There was a time not too long ago when any discussion of pneumatic connections involved the air and power supplies. Yet today’s pneumatic systems increasingly have to make another type of connection–to industrial Ethernet. At last week’s Pack Expo show in Las Vegas, pneumatic suppliers showed off valve manifolds and related I/O systems that can bridge the gap between air and electricity. Not all of them are brand new, but these systems continue to evolve with the addition of new connectivity options. Ethernet IP support, in particular, has become important for pneumatics. “Ethernet IP is really hot right now,” says Dave Thomas, a senior applications engineer with Festo. Others suppliers agree. “Ethernet IP is growing quickly in big markets like packaging and automotive,” says Kjell Lyngstad, pneumatics manager for Bosch Rexroth. Click here for a look at three pneumatic systems with growing connectivity options.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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