Boats, an automated inspection system, and V-twin engines are winners in the National Society of Professional Engineers 1998 Best Products competition. The Logic V-Series fishing utility boats, designed by Logic Marine Corporation (Durham, NC), won in the small company category. The boats are close to indestructible, according to Logic Marine. Engineers molded linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) inside a rotating oven to produce a one-piece, double-walled boat that is five times more impact resistant than fiberglass. Another benefit: LLDPE is impervious to corrosion and rot, and will not break down from exposure to ultraviolet rays. The plastic boats cost up to 40% less to manufacture than comparable fiberglass boats, produce no styrene emissions and other air pollutants associated with alternative manufacturing methods, and are 100% recyclable, say developers. In the medium company category, Key Technology (Walla Walla, WA) won for its Tegra(reg) Automated Inspection System. This optical sorter, equipped with a free-hanging conveyor belt, uses trichromatic, high-resolution cameras capable of sensing 16,777,216 shades of color and analyzing shapes. The system can pick out bad nuts, bolts, aspirin tablets, even beans. V-twin-cylinder 16- and 18-hp engines from Kohler Company (Kohler, WI) won in the large company division. The air-cooled, four-stroke engines have an overhead camshaft (OHC) design that incorporates an automotive-type belt and predominantly phenolic and powdered-metal components. The company says the engines are three times quieter than comparable models throughout most of their operating range. FAX: (703) 836-4875.
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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