Safety has a price and, though expensive, deliberately crashing cars remains a good way of testing an automobile's safety features. However, there is a new crash simulation facility that promises a decrease in the number of cars destroyed during tests. Developed by the German company Instron, and recently installed at BMW in Munich, the non-destructive method relies on reverse acceleration. To work, the car mounts on a rail-borne slide. A hydraulic catapult accelerates the car backwards, producing 70g shock levels. Controlled by the Siemens PC-based SIMATIC WinAC, which communicates with the system via the Profibus-DP and AS interfaces, the process uses reference traces of the motion parameters derived from actual destructive crash tests. The only difference is that they are "replayed" in reverse. Optical and electrical sensors, mounted on the slide, record performance of the car's safety equipment. Not only does the system save money and metal, it allows more frequent testing. Contact Juergen_Kraemer@instron.com or visit www.instron.com/ist. For information about Siemens control equipment, Enter 647.
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.
Microchip recently released the 3D TouchPad, the first USB PC Peripheral device that couples 2D multi-touch input with 3D air gesture technology. The company seeks the help of developers to further enhance the capabilities of the technology.
To give engineers a better idea of the range of resins and polymers available as alternatives to other materials, this Technology Roundup presents several articles on engineering plastics that can do the job.
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.