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Blogs
Content posted in March 2012
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Slideshow: Top Medical Tech Engineering Innovations
Electronic News & Comment 
3/30/2012  22 comments
Bionic limbs, innovative infusion systems, and transcranial doppler brain scanners are just some of the innovations engineers are bringing to the exploding medical design arena.
PTC Primes Mathcad for Collaboration
CAD/CAM Corner 
3/30/2012  4 comments
In the Prime 2.0 release of its all-purpose engineering calculation tool, PTC has added features enhancing the ability to collaborate and integrate technical calculations into engineering workflows.
Gadget Freak Case #209: Gradually Dimming Incandescent Bulb
Gadget Freak 
3/29/2012  27 comments
To get immediate lighting while still conserving energy, Dick Bipes used an auxiliary incandescent lamp that would fade out as his CFL floodlights began to reach full brightness.
Are Automakers' Managers Hurting Engineering?
Captain Hybrid 
3/29/2012  50 comments
Toyota and Honda again dominated Consumer Reports' reliability ratings, while BMW, Volkswagen, General Motors, and Chrysler again brought up the rear.
Shop Brass Damaged the Clipper Ship
Made by Monkeys 
3/29/2012  14 comments
Shop brass -- a cheap version of bronze -- may not be strong enough to hold a clipper together.
Sensors & Software Yield Accurate Magnetic-Compass Bearings
Mechatronics Zone 
3/29/2012  5 comments
Freescale Semiconductor's Xtrinsic eCompass software helps simplify magnetometer use for equipment designers.
US Faces Off With China Over Rare Earths
Engineering Materials 
3/28/2012  66 comments
The US, the European Union (EU), and Japan have filed a World Trade Organization action against China for restricting the trade of rare earth minerals.
Broken Switch Shocks Engineer
Sherlock Ohms 
3/28/2012  29 comments
Make no assumptions that an on/off switch actually works. You could end up making a shocking discovery.
March Madness in the World of MCUs
Mechatronics Zone 
3/28/2012  10 comments
Here are introductions to five products that are of interest to engineers and product designers who use MCUs.
Virgin Galactic's SpaceShip Two Relies on Carbon Composites
Engineering Materials 
3/27/2012  18 comments
The first commercial spacecraft, which will begin powered flights this year, reportedly has an all-carbon composite structure.
Homeowner Overrides Three-Speed Fan Switch
Made by Monkeys 
3/27/2012  31 comments
One tug on the chain of a three-speed fan should turn it on at slow speed, right? Not this time.
Internal Combustion Engines Primed for Performance
Captain Hybrid 
3/26/2012  70 comments
From tiny inline-fours to muscular diesels to split-cycle engines, conventional internal combustion engines are advancing at a torrid pace.
Slideshow: 3D Printers Make Prototypes Pop
CAD/CAM Corner 
3/23/2012  30 comments
3D printers are advancing on both the high and low ends of the spectrum, introducing new materials choices, color options, and price points that make the technology far more accessible to mainstream users.
Bioplastics Recycling Options Expand
Engineering Materials 
3/23/2012  17 comments
Although bioplastics are still a small part of the plastic waste stream, some manufacturers are talking to recyclers to develop recycling processes for their products.
Understanding Overload Failures
Guest Blogs 
3/23/2012  17 comments
Avoiding overload failures is a matter of understanding the forces that act on a part and the properties of the material from which it is made. Things break, but they don't necessarily have to.
Case of the Silent Sound
Sherlock Ohms 
3/23/2012  6 comments
When the sound chip doesn't work on a computer board, a DOS debugger might come in handy.
DN Insight: What Rare Earth Shortages Mean for Engineers, Part 2
Blog 
3/22/2012  12 comments
With the price increase in rare earth oxides, engineers find themselves considering alternative designs to minimize such magnets in a system without affecting performance.
Monoxide Detector Balky About Batteries
Made by Monkeys 
3/22/2012  48 comments
In order to put the batteries in this carbon monoxide detector, you have to break it.
Case of the Oil Fire Damper
Sherlock Ohms 
3/21/2012  33 comments
If you could remove the fuel source -- in this case, oil -- you could put out the fire.
Ford Escape Taps Capacitive Sensing for Hands-Free Liftgate
Electronic News & Comment 
3/21/2012  19 comments
Ford engineers used capacitive sensing technology to create a hands-free liftgate on the 2013 Ford Escape.
Slideshow: Medical Robots Assist Surgeons, Aid Paraplegics
Blog 
3/20/2012  22 comments
Robots are helping those who are paralyzed or have leg injuries walk again, and they can fetch and manipulate everyday objects.
Should Washington Support Manufacturing?
Wolfe's Den 
3/20/2012  25 comments
Our LinkedIn group has varying opinions on government support for US manufacturing technology.
High Voltage Amps Up the Automobile
Captain Hybrid 
3/20/2012  15 comments
Engineers need a new breed of wires, interconnects, and other electronic components to handle the bigger loads of electrified vehicles.
Petroski on Engineering: Envelopes of Experience
Guest Blogs 
3/19/2012  21 comments
Computer-generated drawings may be the new standard, but hand-drawn and designed work is admired.
Electric Car Subsidies Won't Make EV Batteries Better
Captain Hybrid 
3/19/2012  38 comments
Higher subsidies would likely boost electric vehicle sales, but experts say the battery issue still need to be addressed.
PLM Syncs Up With Service
CAD/CAM Corner 
3/19/2012  9 comments
Companies are tying service operations into Product Lifecycle Management, expanding the reach of end-to-end design processes.
DESIGN West Preview: Tesla CTO Keynoting on EV Innovation
Captain Hybrid 
3/16/2012  5 comments
JB Straubel, chief technical officer and a founding team member of Tesla Motors, will deliver a keynote speech on creating electric cars at the Design West show and conference.
Gadget Freak Case #208: Robotics Unleashed With Glove-Operated Hand
Gadget Freak 
3/16/2012  15 comments
The Glove-Operated Digital Hand is a mechanical device that can be controlled remotely. It was created for use in environments that are too dangerous for humans, but still need the dexterity of a human hand.
Tiny Camera Sees Nonvisible Spectra
Engineering Materials 
3/16/2012  14 comments
A camera chip combining hyperspectral sensing with a machine-vision-grade image sensor will help incorporate spectroscopy into industrial vision applications.
Case of the Dirty Water Backflow
Sherlock Ohms 
3/16/2012  13 comments
The dirty water at the end of the wash cycle may not be a problem with the washer itself.
Slideshow: Design Apps for the Mobile Engineer
CAD/CAM Corner 
3/15/2012  29 comments
There is a growing variety of mobile design tool apps available, providing engineers with on-the-go access to everything from 3D viewing and markup capabilities, to specialized utilities and technical calculators.
Does the Return on Investment Justify High College Costs?
Blog 
3/15/2012  68 comments
Fortunately for the engineering community, the market sets a very high value on our degrees and associated skills.
Rebuilding Manufacturing: Readers Say Reduce Regulations
Wolfe's Den 
3/14/2012  33 comments
New innovations in technology are everywhere, but where should the support come from?
Fitting the Fan Into a Wrong-Size Hole
Sherlock Ohms 
3/14/2012  18 comments
Trying to fit a a too-large fan into a too-small wall mount can be a problem. If you can't make the wall hole larger, you have to make the fan smaller.
Slideshow: Airbags From the Inside Out
Captain Hybrid 
3/13/2012  65 comments
Automakers once balked at the idea of an airbag mandate. Today, airbags come standard, and are even seen in seatbelts and center consoles.
Should We Pay More Attention to Software Ethics?
Mechatronics Zone 
3/13/2012  32 comments
Companies will always gather information about us, but it's the software that determines what someone does with that information. Programmers should keep that in mind when creating code.
Double-Lock the Lock-Outs, or Lose a Hand
Made by Monkeys 
3/13/2012  33 comments
When shutting down a line for maintenance, make sure the lock-out is double locked.
$100k Fisker Karma 'Bricked' During Consumer Reports Test
Captain Hybrid 
3/12/2012  56 comments
A Fisker Karma died in a parking lot during testing at the Consumer Reports automotive test facility in Connecticut last week.
Grinding Out the Angular Deflection
Sherlock Ohms 
3/12/2012  11 comments
When something's out of whack in production, sometimes you can grind it into compliance.
Slideshow: More Best of Gadget Freak
Gadget Freak 
3/9/2012  11 comments
Here's a slideshow with links to our best homebrew engineering projects, drawn from the Design News Gadget Freak section.
Washer Bearings Washed Out Early
Made by Monkeys 
3/9/2012  27 comments
Even though the bearings gave out early, this consumer still swears by front-load washing machines.
Model-Based Design Driven by Embedded Systems
CAD/CAM Corner 
3/9/2012  15 comments
Driven by the rise of embedded systems, companies are turning to model-based design approaches to facilitate the development of increasingly complex products.
Caution: Corrosion When Wet
Guest Blogs 
3/9/2012  16 comments
Despite your best efforts, the environment always seems to find a way into your work.
Apple’s Siri Springs to Life in 3D
CAD/CAM Corner 
3/8/2012  14 comments
Shapeways’ contest to visualize Siri, the voice-activated personal assistant in the iPhone 4S, shows just how comfortable the general public is getting with 3D printing technology.
Tractor Belt Bearings Break Bad
Sherlock Ohms 
3/8/2012  13 comments
The tractor's belts kept breaking, but the belts weren't the problem.
Heterogeneous Systems Facilitate Test, Measurement & Control
Guest Blogs 
3/8/2012  4 comments
Heterogeneous systems were a topic of key interest at DesignCon in San Jose, Calif.
GM: We're Not Pulling the Plug on Chevy Volt
Captain Hybrid 
3/7/2012  41 comments
The temporary halt in the production of the Chevy Volt isn't a sign that the Volt is dead or that electric cars are disappearing.
Machine Control System Won’t Communicate
Made by Monkeys 
3/7/2012  9 comments
When troubleshooting a communication problem, don't overlook the simplest setting.
EV Battery Might Triple Electric Car Range
Captain Hybrid 
3/6/2012  103 comments
A startup company has created a low-cost electric car battery with an energy density they claim is almost three times as high as that of the Nissan Leaf battery.
Case of the Skewed Chips
Sherlock Ohms 
3/6/2012  13 comments
The automation was working within specs for chip placement, but it wasn't working as well as it should. A step-by-step look revealed the flaw.
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Some humanoid walking robots are also good at running, balancing, and coordinated movements in group settings. Several of our sports robots have won regional or worldwide acclaim in the RoboCup soccer World Cup, or FIRST Robotics competitions. Others include the world's first hockey-playing robot and a trash-talking Scrabble player.
Sherlock Ohms highlights stories told by engineers who have used their deductive reasoning and technical prowess to troubleshoot and solve the most perplexing engineering mysteries.
Melissa Cavanagh of 3DP Unlimited talked to Design News about the company’s large format 3D printer, during Medical Design and Manufacturing Midwest.
The DDV-IP is a two-wheeled self-balancing robot that can deliver cold beverages to thirsty folks on hot summer days. A wireless RF remote enables manual control of the device beyond the act of self-balancing. All of the features of the DDV-IP result in an effective delivery vehicle while providing entertainment to the user.
Eric Doster of iFixit talks about the most surprising aspect of the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 teardown. In a presentation at Medical Design & Manufacturing Midwest, iFixit gave the Surface Pro 3 a score of one (out of a possible 10) for repairability.
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