Author: Rich Novicky

3D CAD Software Introduces New Capability for Design of Smart, Connected Products

NEEDHAM, Mass.—The latest version of Creo® 4.0 3D CAD software, recently announced by PTC, introduces new capabilities for Internet of Things (IoT), additive manufacturing, augmented reality, and model-based definition (MBD). Creo 4.0 is said to enables smarter design and greater productivity with a vast array of core modeling enhancements and new functionality that allow designers to create the products of the future, according to a company press release. In the era of IoT and smart, connected products, product development is changing. According to PTC, Creo 4.0 represents the future of product design. With this latest release of Creo, product designers can design smart, connected products and capitalize on new technologies, such as additive manufacturing and augmented reality, PTC said in the press release. “With PTC’s commitment to enabling model-based design, my customers can focus on the 3D model without having to generate any 2D drawings,” said Scott Carmichael, CEO of NxRev, a PTC partner serving customers in Silicon Valley. “PTC’s vision and leadership around augmented reality and ‘Design for IoT’ has a powerful impact on my customers. These customers are developing the next generation of smart, connected products and want to take advantage of these emerging technologies throughout all phases of design.” Creo 4.0 is said to provide the ability to pull real-world information back into the design process. It enables a design for connectivity strategy where developers proactively design...

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Nutonian and Autodesk Are Teaming Up to Offer IoT Analytics

BOSTON—The machine intelligence company Nutonian recently announced an OEM relationship with Autodesk, whereby Nutonian’s artificial intelligence (AI) modeling engine, Eureqa, will be embedded in Autodesk’s Internet of Things (IoT) cloud platform, Fusion Connect.  As a result, companies that use the Eureqa-enhanced version of Fusion Connect will be able to automatically churn through connected machine IoT data to predict product failure, according to a press release from Nutonian. They will also be able to receive recommended improvements for existing product designs and identify new designs that are “potentially impactful,” the company said in the release. “As we continually enhance our cloud capabilities, the logical next step was broadening and deepening our IoT predictive and prescriptive solutions,” said Bryan Kester, director of IoT at Autodesk, in the release. “We evaluated the A.I. and machine learning ecosystem and found Nutonian has numerous, significant advantages that enable us to deliver a one-of-a-kind IoT analytics service.” Manufacturing companies can use Eureqa to determine the baseline for how a piece of machinery behaves under normal conditions. If a machine’s sensors indicate abnormal or suboptimal behavior, Fusion Connect’s dynamic predictive analytics, powered by Eureqa, generates alerts and dashboards explaining what’s happening and why. This will enable customers to automatically anticipate machinery maintenance, identify product flaws and develop smart, proactive business processes, according to Nutonian...

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Carbon Fiber Underbody Braces Reported to Reduce Weight, Increase Flexural Stiffness

CLEVELAND—A lightweight, carbon fiber-reinforced underbody brace developed by PolyOne is now offered as a performance upgrade for the current C7 generation of General Motors’ popular Chevrolet Corvette sports car. PolyOne Advanced Composites Glasforms formulated a carbon-fiber-reinforced composite material for the C7 Corvette Z06 and non-Z06 underbody braces. The braces are reported to reduce weight and retain torsional stiffness versus the production aluminum versions, while also increasing flexural stiffness for improved structural integrity and long-term fatigue strength. PolyOne produces the continuous composite-profile braces using pultrusion technology. “Our Glasforms team evaluated several composite types and identified a solution with optimal performance,” said Matthew Borowiec, general manager, PolyOne Advanced Composites, in a company release. “The carbon fiber-reinforced composite part is 17 percent lighter than the stock aluminum part, and the composite held up well in GM’s extensive vibration, shake, and road test regimen. We are proud that our team’s expertise in materials and engineering is helping to boost the legendary performance of the Corvette.” Weight savings—combined with high performance—is key in the automotive industry. Lighter weight not only helps make performance cars faster, but also corresponds to better fuel efficiency in all vehicle types. General Motors uses the Corvette as a validation vehicle for many of its new technologies, including new, lightweight composites. The Corvette Z06 won last year’s Car and Driver Lightning Lap with the fastest speed, which also ranked as...

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Thermoplastic Materials Extend Reed Life in Pipe Organs

WORCESTER, Mass.—TriStar Plastics Corp. solved an age-old problem with cathedral pipe organs by using a modified high-performance plastic, Ultraflon, to replace traditional wood wedges in the pipe’s reed assembly. The result, TriStar wrote in its company newsletter, has been extended service lifetime of the reeds and less time spent on time-consuming tuning. TriStar (www.tstar.com) was contacted by an organ builder who repeatedly discovered that the traditional wood wedges used inside its pipe organs were failing prematurely. These organs are among the most highly-complex musical instruments in the world, and require hundreds of hours of craftsmanship to produce. “The entire unit is exposed to vibration as pressurized air moves through the pipe in order to vibrate at a certain pitch. We discovered that the wood wedges could not withstand extended periods of exposure to this environment,” TriStar wrote. The client is just one of a few remaining pipe organ builders, and it has an international clientele and installations in cathedrals, concert halls, and other premier venues. Until now, its reed pipe wedges were designed of solid wood construction. But the client discovered that over time, traditional wood wedges failed prematurely. Each time the reed wedges failed, concert performance schedules were jeopardized. This failure was completely unacceptable given the client’s stringent quality standards, TriStar wrote. Replacing the wood wedge with the plastic, UltraFlon, extended the reed life and reduced maintenance. It...

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Nano-Reinforced Nylon Alloys Said to Increase Strength of Structural Medical Components

PUTNAM, Conn.—Foster Corporation has introduced new compounds for medical device components that require high strength, yet cannot use metals or traditional reinforced plastics. The  Nanomed MAX® compounds, based on an alloy of meta-xylene diamine polyamide (MX nylon), are United States Pharmacopeia (USP) Class VI tested and suitable for reusable instruments or components that must withstand gamma, e-beam, and ethylene oxide sterilization, the company said in a press release. Minimally invasive procedures are increasingly used throughout the healthcare industry. New procedures require instruments, fixtures, and components that do not interfere with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computerized axial tomography (CAT), fluoroscopy, and x-ray imaging. Metals are not suitable, and plastics often require reinforcing additives, such as glass fiber, to provide sufficient strength for structural components. However, these traditional additives are too large for molding or extruding intricate device components with thin wall sections, and unreinforced, high-strength plastic options, such as polyetheretherketone (PEEK), are often cost prohibitive. Nanomed MAX compounds incorporate nanoclay particles into a high strength nylon alloy. The platelet-shaped particles, less than a nanometer thick and up to 1000 times greater in surface diameter, provide reinforcement at the molecular level, enhancing strength and rigidity of the polymer without hindering flow into thin sections, the company says.  Nanomed MAX compounds include less than 10 percent by weight nanoparticles, resulting in 15 percent more tensile strength than unmodified PEEK, for approximately half the price, according...

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Celanese Recognized for Engineered Materials Critical to Safety, Auto Body Exterior

DALLAS and DETROIT—Celanese Corporation (CE), a global technology and specialty materials company, recently earned top plastic and automotive industry recognition from the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) in two categories— Safety and Body Exterior— as the materials supplier for award-winning components of the new 2017 Ford Super Duty pickup. The awards were presented at the 46th Annual SPE Automotive Division Innovation Awards Gala, held in Detroit in November for more than 700 innovators, engineers, and scientists from throughout the industry. “As we consider this year’s theme, ‘Plastics: Innovation in Motion,’ we see continued trends of light-weighting, appearance solutions and cost reduction, and a renewed interest in E&E/sensor technologies,” said Dr. Verghese Thomas, vice president and chief technology and innovation officer for Celanese, while highlighting how the award finalists aligned with several key auto industry trends.. Each Celanese engineered material reflects nearly a century of technical expertise as well as industry experience and a global perspective. Celanese engineers work locally with automotive OEMs, tier suppliers, and molders around the world to learn their specific needs and identify the right polymers to simplify part design, reduce weight, and improve durability while reducing costs and development time. Celanese supplied material for three projects selected as finalists by SPE; two of those projects by the Ford Motor Company won in the categories of Safety and Body Exterior. For the first of the two...

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New Materials Reported to Meet Demands for Light Weight in Semi-Structural Auto Applications

BERWYN, Pa.—Trinseo, a global materials company and manufacturer of plastics, latex binders, and synthetic rubber, recently debuted its 85 percent long glass fiber (LGF) polypropylene (PP) concentrate product family for automotive semi-structural applications. ENLITE™ PP LGF 1851 and 1852, the latest innovations in Trinseo’s ENLITE™ structural polymers portfolio, are reported to offer “a step-change improvement over the previous industry benchmark of 60 percent LGF concentration.” “We know that lightweight is more than a trend in the automotive industry; it’s a necessity,” said Dagmar van Heur, vice president, Performance Plastics, in a press release. “We’ve also seen an increasing need for cost-effective semi-structural parts, and our new ENLITE™ LGF 1851 technology is a direct response to these demands. It is the first structural polymer with an 85% concentration on the market, offering manufacturers a more advanced, robust, and affordable solution for today’s lightweight needs.” The new ENLITE products are reported to have the highest glass fiber concentration (85 percent) of any PP LGF concentrate available commercially for automotive semi-structural applications, an attribute that enables lighter weight interior parts at lower total cost compared to steel and aluminum, Trinseo said. ENLITE products are developed for instrument panels, door modules, front-end modules, tailgates, and other interior and semi-structural applications that require a balance of dimensional stability, heat resistance, and weight optimization. ENLITE™ LGF 1851 and 1852 are now available globally and supported...

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Alumina Sensor Reported to Withstand Extreme Temperatures

RALEIGH, N.C.—Morgan Advanced Materials has produced a new type of alumina sensor specially designed for high pressure and high temperature water and sub-metering, the company announced recently. The sensor has been specifically developed to withstand extreme temperatures, making it well suited to both heat metering and high temperature fluid metering. Manufactured using Morgan’s specially-formulated proprietary alumina, the sensor is reported to solve many of the problems associated with high temperature environments, with a focus on reducing thermal drift and zero flow offset over a large temperature range. Morgan’s new sensor is said to significantly minimize the flow offset because the material has been manufactured to control the thermal properties of both the internal and external structure. This enables the minimum flow rate range to be kept as small as possible, enhancing the overall accuracy of the reading, the company said in a press release. Morgan’s sensor design has been tested up to 100 bar pressure and 150oC, reportedly surpassing the current market requirements for heat metering. This is a direct benefit of using alumina— a material which has minimal expansion properties, and is renowned for its strength and durability— in the sensor design. Due to its thermal stability, the sensor is well suited for metering of potable water or other fluids. The inert nature of alumina makes a component that is suitable in food and pharmaceutical environments, as well...

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Low Density SMC Said to Be Suited for Range of Lightweighting Applications

COLUMBUS, Ohio—A low-density sheet molding compound (SMC) recently introduced by Core Molding Technologies, Inc. (CMT), is reported to be an ultra-low density SMC with a density below that of water and most thermoplastic systems. Core’s Hydrilite™ SMC combines a nominal density of 0.98 sp.gr. with mid-range mechanical performance and a high-quality surface appearance, the company reported in a press release. Its density is lower than Core’s Airilite® and Econolite® SMC systems, which test at 1.18 sp.gr., and is said to be 50 percent lower than standard-density SMC materials. Core Molding Technologies (coremt.com) is a North American compounder of custom sheet molding compound and a molder of fiberglass reinforced thermoset and thermoplastic compounds. The company specializes in large-format moldings and offers fiberglass processes that include compression molding of SMC, glass mat thermoplastics (GMT) and bulk molding compounds (BMC); compression and transfer molding of direct long-fiber thermoplastics (D-LFT); and vacuum resin transfer molding (V-RTM). “Across our markets, customers continue to challenge us to lower the density of fiberglass reinforced material systems to support their light-weighting efforts,” said Terry O’Donovan, vice president, marketing and sales for Core Molding Technologies, in the release. “A molded product that weighs 100 pounds in standard-technology SMC would weigh only 51 pounds in Hydrilite™ SMC.” Hydrilite SMC is formulated with a high-performance resin system and is reinforced with 41 percent glass fiber by weight. “The use of...

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Composite Materials Help Military Reduce Weight of Body Armor

MORRIS PLAINS, N.J.—KDH Defense Systems will use Honeywell’s Spectra Shield® and Gold Shield® ballistic composite materials to create new soft armor vest systems as part of the U.S. Army’s next-generation Soldier Protection System (SPS), Honeywell reported in a press release. Armor made with Honeywell’s Spectra Shield and Gold Shield products was chosen by soldiers after a U.S. Military Human Factors Evaluation. The armor systems were reported to have demonstrated improved mobility and flexibility, and reduced weight versus systems predominantly made with woven aramid, Honeywell said in its release. Reducing body armor weight is a key goal for the Army. The SPS is a modular, scalable, and tailorable system designed to provide an overall weight reduction of 10 percent. It comprises five subsystems, including the Torso and Extremity Protection (TEP) subsystem, which aims to achieve a 26 percent weight reduction. KDH Defense Systems will incorporate Spectra Shield and Gold Shield with its own ballistic designs to produce several TEP products. Spectra Shield technology is a patented Honeywell process designed to optimize the ballistic performance characteristics of Spectra fibers. Spectra Shield and Gold Shield products are reported to have been widely adopted globally for the most advanced armor applications, from bullet-resistant vests, breast plates, and helmets to combat vehicles and military aircraft—all of which require lightweight solutions and superior...

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New Design Could Spur Proliferation of LiDAR Sensors for Autonomous Vehicles

MORGAN HILL, Calif.— Velodyne LiDAR Inc., a prominent developer of light, detection and ranging (LiDAR) technology, has developed a design for a solid-state LiDAR sensor that reportedly makes the sensors less expensive, easier to integrate due to their smaller size, and more reliable as a result of fewer moving parts. The design, which can be integrated in Velodyne LiDAR’s existing Puck form factors, is reported to yield a subsystem cost of under $50 U.S. when sold in high-volume manufacturing scale. Velodyne LiDAR (www.velodynelidar.com) is optimistic that the technology will spur proliferation of LiDAR sensors in multiple industry sectors, including autonomous vehicles, ridesharing, 3D mapping, and drones. “Our new design approach creates a true solid-state LiDAR sensor, while significantly raising the bar as to what can be expected from LiDAR sensors as far as cost, size, and reliability,” said David Hall, founder and CEO of Velodyne LiDAR, in a company release. “Together with our customers and partners, we strive to create a world where LiDAR sensors increase safety and freedom for people everywhere, and this new design is a huge step in that direction.” Velodyne LiDAR’s new approach to the development of solid-state LiDAR sensors reflects the application of a monolithic gallium nitride (GaN) integrated circuit, developed in partnership with Efficient Power Conversion (EPC). The design consolidates components and is said to result in significant advances in sensor miniaturization, reliability,...

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Redesigned Die Cast Component Wins NADCA Productivity Award

MILWAUKEE, Wis.—A recent example of innovation occurred at Briggs & Stratton’s Murray, Kentucky manufacturing facility with the redesign of the cylinder head that was die cast for the 125cc and 140cc E-series engine. The new die cast component won the Productivity Award from the North American Die Casting Association’s (NADCA) annual International Die Casting Design Competition in September. For 43 years, NADCA has sponsored the International Die Casting Design Competition to promote increased use of die casting by recognizing and publicizing outstanding designs, according to the Association’s website. For each entry category, there are four equally weighted criteria: ingenuity of casting and/or product design, overall quality, cost savings as compared to other manufacturing processes, and the part’s contribution to expanding the market for die castings. “NADCA’s competition recognizes some of the most forward-thinking work in our industry, making this a special achievement for our team, as it’s the second award we’ve received in two years,” said Dave DeBaets, vice president of global engine operations at Briggs & Stratton, in a company release. “Briggs & Stratton is dedicated to product advancement, and competitions such as this one encourage growth and innovation for us and the industry as a whole.” Briggs & Stratton’s casting, product engineering, and die engineering teams collaborated in an effort to continuously improve manufacturability. The team created the engine overhead valve (OHV) more efficiently by developing a...

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Federal Tool & Engineering Wins PMA Design Award for Redesign of Mounting Bracket

CLEVELAND, Ohio—Federal Tool & Engineering, LLC, of West Bend, Wisconsin, was recently recognized by the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) for its redesign of a CB mounting bracket, used in securing heating cables to the exterior of commercial food service ovens. The company’s efforts earned it the 2016 Higgins-Caditz Design Award, which recognizes a manufacturing company for outstanding achievement in developing an innovative product design. Federal Tool & Engineering is a provider of metal components and welded and manual assemblies to OEMs in the food-service equipment, power generation, on- and off -highway transportation, commercial lighting, and consumer appliance markets. Based on the size of the oven, a single- , double- , or triple-hole version of the mounting bracket is used to secure the heating cables. Previously, each of the three brackets was made independently. Because total process time was 34-48 seconds per part, depending on the part version, a typical 2,000-piece run could take as long as 26 hours to process. On an annual volume of 45,000 pieces, the annual process time exceeded 550 hours. Additional concerns surrounded the storage, management, and procurement of three different SKUs (stock keeping units), in addition to the tabs welded to each bracket. After the design change, a single part is produced using a progressive die as a triple-hole version, with the ability to split the part into a single-hole and a double-hole bracket. Total process time has been...

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Design Guide Offers Insights for Fiberglass-to-Thermoforming Conversions

MT. LAUREL, N.J.—Productive Plastics, a contract manufacturer of heavy-gauge plastic thermoformed parts, has developed and released a new design guide for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), design engineers, and others who are considering the use of heavy gauge plastic thermoforming—as an upgraded replacement for fiberglass—to manufacture their products. The report, a comparison and conversion guide for “upgrading fiberglass to plastic thermoforming,” offers process overviews of fiberglass and plastic thermoforming, as well as tooling and process comparisons, weight considerations, and insights on material performance. “This new fiberglass-to-plastic thermoforming guide can really provide some assistance to customers and prospects as they consider different material and manufacturing technology,” said Evan Gilham, COO of Productive Plastics, in a press release. “The guide summarizes a lot of Productive Plastics’ accumulated knowledge and experience gained over decades of providing plastic thermoforming services and many projects converting fiberglass parts to plastic thermoformed components for our customers.” Thermoforming is the plastic production process that heats a two-dimensional rigid thermoplastic sheet and uses vacuum or pressure, or both, to form that sheet into a three-dimensional shape. Productive Plastics’ core competency is in cut-sheet heavy gauge thermoforming, with sheet materials ranging from 0.060 to 0.500 inch thick. Typical applications for custom heavy-gauge thermoformed components include transportation (rail cars, buses, and trucks), industrial equipment, medical device, kiosks, and many types of plastic enclosures. The design guide can be downloaded in PDF...

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Industrial 3D Printer Enables Part Designers to Prove Out Designs for BAAM, other Equipment

HARRISON, Ohio and BOSTON—A new industrial 3D printer that can be used to save material costs and prove out designs for multiple types of fabrication equipment was introduced in November by Cincinnati Incorporated (CI) and New Valence Robotics (NVBOTS). Dubbed SAAM (Small Area Additive Manufacturing), the 3D printer is powered by NVBOTS, the developer of the technology, and is designed as a complement to CI’s BAAM (Big Area Additive Manufacturing) capability. The SAAM 3D printer uses fused filament fabrication (FFF) technology to 3D-print plastic parts directly from a CAD design. Once the design has been validated for form and functionality on SAAM, the same CAD files are leveraged to produce larger full-scale parts on BAAM. The SAAM system offers automated part removal and is paired with NVCloud software that is said to enable users to print parts anytime, from any cloud-connected device, while providing administrators with full control of workflows typical in a shared-use scenario. This combination of capabilities lowers cost and complexity in multi-user environments. “Additive manufacturing has opened a new world for parts designers and engineers,” said Carey Chen, president and CEO of Cincinnati Incorporated, in a press release. “SAAM allows these innovative people to push the boundaries of part design by quickly rendering prototypes, and providing the ability to test their designs prior to full-scale production on the much larger BAAM system. Simply put, SAAM can create a relatively inexpensive print-preview for BAAM. This is another demonstration of how additive manufacturing is shaping the future of manufacturing, especially in industries like aerospace, automotive, and heavy...

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Anti-Rotational Design is Said to Ensure Actuator Accuracy

VISTA, Calif.— BEI Kimco, a brand of Sensata Technologies, has introduced a new moving magnet voice coil actuator with a flexure design that is said to ensure high alignment accuracy by preventing unwanted shaft rotation. The VCA is especially suited where extreme precision is required, such as in medical equipment, laboratory instrumentation, clean rooms, low-outgassing, and aerospace applications, the company reported. The Housed Linear Actuator Model LAH13-11-000A incorporates a shaft with flexures at both ends of travel that support the moving magnet field assembly. Besides preventing shaft rotation inaccuracies, the flexure design is said to eliminate friction and side-loads at non-vertical angles, as well as unwanted particulate accumulation caused from bearing/bushing shedding. Another attribute is its inherent ability to return the magnet to mid-stroke when re-energized, the company said in a press release (www.beikimco.com). The new actuator delivers a peak force of 11.9 N and a continuous stall force of 0.7 N in a small, lightweight package that measures just 36.00 mm x 30.00 mm and weighs 0.22 lb. According to BEI Kimco, accuracy is limited only by the user’s encoder used for feedback, and rigorous testing is said to assure long life. “This plug-and-play housed actuator saves users time by eliminating the need to mount their own flexure or add a housing,” said BEI Kimco Senior Applications Engineer Jim McNamara, in the release. “It really allows for seamless...

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Improved Split-Hub Bevel Gear Design Reported to Provide Greater Reliability

NEW HYDE PARK, N.Y.—Stock Drive Products/Sterling Instrument (SDP/SI) has expanded its component offering with the introduction of a new series of Fairloc® Hub Miter and Bevel Gears. The precision gear sets include the unique Fairloc hub design, are machined from stainless steel and anodized aluminum, and are offered in a variety of ratios, the company reported in a press release. The Fairloc hub precision miter and bevel gear sets S13F3Z-72 (72 pitch), S13F4Z-64 (64 pitch), and S13F6Z-48 (48 pitch) are available as standard catalog items, but can be customized to meet client requirements, such as different number of teeth, different pitch, bore size, or passivation. The one-piece construction is said to eliminate the need for two separate components, a clamp and split-hub bevel gear, resulting in greater reliability and time and cost savings. The compact, self-contained Fairloc hub is reported to provide a number of advantages, better reliability of fixing the gear to the shaft, superior accuracy of clamped gear runout to the shaft, and easy adjustment. Fairloc can be tightened and released repeatedly without marring the shaft, the company said. “Many of our customers have switched to the Fairloc® hub design, not only for gears, but also pulleys and couplings, and the numbers are growing,” said Cris Ioanitescu, applications engineering manager, in a statement. “Our increased gear-cutting capacity and improved methods of production are resulting in shorter lead...

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Technologies Point to New Possibilities for Automotive Manufacturing

Divergent 3D’s environmentally efficient manufacturing platform and Toyota’s wireless EV charging system receive special recognition at R&D 100 Awards  OXON HILL, Md.—A manufacturing platform that reduces the amount of capital, materials, and energy needed to build vehicles, and a wireless electric vehicle charging system that enables batteries to be charged while driving were among the technologies awarded special recognition at the 2016 R&D 100 Awards, announced in November by R&D magazine. In selecting what are judged to be the “100 most technologically significant products introduced into the marketplace over the past year,” the international awards competition recognizes excellence across a wide range of industries, including telecommunications, optics, materials science, and biotechnology. Divergent 3D, a Los Angeles-based startup with a radical new approach to automotive manufacturing, took top honors in the Special Recognition: Green Tech category, receiving the Gold Award for its environmentally efficient Divergent Manufacturing Platform™. Meanwhile, Toyota Engineering and Manufacturing North America, headquartered in Erlanger, Kentucky, received the Bronze Award in the Special Recognition: Green Tech category for the Wireless Power Transfer Based Electric and Plug-in Vehicle Charging System. Toyota co-developed the technology with a team of researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and support from Cisco Systems and the International Transportation Innovation Center. Divergent 3D is attempting to greatly reduce the materials and energy used to manufacture vehicles, along with the associated costs and pollution, through...

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Magna Recognized for Innovation in Manufacturing

TROY, Mich.—Magna International Inc. won an Innovation Award from the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) for its unique process of laser cutting and welding front and rear fascias for the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, the company announced recently. Magna received the top award in the Process/Assembly/Enabling Technologies category at SPE’s Automotive Division 2016 Innovation Awards Competition in November in Livonia, Michigan. The process, which can be applied to other plastic exterior components, is used instead of punch and ultrasonic welding, providing greater flexibility for lower-volume programs, Magna reported in a press release. “Developing new processes, materials, and technologies is key to supporting our customers,” said Magna Exteriors President Grahame Burrow, in a release from Magna. “The recognition we have received from SPE underscores our commitment to producing and delivering innovative exterior systems and components.” The honor followed a near sweep by Magna at the SPE Central Europe Automotive Awards, where the company won five awards, including the Grand Award for a unique, lightweight skid plate made for a premium European automaker. The laser cutting and welding process also won the SPE Detroit Chapter’s Innovation Award in October, Magna...

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Closing Tech Gaps Can Fortify Advanced Manufacturing and Save $100 Billion Annually, NIST Studies Say

  GAITHERSBURG, Md.—To spur significant innovation and growth in advanced manufacturing, and save over $100 billion annually, U.S. industry must rectify currently unmet needs for measurement science and “proof-of-concept” demonstrations of emerging technologies. This is the overall conclusion reached by economic studies, funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), of four advanced manufacturing areas used to create everything from automobile composites to zero-noise headsets. “Gaps in the technology infrastructure—including the lack of reliable measurement and test methods, scientifically based standards, and other formal knowledge and tools—limit advanced manufacturing’s further development and adoption,” said NIST economist Gary Anderson, coordinator of the economic studies prepared by RTI International, an independent nonprofit research institute, in a release from NIST. Using data collected through extensive interviews and surveys with researchers, developers, manufacturers, and other stakeholders, each of the four studies identifies 5 to 10 critical technical barriers to the adoption of its specific manufacturing technology. The studies also estimate the impacts of eliminating those obstacles, and define which needs should be met first to do so. For example, establishing industry-wide standards and measurements for the inks and substrates used in roll-to-roll (R2R) manufacturing—the fabrication of electronic devices on a roll of flexible plastic or metal—is projected to reduce production costs by 15 percent. Likewise, the development and adoption of verified reference data, robust measurement technologies and testing protocols, and standardized modeling...

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Kateeva’s Inkjet Printing System Wins Printed Electronics Award

NEWARK, Calif.— Kateeva’s YIELDjet™ FLEX inkjet printing system was named the winner of the Technical Development Manufacturing Award at the Printed Electronics USA conference, held in Santa Clara, California, in November. Presented annually by conference organizer IDTechEx, the award honors the most significant development of a manufacturing device process or production plant in the printed electronics industry over the previous 24 months. In particular, the award honors manufacturing developments that optimize the process of lab-scale or mass-scale production by improving productivity, quality, reliability, uniformity, or scale. Kateeva’s YIELDjet FLEX system is a high-yield mass-production tool for the key organic layer deposition step in the OLED (organic light-emitting diode) Thin Film Encapsulation (TFE) market. Customers include the world’s largest flat panel display manufacturers located in Asia. It is reported to solve critical technical problems that previously made it economically impractical to mass produce flexible OLEDs. “This is printed electronics in action, where inkjet printing is used to enable commercial consumer electronics devices today,” said Raghu Das, CEO of IDTechEx, in a press release. “Kateeva has built a system that continuously provides uniform, reliable, and precise function required for the demanding display business.” For more information about the award, Kateeva, and its YIELDjet FLEX system, visit...

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Right-Angle, Flange-Mounted Planetary Gearbox is Suited for Tight Spaces

Compact WPLFE gearbox takes second place in i-NOVO Tech Awards CHARLOTTE, N.C.—A compact right-angle planetary gearbox manufactured by Neugart USA is said to require up to 30 percent less space than comparable right angle gearboxes, depending on the frame size. Besides being suited for applications with tight space constraints and powerful torque requirements, the new flange-mounted WPLFE gearbox “has the flexibility to mount in any direction to help optimize small spaces,” the company reported in a press release. The WPLFE took second place in voting for the i-NOVO Tech Awards at the recently concluded SPS-IPC Drives trade fair in Nuremberg, Germany. This model has a standardized flange interface that makes it easy to mount drive components, such as pulleys, belt drives, rack-and-pinion systems, linear units, and rotary tables. The WPLFE’s large flange output shaft diameter is reported to provide five times the torsional stiffness of an output shaft with a feather key. It also comes with deep, low-friction groove ball bearings that produce little heat, ultimately improving the lifetime performance of the gearbox and drive, according to the manufacturer. The WPLFE gearbox, capable of operating at temperatures from 25º to 90º C, is said to have a service life of 20,000...

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Engineers Reveal Fabrication Process for Transparent Sensors

MADISON, Wis.—In 2014, when University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers announced, in the journal Nature Communications, that they had developed transparent sensors for use in imaging the brain, researchers around the world took notice. Then the requests came flooding in. “So many research groups started asking us for these devices that we couldn’t keep up,” said Zhenqiang (Jack) Ma, the Lynn H. Matthias Professor and Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor in electrical and computer engineering at UW-Madison, in a release from the university. Ma’s group is at the leading edge of developing what it calls “revolutionary flexible electronic devices.” The see-through, implantable micro-electrode arrays were said to be “light years beyond anything ever created.” Although Ma and collaborator Justin Williams, the Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor in biomedical engineering and neurological surgery at UW-Madison, patented the technology through the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, they saw its potential for advancements in research. “That little step has already resulted in an explosion of research in this field,” said Williams in the release. “We didn’t want to keep this technology in our lab. We wanted to share it and expand the boundaries of its applications.” In a paper published on Oct. 13, 2016 in the journal Nature Protocols, the researchers described in great detail how to fabricate and use transparent graphene neural electrode arrays in applications in electrophysiology, fluorescent microscopy, optical coherence tomography, and optogenetics. “We described...

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Dana Rolls Out Portfolio of E-Axles for Hybrid, Electric Vehicles

MAUMEE, Ohio—Dana Incorporated recently announced that it has introduced its Spicer ® Electrified ™ portfolio of motor, control, and e-drive technologies to advance electric propulsion systems. The portfolio addresses each of Dana’ end markets—light, commercial, and off-highway vehicles—and builds on Dana’s half-century of research in electric driveline technologies. It is also said to complement the company’s battery-cooling solutions offered under the Long® brand portfolio. “Dana has a unique ability to leverage knowledge across multiple end markets, and we are confident that our investment and research will benefit the advancement of technology for the entire mobility industry,” said Dana President and CEO James Kamsickas, in a release from the company. “The Spicer Electrified strategy will build on Dana’s experience and successes, while further accelerating electric driveline technology and real-world applications over the next decade and beyond.” Currently in production, the Spicer® EV Drive for electric vans manages speed and torque from the e-motor to the wheels. Planned for launch in 2018, Dana’s new e-axles for electric transit buses and city delivery vehicles feature a fully integrated motor and gear box. Dana is also working with automotive manufacturers to develop all-wheel-drive (AWD) e-axles that deliver superior performance, packaging, and reliability, while meeting customer demand for AWD functionality paired with traditional front-wheel-drive...

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Digital I/O Carrier Board Connects Industrial Devices to Raspberry Pi Single-board Computers

TEMECULA, Calif.—A new carrier board released by industrial automation manufacturer and Internet of Things platform developer Opto 22 is reported to add the ability to connect, monitor, control, and automate billions of existing devices that were previously beyond the Raspberry Pi’s® built-in 3.3 VDC GPIO sensing and control capabilities. Opto 22’s Digital I/O Carrier Board for the Raspberry Pi® single-board computer enables the Pi to sense or switch up to 16 individually selectable electrical loads, ranging from 2.5 to 280 VAC/VDC, with solid-state power and reliability, the company said in a press release. Raspberry Pi developers across the world can use the carrier board with industrially hardened modules to build solutions for real-world industrial automation, remote monitoring, and discrete control applications. The Raspberry Pi is a flexible and powerful single-board computing platform originally designed as an educational tool for software students. With a variety of input/output interfaces, including USB, HDMI, and 40 3.3 VDC GPIO pins, the Raspberry Pi has been an ideal tool for rapid prototyping and development. Using its built-in GPIO pins, small electrical devices and peripherals like LEDs and push buttons can be connected to the Pi through breadboards and wires to build hobby-level monitoring and control applications. As an education platform, the Raspberry Pi has ignited the imagination of new and experienced developers alike. New opportunities to use the Raspberry Pi are being identified in...

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