Mark Thoren and Jim Williams needed to test the temperature compensation scheme of a circuit they were designing. The lab had several temperature chambers, but they were always in use. In frustration, Jim grabbed a brand new toaster and plopped it down on Mark's desk, saying, "This will do." Not quite. The hysteresis of the oven's thermostat was 10C — too crude to measure the circuit. Mark and Jim scrounged about and found an auto-tuning temperature controller, some solid-state relays and a shiny platinum RTD probe. After some minor rewiring they had a test chamber, more than adequate and better than most of the "real" chambers that were never available when needed.
A new service lets engineers and orthopedic surgeons design and 3D print highly accurate, patient-specific, orthopedic medical implants made of metal -- without owning a 3D printer. Using free, downloadable software, users can import ASCII and binary .STL files, design the implant, and send an encrypted design file to a third-party manufacturer.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.