Agripper system for automatically handling tiny components, developed in the context of a Eureka project, uses the adhesive properties of ice to pick them up. The gripper first sprays a drop of water onto the object to be handled. It then closes in on the object. As soon as they touch, it freezes the water. The component can then be picked up and manipulated as necessary using the gripping strength of ice. This is around 1N/sq mm which is 20-100 times stronger than that obtained with vacuum grippers, says Mario El-Khoury, manager, industrial control at CSEM, the Swiss Centre for Electronics and Microtechnology, a partner in the European project. To release the object, the tip of the gripper is simply warmed up to the phase- change temperature of the liquid interface. The prototype version of Microgrip is capable of handling components measuring between 0.1 and 5 mm, with an accuracy of 1 micron, at a rate of 1,000 cycles per hour. The "ice" gripper is now undergoing industrialization by AP Technologies and Sysmelec, two other participants in the project. Meanwhile, El-Khoury's group is developing applications for the "ice" technology. A new Eureka project, in which Siemens and Philips are participants, will use Microgrip to manipulate micro-sized parts during low-distortion welding operations. For more information, call: Dr. Mario El-Khoury, at: +41-32- 720-55-96.
During a teardown of the iPad Air and Microsoft Surface Pro 3 at the Medical Design & Manufacturing Show in Schaumburg, Ill., an engineer showed this "inflammatory" video about the dangers of maliciously mishandling lithium-ion batteries.
Science fiction author Isaac Asimov may have the best rules for effective brainstorming and creativity. His never-before-published essay, "On Creativity," recently made it to the Web pages of MIT Technology Review.
Much has been made over the potentially dangerous flammability of lithium-ion batteries after major companies like Boeing, Sony, and Tesla have grappled with well-publicized battery fires. Researchers at Stanford University may have come up with a solution to this problem with a smart sensor for lithium-ion batteries that provides a warning if the battery is about to overheat or catch fire.
In this new Design News feature, "How it Works," we’re starting off by examining the inner workings of the electronic cigarette. While e-cigarettes seemed like a gimmick just two or three years ago, they’re catching fire -- so to speak. Sales topped $1 billion last year and are set to hit $10 billion by 2017. Cigarette companies are fighting back by buying up e-cigarette manufacturers.
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