Excellent article. It's always great to see engineering refinements that end up tackling difficult issues such as reducing friction, lowering energy consumption and reducing in traditional products like pneumatic cylinders. These improvements have a very positive effect on new product designs.
I always thought that the glass body lined air cylinder with the soft carbon piston was a great patent. Stiction in the Airpel cylinders I used was extrordinarily better than traditional actuator seals.
There is a ~75-year-old patent on this subject...my Dad's (Wallace M. Jones, Westinghouse Corp), regarding stick-slip reduction of piston O-rings. This allows the O-ring to rotate 1/4 turn in its groove. This was used in radar-controlled anti-aircraft guns.
I would be surprised if this problem was not solved by others decades ago. The USPTO should be an important tool for every design engineer.
As an industry, we now need to up our game and provide contractors with easier ways to properly identify and report counterfeit products and build collaboration between manufacturers, design engineers, industry organizations, and government.
The shift to aluminum is gaining momentum and the demand from automakers for aluminum is soaring, "expecting to reach one billion pounds this year, up from 200 million in 2012, and to grow by more than 30% annually through 2020."
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.