic Leg Connector

Dave King
Synergy Tech, Kelowna, BC Canada

This is a device to aid those who wear prosthetic limbs. The current state of the art is a multilayer system that consists of a cotton sock and a silicone rubber sock that fits over the limb. The prosthesis can attach to the silicone sock by means of a rod and ratchet device. In the case of an artificial leg, the user places the rod into a receptacle in the leg and steps into it. The ratchet then holds onto the rod. However, this can cause problems for patients who are physically weak or who suffer from tenderness in the remaining upper leg. That is enough to stop the patient from trying to use the prosthesis. This device replaces the silicone sock and allows for much easier “application” and better comfort.

Posted in: Articles, Medical, Ergonomics, Prostheses and implants, Silicon alloys, Pumps

Safety & Security Category Winner (Winner of an HP Workstation)

LIFE PACK Hypothermia Prevention

Floatation Device Dwight and Jane Cushman, Village Memorial, Portland, OR

Even with floatation gear, when a person who is not prepared for the cold falls into cold water (temperatures of 52 °F or less), the shock of the cold alone can be fatal. Most people who die of hypothermia do so in the first few minutes from failure to breathe or to sustain their heart. The LIFE PACK floatation device is designed to offer protection from coldwater temperatures, and the wearer can hold a child hands-free in water.

Posted in: Articles, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Water, Thermal management, Thermal management, Flotation, Protective equipment

Sustainable Technologies Category Winner (Winner of an HP Workstation)

Aquaback Water Purification System

Bill Zebuhr, Scott Newquist, David Dussault, E. Andrew Condon, Steven Sahagian, Nicholas Wong, Michael Easton, William Burie, Charles Blanchard, and Nicole Sandoval, Aquaback Technologies, Tewksbury, MA

A highly efficient, low-cost, lowmaintenance, compact, modular vapor compression distiller is designed to be the water processing module in a wide variety of water processing systems to clean incoming water or reclaim waste water. The systems will enable recycling of most water for any use, including potable water, at a lower overall cost than any other technology or combinations of technologies, addressing water supply and disposal problems worldwide. Distillation provides the highest-purity water in a single operation, but until now, distillers have been too expensive to make or operate to be practical. Aquaback has optimized every aspect of distillation using the known vapor compression method to recycle over 99% of the heat of vaporization using a mass-manufactured, self-cleaning design.

Posted in: Articles, Green Design & Manufacturing, Water reclamation, Water treatment, Energy conservation, Compressors

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