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PRINT CATALOGS ENDURE Some engineers love them! p33 NEW TRICKS, OLD DOG A novel air motor, p40 ELASTOMERS GO GREEN

New applications open up, p49

OCTOBER 2009 $15.00


ROCKET MAN Nino Amarena’s $200K Flying Machine Packs 400 lb of Thrust, p44




contents October 2009 volume 64 no. 10


44 Rocket Man Nino Amarena is flying high, as his company, Thunderbolt Aerosystems, designs, builds and sells rocketbelts to the public. BY CHARLES J. MURRAY, Senior Technical Editor, Electronics


Departments MAIL

16 Readers Sound off Readers complain about their shoddy luggage, believe the world is taking a turn for the worse, and say Americans are getting lazy: Why can’t we simply crank down our windows and learn how to read a map? RANT


49 Elastomers Go Green Advancements in technology used in PVC replacement and water purification are creating new opportunities for developing green products. BY DOUG SMOCK, Contributing Editor, Materials & Fastening F E AT U R E

53 What’s Next after the Dreamliner? Think Fuel Cells Hydrogen power might be the next big thing in aircraft — it just needs to be lightweight and heat resistant. BY DOUG SMOCK, Contributing Editor, Materials & Fastening THE FIELD REPORT

11 Heft: It’s the New Quality Attribute Bring on the bulk in everyday products — just leave it out of cell phones, laptops and iPods. BY KAREN AUGUSTON FIELD, Editor-in-Chief MADE BY MONKEYS

12 Thermal Expansion Causes Solar Panel Failure Arizona temperatures and poor lead attachment proved to be the culprits in the case of the failing solar panels. BY KAREN AUGUSTON FIELD, Editor-in-Chief

18 Far More Than a Fad The benefits of electric and hybrid vehicles are steadily increasing. BY PHIL COLLINS, Director, Business Development, Kollmorgen Vehicle Systems SHERLOCK OHMS

26 The Adventure of the Buggy Debugger What caused an in-circuit emulator (ICE) to repeatedly reset itself at random? BY BOB COLWELL, Contributing Writer

72 Spirit Radio Receives Transmissions from the Beyond Rick Crammond’s Spirit Radio creates spooky sounds, paying homage to all things that go bump in the night.

20 MECHATRONICS Fresh ideas on integrating mechanical systems, electronics, control systems and software.

24 FLASH New and Noteworthy Products

28 TIPS FROM TITUS Unbelievably Useful Information from a Test Expert

33 NEWS Trends, Developments, Breakthroughs

57 EXPO Best of the Engineering Marketplace



30 City on a Hill At what point did engineers leave “design” out of the design process when building roads and other important infrastructure? BY GEOFFREY C. ORSAK, Dean of Engineering, Southern Methodist University CALAMITIES

70 The Case of the Gummy Gears What caused a steel gear pump used in a suspected military application to fail? BY KENNETH RUSSELL, Contributing Editor

Look for these stories between pages 48 and 49. If your copy of Design News does not include this section, you can find it at DESIGN NEWS SUPPLEMENTS E L E C T R O N I C S T R E N D W AT C H

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How meaningful is a 230CH mpg rating? Blogger Chuck Murray argues that we need an understandable fuel efficiency equivalent — and we need it fast.

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Why do we still have 800/888 phone numbers? Wireless expert Joel Young argues that these tollfree numbers are obsolete.

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FREE WEBCASTS: MECHATRONIC SYSTEM DESIGN: INNOVATE OR PERISH A mechatronics approach gives you a strategic and commercial advantage. Learn why it allows your team to more rapidly develop products, enhance existing products, and respond to the introduction of new product lines by a competitor. http://designnews.hotims. com/23122-509 BASICS OF DESIGNING LINEAR MOTION SYSTEMS INTRODUCTION For engineers working on linear motion systems, two areas are critical to success: application integration and control system design. View this webcast to learn proper selection of linear motion technology, tips on designing for harsh environments, using advanced control algorithms, and much more. http://designnews.hotims. com/23122-510

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White Paper Product Prototype Pre-Compliance Evaluation from Curtis-Straus Product prototype pre-compliance evaluations and test plans help ensure your product complies with regulatory requirements. Curtis-Straus’ advanced technology provides testing and certification of virtually all electronics, such as wireless devices, telecom, computers and medical devices.

Data Sheet 128M x 72 DDR2 SDRAM Multi-Chip Package from White Electronic Designs This 1-Gbyte SDRAM, organized as 128M x 72, is packaged in a 16 x 22 mm, 352 mm2, 208 plastic ball grid array (PBGA). It provides high-density memory for extended-environment embedded computing. Benefits include higher board density and routing advantages.

White Paper Considerations for Choosing a PAC from Opto 22 Industrial applications require the integration of multiple systems; incorporating process, discrete and motion control; providing real-time data to company databases. When choosing programmable automation controllers for your application, here are some considerations to keep in mind.

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example of what must be the most expensive pizza cutter on the planet ($20) for our Made by Monkeys blog. He ruined it by putting in the dishwasher. The cutter has a cast aluminum handle and a stainless-steel cutting blade, and the detergent did a pretty good job on the aluminum. But it wasn’t entirely Chuck’s fault: There is no “NOT dishwasher safe” warning on the cutter. And besides, Chuck works in the plastics industry so he gets a free pass. I had a conversation with Ken Russell, our resident forensic metallurgist about it all. He said if he were attributing the blame in this case, he would make it about 90-10 percent with Chuck on the small end. I agree. “The corroded handle is a case of foreseeable misuse, as the manufacturer had to know that Americans throw everything into the dishwasher,” said Ken. What intrigued me more about this case was the fact that Chuck bought the type of item that I personally only would have acquired through my bridal registry. When I walked down the aisle at the advanced age of 38 (to sighs of relief from my parents), I already had a fully stocked kitchen and a personal chef (my fiancé). So about the only thing I could think of to put on my bridal registry were expensive gimcracks like a sterling silver lollypop holder. I wondered to myself: Why would Chuck buy this device? Does he eat a lot of pizza? Does he like thin crusts or thick crusts? Does he own a knife sharpener or have a weapon collection? My curiosity demanded that I investi-

gate: “Well, it has heft in the hand for one thing, and I guess that particular quality in a product suggests to me that it is made right,” Chuck told me. He liked some other things about it, like the screw and Nylock nut fastener. You know, the kind of stuff an engineer would think about. Pity that such a (mostly) well-thought-out design didn’t hold up in the dishwasher. But the heft thing did interest me. When exactly did “heft” become an indication of quality for certain things? Is it a backlash to the cheap, “Made in Japan” mentality? Or, is it that those of us of a certain age have a preconceived idea of how something should feel in the hand because we remember the way it used to be? Recently, for example, my husband and I went shopping for a new phone handset for our landline. Having not shopped for a new phone like this for many years, the new floor models were surprisingly light in the hand, and not in a good way. They lacked the feeling of sturdiness that I associate with a telephone (non-mobile, of course). We wound up buying an industrialstrengthened phone. It’s designed to survive a nuclear disaster, which we’re not planning for, and it’s ugly. But I like the way it feels in my hand. In the never-ending quest to “lightweight” products, heft is certainly not a great attribute for, say, laptop computers and iPods. Or eyeglasses. But for many other products out there, I say bring on the bulk! Karen Field, Editor-in-Chief

D E S I G N N E W S O C T O B E R 2 0 0 9 [ w w w. d e s i g n n e w s . c o m ] 1 1

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Thermal Expansion Causes SOLAR PANEL FAILURE Gordon Henderson sends this example of a solar panel that failed, in true monkey fashion, because it was inadequately designed for operation in sunny Scottsdale, AZ! “In the spring of 2008, I purchased two 15-W solar panels. These solar panels are popular, inexpensive and continue to be sold by numerous companies. My solar panels are in daily use in Scottsdale, AZ, where the ambient summer temperatures exceed 110F on many days. Therein lies a contributor to the problem, since the temperature of the solar panels is much higher than ambient, due to the solarloading on their glass front surfaces. In July 2008, when the temperatures were high, I noticed that one solar panel produced power in the morning, but stopped producing power in the afternoon, when ambient temperatures were higher. I originally wondered about a possible problem with the blocking diode that prevents reverse current, and I continued to monitor the symptoms, which continued daily. Soon, the second solar panel started to have similar behavior, and engineering curiosity forced me to open the frames of each panel and have a look. I found all of the wiring potted with a substance that appeared similar to silicone RTV. First, I dug away Original foil lead the potting from around the diodes, checked them, and proved they were Wire lead New foil lead with stress relief functioning properly. I was hesitant and soldered Potting to dig the potting away from the to the wire substance that covered positive and negative wires, as I susthe whole area pected the wires were soldered to the solar panel via their thin, narrow, foil leads. I didn’t want to tear the leads especially if intact. I proved which leads had the disconnect problem by pushing on the potting surrounding the offending lead to make or break the connection. After very careful digging, I could see that one foil lead was severed on each of the solar panels. These leads were straight with no stress relief to accommodate for thermal expansion within the potting. They were apparently pulled apart during expansion, the broken leads returned to a position of slight contact at lower temperatures. I was able to repair both leads by cleaning the foil and soldering additional foil leads between them and their wires. The new foil leads contained a generous stress relief. At this point, I suspected the other two unbroken leads were marginal, and removed the potting to view them as well. As suspected, they had tearing of the foil or solder joint, although they were still functional. I repaired them in the same way. During reassembly, I applied RTV potting to the wires to keep moisture out, but avoided potting the foil lead areas. A year later both panels are performing normally. In the end, these solar panels were not a good value, but I still like them and use them. I have since bought more low-power solar panels from another manufacturer, who uses a different and hopefully better method of attaching the leads. We’ll see.” If you’ve had a run-in with a product that failed to live up to your expectations, we’d like to hear about it. E-mail your examples to


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I just had to take keyboard in hand and respond to the article by Charles Murray on the electronic content in cars, “Cutting the Electrical Fat,” (DN 08.09, http://designnews.hotims. com/23122-514). In 1983 I went to work for Motorola. One of the projects that Motorola was working on at the time, was the 6804 (dubbed the popcorn processor). It was about the size of an AND gate die, and Motorola thought they could sell it for less than a dollar, because of its small size. We designed an intelligent dash around another of the Motorola chips, and a two-wire bus to communicate to the 6804’s which we proposed putting on each taillight and gas tank. The automotive industry was wresting with the wiring harness back then. The problem is that engineers (I’m one of them, being a firmware engineer) think kind of like this: “Hey, a micro is cheap, memory is cheap, let’s just throw a micro at the problem, a little code and we are good to go.” You don’t need micros handling the likes of electronic windows, door locks, car seats and such. We had those before micros. Give us back our good old manual cranks and manual locks. Engine controllers, air bag controllers, brake controllers, AC controllers are really all the controllers you need in a car. Everything else is just a waste of resources, to cater to the lazy customer. Learn to read a map, roll your window down and manually adjust your seat. Woody Baker Nacogdoches, TX THE WORLD IS CHANGING — NOT FOR THE BETTER

I enjoyed your article, in the April 2009 issue of Design News, “They Said What?” (DN 04.09, http://designnews., and I take the liberty for a few comments. I am not at all surprised that only 45 percent of the college-educated respondents believe the U.S. will continue to lead the world. These must be the smart ones who have been awakened to what has been and continues to take place in our country. (The other 55 percent seem to care less.) I am talking about the loss of manufacturing. You see manufacturing is the backbone of any progressive 16

MAIL Readers Sound Off society. It, along with mining and agriculture, produces wealth. A service economy produces no wealth. Manufacturing and associated industry requires engineers, scientists and other higher education. It supports research and development. Selling goods at our mega stores or flipping hamburgers does not require any degree of higher education. Our school systems have little professional leaders who know what makes the world tick. If the present reality continues, what good will we have for engineers? Such need will be in China, India, etc. How sad to see how our world is changing. Wade Harter Mechanical Engineer, Clemson University EVEN READERS HATE THEIR LUGGAGE

I bought a rolling bag for one of my very infrequent business trips. Granted that it was a bit on the inexpensive (pronounced “cheap”) side but it did work nicely up to a point, “Luggage I Love to Hate,” (DN 08.09, http://designnews. I was running late getting to the Albuquerque, NM airport for the trip back to NYC. I dropped off my rental car and ran the quarter mile to the terminal — pulling my rolling bag. I was unaware of anything abnormal until I entered the terminal and noticed folks staring at me. Stopping for a moment to catch my breath, the smell of burning plastic overtook me. Seems that the wheels on my bag were rubbing against the wheel well and generated enough friction to start melting. The axles also did not have any bearings and caused heating. Thankfully this was pre-9/11 or I’m sure that I would have been detained. I wound up picking the bag up and carrying it to the baggage check. When I got home, I did a tear-down and replaced the wheels with ones from an old Rollerblade. Looked promising, but never had to use it for another business trip. Bob Oppenheimer White Plains, NY

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will have to be continually addressed by off-highway vehicle manufacturers is how to deal with ever-tightening emissions standards and rising fuel costs. Governments around the world have plans in place that will continue to drive emissions down through 2015 and beyond, and CO2 will be the next big target. We can expect the regulatory trend toward reducing fuel emissions to continue, further advancing electrification. Most recently, in 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court authorized the EPA to regulate CO2 emissions. Notwithstanding the current questions surrounding climate change, pollution and the bio-fuel debate, there has been enormous momentum generated for “change,” not only by the green lobby, but by a majority of the developed nations. This is forcing this second electric revolution to dig deeper than simply producing a few more hybrid cars and buses. The next obvious target is heavy-duty vehicles, as the more intermittent the duty cycle is, the more beneficial electrification becomes! Expect to see hybrids in many forms in every vehicle type. For the “more electric” vehicle to be ubiquitous and the revolution to be complete, the current weak link — the battery (or energy storage) — must be addressed. New battery chemistries, coupled with production demand, will drive prices down while the rising cost of fuel and the price placed on carbon emissions will increasingly emphasize the better value proposition of electrification in all its forms. We already see a trend toward plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) and, when readily available, advanced

energy storage can be coupled with various forms of hybrid logic (e.g. range extender gensets, plug-in chargers). We will witness the infrastructure rapidly gearing up to support it, just like in Mr. Edison’s time with his “lightbulb.” The challenge right now is to make vehicles go further or work longer on more stored electric energy, while continually dialing back fuel consumption. Each year more demands are being placed on the power supply within all vehicles from iPods and computers to power tools. The vehicle of tomorrow will not simply be a mode of transport or a workhorse, it will also be a mobile power station that may be able to share its excess energy with an intelligent grid using vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technologies. The benefits of electrification are really universal. OEMs should be recognized and rewarded for bringing such advances to the market. As we get to the end of the current decade, it will be the norm that big internal combustion engines will be downsized, cleaned up and power-boosted by PMAC motor generators. Hybridization and vehicle electrification in all its forms will be commonplace. Every engine manufacturer and OEM will have product road maps that take us toward the extinction of the internal combustion engine and dc power trains. Phil Collins holds a degree in mechanical engineering from the Army School of Engineering in Bordon, Hants, UK. He has 27 years experience working with off-highway vehicles, including everything from main battle tanks to marine tenders, operation to repair and everything in between.











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What is the future of industrial robotics?


Source: Google

cience fiction shows from the 1960s depict a future world of robots that would complete every portion of manual labor. Does everyone remember George Jetson at work? When you look around manufacturing facilities today you find some notable exceptions, but you don’t see the ubiquitous robot. So why hasn’t the science fiction of then become the science reality of today? And more importantly, how can this change in order for American manufacturing to become competitive again? And what does this mean for the future of mechatronics? For this answer, I posed my questions to Phil Voglewede, a professor at Marquette University and a bit of a robotics connoisseur. After many discussions, this is what we came up with. To answer this question, we need to look back at the evolution of robotics in industrial environments. Robots were originally developed as stand-alone devices which are bought off-the-shelf. These types of robots excelled in applications that fit their design specifications, e.g., positioning parts exactly, welding and painting operations requiring complex motion. Robots are excellent going from one known position to another. Unfortunately, many installations of robots did not meet the design specifications. The robots were typically overdesigned for these tasks, required failure-prone part-positioning devices or notoriously bad vision systems, and were large and bulky. As such, many industries eliminated their robotics installations and opted for fixed automation or manual operations depending on the estimated payback time. There was a time when the mere mention of robotics brought cringes to manufacturing engineers everywhere.

A rigid, complex robot vs. a flexible, modular system.


D E S I G N N E W S O C T O B E R 2 0 0 9 [ w w w. d e s i g n n e w s . c o m ]


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Robotics is now poised for a renaissance. The new view of robotics is based on modularity. Instead of one six-axis robot being utilized for all applications, there is a push to allow the common engineer to design the robot that fits the particular application. BY KEVIN CRAIG This is no different than what is Kevin C. Craig, Ph.D., being advocated with the LEGO Robert C. Greenheck MINDSTORMS or with VEX Chair in Engineering Kits through FIRST Robotics and Design & Professor of similar programs. Future engineers Mechanical Engineering, already add electrical and/or meCollege of Engineering, chanical components and program Marquette University. them on the fly to provide the flexFor more mechatronics ibility needed for that particular news, visit www.mechaapplication. Rather than scrap every part to create a new design, the parts from the old design can be utilized in new ways. Industrial suppliers are already well along the path to make this vision a reality. For example, modular framing is ubiquitous in engineering. Motors and drives are being connected with smart connections for power and communication. Vision systems have become faster and more robust. Rapid prototyping will soon be able to create rigid links that are only limited by one’s imagination. We are truly on the verge of a robotic renaissance. However, this modularity comes at an ideological price. It may lead the engineer to believe the “design-build-testbuild-test” approach to engineering design is feasible, which we know is not. The power to understand these systems must now rely on the individual user and not the supplier. The engineer of today must be able to model and understand how these systems interact. Otherwise, we will repeat the problems of yesterday. Visit the Mechatronics Zone for the latest mechatronics news, trends, technologies and applications: http://designnews.


A new class of high-end “super flashlights” are beginning to appear on the market, thanks to photonic lattice HBLEDs (high-brightness LEDs). It’s difficult to compare the light output of inexpensive consumer flashlights—the manufacturer’s package labeling might indicate its power in watts, suggesting that higher wattage is necessarily equivalent to higher brightness. Unfortunately, that doesn’t really tell us much, because among various HBLEDs there are great variations in the amount of light generated (measured in lumens) per watt. I’ve also seen products on store shelves listing touting candlepower, often in the thousands or millions. Apart from the fact that term candlepower was formally replaced as a unit of measurement 60 years ago, this is also not very useful. The modern unit of intensity known as candela describes the light output through a given conic area, specifically lumens per steradian angle. Thus the same HBLED with a narrowly-focused lens will yield more candelas than it will with a wide lens or reflector. Common flashlights have outputs in the 10 to 20 lm range, while tactical flashlights intended for police, hunting and military use are available with many hundreds of lumens. Designing a tactical flashlight is not an easy task. Lumens are critical, but so is efficiency. An HBLED characterized at 50lm/W will exhaust batteries faster than an equally bright HBLED operating at 90lm/W. The “quality of light” is also a factor. If the HBLED die has an uneven coating of phosphor, yellow or blue annular rings may be noticeable when focused through a lens. Some HBLEDs are internally constructed from multiple die placed side by side. In certain conditions the small un-lit separations between individual die can be projected through the focusing lens, imparting a dark “crosshair” in the center of the focused spot. A few months ago an MIT spin-off called Luminus Devices began producing photonic lattice HBLEDs in packages small enough for tactical flashlights. In a nutshell, photonic lattices are nanoscale dielectric structures built into the HBLED die surface.

The photonic lattice acts to control the way photons propagate similar to a waveguide, dramatically enhancing the amount of light which can “escape” from the die. (More information on photonic lattices can be found in past issues of Light Matters1) Until now, the photonic lattice HBLEDs in production were physically larger than most flashlights could accommodate; their light output (up to 6,000lm) and thermal requirements were better suited to large lights. That has changed with the introduction of the SST-90 and SST-50 devices.

Cary Eskow is director of LightSpeed, the solid state lighting and LED business unit of Avnet Electronics Marketing. An ardent advocate of energy efficient LED-based illumination,

Figure 2 – New SST-90 photonic lattice, intended for portable lighting

Top intensity bins of the SST-90 can deliver 1,000 lm when driven at 3.2 amps, and 2,250 lm when pulsed at 9 amps. The package is about 10 mm x 11 mm, similar optically and in size to a Cree MC-E. The SST-90 and the smaller SST-50 are built with a single, large die (9.0 mm2 and 5.0 mm2 respectively). For prototyping and small runs, they are available pre-mounted on metal-clad “star boards”, a common practice in the HBLED industry.

he has worked closely with LED manufacturers, advanced analog IC and secondary optics vendors since his first patent using LEDs was issued two decades ago. LightSpeed works with customers through their national team of illumination-

In tactical flashlights, narrow beam focus can be important. From an optical standpoint, this is easier to accomplish with HBLEDs having small active emitting areas. The LED lens company Ledil offers a series of reflectors for these devices, with beam angles of 8° to 36° for the SST-50 and 12° to 36° for the SST-90. Check on our website for availability. Photonic lattice super flashlights are amazing instruments. If you happen to stare into one on some dark evening, it will probably be hard to see anything else in the background for a minute or so. That’s another reason they can be useful protection devices in police and military environments. As always, feel free to send me your questions, comments or inquiries at 1

focused engineers called “Illumineers,” experienced in thermal, drive stage and optics design. Prior to LightSpeed, Cary was Avnet’s technical director and managed Avnet’s North American FAE team. To submit questions or ideas, e-mail Cary at

Download LM21 and LM22 at

Figure 1 – Photonic lattice (scanning electron micrograph)

To learn more about designing an LED-based illumination system, go to:

FLASH By Terry Costlow, contributing editor


Analog components are the secret sauce that makes the digital revolution possible. They let engineers shrink package sizes and enhance performance in fields as diverse as medicine, agriculture and entertainment.  IPOD-SIZED DEVICE DELIVERS ULTRASOUND Modern doctors now have a high-tech complement to the stethoscope. They can buy palm-sized personal ultrasound systems that weigh about half a pound and are small enough to wear around their neck like a stethoscope. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently gave Signostics Inc. the green light to begin selling its gear in the U.S. The Australian company uses Analog Devices’ AD9245 14-bit ADC to give doctors a high-resolution view of fetal positioning and assess abdominal issues, among other uses. The Personal Ultrasound System awakes from its sleep mode in just one second.


Analog components play a huge role in the broadcast of high-resolution video. Developers at Phabrix have unveiled a handheld instrument that meets the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers standards for comprehensive 3G/HD/SD eye pattern rendering and jitter measurement. The Phabrix SxE is a combined serial digital interface (SDI) test instrument configured with generator, analyzer and monitor, complete with an eye and jitter analysis toolset. It employs five National Semiconductor Corp. signal conditioning and data conversion chips including the ADC10040, a 10-bit, 40 MSPS precision ADC with differential pipeline architecture. The 3GSDI serializer and deserializer, the LMH0340 and LMH0341, deliver ultra-low output jitter and high-input jitter tolerance.

 HOW DRY AM I? Electronics technology is helping farmers and gardeners make more effective use of water by determining when it’s time to turn on irrigation equipment. The Acclima Digital TDT Soil Moisture Sensor reads the absolute volumetric water content along with soil temperature and soil conductivity. The instrument converts its many digital inputs to analog output using an increasingly common technology, incorporating the converters onto a microcontroller. Texas Instruments’ MSP430F155 holds two DACs that are integral to the digitizing function. That integration helps keep current draw under 15 uA, letting the sensors run for two years on standard alkaline cells.


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The Adventure of the Buggy Debugger

BY BOB COLWELL, CONTRIBUTING WRITER Have you applied your deductive reasoning and technical prowess to troubleshoot and solve an engineering mystery that even the fictional Sherlock would find most perplexing? Tell us about it in 600 words and we’ll pay you $100 if we publish your case. E-mail Karen Field at:

At The Adventure of the Grassy Curve It’s a case of mistaken identify in this case involving a noisy motor on an automated coil-test machine. http://designnews.

Sign up for the newsletter for this blog and get every Sherlock adventure delivered directly to your desktop at subscribe.


In the late 1970s I was fresh out of school, working at Bell Labs in their microprocessor design group. Back then, we debugged microprocessor-controlled equipment by using an in-circuit emulator (ICE), essentially a big, expensive box with a 6-ft cable that plugged into the microprocessor socket in place of the CPU chip. The New Jersey group I was working for had designed the CPU and the in-circuit emulator. A group in Chicago was trying to use our chip to control a Number One ESS (1ESS) — a building-sized telephone switching system comprised of 10 zillion relays. The complaint was that our ICE was randomly resetting and causing their debug effort no end of grief. NOTE: When you see the word “reset,” don’t picture the kind of silent reset a chip performs. When 10 zillion relays all clack at once, it sounds like the world is coming to an end. I went to Chicago, and sure enough, the ICE was resetting. But why? After studying the problem for a few days, I realized that the resets happened more often at night than during the day. One fortuitous evening, I happened to be looking at the monitor for the ICE when it reset. At the same time the lights switched off, and out of the corner of my eye I could see a figure exiting the room. I restarted the system and turned the room lights back on. The ICE thunderously reset again. It turned out that the power supply we were using had very little noise immunity to the hash imposed on the ac lines when fluorescent lights were turned on or off, and the supply passed the noise right on through to the logic. We gleefully dropkicked the supply into the garbage can and replaced it with a better supply. Problem solved … well, sort of. The random resets were gone, but perhaps that wasn’t surprising as the 1ESS was now not working at all. My scope was

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showing that many of the signals at the ICE socket looked terrible, with an impressive showing of noise and spikes everywhere. I looked at the ICE end of the cable, and those signals didn’t look very good either. With the power supply issue fresh in my mind, I put the scope probe on the +5V backplane and got a real surprise — it was drooping by over a volt from one end of the backplane to the other! Worse yet, the ground was not at 0V at the far end of the backplane; ground was about 1V higher at the far end than at the supply connection. It turned out that there was no real plane inside the backplane: +5V and ground were just fat traces on the surface, and not nearly fat enough to prevent a serious IR drop. And this was just the dc component; heaven knew what inductive spikes were being produced across both +5V and ground, and I shuddered at the thought. Redesigning the backplane fixed those problems and, now predictably, exposed the next one. The ICE socket signals still didn’t look right. In fact, some of them didn’t even look digital. Some thinking and observation resolved this one: The 6-ft flat cable had been designed with the clock running between two data signals, and interspersed with the address bits. There was so much crosstalking in that cable, the signals might as well have been connected. I reallocated the signals, and used a cable with a ground shield around everything. The ICE now worked, just in time for the customer to announce they were switching to a competitor’s microprocessor. The Dilbert comic strip will never run out of ideas. Bob Colwell was Intel’s chief x86 architect in the 1990s and has worked as a computer designer at VLIW pioneer Multiflow, Perq Systems and Bell Labs. He is currently an independent consultant and published author. You can reach him via our Sherlock Ohms blog comments at

T I Pfrom S


Unbelievably useful info on data measurement, collection and analysis from the test expert

JON TITUS CONTRIBUTING WRITER Jon Titus, a former designer and chief editor of EDN and Test & Measurement World magazines, remembers when “fast” signals operated at 10 MHz and programs came on paper tape.


Mode Signals,” (DN 09.09, http://designnews., described how instrumentation amplifiers can reduce the effects of common-mode signals or noise. This column offers two tips you also should consider when you plan to use an in-amp. 1. Match common-mode range and output. Although an in-amp will reject commonmode signals, it has limits. To help designers, in-amp manufacturers plot an “envelope” that defines a safe operating area for given gain, common-mode-signal, power-supply and output voltages. Four plots in the data sheet for a Texas Instruments’ INA118 device, for example, show results for dual-supply voltages of ±15V, ±5V, +5V and +3V. Operating outside the envelope won’t necessarily damage an in-amp, but it can lead to an incorrect output for a given input. The diagram below shows the envelope Boundary Sets In-Amp Range

Common-Mode Voltage (V)

4.00 -5 to +4.3-V Output for


+2V Common-Mode Signal

0.00 + _ 4-V Output for


-2-V Common-Mode Signal

for an INA118 device with a ±5-V supply, a gain set for 10x, and a reference of 0V. In this case, if you have a 2.0-V common-mode voltage, the in-amp will reliably produce an output between about -5 and +4.2V. The 10x gain means your sensor can create a signal between -500 and +420 mV, or more conservatively, ±400 mV. Note that a -2-V commonmode signal limits the in-amp’s output to ±4V. The combined characteristics of all the inamp’s internal circuits define the envelope. Texas Instruments provides a free Windowsbased envelope-plot program for 17 types of its in-amps. No documentation accompanies this software, though. (See references, below.) 2. Don’t let in-amp inputs float. You can aim to eliminate common-mode signal before they reach an in-amp, but watch your step. If you have an ac sensor signal, for example, you might try to use capacitors on in-amp inputs to block dc common-mode signals. But that circuit includes no return path for bias currents on the in-amp’s inputs, which can float and “saturate” the output at either the plus or minus supply voltage. (I encountered this problem early in my career and it took a while to figure it out.) In-amp inputs always need a bias-current path to ground. A high-resistances (100-Mohm) from each in-amp input to ground provides the needed ground-return path, but does not appreciably alter the amplifier’s capabilities. If your sensor (thermocouple, capacitive sensor, transformer) circuit does not include a high-resistance dc path to ground, you must include one. An in-amp in data-acquisition equipment might already provide such a path. Check instruction manuals before you add external resistors.

-4.00 For More


-2.00 0.00 2.00 Output Voltage (V)


This plot shows the operating envelope for an IN118 in-amp’s output voltage for a given set of gain, common-mode voltage and power-supply conditions. 28

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1. “Calculate Input Common-Mode Range of Instrumentation Amplifiers,” (INA-CMV-CALC), Texas Instruments:


Engineers must marry strength, beauty and community building

Source: Southern Methodist University


am not used to reading sweeping critiques of power grids Americans wanted. engineers as destroyers of community. But a But here’s a fair question: At what point did we prominent Dallas publisher and editorialist begin to leave “design” out of the design process? recently aimed a full frontal attack on us in In the go-go 1950s and 1960s we were all about an article subtitled “A reflection on how engineers America’s power to tame the untamable — nature, ruin cities.” traffic and the Soviets. The U.S. was an emerging Wick Allison, of D Magazine, thinks we have economic powerhouse, but having just cleared the ruined our cities by building freeway systems Great Depression, we focused on just meeting the that divide communities, by creating cold, imfunctional demands of clients at the lowest bid. The personal public spaces, and by laying concrete great tradition of creating objects and infrastructure over every piece of nature we could find. “Don’t that are functional, beautiful and daring got lost. believe a word the engineers tell you,” he advises. The ancient Romans had it right; their roads and “Don’t accept any of their assumptions. They water distribution systems were not only marvels paved over this city once, and given the opportu- of engineering, but still have the elegance to stir the nity, they will do it again.” human spirit. Of course, with their deep What gall! My first reaction was to pockets lined by tribute they didn’t have to shoot off an e-mail challenging him to worry about low bid. survive a month without the products We are going to get a second shot at creating smarter, greener and more beauand services created by people he seems to tiful cities, largely because much of what despise. But after I cooled down, somewas built over the last century is now thing in his argument began to eat away at crumbling. Repair, replacement and deme. I live in a dynamic city made possible by engineers — but, yes, I too wish things Geoffrey C. Orsak ferred maintenance, combined with new demands spurred by growth, will drive a were different. Urban planners and government leaders were at staggering range of new projects that will shape the helm when we began modernizing cities in the the quality of our lives — for better or worse. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimated 1950s and 1960s, so why not blame them? All we in 2008 that we will need to invest $1.6 trillion did as engineers was build to their specifications to return our infrastructure to good condition the roads, buildings, factories, sewer systems and — and that’s just for starters. We must help our clients understand the value of creating new technologies with a strong aesthetic conscience. A few years ago green design was a fad, and now we call it good engineering. The same push must be made to factor beauty into our creative works. We are seeing some examples — Spanish engineer and architect Santiago Calatrava sets a high standard with his bridges that completely redefine landscapes. The cities we are re-building can’t be just functional concrete, rebar, glass, asphalt or brick. They must give flight to dreams in order to lift our communities. I hate to admit it Wick, but our critics are sometimes right.

This bridge in Seville, Spain was designed by Santiago Calatrava. 30

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Geoffrey C. Orsak is dean of the Southern Methodist University Lyle School of Engineering. He can be reached at




Materials & Fastening


Motion Control & Power Transmission


Design Tools



» ELECTRONICS SENSING DIFFERENCES PerkinElmer’s Cool Eye™ Thermopile Array can tell the difference between humans and animals, without the use of expensive IR imaging cameras. Page 37

» MATERIALS UNDERWATER POWER Syntactic foams are providing buoyancy to carry heavy, minesearching equipment underwater with minimal power. Page 38

» MOTION CONTROL A NEW TWIST IN AIRDRIVEN MOTORS Blue Earth’s new air motor design is the first to use air cylinders to provide rotary motion. Page 40

» DESIGN TOOLS VIRTUAL PROTOTYPING The integration of LabVIEW and SolidWorks allows engineers to create control applications and visualize realistic machine behavior. Page 43

ThomasNet, above, gave up on paper in 2003. Mouser, right, continues to print more than a quarter million catalogs every quarter.


Cataloging Reasons to Stick with Paper Internet’s benefits haven’t displaced print catalogs By Terry Costlow, contributing editor

The Web provides a quick way for engineers to find products, but print catalogs aren’t surrendering their role without a fight. Many engineers still like to grab catalogs, and distributors are quite happy to print and distribute thousands of pages of catalogs as a tool to drive business to the Web. There’s a common perception that print is disappearing as the Internet reshapes distribution for all sorts of products. That trend is definitively occurring. But paper still holds an appeal for many engineers, especially those who grew up creating holiday wish lists while paging through holiday catalogs. For them, searching the Internet can be a frustrating enterprise. “I often grab a catalog, especially when I’m looking for a specific vendor or a specific part. It takes me a tenth of the time it takes to find something on the Web,” says Dwight Bues, a system engineer at Northrop Grumman’s Chantilly, VA facility. His problem with the Internet is that it’s rare to find exactly what he needs on the first try. It takes a few seconds to load each page on a website when he pulls up the wrong data sheet. In those seconds, he can look at several print pages. “I’m used to print, I’ve been using it for 20 years,” he says. Bues is far from alone, say those who ship catalogs that often exceed 2,000 pages. “Mouser still ships 270,000 catalogs every 90 days. Engineers want to hold them in their hands and flip the pages,” says Kevin Hess, marketing director for Mouser Electronics Inc. of Mansfield, TX. By some measures, the number of people who have dropped catalogs to use only the Web is small. “We have a relatively few number of customers, perhaps a few thousand, who have asked to stop receiving our catalog because they chose to use our Internet site exclusively,” says Steven Tsukichi, vice president, Strategic Operations at Digi-Key Corp. of Thief River Falls, MN. D E S I G N N E W S O C T O B E R 2 0 0 9 [ w w w. d e s i g n n e w s . c o m ] 3 3

N EWS ELEC T R ONI C S , C o n tinued

Though catalogs remain popular, they’re typically used in conjunction with the Web. Bues “absolutely” uses the Web for research, and he usually goes online when he’s ready to order components. Tsukichi says 60 percent of Digi-Key’s orders come in over the Web. Web Wins



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What remains to be seen is how much longer print maintains its presence. The Web offers timeliness and other features paper catalogs simply can’t match. “I don’t even look at books anymore, they’re always out of date and you can’t get pricing,” says Rob Grant, a project engineer at Sunburst Chemicals of Bloomington, MN. “Even when I logged on using dial-up it revolutionized the way I look for things.” After getting his ME degree in the mid-1970s, Grant spent a lot of time poring over print pages in a room lined with catalogs. Today, online 3-D CAD tools and broadband let him design parts in, knowing whether they fit in half an hour. Back in the catalog-only age, getting an actual part he could test for fit usually took a day or two. In the Internet era, engineers don’t usually need samples to make sure the part fits into their design. A growing number of websites have CAE software that lets engineers embed the part in their files, ensuring that it works. “All the pump makers have software that lets you build a virtual system,” says Tom Halley, president of Robert Brown Assoc. Instead of distributing catalogs from 14 pump manufacturers it handles, the distributor from King of Prussia, PA, focuses on Web tools and personal contacts. “People still buy from people. Engineers will go

to guys who lead them in the right direction,” Halley says. Eliminating the cost of paper catalogs is becoming more common. Some of the industry’s largest component marketers have ended their publishing days. “We finally bit the bullet in 2003 and quit printing catalogs,” says Linda Rigano, executive director of strategic services at ThomasNet. That was a huge change, the directory had 38 volumes, each about 3,000 pages thick. ThomasNet researchers say engineers spend around 25 percent of their work week looking for information, most of it online. More than three fourths of the searches are focused, with at least three search words. Around half those who buy parts say they selected the company partially because of the online services they provide. As it’s become easier to be connected almost anywhere, many engineers are less inclined to walk to a library to grab hefty books. Carl Duffy used catalogs heavily at the start of his 20-year engineering career, but he rarely picks one up now. That’s partially because the test engineer at Freescale Semiconductor doesn’t buy many components. But that’s not the main reason. “It’s just as easy to go directly to a supplier’s website to get info as to find a catalog and search through it. If I know exactly what I’m looking for, I may go to the catalog when I’m ready to order. But if I’m doing a new design, it’s much easier to search the Web,” Duffy says. But those who support catalogs feel even the occasional use makes it worthwhile to continue distributing paper source books. “We believe the catalog will be around for a very long time,” Digi-Key’s Tsukichi says.


Detector Cuts Energy Consumption in HVAC Systems Bridges gap between simple sensors and infrared cameras

By Charles J. Murray, senior technical editor, electronics A new sensor can tell the difference between humans and animals inside a room without the use of expensive infrared (IR) imaging cameras. Known as the Cool Eye™ Thermopile Array, the device could serve as an energy conservation system, enabling a building’s HVAC to autonomously switch off the heat when there’s no one in a room, or turn up the air conditioning when a room is crowded. It could also PerkinElmer’s Cool Eye™ inexpensively detector array is contained in a package about boost the in9 mm in diameter, meatelligence of suring about 7 mm high. security systems, where its ability to distinguish between humans and animals would enable it to serve in an intruder alarm. Engineers say the system’s key advantage is its cost. At about $20, the device’s price tag lies close to that of low-end sensors, but with performance reportedly similar to that of $2,000 infrared cameras. “We’re bridging the gap between dumb sensors and infrared cameras,” says Wolfgang Schmidt, product leader for infrared sensing at PerkinElmer, maker of the Cool Eye. “This is not an IR camera, but its performance is a lot closer to the IR camera than to the simple sensor.” Cool Eye offers higher performance than the so-called “dumb” sensors because it employs a thermopile detector array containing 16 elements. The array includes lenses, and is available with an EEPROM and a microcontroller with an integrated 10-bit analog-to-digital converter. In contrast, typical IR sensors contain a couple of elements and don’t incorporate focusing optics, Schmidt says. Schmidt says the new 16-element detector can distinguish between humans and animals because it takes a picture that’s divided into 16 parts, and then it uses the microcontroller to analyze all of the parts. The device is already being used in an

unspecified commercial air conditioning product and in other HVAC applications where it cuts energy consumption.

“This offers more than just an on-off response,” Schmidt says. “It can look at the number of people in a room and help the HVAC system decide if it wants to go into a higher or lower operational mode.”

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Syntactic Foams Provide Buoyancy for Drones Preformed glass, ceramic or plastic bubbles create foams with unique engineering properties

By Doug Smock, contributing editor, materials and fastening Unmanned airborne drones have played an important role in the war against terrorism. Less known are drones that were deployed underwater in the early stages of the war,

Source: CMT Materials

searching for mines off the coast of Iraq. The sonar- and video-equipped drones perform similar duties to those carried out by the Seabees in World War II. The Remus 6000 is equipped with a GPS, side scan sonar and an acoustic Doppler current profiler.

An interesting materials technology provides the necessary buoyancy to carry the heavy equipment underwater with minimal power — an 11 kW-hr rechargeable Li-ion battery pack. Typical mission duration for the Remus 6000 underwater drone is 22 hours, subject to speed and sensor configuration. The autonomous underwater vehicle can go up to five knots. “There are 13 syntactic foam pieces on the Remus 6000,” says Thomas J. Murray, a senior materials engineer who cofounded CMT Materials of Attleboro, MA to explore new applications opportunities for the foam technology. Syntactic foams are composite materials whose matrix is embedded with preformed particles such as glass or ceramic microspheres. They are called syntactic because the spheres provide an ordered structure. “Sometimes we like to refer to it as reinforced air,” says Murray. The reference to “reinforced air” is half humorous, but it gives syntactic foam unique characteristics compared to foam that is blown with chemicals or gases. The hollow particles constitute half or more the volume of the composite, resulting in lower density, higher strength, resistance to compressive stress and a lower coefficient of thermal expansion. One of the big benefits of syntactic foam composites is their ability to be tailored for specific applications. The matrix material can be many different types of metals, polymers or ceramics. The microballoons can be made from glass, carbon and polymers. Some of the most commonly used products are glass bubbles from 3M. CMT Materials developed thermoplastic matrix materials in the 1990s for use as plug-assists in thermoforming dies. “The thermoplastic materials allow much thinner sections because the epoxy composites can be quite brittle,” says Murray. As a result, thermoformed packages used for electronics or medical devices can be made with thinner sections. 38


Blue Earth Technology Develops New Air Motor Company says it is the first to use air cylinders to provide rotary motion

By William Ketel, contributing writer Powered by compressed air (or nitrogen), air motors are simple in design, offer variable speed and are relatively inexpensive compared to electric motors. A key feature is the fact that they are explosion-proof. Blue Earth Technology LLC has developed a new air-driven motor it says offers a few new twists on this venerable old technology. Inventor Roy Rafalski says the speed range of a proof-of-concept model, bench tested for maximum rpm with no load and simple use of magnetic switches to control valves located at the head and cap end of each cylinder to time pressure pulses, is in the 100 to 850 rpm range. Rafalski says he believes a maximum speed of 4,000 rpm could be maintained with an electronic-valve timing controller and alternative valves, allowing the motor to compete with a gas engine of similar output. Design News was not given a description of the proprietary internal structure of

the motor, only a photo (right) showing the motor’s exterior and the following explanation: “It is simply straight-line motion produced from the cylinder at the full force being transferred into the rotary crank mechanism.” Rafalski claims it is the first air motor design to use air cylinders to provide rotary motion. Based on the presence of the two silencers it appears they are used in a single-acting mode. By operating the cylinders in a double-acting mode, whereby air pressure is delivered to the cap end of one cylinder and the head end of the opposite, Rafalski claims the output torque increases by approximately 88 percent, but air consumption also rises. Asked about the intended method of sensing shaft position and controlling the air valves, Rafalski says air delivery could be controlled several ways — electronically or mechanically. In order to main-

Source: Blue Earth Technology LLC

The speed range of this new air motor from Blue Earth Technology was measured at 100 to 850 rpm in bench tests.

tain a constant speed, torque output, for industrial applications, the system would require constant pulse-width modulation. The specific control scheme, however, would be up to the manufacturer. Blue Earth Technology does not plan to manufacture the motor; it is currently offering licensing agreements for the air motor technology to parties interested in manufacturing the technology. Contact Rafalski at or visit Blue Earth Technology’s website at

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Virtual Prototyping Comes to Mechatronics Design New SolidWorks and LabVIEW integration lets engineers visualize the real-world tor doesn’t shut off or there’s interference behavior of machines and motion control systems without building prototypes

By Beth Stackpole, contributing editor, design tools builds their prototype in SolidWorks; and After almost three and a half years of puts them together in a lab and hope it all collaboration, SolidWorks and National works. “If something goes wrong — a moInstruments are poised to release a virtual prototyping tool geared for mechatronics applications that seamlessly integrates SolidWorks 3-D CAD software and the NI LabVIEW graphical system design environment. The LabVIEW 2009 NI SoftMotion Module and capabilities in the forthcoming SolidWorks 2010 release allow mechanical and control engineers to work in tandem on mechatronics designs by optimizing, validating and visualizing the real-world performance of machines and motion systems without having to build costly prototypes. This cross-collaboration between disciplines is important because every decision has a ripple effect in a mechatronics design. Traditionally, the two engineering disciplines worked separately on their respective systems, and thus only became aware of design flaws or potential problem areas late in the design process when time and money was already devoted to building and testing a physical prototype. Streamlining the iterative nature of mechanical and motion control design has the potential for huge time-saving benefits, according to Kent Wedeking, LabVIEW/mechanical engineer for Fastek International Ltd., which offers test and measurement services for control systems. Currently, Wedeking says his team creates its motion control code in LabVIEW; • • • • • • • •

— we find that out when pieces actually start banging into each other,” he says. Read about the LabVIEW NI SoftMotion Module at http://designnews.hotims. com/23122-524.

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Rockett M Man R Nino Amarena is putting a new twist on rocketbelt technology: He’s selling it to the public



airplane, glider or helicopter. And not by flapping your arms. No, Amarena wants you to strap a rocket engine to your back, ignite some hydrogen peroxide and shoot straight up amid plumes of superheated steam — like a miniature version of the space shuttle. He’ll put a couple of handles on your rocket for steering. You’ll be able to go up and down, side to side, forward and back. You’ll be able to yaw while watching your feet dangle above the scenery below. Admittedly, there are a few drawbacks. Amarena’s rocketbelt will cost you $210,000 and the rides will be short — about 40 seconds each. There’s also some danger. Wendell Moore, who invented the rocketbelt for Bell Aerosystems in the early 1960s, stopped flying after shattering his knee in a crash. Amarena can guarantee, though, that your experience will be intense. “You have 133 decibels of noise and 400 pounds of thrust on your back,” Amarena explains. “It makes your blood curdle. It’s really scary the first time.” Still, Amarena wants to offer his product to those with a taste for, well … adventure. He has sold four units to individuals in Russia, Spain, England and India. He has three more products in test. And he wants to keep selling. He says he can think of two dozen applications for his 40-second, rocket-powered product. Ultimately, though, Amarena hopes to develop a jet-powered version with greater longevity — possibly up to four or five minutes. He foresees that version being used in firefighting, rescue and surveillance. He wants to sell it to municipalities for disaster operations. “On 9/11, you would have needed less than a minute to bring a rope up to those people who were ThunderPack’s gas generator decomposes hydrogen peroxide, then uses an inert gas, such as nitrogen, to push the exhaust out at high pressure.

Source: ThunderBolt Aerosystems

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trapped,” Amarena says with dead seriousness. “There’s a long list of things you could do in less than 30 seconds.”

pioneers from the 1960s. He employs a gas generator that uses a catalyst to decompose hydrogen peroxide, resulting in an exhaust gas mixture of superheated steam and oxygen. Amarena says each pound of hydrogen From Obsession to Reality peroxide in the engine creates 61 ft3 of gas at For Amarena, building rocketbelts is a dreamthe exhaust, generating the rocket’s thrust. come-true. Since childhood, he was enthralled To ensure the rocketbelt pushes gas out at with Hollywood depictions of jetpacks and sufficient pressure, Amarena stores the hyrocketbelts in cartoons and movies. His enthusidrogen peroxide in two pressurized stainlessasm for such devices goes all the way back to the steel cylinders that the rocketeer wears on his old “Flash Gordon” series, he says. or her back. Each cylinder holds between 2.5 Still, it was not until later that he realized his and 3 gallons of fuel. Above the liquid fuel, obsession could be a reality. In a meeting with he injects an inert gas — usually nitrogen veteran rocketbelt pilot William Suitor, he — at 400 psi. As a result, the pressurized learned that the rocketbelt scene in the James Source: ThunderBolt Aerosystems nitrogen pushes down on the fuel in a clasBond movie “Thunderball” was real. “When ThunderPack gulps about 2.2 sic “blow-down” arrangement. Amarena I saw “Thunderball,” I thought the rocketbelt The lb of fuel per second, producing says his most significant use of off-the-shelf scene was a Hollywood trick — a stuntman on about 61 ft3 of exhaust gas for components is in the plumbing of the preswires,” Amarena recalls. “Then I met Bill Suitor, every pound burned. sure regulation system. O-rings and JIC and he said he knew it wasn’t a trick because he fittings come from Parker Hannifin Corp. Thunderbolt’s did the flying for that movie.” first-generation rocketbelt also employed a Grove Mity Mite Amarena resolved then that he would build rocketbelts and sell them. “I decided if I built one and charged money to people Model 94 pressure regulator, while second-generation systems uses a pressure regulator from Aqua Environment Co. Inc. for renting it, it would be a violation of the spirit of engineerIn essence, the role of the fuel storage and pressurization ing,” Amarena recalls. “I wanted to make it so it could be prosystem is to feed the hydrogen peroxide to the rocket engine at ductized, so that anyone who had the money could own one.” high pressure. Fuel is forced from the tanks, down through a To be sure, Amarena was aware of the numerous stumbling manifold that connects them to the rocket engine. There, fuel blocks of such a project. Rocketbelts burn 90 percent conflow is dependent on the action of a throttle valve, controlled by centrated hydrogen peroxide, a fuel so volatile it is under the the pilot’s right hand. When the pilot cracks the throttle open, control of the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security. Moreover, the liquid propellant changes to a gas, expanding in volume by rocket engines gulp fuel at a rate of 2.2 lb per second, making a factor of about 5,000. Ultimately, it decomposes in a few milit almost impossible to squeeze more than a minute of flight liseconds, then exits at 350-400 psi as superheated steam and time from them. oxygen at a temperature ranging from 1,000 to 1,750F. “The trouble with rocketbelts is the flights don’t last very “The amount of gas is so large that when it comes out of the long,” says Chuck Eastlake, a professor of aerospace engineernozzle, it gives you thrust, and therefore, lift,” Amarena says. ing at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. “The darn things just can’t carry enough fuel to go very far.” Worse, the danger associated with rocketbelts is real. “With Beyond Hovering In all, the ThunderPack’s rocket engine produces about 380 rocketbelts, you’ve got a few seconds of flight time and you’re lb of thrust, enough to lift a 180-lb man, the rocketbelt itself, in the air without any backup,” says Hal Graham, a pilot and and up to 140 lb of fuel. engineer who served as the world’s first “rocketeer,” demonOnce the pilot is aloft, however, he or she needs to be able strating rocketbelt technology for President Kennedy in 1961. to vector the exhaust nozzle to enable turning, as well as up“Is it dangerous?” asks veteran rocketbelt pilot Suitor with obvious sarcasm. “If you consider you’re strapping six gallons of 90 percent hydrogen peroxide under 600 psi to your body, A Peek at Rocketbelt History flying any number of feet off the ground with the glide ratio of Nino Amarena isn’t the only builder of rocketbelts. At least 13 pilots an anvil … no, it’s not dangerous.” have flown untethered rocketbelts over the past half-century, and Ready for Take-off

Amarena, however, is undeterred by engineering complexities and danger. That’s why he has spent the last 12 years developing, testing and building rocketbelts as chief executive officer of his company, Thunderbolt Aerosystems. For Amarena, who earned his master’s degree in electromechanical engineering at the Buenos Aires University of Engineering in Argentina, the complexities merely fuel his desire to build one-man rockets. “From the beginning, I recognized that there were some drawbacks to using liquid propellants,” he says. “But I still see it as a way to apply my knowledge and fulfill my childhood dream of building and flying a rocketbelt.” In his design, Amarena has followed the lead of rocketbelt

several dozen engineers have built assorted forms of rocketbelts and jetpacks with varying degrees of success. Some highlights over the past 50 years: • Using a rocketbelt designed by Wendell F. Moore of Bell Aerosystems, Hal Graham made the first rocketbelt flight on June 6, 1961. See video of Graham’s subsequent flight at the Pentagon on June 15, 1961 at • Legendary rocketbelt pilot William Suitor made approximately 1,050 flights over 40 years, including the opening ceremonies of the 1984 Summer Olympics, the James Bond movie “Thunderball,” and the second-decade ceremonies at Disneyland. Suitor says his 1,050 flights totaled up to only about six hours of flight time. • Eric Scott of JetPack International LLC flew over Colorado’s Royal Gorge. See video of some of Scott’s 800 flights at

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Extending Flight Duration

Doing all that, however, still didn’t enable Amarena’s rocketbelt to exceed the performance of Wendell Moore’s 1960s rocketbelts, which could fly no more than 21 seconds. So Amarena took his design a step further. To extend the flight duration and make his product more desirable to potential customers, he launched a search of available literature for chemical formulas that would pack more punch than con-

Source: ThunderBolt Aerosystems

The ThunderPack’s “jetavator” actuates rings on the exhaust nozzles that enable the unit to yaw. 46

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ventional hydrogen peroxide. Poring over more than 2,500 technical documents dating as far back as 1850, Amarena learned that he could combine decomposition enhancers, additives and promoters to boost the so-called “specific impulse.” Thunderbolt Aerosystems named the proprietary mixture “Pertol” and applied for a patent on it. To further enhance the flight duration, Amarena also changed two Amarena’s “training other aspects of the design: The new camp” employs a simula- ThunderPack frames employ aerotor to teach prospective space-quality materials; and the fuel rocketbelt pilots. tanks hold about twice as much fuel as the 1960s versions. In the tubular frame, Amarena used such materials and alloys as titanium, Inconel, Hastelloy and magnesium, as well as composite carbon fibers, graphite and Kevlar. By cutting the weight of the ThunderPack and doubling the fuel capacity, Amarena says his product can now fly 45 seconds at full throttle. Using Pertol-based fuel boosts the time to 75 seconds, he says. Still, the flight duration is seen as an obstacle to broader interest. “We do get a lot of requests from people who ThunderPack’s Specs might be able to pay the Specifications for Amarena’s latest cost, but they’re turned product, the ThunderPack R2G2. off by the short duraTakeoff Weight.....................350 lb Total Fuel Weight ................92 lb tion,” Amarena says. Range (ft) ..............................1,805 He adds, however, that Speed (mph) ........................65+ Thunderbolt AerosysExit Pressure (psig) ..............350 tems plans to eventually Total Thrust (lb-f)..................340 boost the duration of its products to as much as four or even five minutes. To accomplish that, Amarena has begun building small prototype units using jet engines instead of rockets. Working with a Czech company that makes small jet engines, he hopes to be able to develop full-size jetpacks within 12 to 18 months. If the company can do it, Amarena says he believes he will have more customers. He already envisions the jetpacks being used for fire and rescue operations, as well as for military and surveillance applications. One potential customer claimed he could save millions of dollars per year in the laying of hightension wires if he could replace helicopters with jetpacks, Amarena says. Experts say that Amarena’s dreams are a tall order, but not necessarily impossible. “Nearly every new technology has a list of detractors who say it can’t be done,” says Eastlake of Embry-Riddle. “But new analysis tools, new fuels, new structural materials are always coming up. I’d be hard-pressed to say that anything’s impossible.” “Some people have told me, ‘You could be the Henry Ford of rocketbelts,’” Amarena says with characteristic optimism. “I like that.” Watch Suitor’s test of Amarena’s rocketbelt at http://www. Read more about rocketbelts at http://www.rocketbeltsociety. com.

Source: ThunderBolt Aerosystems

and-down movement. “The concept of a rocketbelt is pretty simple: You get a little more thrust than weight, and you go up,” says veteran pilot Graham. “But the real trick is to get those thrust vectors so they’re not completely random.” For that, Amarena designed a tube assembly with a gimbal at the base of the pilot’s neck, about which the exhaust nozzles can rotate. The assembly, which also holds the fuel and nitrogen tanks, has control arms attached to it. To move forward, the pilot pushes down on the control arms, which point the nozzles backward. To move backward or to slow down, the pilot does the opposite: Pulling up on the control arms vectors the nozzles forward, essentially “putting the brake on.” By using so-called “jetavators,” Amarena’s rocketbelt can also mimic the behavior of an airplane’s ailerons. The jetavators — essentially small rings mounted on the exit areas of the exhaust nozzles — are operated by an actuator at the pilot’s left hand. By twisting the actuator to the left, the jetavator on the left nozzle moves downward while the one on the right moves upward, creating a push in one direction and allowing the pilot to yaw. By twisting the actuator to the right, the pilot can yaw in the opposite direction. To simulate a plane’s rudder, Amarena also enables the pilot to tilt the tube assembly about the gimbal. In essence, the pilot tilts his or her entire body, raising one arm while lowering the other. Doing that while operating the jetavator allows the pilot to do a banked turn. “In order to turn, you need to simulate the action of both an aileron and a rudder,” Amarena says. “By combining both those actions, you can make a banking turn.”

Fluid Power: Solutions for Today’s Engineering Challenges

Pneumatics Extend Reach into Packaging Applications New technologies deliver intelligent control, networking and inexpensive sensing solutions BY AL PRESHER, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR

Keeping in step with their electromechanical counterparts, pneumatics technology is developing at a rapid pace, now delivering modular designs, safety solutions, diagnostic capabilities, and sensing and control functions that reach beyond traditional packaging applications.

S O U R C E : K H S F L E X I B L E PA C K A G I N G


A pneumatic valve manifold system offering high air flow and low power consumption is critical for the accurate positioning of pouches.

A key trend in packaging equipment design today is the use of modular concepts and components. KHS Flexible Packaging uses that approach in its new Innopouch K-Series modular pouch machines, which feature both pneumatic and servo controls. “We are taking a modular approach to the design of our machines, so what we need now are modular components that fit into that strategy,” says Randy Uebler, general manager for KHS. In the design process, KHS engineers analyze the type of move that needs to be made and make the decision whether to use either electronics or pneumatics based on cost and performance. KHS designed both servo and pneumatic controls from Bosch Rexroth in its pouching machines. Engineers selected pneumatics where air control is critical for achieving accurate positioning, including a modular HF03-LG pneumatic valve manifold system and a CL03 valve bank with the added bonus of providing washdown, IP69K-rated protection. Valve banks can be mounted and connected using either PROFIBUS or SERCOS, which makes it possible to pre-build the modules and plumb the air lines to the components without waiting until final assembly. In fact, complete modular subassemblies are now built up separately and integrated at the end of the assembly process. “Pneumatics really helped us bridge the gap to modularity,” says Uebler. “Instead of valves mounted all over the machine, we have one valve bank that distributes air throughout, which reduces wiring and makes it cleaner. It is expandable to add valves if we want a bigger machine.” SAFETY AND DIAGNOSTICS

According to John Holmes, packaging industry segment manager for FESTO Corp., a supplier of pneumatic and electrical automation, pneumatics are making advances in safety, valve diagnostics and networking. In fact, new Category 4 safety valves designed for pneumatically operated automation are helping OEMs and system integrators comply with new safety legislation. EN ISO 13849-1 replaces the existing EN 954-1 safety standard on Nov.

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[ signnews .com]

Fluid Power: Solutions for Today’s Engineering Challenges

“Two areas where pneumatics are making a significant impact in packaging machinery are sequence valve control and sensing applications,” says Paul Gant, sales manager with Clippard Instrument Lab. Inc. Clippard manufactures electronic and pneumatic valves, cylinders and fittings. A traditional strength of pneumatics in packaging has been repetitive motion sequences that are controlled pneumatically without requiring a PLC or controller. Sequence valves now are offering more options for inexpensive sensing. Interruptible air jet sensors typically support gaps from 4 inches down to 0.1 inch, providing a jet of air to detect objects and shift the valve to reject a product or create motion. Touch sensors use a very small amount of air escape to initiate an action. They can be used in [ w w w. d es ig n n e w s .c o m]

New redundant safety valves can help packaging OEMs address key issues in the new safety directives including mean time to failure and self diagnostics.

parallel to assure that the product is in the proper position for the X, Y and Z axes. A whisker valve, which is a low-force contact sensor that operates similar to a limit valve, provides sensing in a very small area. The valve is only 0.5 inches tall and can be placed 4 to 5 inches from the valve. It senses when an object touches it and works by exhausting air to atmosphere to initiate a function within the control valving. Gant says pneumatics can also offer economical brake control in long conveyor lines, which often require a series of solenoid valves or some type of a mechanical brake.

Pneumatics and inexpensive sensing are also making their way into applications that require washdown operation. Many of these machines are in dirty, washdown environments and may be affected by condensation in the air lines, which can degrade performance. When a bottling equipment manufacturer wanted to speed up the cycle time on its filling machinery, Bimba Mfg. helped develop a dynamic nozzle that can follow a filling profile, starting out with a rapid fill and slowing as the bottle reaches capacity, to eliminate spillage. A precise filling profile maximizes speed and maintains process control. Bimba engineers designed a custom position feedback cylinder with a magnetostrictive sensor shrouded in a hollow piston rod. Every sensor is individually calibrated at Bimba for a 0-10V feedback signal output, a requirement because up to 40 units are installed per machine and individual calibration is not possible in production. “The feedback voltage is proportional to how far the cylinder’s magnetic piston moves along the sensor tip, which is inside the cylinder rod,” says Bob Kral, a product manager for Bimba. “The magnet produces a constriction in conductors inside the sensor tip, and the time delay of the reflected signal is converted to a proportional voltage. Most importantly, the sensor doesn’t wear out and is immune to wear from rapid cycling, moisture and air line contamination.”




S O U R C E : F E S T O C O R P.

30, 2009 and forms part of the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC, which becomes mandatory at the end of 2009. New safety valves can help OEMs address issues in the directive including mean time to failure, self diagnostics, common cause failure protection, and external validation and certification. The MS6-SV redundant safety valve from FESTO, for example, offers an exhaust flow rate of 6,000 ȱ/min, or 1.5 times its standard maximum operational flow rate for implementing emergency stop functions in safety-critical system areas. Built-in safety redundancy and parallel valves insure fail-safe exhaust of the system if one valve develops a fault. Integrated sensors continuously monitor the physical position of the valve components to confirm the valve’s condition and status. “Advances in diagnostics and networking also are providing higher levels of intelligence at the valve terminal,” Holmes says. “Ethernet networks using true peer-to-peer communications are creating more I/O density on valves and the ability to address higher numbers of analog and digital I/O on the manifold.” He adds that by reporting switching and voltage irregularities over the network, intelligent feedback from the valve can be used to help set preventative maintenance schedules.

In this high-speed filling application, a magnetostrictive sensor placed inside a custom pneumatic cylinder provides feedback proportional to the aperture of the nozzle. A PLC sends a 4-20 mA signal to the cylinder controller which moves the piston rod and reduces the aperture as bottles fill, slowing the fill rate as the bottles reach capacity. O C T O B E R 2009 F LUID P O WE R / A S UP P LE ME NT TO DE S I GN NE WS S3

Fluid Power: Solutions for Today’s Engineering Challenges


s part of an industry-wide effort, a coalition of university researchers and industry suppliers organized through the NSF-sponsored Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CCEFP) is working together to boost the efficiency of fluid power applications. The center is supported by seven participating universities and 55 industrial partners. New multi-grade oils, optimized with high-tech polymer additives and friction modifiers, are delivering promising field results, and new hydraulic fluids have been introduced by major oil companies. Research is moving ahead on duty cycle standards for specific vehicles, and the impact that high-efficiency hydraulic fluids (HEHF) could have on overall equipment design, particularly high-pressure and high-temperature applications such as excavators, skid steer loaders and construction equipment. Field tests on excavators conducted by Evonik RohMax Oil Additives show efficiency gains between 18 and 26 percent depending on the work cycle. That’s significant when you consider that if the use of HEHF results in the burning of 18 percent less diesel fuel to do the same amount of work, an excavator would burn 3,346 fewer gallons of diesel fuel in one drain interval of 4,000 hours. More-

New Hydraulic Fluids Aimed at Energy Savings Early field test results show promise in the effort to boost the efficiency of mobile fluid power applications BY AL PRESHER, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR

over, reducing emissions by 18 percent would result in 35 metric tons less CO2. “Improving the efficiency of fluid power applications is a promising area of research,” says Paul Michael, a research chemist at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, which is a member of the CCEFP. Michael says in the past 30 years there have been 15 improvements in the engine oil chemistry used in diesel and gasoline engines — largely driven by the desire to improve fuel economy. The total number of improvements in hydraulic fluids? Zero.



Volumetric Efficiency ηVE

Mechanical Efficiency ηMech Optimum Operating Range Overall Efficiency ηOV Viscosity

Since mobile hydraulic systems generally operate in the steep portion of the volumetric efficiency curve, increasing the viscosity of the hydraulic fluid at high temperatures improves volumetric efficiency and reduces energy consumption. During cold temperature start-up, when the viscosity of the hydraulic fluid is potentially very high, a lowviscosity hydraulic fluid improves mechanical and overall efficiency. Both of these goals can be achieved through the use of a shear stable high VI hydraulic fluid. S4 FL UI D POWER / A S U P P L E M E N T T O D E S I G N N E W S O C TO B E R 2009

Today, lower-viscosity oils with friction modifiers are used to provide fuel economy in passenger cars. But in fluid power applications, the vast majority of oils used now are essentially the same technology used 30 years ago — a straight-grade mineral oil plus a 1- to 2-percent, zinc-based, antiwear additive package. In a passenger car, the oil pressure is approximately 50 psi. In a hydraulic application, it can easily be 100 times higher. Higher pressure subjects the fluid to extremely high shear conditions, which break down the polymer molecules used in engine oil. According to Steve Herzog, OEM liaison manager for Evonik RohMax, there is no question that improvements in hydraulic pump efficiency can be realized through the use of shear stable hydraulic fluids. Research data shows that the use of shear stable polymer additives can result in more than a 10 percent improvement in hydraulic efficiency. Herzog says efficiency is achieved by putting a shear stable polymer into the oil and creating a high-viscosity index fluid that provides improved efficiency at high temperature (due to reduced internal leakage in the pumps and motors) and low temperature (due to reduced fluid drag at start-up). The proposed NFPA recommendation for Energy Efficient Hydraulic Fluid is a high viscosity index (>160 VI) [ signnews .com]

Fluid Power: Solutions for Today’s Engineering Challenges

and good shear stability. Under high pressure conditions, temperatures are often elevated. As a result, the viscosity is reduced and there are higher levels of internal leakage through the pump clearances. The polymer-enhanced hydraulic fluid has a thickening effect, which causes the oil to thin out at a slower rate as the temperature increases. As a result, there is an increase in volumetric efficiency and less internal leakage in the pumps and motors. Evonik RohMax, a partner in the Engineering Research Center, has developed and produced shear stable polymers that are especially well-suited for hydraulic applications. These polymers make the hydraulic fluid resistant to breaking down under the high-pressure conditions typical in industrial equipment, maintaining a higher level of in-service viscosity, and better volumetric efficiency. Other companies within the center that are actively working on solutions include Afton Chemical (providing friction modifier expertise) and Shell Oil Co. as the finished oil expert. OTHER SIDE OF THE CIRCUIT

Research at the CCEFP is also looking at the other side of the circuit — the load and hydraulic motor used to propel skid steer loaders, excavators and hydraulic hybrid vehicles. A car is least efficient in terms of fuel economy when it is starting up, and the same is true with mobile equipment powered by a hydraulic system. Essentially, it is this starting efficiency that establishes design parameters such as operating pressure and size, or displacement of the hydraulic motor. “The whole point is that if you can lubricate a motor more efficiently, you can get more torque under starting conditions, which means you can use a smaller motor with less displacement, which in turn means you can also have a smaller pump in the system because less flow will be needed to generate the same speed at the high end,” says Michael. “This is the area where we are concentrating our research, because it’s where we can make the biggest impact.” Michael’s group has studied the effects



179 VI HF

Hours of Work Per Drain




Hydraulic Fluid Volume




Hydraulic Fluid Price




Hydraulic Fluid Cost









Fuel Consumed





Fuel Price




Fuel Cost

Total $




Overall Costs/Savings

Total $




Work Cycles at 100% Throttle



Evonik RohMax performed a cost-benefit analysis to determine the economic impact of the energy savings measured during field tests comparing OEM 10W oil and highefficiency hydraulic fluid (179 VI HF). Though the 179 VI HF requires more work cycles, it consumes less fuel, resulting in a net benefit. A drain is defined as the time interval between fluid changes, or 4,000 hours for the field tests described here.

of various fluids on different types of motors using his lab’s hydraulic dynamometer, which is designed specifically for measuring hydraulic motor efficiency under starting and low-speed, high-torque conditions. Three lubricants with the same chemistry, but different viscosity characteristics, were tested on an axial piston, radial piston and orbital motor. Researchers found that different motors have different appetites for lubricants, depending on the lubrication regime at start-up. Under test conditions of 50 and 80C, the axial piston motor exhibited a 7 percent increase in efficiency at start-up due to the viscosity improver additive. “It is our hypothesis that the starting condition for this type of motor depends upon hydrostatic lubrication,” says Michael. “These motors have shoes sliding on a bearing surface. Oil is pumped under pressure through tiny holes in the bottom of these shoes, lifting them off the bearing surface, so the surfaces aren’t actually moving relative to one another. The polymer additive here thickens the oil, so you get better lubrication, which accounts for the higher efficiency.” There was no improvement in performance at start-up of either the radial or piston motor from the viscosity improver additive. Michael says he believes that the condition at start-up for these motors is what is known as boundary lubrication, in which case chemical additives in the

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oil react to the metal surfaces to form a low-friction film that reduces static friction. “It appears as though the chemistry, rather than the physical properties of the oil, is the determining factor here,” says Michael. While research is ongoing in a variety of areas, field trials and a decade of laboratory testing demonstrate that shear stable multi-grade hydraulic fluids and friction modifiers improve energy efficiency in hydraulic systems. Fluids that meet the requirements of the NFPA Energy Efficient Hydraulic Fluid classification system increase fuel economy and productivity while reducing CO2 emissions. And in the last year, oil companies including Shell, ExxonMobil and Citgo have introduced new high-efficiency hydraulic fluids, and OEMs are beginning to specify the fluids in their products. With the focus of the engineering research center on increasing energy efficiency, some members set a 10 percent goal on average energy savings in fluid power applications, achieved through the use of new hydraulic fluids. That seems to be well within reach, and now the momentum is for more research on duty cycle standards that document savings for specific classes of vehicles and industry adoption. Find out the results of field trials on a medium-size excavator, and read about how an injection molding company achieved 13 percent energy savings at [ signnews .com]

Fluid Power: Solutions for Today’s Engineering Challenges

The Future of Fluid Power Industry’s technology road map focuses on energy efficiency, and compact solutions, reliability and energy storage BY AL PRESHER, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR


he vision is to transform fluid power so it is compact, efficient and effective. And that vision is clearly reflected in an industrywide technology road map, developed by leading fluid power companies working together under the NSF-sponsored Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power. The impetus for change? It is in part a threat from electromechanical solutions, but it is as much the myriad opportunities for fluid power technologies to extend beyond traditional applications. “We are all drawing the same conclusions about the future,” says Dave Geiger, Moog Industrial Group’s hydraulic systems engineering manager. Most agree that the movement of electromechanical solutions into higher power ranges will be a slow process. But they also agree that the industry needs to work now to capitalize on the inherent strengths of fluid power technology and extend its reach through technology development. “Hydraulics offer tremendous power densities. The technology can deliver 10 times the power of an electric system in the same size and space, and three times the power of the most powerful race car engine,” says Joe Kovach, vice president, technology and innovation for Parker Hannifin. “The challenge is that it is not as efficient as it needs to be.” Everyone agrees there are huge opportunities for fluid power in the area of energy efficiency. The focus is on developing more efficient components including pumps and motors, high-speed switching valves and high-efficiency hydraulic fluids. Within the CCEFP, energy efficiency is

viewed as a transformational goal, as many believe that the efficiency of some hydraulic systems could be improved by as much as 50 percent. But it is also foundational because advances in efficiency will be enabled by basic improvements in valves, pumps, motors and fluids. Digital technology also promises to drive many new developments in fluid power, including major innovations in pumps, valves and motors. “The digital revolution is opening many new doors for fluid power,” says Michael Liedhegener, manager of new technologies development for Bosch Rexroth. One new concept is the integration of several small, fast switching on/off valves and the use of binary combinations to

intelligently control flow. Digital valves can also improve performance, efficiency and eliminate leakage. “Research in America forgot about fluid power, but now it’s back,” says Mike Gust, the CCEFP’s industry liaison and formerly vice president of technology for Eaton. “There is so much energy that is touched by fluid power, but if you look at the efficiency of an engine and work your way back to the wheels, the efficiency is in single digits,” says Gust. “Between the flexibility of fluid power and efficiency initiatives, getting a 25 percent improvement is not that difficult. It’s just that fluid power hasn’t been researched holistically and looked at under a scientific microscope for a long time.”

FLUID POWER TECHNOLOGY ROAD MAP Representatives from 19 National Fluid Power Assn. (NFPA) member companies have worked with the NFPA and the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS) to complete a technology road map for the fluid power industry. The work is an action plan of research objectives and strategies to achieve technology advancements in hydraulics and pneumatics. Six Key R&D Initiatives Are: ■

Increase energy efficiency

Improve reliability by increasing uptime, eliminating leaks, reducing maintenance requirements, and making fluid power safe and easy to use

Reduce the size of components and systems, while maintaining or increasing power output

Build “smart” fluid power components and systems, including self diagnostics and “plug-and-play” functionality

Reduce environmental impact, lowering noise, and eliminating leaks

Improve energy storage, recovery and redeployment capabilities of fluid power components and systems

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S O U R C E : N F PA

[ signnews .com]

Fluid Power: Solutions for Today’s Engineering Challenges

Four Game-Changing Fluid Power Technology Initiatives From a novel hydro-mechanical system for a hybrid car to a compact, free piston engine for pickups, researchers look to broaden fluid power’s reach

Researchers have a goal to significantly increase the energy density of accumulators



hrough the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power, a research consortium sponsored by the National Science Foundation, university teams, along with their industrial counterparts, are working on new technologies that will significantly advance the state-of-the-art in fluid power. Here is a look at four significant initiatives.


Researchers at the University of Minnesota are working on a novel architecture for a hydraulic hybrid passenger vehicle with a hydro-mechanical drive. The drive combines pump/motors at each wheel with differentials and a mechanical driveshaft to provide uninterrupted power flow over the entire speed range of the vehicle. “We decided to study this architecture because of its potential to be more energy efficient than the series and parallel hydraulic hybrid architectures,” says Perry Li, a professor at the University of Minnesota and leader of the test bed. A hydro-mechanical transmission (HMT) could potentially combine the advantages of both series and parallel hybrids. A unique aspect of the hydromechanical design is a feature called “power split,” which involves decoupling engine operation from vehicle speed and allowing partial power to go through the mechanical drive. The power from the

Pump/motors on each wheel are used to change speed Gearbox


Pump/motor provides torque control A clutch can decouple the engine from the rest of the drive train when power is not needed

main drive shaft is combined with the power from the pump/motors and planetary differentials on the wheels to drive the vehicle. When power isn’t needed, a pump/motor mounted in parallel with the engine and a clutch make it possible to de-clutch the engine from the rest of the drive train. A pump/motor in the front of the vehicle adds torque to the system and pump/motors on each wheel are used to change speed, resulting in flexible engine operation. Simulations show that with an engine peak efficiency of 39 percent, an HMT system can deliver on the order of 100 mpg in the urban cycle and approximately 70 mpg in the highway cycle. For the series hydraulic hybrid to approach this level of efficiency, the pump/motors need to be 90 percent efficient. “One potential advantage of the HMT architecture is that it allows you to use independent wheel torque control to control vehicle dynamics more aggressively,” says Li. “That would be a plus, particularly in the face of requirements

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Researchers are studying the hydromechanical transmission as a technology alternative for hybrid passenger vehicles.

for safety and great vehicle stability.” Understanding and mastering the HMT controls architecture are the primary challenges. With the first vehicle prototype, for example, it has been difficult to find components that are the right size. Some components are not efficient, and the ideal size of the pump/motors is much smaller than commercially available parts. Packaging is also a challenge. The first prototype uses discrete components, but an integrated assembly is the goal. For the second-generation prototype, the design team is partnering with a company that makes hydraulic continuously variable transmissions. The third challenge, as with all hydraulic hybrids, is the accumulator. Research is currently underway to significantly increase the energy density of the technology. One approach could increase density two to three times; another [ signnews .com]

Fluid Power: Solutions for Today’s Engineering Challenges

approach could potentially increase energy density by 10 times, but neither is a proven technology. PUMP-CONTROLLED HYDRAULIC EXCAVATOR

Researchers at Purdue University are working on a pump-controlled hydraulic circuit that uses variable displacement pumps as the main control element instead of hydraulic valves to power an excavator. The design is very simple, with one pump per actuator to control the cylinders on the stick, bucket and boom links; the swing motor that controls the cabin rotation; and each travel motor. The variable displacement pumps serve as both the power supply and flow control for the actuators. Pump flow rates are controlled electro-hydraulically by adjusting the pump displacement. The excavator arm is instrumented with position sensors for feedback control. The controller coordinates the actuator motions, allowing the operator to command the bucket trajectory directly for level trenching and vertical lifting. Elimination of the control valves makes the biggest impact on the new excavator’s energy efficiency. The architecture also allows recovery of kinetic and potential energy because the pumps can operate as motors. In all, these efficiency improvements add up to a 50 percent fuel savings for a typical duty cycle. One technical challenge for the test bed is coming up with the sophisticated engine power management scheme that will be required to adjust the engine speed for efficient operation.

Engine power management is a familiar feature in hybrid cars, but has seen only limited application in off-road machinery. The system needs high bandwidth at the actuators, but the engine can’t respond as quickly to changes in speeds. Dynamic loads change much more quickly than with a passenger vehicle, so shaking mud from the bucket, for example, requires a very fast response. RESCUE ROBOT AND HUMAN ORTHOSIS

The Rescue Robot and Human Orthosis test beds represent a class of compact, human-scale fluid power applications. A primary goal of the research is to develop compact sources of fluid power that can be used in untethered devices that operate in the 10-100W range, such as a rescue robot and orthosis device. The ultimate goal of researchers is to create a fluid power supply that is up to 10 times more compact than alternative solutions. Researchers are exploring the concept of chemofluidic actuation, which uses high-concentrate hydrogen peroxide and a catalyst to create a chemical reaction. The resultant hot gas product can either be used directly as a source of pneumatic power or to drive a vane motor in order to create rotational shaft power. By mounting a hydraulic pump directly onto the end of the motor shaft, a compact source of hydraulic power is created. This unique approach is exciting because although compact pumps already exist today, the power sources available to drive them (typically an IC engine or electric motor) are significantly larger

Advanced Pneumatics for Factory Automation Brings Robot to Life Machinery replaced humans in most processing and packaging operations long ago. But some jobs are almost impossible to automate – until now. Most machines lack mobility, dexterity, and versatility. These are areas where humans excel. However, machines excel at doing repetitive operations, lifting heavy loads, and working in harsh or other special environments. A developer of teleremote-operated humanoid robots tackled the problem of bringing life-like capabilities to robotics. To be more human-like, the robot needed flexible appendages and joints. Motor-driven systems were too stiff, bulky, and heavy. They crushed delicate items and strained to hold high forces. They also made the robot unstable on imperfect terrain. Standard pneumatics did not give smooth motion. Slow response time made balancing impossible, especially when moving or handling changing loads. And the clickity-clack noise was annoying. Enfield Technologies' servo-pneumatic positioning systems were used on 16 critical axes in the arms and torso. This allowed humanlike compliance in addition to the human strength and form-factor that only pneumatics can achieve. Now the robot can shake a hand or grasp an egg without crushing, but has the power to lift and carry heavy bags without toppling over. And he does dishes.

Enfield Technologies has a faster, smoother and more accurate way to control position, pressure, force and flow. Our proportional pneumatic valves, closed-loop electronics and air cylinders with embedded sensors have the high speed and high precision your application requires. Talk with an engineer . . . call us at 1-800-504-3334

Fluid Power: Solutions for Today’s Engineering Challenges

than the pump itself. Researchers hope to develop a pump/motor capable of delivering continuous power in excess of 1,000 W/kg, which is approximately five times better than state-ofthe-art, rare-earth magnet brushless electric motors. A second type of compact fluid power source under development is a free piston engine (FPE). With most engines, a fuel and air mixture is ignited and pushes down on the piston connected to a crankshaft to create rotary motion. A hydraulic pump is mounted on the shaft to create fluid power for the vehicle. Thus the fuel and air mixture is ultimately converted into flow of oil. The center’s concept of a free piston engine compressor or pump attempts to simplify this conversion: The fuel and air mixture is ignited on one side of the piston with a pump or compressor creating fluid power on the other side. Since no rotary shaft is required, the resultant source of power is much smaller. The center’s first FPE designs are pneumatic. LP gas is used as the energy source to create high-pressure air that is stored directly into an accumulator, which can then be supplied to the actuators as needed. The center is also working with a major automotive OEM on a free piston engine pump that supplies high-pressure oil instead of air, and is much more compact than existing power trains. The target application is half-ton and larger-size pickup trucks. Find more on these fluid power technology initiatives at

ADVERTISERS IN THIS ISSUE For more info. visit these links




Bosch Rexroth Corp.


Eaton Hydraulics


Enfield Technologies


Gates Corp.


Oilgear Co.


Parker Hannifin Corp.


Peninsular Inc.


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Unimerco Inc.


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Intelligent Air

VALVE Reduces air-operated, double diaphragm pump energy usage by up to 50 percent

Source: Proportion Air Inc.

The MizAir valve uses sophisticated control algorithms to reduce energy usage in air-operated, double diaphragm pumps.

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that uses sophisticated software algorithms to “learn” and control the operation of air-operated, double diaphragm (AODD) pumps creates very little loss in fluid throughput, while using up to 50 percent less energy. The key to MizAir® technology from Proportion Air Inc.: to shut off air supply to the pump approximately at the midpoint of each stroke to create energy efficiency. But the challenge has been developing an approach that is costeffective and can be used with a wide variety of pumps. “Like many inventions, the concept behind the product is simple, but the difficult part is that, like snowflakes, no two pumps are alike,” says David Reed, vice president of engineering at Proportion Air. “Nuances in the diaphragms, check balls, supply air pressure and the piping that supplies the pump means that all pumps operate differently. Even the same pump moved to a different part of the building, or into a different application, will operate differently with the MizAir valve.” The challenge was how to make the valve smart enough to be able to adapt to different application environments. The MizAir basically needs to know when the stroke is ending on each cycle, and to synchronize both the exact delivery of the next shot of air and how much air the pump needs. “If the pump is given too little air, it can’t finish the stroke in a timely fashion, and throughput goes down,” says Reed. “But if you give the pump too much air, you don’t benefit from the savings.” Air-operated, double diaphragm pumps have a reputation of ruggedness and durability, the ability to be submerged under water, and can reliably pump large amounts of solids. The pumps can fit into applications and handle media other pump technologies



can’t, but the user pays a heavy price in the amount of energy and costs required to move the fluid. The MizAir is a two-way, normally open, high-flow valve that only operates in on/off mode. It is installed immediately on the supply air side of an AODD pump. As the diaphragm chamber fills with compressed air, the diaphragm is pushed in one direction and the motion expels the fluid into a trap on the other side of the diaphragm. Supply air is always directly connected to the supply pressure, so when the diaphragm is finished with its stroke, there is a large volume of air at the supply pressure. Reed says this perfect vessel of compressed air that has been dried, filtered and supplied to the pump is simply pushed into the atmosphere. What the MizAir does is to give the pump full supply pressure at the start of the stroke but, halfway through the stroke, the valve shuts off supply air to the pump. Trapped air in the pump at the midpoint of the stroke continues to expand and finishes the pump’s stroke, and creates the 50 percent energy savings.

The first MizAir models utilized an inductive switch to monitor either the diaphragm motion of the pump or internal valving to determine when the pump had reached the end of stroke. That technology was very reliable, but also expensive to implement because it required modifications to the pump, plus additional hardware and wiring. The other big problem was that mechanical control of the pump needed to be designed specifically for each pump, and couldn’t be mass produced. “While we were developing the technology, we learned that the profile of the air pressure going into the pump provided clues about pump operation,” Reed says. “Now instead of using external sensors, the MizAir has an internal pressure sensor to monitor the air going into the pump. We observe the unique characteristics of the pressure profile, which is what the MizAir software utilizes to learn about the pump’s operation.” Software algorithms continually monitor each stroke, how fast the pump is operating, how much force it is generating, the supply pressure and the type of pump. The system is learn-




Select Wire-Reinforced Hoses Based on Working Pressure Requirements Hydraulic hose reinforcement varies with its rated working pressure. Hoses with low working pressures normally use fabric reinforcement, while those handling higher pressures use high-strength steel wire. Steel wire reinforced hoses come in two types: wire braid and spiral wire. Wire braid hoses can handle working pressures up to 6,000 psi, depending on size. These “two-wire” braid hoses are frequently found in high-pressure hydraulic applications on construction equipment. Operating pressures range from 6,000 psi for 3/16” I.D. to 1,825 psi for 2” I.D. hoses. By contrast, spiral wire hoses generally handle up to 5,000 psi in larger diameter sizes, up to 2” I.D. Typically, "four-wire" and "six-wire" spiral hoses are used where extremely highimpulse pressure surges are encountered.

Gates newest advancement is its M-XP™ hydraulic hose, which combines the flexibility of wire-braid construction with the strength and performance of spiral-wire reinforcement. M-XP hose has been tested at an industryleading 1,000,000 impulse cycles – five times the SAE standard. This capability increases service life and makes Gates M-XP hose ideal for out-of-sight and hard-to-reach applications like boom arms and scissor lifts. Gates M-XP hose is engineered with onehalf the SAE bend radius requirement, which reduces hose length requirements and allows for greater flexibility and easier installation in confined spaces. Visit


Microcontroller runs software algorithms that “learn” and dynamically adjust pump operation.

Six-pin 24V dc Power Connector

ing and adapting system operation based on the real-time sensor input, and profile of the air pressure being sent into the pump. An internal presCollecting the data sure sensor monitors the air going made it possible to develop software to inter- into the pump. pret the data, and produce computer logic to intelligently control the pump’s operation. “What started out as a simple problem ends up being thousands of lines of code and requiring a 32-bit ARM processor to process the information,” says Rich Pfile, a professor at IUPUI who helped develop the software. Intelligent control “Essentially the system runs at of the full air and collects stroke informatwo-way valve saves tion from the sensor. Algorithms energy. process that information and determine the exact timing of turning the air on and the exact parameters for detecting the end of stroke,” says Pfile. “As the head pressure on the pump goes up or down, the system Source: Proportion Air Inc. needs more or less air to optimally The MizAir valve determines when run the pump.” the stroke is ending on each cycle, and Using fuzzy logic and control algosynchronizes both the precise delivery rithms that monitor pump operation in of the next shot of air and how much the same way a person would look at the the air pump needs. pressure profile, the valve makes intelligent adjustments to the system. The of the pump because pressure is rapidly software makes decisions at the end of decreasing, and with MizAir it gets even every stroke to determine what changes colder because the pressure drops much need to be made in the next stroke. The farther sooner. Mufflers developed for system needs to know at all times where the exhaust side of AODD pumps it is in the stroke, and not turn the air on offer anti-icing characteristics that can right before the end of stroke where that be used to resolve this issue. would fill the chamber and waste air. The MizAir offers the most efficiency The air exiting the pump is extremely in applications that use a 3-inch line size cold, as low as -40F. It gets cold due to because those pumps run at two to three Boyles Law which basically states that strokes per second and have air requirefor gas kept at a fixed temperature, pres- ments the equivalent of a 40 hp air comsure and volume are inversely proporpressor. It has also been used effectively tional. The air gets cold at the exhaust with 1.5- and 2-inch line sizes.



Drive eliminates mechanical wear by transferring torque through air gap


lux Drive technology uses inducLinear Actuator Induction Rotor tion motor theory and improveRotating Magnetic Assembly ments in permanent magnets to create a magnetic torque transfer system for its new soft-start couplings and adjustable speed drives (ASD). Drawing on high-performance permanent magnets, this new option for soft-start couplings combines high efficiency and long life. The flexible soft-start coupling’s rotating magnetic assembly and input rotor provide an almost one-to-one transfer of power from the motor to the load. By relying on the coupling’s air gap, a load can slip with respect to the motor, while still accelerating to full motor speed without spiking motor current. Philip Corbin III, founder and CEO of Flux Source: Flux Drive Drive says that eliminating contacting mechanical parts results in significantly A Flux Drive ASD installed on a motor/pump application allows the motor to run at its reduced vibration and no parts to wear best efficiency point. The drive transfers torque across an air gap instead of through touching parts. out or replace. “The soft-start coupling transfers torque magnetically through an air gap,” interfacing to the rotor.” Corbin says. “If there is an overload, “When we run at full torque, we are designing around a 1½ applications are typically limited to 130 or 140 percent of the to 2 percent slip for an 1,800 rpm application,” Corbin says. torque that the system would normally be able to transmit “That’s 24 to 30 rpm of slip speed between the input shaft in from the input to output shaft. The coupling becomes a prothe motor and the output shaft mounted to a pump or blower.” tective, torque limiting device for the system.” He claims that eddy current offerings have the same available The Flux Drive adjustable speed drive combines the softtorque as the Flux Drive product, but slip is 4-5 percent at full start coupling with the ability to adjust the axial engagement torque and power. between the rotating magnetic assembly and input rotor. The Flux Drive was awarded a patent in 2007 based on the magnetic ASD provides variable speeds by relying on permainductive circuit. The key to the patent is the design’s nent magnets and a design that allows the drive to transfer ability to utilize an organized array of magnets and an ortorque across an air gap instead of through mechanical parts. ganized rotor to create an interface that induces flux and “What makes Flux Drive unique is a magnetic circuit that torque across the air gap. closely follows motor technology in its modeling and develCorbin compares the adjustable speed product to freopment,” says Corbin. “The design uses an inductive rotor quency drives which create disturbances on the ac power lines. which fits inside a magnetic can, and creates an always on, dc Because the Flux Drive does not create any power line disturflux field. Once the rotor is placed into the array and flux field, bances, it is ideal for applications where sensitive equipment there is incredibly high magnetic strength within the can, and could be affected by operation of a frequency drive. F6 FL UI D PO WER/ P O W E R T R A N S M I S S I O N / A S P E C I A L E D IT O R IAL S E CTIO N O CT O BE R 2 0 0 9

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Micro-Dispensing Pump Precision design delivers accurate dosing, billion cycle lifetime operation BY AL PRESHER, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR


ew liquid dispensing pump technology that uses a solenoid rather than a dc motor precisely delivers fluids up to 20 times per second for accurate metering applications. The design of the pump also offers high reliability, normally an issue with solenoid-operated pumps and valves, and an operational lifetime of up to 1 billion cycles. “Our pumps typically use a standard dc, brushless dc or ac motor to push the diaphragm up and down,” says Stephan Kaufmann, head of development and design at KNF Flodos AG. A pump controlled by a dc motor or brushless motor can work very well in continuous applications, but to dispense a very accurate amount of liquid, Kaufmann says it is difficult to control and precise metering solutions are expensive. Even though KNF has more than 20 years experience with liquid diaphragm pumps, this is the company’s first solenoid pump. Solenoid pumps and valves are typically limited in lifetime, and the limiting part of the design is usually the armature, check valves or diaphragm. “Experience with existing designs has shown that, after 10 million cycles, the armatures are falling to pieces and the valves are not working anymore,” says Michael Davies, application engineer for KNF. “This pump is designed for a billion cycles, or 100 times what is typical in other products. Because of our experience with a variety of motor-driven pumps, we are used to designing for high frequencies and long lifetimes.” The key to achieving long life for the product was finding a surface treatment and thin layer of polymer to reduce friction and wear. Special coatings on the armature reduce friction when the armature is going up and down. If every shot of the pump is 10 micro liters, the distance the armature moves is only ²/ıo of a millimeter and the armature must be guided very accurately to achieve reliable operation. The coating and the way the armature is pulled down by the solenoid and pushed up by the spring is critical to the accuracy and lifetime of the pump. Operation of the FMM20 pump is simple. With each electrical impulse, the solenoid moves the diaphragm up and down once to deliver a calibrated shot of liquid. “Because the solenoid is very controllable, you can accurately deliver one stroke versus utilizing a rotating dc motor,” says Kaufmann. “We are sending shots of liquid out at 20 times per second, compared to existing designs that typically only support a frequency of 2 Hz.” In dosing applications, higher speeds and frequencies can create operational flexibility. With a priming function, for example, the faster you can pump the air out of the system and

Source: KNF

During pump operation, an electrical impulse energizes the solenoid coil and creates a magnetic field, which pulls the armature and diaphragm down and compresses the spring. When the electrical impulse is turned off, the spring pushes the armature and diaphragm upward to create the pumping action. On the downward stroke, the vacuum created pulls air or liquid into the pump. As the spring pushes the diaphragm up, the pressure created opens the outlet valve, dispensing the liquid. If the pump is off, the spring pushes the diaphragm up into the pump head, sealing the pump, and eliminating the need for a separate return check valve.

get it primed with liquid the better. Because the pump can deliver up to 20 shots per second, it creates both a larger range of flow and more accurate dispensing of fluids. “With one product, it is possible to serve a wide range of


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FLUID POWER/POWER TRANSMISSION Source: KNF change the stroke length, along with the length and applications in terms of flow at 20 Hz while frequency of the electrical impulses, creates new precisely dispensing exact volumes at low fredimensions that affect the pump’s characteristics, quency,” says Kaufmann. “Some customers are performance and provide better overall control.” designing it into systems as a dispensing pump, KNF adjusts the pump at the factory so where they utilize 10 shots to achieve a specific every shot delivers 20 micro liters, but the volume of liquid. Others run the pump as a conpump is calibrated using standard tubing and tinuous metering application.” test equipment. Kaufmann says the customer A unique advantage of the product is the might have a liquid that has a higher viscosity, ability to easily make stroke adjustments in the and get less flow from the unit. But changing to field. By turning an Allen key at the bottom The unique design of the FMM20 pump uses a solea longer stroke compensates for the application of the pump, the user can increase or reduce noid rather than a dc motor differences. the stroke length which, in turn, adjusts the to deliver calibrated shots One challenge during the project was the amount of liquid dispensed per shot. Many fac- of liquid. complete head redesign. The initial design actutors influence the amount of liquid a pump disally used the head of a transfer pump that uses a penses including the vacuum, suction height, standard dc motor. The design team thought that the special pressure in the system and viscosity of the liquid. anchor valves used in this pump worked well at low speed, as A dosing pump, by definition, needs to be calibrated to the flow curve was very linear. That led to the idea of using a achieve the desired flow rate. Applications can have hard or solenoid instead of a motor. soft tubing, a large diameter or thin tubing, no pressure or a “The precision of the product is required to achieve lot of pressure, so every application has a unique set of system both the accuracy and lifetime requirements,” Kaufmann says. parameters that affect flow rate. “Using the solenoid versus the dc motor complicated the design, “With the solenoid-operated pump, there are two different but in the final result is a more sophisticated control capability.” factors that can be adjusted,” says Kaufmann. “The ability to

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IN THE MARKETPLACE S ENFIELD TECHNOLOGIES’ ENFINITY® SYSTEM Ideal for users who want flexibility Enfield Technologies’ Enfinity® System for advanced proportional control comprises Enfield Technologies’ M2 pneumatic control valve and C2 controller. The M2 is an instrument-grade, proportional, directional control pneumatic valve designed for high performance. It utilizes a specialized linear force motor, as opposed to a traditional proportional solenoid. The M2’s aperture is controlled at a very high speed, allowing the valve to respond quickly to set-point command changes. The C2 is an enclosed high-speed, high-accuracy analog controller with multiple PID and feedforward options. It includes an intuitive, user-friendly, digital LCD/membrane keypad user interface. Independent scaling of command and feedback signals adds to the C2’s flexibility. Since both the M2 valve and C2 controller are available with an integrated driver, the user can choose to purchase an Enfinity System with the driver included in either of the two components. Although the Enfinity System is deal for users who want the flexibility to create breakthrough applications, both of its components can also be purchased individually for use with other Enfield Technologies’ products. Enfield Technologies

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ECOLOC® Locking Assemblies™ are competitively priced, quality locking devices for keyless shaft & hub connections. They provide higher torques, excellent selfcentering ability and are backlash-free. Available from stock inch & metric up to 180mm. Other sizes available upon request.

For information on ECOLOC® and RINGFEDER® Locking Assemblies™ or other power transmission components, call us today at 800-245-2580.

Partner for Performance







Ideal for water and chemical industries OMEGA’s new low-cost ($100) FSW300 series of flow switches has an adjustable switch point, low pressure drop, instant response and high repeatability. This CE-compliant device is comprised of a paddle system with a permanent magnet attached. Above that magnet is a reed contact, located outside the flow of fluid. A second magnet with opposing poles creates the force necessary to reset the switch back to the no flow position. It is ideal for water and chemical industries.

Prevents expensive repair, maintenance and downtime ACE Controls’ V-Sensor for detecting damaging unit vibration levels in the automation process is connected to devices such as linear modules, rotary actuators, grippers and more. These units can signal when an industrial shock absorber is nearing the end of its lifecycle, thereby preventing expensive repair, maintenance and downtime. V-Sensors are available in PNP, NPN and analog versions and include various installation adapters. Securing clamps are also available in various diameters.


ACE Controls Inc.




F o r m o re i n f o r m a t i o n , visit these links


Apple Rubber Products Inc.

F-4, 5

Gates Corp.


Paratherm Corp.


Peninsular Inc.


Ringfeder Corp.




Thomas Products Ltd.

Available in ranges from 0/3 through 0/400 psid The Ashcroft® Type 5503 differential pressure gauge provides reliable, low differential pressure measurement in high static, wet-wet pressure applications. Equipped with wetted materials of 316SS, Monel or Hastelloy C, the rugged Type 5503 D/P pressure gauge is specifically designed to monitor a wide variety of caustic liquids and gases. Four- and 6-inch dial face versions are available in ranges from 0/3 (or 0/100 In H2O) through 0/400 psid and offer optional features such as 3,625 psi static pressure containment, liquid fill, electrical contacts and a choice of mounting hardware.

Ashcroft® Inc.

Publisher does not assume any liability for errors or omissions in this index.


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Go Green Synthetic elastomers offer promise in new applications ranging from water purification to PVC replacement TECHNOLOGY ADVANCEMENTS ARE CREATING NEW ENGINEERING

Source: International Plastics Design Competition

New technologies are creating engineering opportunities for elastomers, such as nanofiltration of water sources.

opportunities for elastomers, offering designers and manufacturers new options for developing green products. One promising application is in nanofiltration of water sources, where existing technologies are costly or fall short in the face of growing requirements for fresh water in many parts of the globe. “Current reverse osmosis membranes lack adequate chlorine tolerance due to their dependence on polyamide chemistry; chlorine-tolerant membrane materials would be of great value to the industry,” says Donald R. Paul, director, Texas Materials Institute and engineering professor at the University of Texas. Reverse osmosis is a filtration process in which pressure is used to force a solution through a membrane, retaining salt on one side and allowing water to pass to the other side. “Sulfonated polymers have been identified as promising materials for membrane applications including use in fuel cell membranes and reverse osmosis membranes,” wrote Paul in a paper presented at the Annual Technical Conference of the Society of Plastics Engineers this year. Two colleagues at the Texas Materials Institute — Geoffrey M. Geise and B.D. Freeman — co-authored the report with Paul. Among the most interesting materials candidates are selectively midblock sulfonated copolymers, which are said to provide excellent performance in water transport, chemical resistance, selective gas permeability and ion-exchange properties, as well as strong mechanical performance in both wet and dry environments. New engineering solutions are envisioned for applications in desalination, electrodeionization, electrodialysis, humidification and dehumidification, breathable protective clothing, battery separators, fuel cell membranes, sensors and actuators, reverse osmosis, medical devices, filtration, gas separation, performance outerwear and apparel, energy recovery and antifouling. Kraton MD9150 and MD9200 were unveiled at the


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TPEs: The Skinny synthetic elastomers include PVC National Plastics Exposition in Chiand bromine replacement. In some cago last summer at the International Thermoplastic elastomers combine the properties of plastics and rubber. By generally accepted cases, TPEs are being made from Plastics Design Competition, codefinition, they must possess these engineering biobased components. sponsored by Design News. The maproperties: PolyOne’s GLS Thermoplastic terials were used in bundled arrays of Elastomers business developed Vertubes that purify or desalinate water. • Stretchable to moderate elongations saflex Bio TPEs, which are formu“We designed this polymer to coupled with the ability to return to a close lated with up to 70 percent renewable compete with high-end membranes,” approximation of its original shape • Injection moldable or extrudable resources. These translucent grades Dr. Lothar Freund, vice president of • Absence of significant creep are available in a range of Shore A technology at Kraton, told Design hardnesses. News in an interview. “Many of the Examples: “These TPEs break new ground existing membranes are not chlorine• DuPont’s Hytrel with an exceptionally high level of resistant. Consequently, in one step, ® • BASF’s Styroflex SBS renewable content, offering designers we can desalinate water without • Kraton Polymers’ Kraton and manufacturers new options for removing the chlorine.” ™ • Lubrizol’s Pellethane ® creating products that reduce enviKraton created a new pentablock • Arkema’s Pebax ronmental impact and appeal to ecocopolymer architecture, where the • DSM Engineering Plastics’ Arnitel conscious consumers,” says Walter polystyrene midblock is modified with • GLS’ VERSAFLEX™ (PolyOne) Ripple, general manager, GLS. a sulfonic acid group. The precursor There are many producers and grades of TPEs, polymer is a poly (t-butyl styrene-bwhich can be engineered as block copolymers, (ethylene-r-propylene)-b-styreneThermoplastic Elastomers polyolefin blends, elastomeric alloys (TPE-v or b-(ethylene-rpropylene)-b-(t-butyl At this year’s National Plastics Expostyrene) copolymer) or (tBS-EP-S-EP- TPV), thermoplastic polyurethanes, thermoplastic sition, DuPont also exhibited its new copolyester and thermoplastic polyamides. tBS). The styrene block is selectively renewably sourced TPE, designated sulfonated via acyl sulfate chemistry. Hytrel RS. Hytrel RS is said to proVarying sulfonation levels allow ion exchange capacity vide all the performance characteristics of traditional Hytrel of 0.4 to 2.0 meq/g (milli-equivalent per gram). The ion materials. The exact biomass used is a DuPont secret. The selectivity and unique polymer architecture results in TPE is priced at a 10 percent premium. Arkema’s Pebax® also efficient salt rejection. may include a renewably sourced material, such as caster oil. When cast onto hollow fiber membranes, the sulfonated A new series of thermoplastic elastomer compounds from polymers create a layer which can achieve nanofiltration of Teknor Apex meet UL criteria for flame retardance while prowater sources. The membranes combine high strength and viding flexibility and toughness over a broad temperature range. hydrophilicity, resulting in very low energy consumption. They The four Telcar TL-1934 compounds are styrenic forcan be used in a larger water purification or desalinization plant. mulations available with Shore A hardnesses from 56 to 88. Teknor Apex recommends them for insulation, jackets, and molded parts for flexible cords, coil cords, and cables in Membrane or Solution power tools, appliances, Engineers should note that the copolymers come in membrane and solution form, providing the opportunity to design industrial robots, welding equipment, and audio and unique shapes as well as coatings and laminations. These new lighting systems. sulfonated copolymers offer the customer a greener solution “Telcar TL-1934 comby reducing the processing temperatures as compared to curpounds provide excellent rent technology. flame resistance while One competing system is perfluorosulfonic acid polymer, meeting RoHS standards a randomly sulfonated copolymer which dates back to the by containing no polybro1960s and is widely used in chlor-alkali cells, fuel cells and minated diphenyl ether batteries. Sulfonation of hydrogenated rubber as end blocks (PBDE) flame retardant,” is also widely practiced, but lacks wet strength at sufficient says Andy Claytor, sales sulfonation levels. Freund said samples of the new Kraton copolymers are being director. “In addition, these products deliver tested by companies that specialize in water filtration. Paul and his colleagues confirmed the effectiveness of the new excellent performance at Source: Teknor Apex temperature extremes and copolymers in research conducted at the Texas Materials Instiin outdoor environments, tute. “It is curious that the pure water permeability decreases and the salt permeability increases upon switching from a batch exhibit rubber-like flexibil- New TPEs provide flame retarity, are oil-resistant and are dance without using brominated process to a continuous solution-casting process. Further studavailable in a broad range compounds. ies on the microstructure of these materials are needed to idenof hardnesses.” tify the exact cause of this phenomenon,” they wrote. Other major environmental pushes for highly engineered 50

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What’s Next after the Dreamliner?

Think Fuel Cells Lightweight, heat-resistant membrane fuel cells show potential to provide power for commercial aircraft

Source: BASF


Flight of the Antares DLR-H2 demonstrates the use of hydrogen fuel cells to power an aircraft.


in aircraft design. Not surprisingly, the carbon-composite-sheathed 787 is running into the type of severe turbulence that accompanies any major technology change. What will be the next revolution in aircraft design? How about hydrogen power? “By using liquid-hydrogen, there is the potential to create aircraft that are capable of the same missions as current aircraft, but use less energy, use less natural resources, have smaller environmental impact, and are as safe as or safer than current aircraft,” says David C. Maniaci, who researched the issue for the Dept. of Aerospace Engineering at Penn State University. Boeing engineers have stated that hydrogen, if produced via nuclear or solar power, could be a long-term factor as an aviation fuel, and Boeing in fact tested a small, manned plane two years ago. Assuming production of hydrogen from an environmentally suitable source is a huge given, as previously reported by Design News. Significant design problems also lie in the way.

Hydrogen has a high energy density per unit mass, but a low energy density per unit volume compared to currently used jet fuels. Containing hydrogen would require a high-pressure container. It’s likely fuel would have to be stored in the fuselage, not wings, creating further obstacles. Heat-Resistant Polymer

New work, however, on air-cooled, hydrogen fuel cell membranes using the heat-resistant polymer polybenzimidazole are showing promise. In fact, the membranes may be used in future Airbus A320s to produce electricity for onboard use. The technology is being demonstrated in Germany where Antares DLR-H2, the world’s first piloted aircraft capable of taking off using only power from fuel cells, made a test flight at the Hamburg airport. The plane has been developed by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR). Technically, it’s a motorized glider. It has zero carbon dioxide emissions and makes less noise than comparable aircraft. The Antares DLR-H2 is powered directly by an ultra-efficient fuel cell using membrane technology developed by BASF. “We have improved the performance capabilities and D E S I G N N E W S O C T O B E R 2 0 0 9 [ w w w. d e s i g n n e w s . c o m ] 5 3



Source: BASF

efficiency of the fuel cell to such an extent that a piloted aircraft is now able to take off using it,” says Johann-Dietrich Wörner, chairman of DLR. “This enables us to demonstrate the true potential of this technology, also and perhaps specifically for applications in the aerospace sector.” Hydrogen is converted into electrical energy in a direct, electrochemical reaction with oxygen in the ambient air, with no combustion. The only by-product is water. In the membrane electrode assembly, or MEA, chemical energy generated by the reaction between oxygen and hydrogen is converted directly into electricity and heat. “BASF is participating in the pilot project to promote an innovative energy technology which will really be taking off in the near future, and not just on board aircraft,” says Carsten Henschel, a technical expert at BASF Fuel Cells. “In times of scarce energy resources the fuel cell can, for example, help maintain security of supply because hydrogen can be obtained from a wide variety of sources: from wind or solar energy and from natural gas or diesel.”

BASF’s research scientists have developed a hand-sized, super-thin film rectangle made of polybenzimidazole that works well in membrane electrode assemblies.

operate at a maximum of 80C, and require a large number of ancillary units, as well as a complex control system. The MEA in the Antares glider uses the world’s first commercially available membrane for fuel cells that withstand operating temperatures of up to 180C. These fuel cells are air-cooled and don’t require humidifiers, water pumps, tanks, valves and cleaning systems. The heart of the technology is polybenzimidazole, the same heat-resistant plastic used for firefighters’ suits. A high operating temperature also prevents impurities in hydrogen from building up on a platinum-coated electrode (anode). Platinum is the catalyst that starts the electrochemical reaction in the MEA. The BASF fuel cell systems, called Celtec®, use a third Design Challenges fewer components than conventional fuel cell systems. “This The design challenge is to keep the fuel cell system as light reduces the costs by up to 40 percent. The development of as possible. Conventional low-temperature fuel cell systems the high-temperature membrane has finally made the fuel cell interesting as a commercial sales product,” Innovative Fuel Cell Technology with Celtec® Membrane Electrode Assembly from BASF explains Henschel. The fuel cell system that powers the Antares delivers up to 25 kW of electrical power, operating at an efficiency level of approximately 52 percent when flying in a straight line, using only 10 kW of power. A single cell can only deliver a voltage of about 600700 millivolts, so several cells are combined into a fuel cell stack to produce enough power. Each of the MEAs is in a matrix of electrically conductive graphite plates that connect the individual cells together. The plates conduct the electricity and supply the MEAs with hydrogen and oxygen through special ducts. Airbus A320 Tests Fuel Cell Stack


Electron Flow

Anode Cathode


+ + Hydrogen


Oxygen +


Source: BASF

• At the anode, the catalyst platinum splits hydrogen into positively charged protons and negatively charged electrons.

Water OH H

• The membrane is impermeable to electrons and forces them to take a detour through the external electrical circuit. Celtec

At the heart of the Celtec® membrane is a polymer called polybenzimidazole, the same heat-resistant plastic used for firefighters’ suits. A high operating temperature prevents impurities in hydrogen from building up on the platinum anode.


D E S I G N N E W S O C T O B E R 2 0 0 9 [ w w w. d e s i g n n e w s . c o m ]

“Following the test flights in the Antares, we intend to install the fuel cell in our Airbus A320, where it will be optimized for use in wide-bodied aircraft to make the onboard electricity supply more efficient in the future,” says Josef Kallo of the DLR in Stuttgart. The byproducts heat and water could also serve as “antifreeze” for the wings and to supply the washrooms. The DLR worked with Airbus Germany to implement a fuel cell system as the auxiliary power supply for the hydraulic pumps of the steering system of the DLR’s research aircraft Airbus A320 ATRA. The DLR test series with the Antares are scheduled for completion in 2010 and the fuel cell will then be used in DLR’s “A320 ATRA.” The Antares DLR-H2 is based on the Antares 20E self-launching motor glider, produced by Lange Aviation GmbH. Unlike some other aircraft research projects, this one is far from science fiction. BASF has a fuel cell production facility in Frankfurt and is cranking up a new plant in Somerset, NJ.


Simplify Motion Control

E l e c t ro n i c s Fluid Power Materials/Fastening M o t i o n C o n t ro l

Compiled by Jennifer Roy and Elizabeth M. Taurasi



SATHENA’S FOUNDATION™ SERIES CUSTOMIZABLE MODULAR CONTROL PRODUCTS Small enough to fit in your palm Athena Controls Inc.’s new line of Foundation™ Series Customizable Modular Control Products offers machine designers virtually limitless heat and/or cool control possibilities in a package small enough to fit in the palm of the hand. From simple, cost-effective, multi-loop PID control to more complex custom “state machine” control, Foundation’s compact, basic control board contains a large Flash code and RAM memory for added software capabilities, and the ability to add plug-in boards for expanded communication, I/O and display options to suit specific applications. With Foundation Series Products, machine designers can buy and pay for as little heat and/or cool control that they need with the ability to add more capability as their application needs change and grow. Athena Controls Inc.

For use in computers, radio equipment and other electronic applications Crystek’s CPLL58-3900-4300 PLL/Synthesizer operates from 3,900 to 4,300 MHz with a typical step size of 2,500 KHz. Engineered and manufactured in the U.S., it is housed in a compact 0.582 x 0.8 x 0.15-inch SMD package, which saves board space. Crystek’s PLL/Synthesizer construction essentially wraps a VCO around a PLL in a package that’s only marginally larger than a VCO on its own, and significantly smaller than separate VCO/PLL modules. The CPLL58-3900-4300 needs only an external frequency reference and supply voltages for the internal PLL (phase lock loop) and VCO (voltage controlled oscillator), and is programmed using a standard three line interface (Data, Clock and Load Enable). Typical phase noise for the CPLL58-3900-4300 is -95 dBc/Hz at 10 KHz offset with minimum output power of 3 dBm. VCO voltage is 5V dc; PLL voltage is 3V dc. Second harmonic suppression is -15 dBc typical. It is ideal for use in telecommunications, computers, radio equipment, base stations and other electronic applications.

NI LabVIEW software is ideally suited for integrating precise motion control in industrial machines. With LabVIEW you can: I

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XDYTRAN INSTRUMENTS’ ULTRA-LOW-NOISE MINIATURE TRIAXIAL ACCELEROMETERS WITH TEDS Features an excellent signal-to-noise ratio Dytran Instruments’ new miniature triaxial accelerometer is designed for modal analysis testing. The 3273AT series features a robust, laser-welded titanium design, which includes ceramic sensing elements coupled to ultra-low-noise JFET electronics. It includes IEEE 1451.4 TEDS. With a low end frequency response of -10 percent down to 0.31 Hz, the 3273AT series accelerometer offers excellent phase response at low frequencies. It also features an excellent signal-to-

Standard Or Custom Parts From A Single Source


noise ratio. The 3273AT series accelerometers are available in sensitivities of 10, 50 and 100 mV/g. Featuring a hermetic seal, adhesive mount and a single four-pin connector, this triaxial IEPE accelerometer weighs only 2.7 gm. Its titanium housing contributes to its light weight, which provides for minimal mass loading of the accelerometer on the test article. Dytran Instruments Inc.

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Enhances the user’s system reliability Allegro MicroSystems’ new fully protected, single chip, full-bridge motor driver IC, the SPF7302, is for dc brush motor applications. This new solution enhances the user’s system reliability compared to other discrete solutions and is targeted at the automotive and industrial markets. The SPF7302 includes various integrated protection circuits and an externally adjustable delay timer to halt the OCL for proper motor startup. Open load detections are also present at start-up to ensure steady operation of the device. Other key features of this device include: overvoltage protection (OVP); overcurrent protection (OCP) with latch, which is adapted to the DMOSFETs in each full bridge; undervoltage lockout (UVLO); and overcurrent limitation. The package is a thermally enhanced 16-pin HSOP power package with an exposed thermal pad on the bottom side of the package. It is priced at $5.10 in quantities of 1,000. Allegro MicroSystems Inc.


SCARLING TECHNOLOGIES’ N-SERIES ADDRESSABLE ROCKER SWITCH Has an operating temp of -40 to 85C Carling Technologies’ N-Series Addressable Switch offers the look and feel of a traditional electromechanical control coupled with a built-in PCB to provide customers with a flexible, cost-effective alternative to a CAN/LIN-based switch. The N-Series produces up to 144 individual switch IDs by using a resistive ladder circuit. Different switch IDs are achieved by changing the resistor values tied to individual loads. The individual loads can then be assigned to the specific functions the switch is controlling. Each switch is connected to an ECU and the application software is written to recognize the switch IDs to determine which load is being controlled, as well as the selected actuator position. The end result means that wiring harnesses are more simplified and specific loads can now


be controlled from any location within a vehicle cab. Switch locations can now be rearranged without the need for a costly and time-consuming harness redesign, giving designers the ultimate in design flexibility. The N-Series has a contact rating of 4VA at 28V dc (max); dielectric strength of 1,250V RMS between pole to pole; and 3,750V RMS between live parts and accessible surfaces. Insulation resistance is 50 Megaohms and contact bounce is 20 msec max. It has an operating temperature of -40 to 85C. Carling Technolgies



TAUTOMATIONDIRECT’S PNEUMATIC AIR CYLINDERS Feature stainless-steel bodies with double rolled-in construction AutomationDirect has extended its NITRA™ pneumatic product line to include a series of stainless-steel, round body, non-repairable cylinders. The new cylinders feature type 304 stainless-steel bodies with double rolled-in construction with high-strength aluminum alloy porting ends. Single- and

double-acting models are available with nose, pivot and double-end mounting options. Certain cylinder models are also available with magnetic pistons for position indication. This series includes bore sizes from 7/16 up to 2 inches; depending on bore size, available stroke lengths range from ½ to 18 inches. NITRA pneumatic air cylinders are ideal for many applications such as packaging lines, conveyors, material handling and robotics. AutomationDirect

TTHE LEE CO.’S MINIATURE INSERT ORIFICES Smallest, self-retained flow restrictors available The Lee Co.’s new miniature, calibrated IMH Insert Orifices for both liquids and gases are available in 2.5 and 5.5 mm diameters and are the smallest, self-retained flow restrictors available. Designed to provide far more accuracy than an ordinary drilled hole. Accuracy is confirmed by 100 percent flow testing to ensure every orifice is within ±5 percent of its nominal flow rate. Constructed entirely of stainless steel, the new IMH

Insert Orifices are available in a range of flow rates, with orifice sizes as small as 0.002 inch (.05 mm). Certain models are offered with an integral safety screen and installation is simple using Lee’s proven controlled expansion principle, which provides retention and creates a leak-tight seal that prevents bypass leakage. The Lee Co.

TBRAY CONTROLS’ SERIES 6A LINE OF INTELLIGENT ELECTROPNEUMATIC POSITIONERS For use with double- or singleacting pneumatic actuators Bray Controls’ Series 6A line of Intelligent Electro-Pneumatic Positioners offer precise flow control and advanced digital communication. Utilizing proven technology, the line features reliability in the field plus the lowest air consumption on the market. For use with either double or single acting pneumatic actuators, the positioners can accept an


analog 4-20 mA input or BUS intelligent HART, FOUNDATION Fieldbus™ or PROFIBUS PA input. Both waterproof (NEMA 4, 4X/IP66) and explosion-proof (NEMA 4, 4X, 7 and 9) enclosures are offered. A waterproof, stainless-steel enclosure is available upon request. Optional accessories include an external gauge manifold with up to three gauges, volume boosters and an air filter regulator. Optional boards include a retransmission module, programmable electronic switches and cam activated limit switches. All optional accessories and boards can be easily installed in the field. Bray Controls

XZERO-MAX’S CD® COUPLINGS HANDLE ULTRA-HIGH STRESS APPLICATIONS Available in single and double flex aluminum hub models New CD Couplings® from Zero-Max provide the ideal combination of high dynamic load capacity and high torsional stiffness to ensure reliable system operation in fixed displacement hydraulic pumps driven by servo motors.



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FLUID POWER, Continued

They are designed so the working part is made of a composite material. The composite disc design withstands the punishment and stress of a servo motor. CD Couplings are available in single and double flex aluminum hub models with or without keyways. The single flex models have a torque capacity range from 40 to 1,436 Nm and beyond with speed ratings from 4,400 to 17,000 rpm. All CD Couplings are environmentally friendly and manufactured of RoHScompliant materials. Zero-Max Inc.


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and 0.4 percent FS. Other standard features include high over-pressure capability, LED status light, RoHS compliance and a CE EMI/RFI immunity rating. A small housing and multiple installation options allow the CXLdp to be easily attached to a DIN rail, conduit or wall. With a convenient detachable terminal block electrical connector, the CXLdp can be installed without power interruption.

FLUID POWER, Continued

Ashcroft® Inc.

» SASHCROFT®’S LOW PRESSURE TRANSDUCER NOW AVAILABLE WITH VOLTAGE OUTPUT Standard features include high overpressure capability, LED status light The Ashcroft® CXLdp low pressure transducer is now available with jumper-selectable 0-5 or 0-10V dc outputs, as well as the original 4-20mA output configuration. Specifically engineered to provide stable, reliable differential pressure measurement in HVAC building control systems, the CXLdp is available in bidirectional and unidirectional ranges from 0/0.1 through 0/25.0 inch H20 and in accuracies of ±0.8


XMOTT CORP.’S POROUS METAL TECHNOLOGY Meets filtration, flow-control requirements for medical device manufacturers Mott Corp.’s porous metal products, assemblies and filters are being used in a number of medical applications (gas and liquid) requiring exacting filtration performance, precise flow specifications, biocompatibility, high-temperature resistance, and the ability to withstand aggressive thermal and chemical sterilization processes repeatedly. The company designs and manufactures porous metal products to specifically meet filtration

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Strong, lightweight aluminum frames Tech-Etch’s new Continuous Integrated Gasket for shielding honeycomb vents offers better performance, reduced cost and the fastest production time. Continuous lengths of the high-performance BeCu gaskets are mechanically installed under the inner perimeter of the vent’s aluminum extrusion frame. No tooling is required to manufacture and attach the gasket to the honeycomb vents, resulting in reduced cost. After completion, the entire vent system is plated as one piece, so all honeycomb cells, the BeCu integrated gaskets, as well as the frame are joined to increase conductivity and shielding effectiveness. The new gaskets are in stock and the efficient mechanical production method has reduced lead times. TechEtch manufactures custom and standard EMI shielded honeycomb vents and filters featuring strong, lightweight aluminum frames with various media options. Inhouse manufacturing and plating support prototype to high-volume production while providing fast turnaround. Many RoHS-compliant finishes are available. Tech-Etch Inc.


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For bonding surfaces in capacitative touch screen assemblies Adhesives Research’s ARclear® 92400 and ARclear® 92469 are new optically clear, electronically clean, pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA) tapes for bonding surfaces in capacitative touch screen assemblies. They provide reliable optical bonds across the entire glass viewing surface of capacitative touch screens to indium tin oxide (ITO)-coated substrates. Both tapes feature the company’s new AS-192 adhesive that demonstrates low extractable anions and low outgas-

sing of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) while retaining optical transparency and clarity. The adhesive is acid-free and does not contribute to corrosion of the ITO layers to assure long-term stability of the finished product. ARclear 92400 is a 1 mil transfer adhesive and ARclear 92469 is a 2 mil transfer adhesive. Both feature an optically clear polyester release liner on each side of the adhesive for ease of handling and application. The company can customize a tape product to a customer’s unique specifications utilizing the AS-192 adhesive with adhesive thicknesses up to 3 mils in transfer adhesive and doublesided constructions. Adhesives Research Inc.

TBAYER’S NEW RADIATIONSTABILIZED MEDICAL GRADE OF POLYCARBONATE Meets the widely accepted standard for biocompatibility Building upon the proven efficacy of Makrolon® Rx2530, Bayer MaterialScience LLC has developed Makrolon Rx2435 polycarbonate resin, a new medical grade that addresses the increasing demand for a material that can be sterilized through radiation for thin-wall medical applications. Like Makrolon Rx2530 polycarbonate, Makrolon Rx2435 resin exhibits a good balance of mechanical strength and toughness. What differentiates Makrolon Rx2435 resin from previous medical grades is its ease of flow. Like Makrolon Rx2530 polycarbonate, the new grade meets the requirements of U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-Modified ISO 10993, Part 1 “Biological Evaluation of Medical Devices” tests, the widely accepted standard for biocompatibility. Potential thinwall applications for Makrolon Rx2435 include dialysis components, catheter connectors, surgical instruments — such as trocars, retractors and handles — and drug delivery devices. Bayer MaterialScience



SWAGOâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S HIGH-DENSITY, 16-POINT I/O MODULES Compatible with companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s interface boards Sixteen I/O points in one 12-mm wide module make WAGO Corp.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 16-point I/O Ribbon Cable modules one of the most compact solutions for streamlining

control-to-machine wiring. The DINrail mount modules feature 16 inputs (750-1,400), 16 outputs (750-1,500) or eight inputs/eight outputs (750-1,502) and an HE10 ribbon cable interface. With the ďŹ&#x201A;at ribbon cable, the modules facilitate the use of pre-wired assemblies to minimize wiring time and errors. Additional project costs savings are achieved through one of the industryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lowest costs per channel. The 16-point I/O modules are compatible with WAGOâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s interface boards, ranging from an LED-equipped 120V ac to 24V dc input interface board, to a 3.75 inchwide, 16-channel relay interface board featuring 5-mm plug-in relays. For additional voltage ďŹ&#x201A;exibility, the 16-point I/O modules can pair with select interface boards and connect to any voltage up to 120V ac â&#x20AC;&#x201D; 6A. All 16-point I/O modules carry onboard LEDs for status indication and utilize CAGE CLAMPÂŽ Spring Pressure Terminations for ďŹ eld connections. WAGO can also design and manufacture custom interface boards. WAGO Corp.

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SMISUMIâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S SINGLE AXIS ROBOT RS SERIES ACTUATORS CE-compliant, available in six small sizes and six large sizes MISUMI USA Inc.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Single Axis Robot RS Series Actuators can be utilized in a wide range of automated machine applications requiring precise motion control. They can be used to perform part assembly, pick-and-place, stacking, inserting, inspection, alignment and testing, and other functions. The new Single Axis RS Series Actuators are CE-compliant and are available in six small sizes (RS) and six large sizes (RSH), as well as in Clean



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C66xx series. All connections face upwards, so that the connection cables can be fed directly into the cable channel. Adding only slightly to the width and height, the C6650 is equipped with two hard drives built into removable frames, which together with the onboard RAID controller, form a RAID 1 system with two mirrored hard drives. This ensures high data security. The hard disks can be exchanged easily during operation. Beckhoff Automation LLC

Technology to provide the perfect fit




SBECKHOFF AUTOMATION’S NEW C66XX IPCS WITH PROCESSORS UP TO CORE™2 QUAD Equipped with two hard drives built into removable frames In order to increase PC-based control performance with flexible, user-friendly hardware, Beckhoff Automation has announced the new C66xx series Industrial PCs (IPCs). This new series offers high processing power and compact device dimensions. It includes two versions with either the powerful Intel® Core™2 Duo or Core™2 Quad processors on a Beckhoff ATX motherboard. These control cabinet PCs are equipped with top-performance components and are available in two versions: the C6640, with a more compact design; and the C6650 with up to two hard drives built into removable frames, making the PC suitable for RAID applications. Measuring just 370 x 305 x 200 mm (14.6 x 12 x 7.9 inch), the C6640 is the more compact Industrial PC in the

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Tr u e S t o r i e s

The Case of the Gummy Gears Bad steel suspected in military gear pump application failure HUMAN SOCIETY USES A VARIETY OF PUMPS. THESE

include reciprocating pumps that raise water and oil from underground, rotary-vane coolant pumps used for automobile engines and gear pumps shown schematically in the figure, above right. Each pump type has its own characteristic strengths and weaknesses with regard to such things as size, power consumption, maximum pressure difference and output. The gear pump in the current case pumped a solution of ethylene glycol and water (automobile coolant) to cool a laser in a space application. I suspect the application was military, but was never told. The gears in the pump rub against one another during operation. The art and science of such rubbing comes under the term “tribology.” Designing two parts to rub against one another without galling, excessive wear or some other problem is a daunting task. One should never rub two soft materials against one another. An earlier Design News article (See “The Case of the Croupy Carburetor,” DN 10.07.07, http://designnews. illustrates this rule. A no-name kit was used in the rebuilding of the carburetor for a small airplane. The original equipment was a hard stainless-steel shaft in a soft stainless bushing. The kit provided a soft shaft and soft bushing. The shaft and bushing soon galled and seized. The resulting loss of power led to a crash and a lost life. A further example is the mostly (totally?) unsuccessful 70

D E S I G N N E W S O C T O B E R 2 0 0 9 [ w w w. d e s i g n n e w s . c o m ]


attempts by auto manufacturers to run aluminum alloy pistons against aluminum alloy blocks. (The piston rings are steel or cast iron.) The aluminum alloys are fairly soft and the result has been a series of failures. The usual solution is to fit a cast-iron sleeve into the aluminum block. The aluminum piston-cast iron cylinder combination has been working fine since at least the 1940s, when a Big Three automobile manufacturer advertised that its “four ring aluminum piston saves oil and saves gas and gives power to pass.” In this case the gears and case were made of a medium hardness stainless steel. To reduce galling, the surface was implanted with nitrogen which combined with the chromium in the stainless steel to form very fine chromium nitride particles and give a very hard layer. The hard surfacing prevented gall- External gear pump design for ing, but opened the door for hydraulic power applications. corrosion. Storing the pumps with the coolant in place resulted in heavy pitting and corrosion of the tooth surfaces and premature failure. Stainless steel is stainless because of 12-plus percent chromium dissolved in the mostly iron matrix. Unfortunately, formation of the chromium nitride particles effectively gettered the matrix surface of chromium. The resulting matrix corroded like mild steel, which is to say, rapidly. As in the old painkiller ads, the nitriding traded a headache for an upset stomach. Corrosion did not occur if the pump was kept running and the fluid de-ionized. Keeping the pumps running from the introduction of coolant until the start of operation was not an attractive solution. The pumps simply had to withstand a static coolant environment. After poring through the material in the case file, I opined that the steel in use was not satisfactory and could not be made to be satisfactory. I suggested a high-carbon stainless of the sort widely used for bearings and cutlery. This stuff is hard enough to resist galling and is adequately corrosion resistant for the pump application. I do not know whether my advice was followed. I suspect not, as the people involved were in an awful hurry. Calamities is picked up regularly in our Sherlock Ohms blog. Go to to comment on this article and read more cases.

Ken Russell ( is professor emeritus of Metallurgy and Nuclear Engineering at MIT. He specializes in physical metallurgy, forensic metallurgy and failure analysis. Cases presented here are drawn from his actual forensic files. Illustration: Daniel Guidera

Source: Wikipedia






ABB Low Voltage Motors


Intech Corp.




Job Shop Shows Inc.


ACE Controls Inc.


Kaydon Corp.


Advanced Antivibration Components


Kepner Products Co.


Aero Tec Labs. Inc.


Keystone Electronics Corp.




Lambda Americas


Airpot Corp.


Mouser Electronics


Allied Electronics

29, 57

National Instruments


Arrow Gear Co.


NB Corp.



Numatics Inc.


Avnet Electronics Marketing




B&R Industrial Automation


Panasonic Electric Works


Banner Engineering Corp.


Phillips Plastics Corp.


Bird Precision


Proto Labs Inc.


Bishop-Wisecarver Corp.


Pyramid Inc.


Bokers Inc.


Quality Bearings & Components




RedEye On Demand


Carlyle Johnson Machine LLC


Robert Bosch LLC


Clippard Instrument Lab.


Sferax SA




Siemens Energy & Automation

Ramsey, New Jersey 07446-1251 USA Toll Free 800–526–5330 Fax 201–825–1962 e-Mail:


ContiTech Holding GmbH


Siemens PLM Software

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CSA International




Digi-Key Corp.


SKF Group


Dow Corning


Smalley Steel Ring Co.


ebm-papst inc.




Ellsworth Adhesives


Stock Drive Products/


Enertrols Inc.


Enfield Technologies




Galil Motion Control Inc.


Harmonic Drive Technologies


ifm efector inc.


igus bearings inc.

R&D Bladder Prototypes Pneumatic Bellows


Press Bladder

Pipe Plug

Specialists In Bladder Tanks And Inflatables Bio-Fuel Bladder

Condensate Collector

Compensator Diaphragm

Aero Tec Laboratories Inc.


High-precision Linear Ball Bearings • Noiseless and jerk-free, synthetic ball bearing housing • Linear and rotating, for combined movements • Suited to high temperatures, • And also, different models of shafts

Sterling Instrument 40

Sunnex Inc.


Sunstone Circuits Inc.


Thomas Products Div.


Tri-Tronics Co.

Publisher does not assume any liability for errors or omissions in this index.

SFERAX S.A. CH-2016 CORTAILLOD (Switzerland) Phone. ++41 32 843 02 02




Check Out Gadget Freak Case #147: The Ultimate Universal Remote Control You may never have to leave the sofa again, ever!

Spirit Radio Receives Transmissions from the Beyond ADVERTISEMENT “SPIRIT IN THE NIGHT” Amt


Part Description D1-Germanium 1N34A Diode C2-.001μf Capacitor (marked 102)


R1-47kŸ Resistor



Chassis Banana Jack-Red



Chassis Banana Jack-Black



Banana Plug



3.5 mm Mono Chassis Jack



s homage to Nikola Tesla and things that go bump in the night, Rick Crammond created this spooky sound generator that uses a simple crystal radio circuit connected to a PC’s sound-in jack, Tesla-inspired plug-in antenna, and DSP software to control the gain and pitch of the circuit to create some great, realtime sound effects! The same radio circuit is a great RF field detector, makes cool sounds from all forms of light, listens to audio ranges, and even receives AM broadcasts. Because what could be spookier, really, than listening to a late-night, Check out the Spirit Radio in action at syndicated radio show host!



Design News and Allied Electronics would like to send you a check for $500 to spend on Allied’s website at or anywhere you please. And don’t forget to supply us with a video file of your gadget in action. E-mail Design News your proposed project (must incorporate electronic components and involve sensing, motion, timing and/or networking elements) to, along with a description of how it works, a parts list, schematic, photos and video. If your project is featured, you’ll receive a $500 check from Design News and will be featured in an upcoming issue of the magazine with your invention.


D E S I G N N E W S O C T O B E R 2 0 0 9 [ w w w. d e s i g n n e w s . c o m ]

Allied Part # 935-0301 507-0822

Additional Parts Required For a complete list of parts, schematics and build instructions go to

Get Gadget Freak delivered to your desktop: • Newsletter: http://reg.designnews. com/newsletter/subscribe • RSS: For parts information, call (800) 433-5700 or go to SPONSORED BY » Photo: Simon Hayter/Getty Images

Design News October 2009