Life and LIMs
Linear induction motors redefine the
way coasters roll
By Bruce Wiebusch, Regional Editor
Millersburg, MD-"I was screaming at the top of my
lungs." That's how Luis Chavarri of Arlington, TX, describes his ride on Mr.
Freeze, Six Flags' newest thrill. It's one of several roller coasters that use
ac linear induction motors (LIMs) to propel riders from 0 to 70 mph in less than
LIMs have long been used in applications requiring high forces and long
strokes, such as conveyor systems, people movers, and missile launchers. But
engineers at Premier Rides were the first in the amusement ride industry to
apply the technology in a roller coaster. The reason for using LIMs in place of
the traditional induction motors and chain drives is two-fold. They have high
speeds (up to 2,000 inches/sec) and the ability to generate the kind of high
thrust required to catapult a train of cars straight out along a horizontal
track. On the Mr. Freeze ride, the 8.5-ton train reaches 70 mph in only 200 ft
Permanent magnet motors are capable of achieving similar performance. But the
need to locate magnets along the entire length of the run would have made for a
more costly solution. A side benefit of LIMs is the fact that the only
attractive force occurs between the reaction plate and the coil, eliminating the
problem with particles and contamination normally associated with induction
Elkhart, IN-By using ABS resin capped with a
weatherable polymer from Bayer for the champagne-colored wraparound components
of the body, engineers achieved this curved, futuristic body design at 45% less
weight than more traditional fiberglass. The ABS substrate provides strength,
toughness, and rigidity, while the resin offers high gloss and excellent UV and
impact resistance. "Plus, we could produce parts more quickly with ABS," says
Eric Johanson, senior designer at Coachman Industries, maker of the Futura 2000.
Softball-sized robot monitors sensors
on board spacecraft
By Jean Young Gonzalez, Western Regional Editor
Moffett Field, CA-Scientists at NASA's Ames
Research Center have developed an autonomous robot to support future space
missions. About the size of a softball, the Personal Satellite Assistant (PSA)
is equipped with sensors to monitor environmental conditions in a spacecraft
such as the amount of oxygen, carbon dioxide and other gases in the air, the
extent of bacteria growth, air temperature and air pressure. The robot will also
have a camera for video conferencing, navigation sensors, wireless network
connections, and even its own propulsion components enabling it to operate
autonomously throughout the spacecraft.
"We're developing an intelligent robot that can serve as another set of eyes,
ears, and nose for the crew and ground support personnel," explains NASA Ames
researcher Yuri Gawdiak, principal investigator for the project. "Our research
objective is to test intelligent autonomous systems that use advanced sensors
and monitoring technologies for supporting current and future spacecraft
The little round robot's compact design will enable it to operate in the
cramped confines of the Space Shuttle's flight deck and space station modules,
while keeping out of the astronauts' way. Since it will operate autonomously,
the astronauts' hands will be free for other tasks.
The Personal Satellite Assistant represents the next generation of advanced
information Technologies that follows the Wireless Network Experiment (WNE)
developed at NASA Ames in 1995 for the International Space Station. As the
astronauts aboard Atlantis discovered during the STS-76 mission, wireless
computer networks work well in a space environment and the wireless computers'
radio signals did not interfere with either the Space Shuttle's or the Russian
space station Mir's other electronic equipment.
Based on the success of the WNE experiment, the crew recommended handheld
wireless portable data assistants that could support their mission operations
onboard the International Space Station. The Ames research scientists took their
recommendation several steps further by designing the handheld data assistants
into autonomous intelligent robots.
This design approach has several key advantages. Besides data assistant
capabilities to the onboard crew, payload scientists and mission controllers on
the ground, PSAs could remotely monitor their payloads and conduct collaborative
environmental trouble-shooting. Three PSAs would use formation flying techniques
to zero in on the location of an environmental problem, such as a pressure leak,
temperature spike, or off-gassing. The tiny robots could also run environmental
sensor calibration checks, as well as inventory monitoring. The long term goal
of the Personal Satellite Assistant is to support remote diagnostic operations
and to substitute for damaged or nonfunctioning sensors on future spacecraft.
Cook at the speed of light
Louisville, KY-It browns. It bakes. It broils. It
grills...all with light. The AdvantiumTM oven from GE Appliances has
arrived in time for Christmas (see Design News, April 5, 99, pg. 62). But
it doesn't cook as slow as a traditional Christmas turkey. In fact, this oven
cooks food four times faster than a conventional one, say GE representatives.
Three specially designed halogen bulbs cook the top and bottom of the food
simultaneously. To compensate for power supply fluctuations that typically occur
in a home, engineers designed a unique voltage regulator that automatically
adjusts the time up or down to ensure accurate cooking performance.
GE is so confident in the Advantium's reliability that the oven includes a
10-year parts and labor warranty on the halogen bulbs. The appliance, at 240V
and 30A, requires no preheating. It cooks boneless chicken breasts in eight
minutes, grills shrimp in less than two, and bakes crescent rolls in under five.
Because it cooks great meals so fast and requires no preheating, Advantium uses
25% less energy than GE's best selling range, the GE JBP30. With a touch of
button, the Advantium will also operate as a microwave oven. For now, these
appliances are available as over-the-range units. A wall version will be
available in 2000.
Robots on the rise
The robot industry just keeps humming along, as evidenced by the 80% jump in
units sold in the first six months of 1999 as compared to 1998. Through June,
industry ordered 9,407 robots valued at $714.6 million. "It's the best opening
we've ever had," says Donald A. Vincent, executive vice president for the
Robotics Industries Association (RIA, Ann Arbor, MI), a trade group for the
industry. Three of the largest application areas for robots are spot welding,
materials handling, and arc welding, accounting for 86% of the new 1999 orders.
"And we expect to easily surpass the industry record set in 1997, when a total
of 12,149 robots valued at $1.1 billion were ordered," says Vincent.
Repair 3D models over the web
Boulder, CO-Interoperability between CAD files
continues to be an expensive problem for companies. Spatial Technologies hopes
to eliminate much of the time and cost involved through 3Dmodelserver.com--a web
site where 3D CAD models can be imported and exported, healed and improved
on-line, minimizing the task of manually fixing errors found in translated
Bruce Morgan, CEO of Spatial, says, "This is the first true application
service provider on the Internet for the engineer. We aren't selling a package,
we are selling a service."
A transaction-based application allows users to translate and repair IGES and
SAT files. The service automatically analyzes and then corrects inaccuracies in
a model's geometry by leveraging Spatial's ACIS 3D toolkit with its translation
and healing technologies.
Users pay on a megabyte basis. For example, at $20 per megabyte, a user will
pay $100 for a 5-MB file. However, one pays only if the system works. So if just
80% of the model is fixed, a user pays 80% of the total cost. No extra hardware
or software is required and the service is available 24 hours a day, seven days
For now, the system is limited to a 5-MB file size and the focus is on part
solutions. Eventually, the service will handle assemblies. By year's end,
3Dmodelserver.com will support STEP models as well as proprietary formats of the
most popular non-ACIS applications such as Pro/ENGINEER from Parametric
Technology Corp. (Waltham, MA) and CATIA from Dassault Systemes S.A. To
register, visit www.spatial.com/3Dmodelserver.
Enhanced 3D for film and video
El Segundo, CA-Hollywood production executives are
giving rave reviews to CircleScan, a new optic scanner, which they say provides
greater depth and realism to footage than traditional 3D. Also important to
cash-strapped producers, the system does it at reduced cost and complexity, by
eliminating two mechanically synchronized cameras, and associated labor and film
This illustration allows visualization of the circular image
path that the CircleScan 4D system creates in order to reproduce an image
with enhanced perspective.
Typical 3D systems operate with two cameras and a mirror, but CircleScan
works with any video or film camera and a special device that can be mounted in
front of the lens, behind the lens, or as an automated base scanner. No special
synchronization or film processing is required.
CircleScan designer Eddie Paul, whose resume includes stints as an underwater
camera inventor and film industry special effects designer, created the enhanced
3D system with the aid of two mirrors mounted at a 45-degree angle to the lens
axis. As the mirror assembly rotates at 360 degrees per minute, 1,800 different
points of reference are scanned along its circular path, creating an enhanced 3D
effect. The focal distance of the lens and the movement of the camera can be
servo controlled to maintain a smooth motion at a constant speed throughout the
"The concept is simple," says inventor Paul, "if you study what animals do
before they attack--they move their heads back and forth slightly to enhance
depth perception of their prey. CircleScan does the same thing." By rotating the
mirror assembly to provide a slightly different point of view when filming an
object, what the brain interprets as depth is created." In most 3D systems, the
best seat in the house is dead center since the image must be viewed head on to
see each dimension, but with the CircleScan system the images appear layered at
Always a big thinker, Paul envisions that the system could be miniaturized
for orthoscopic surgical applications, or used not just to transmit but also to
receive holographic-like images.
Free web-based CAD translation service
Troy, NY-STEP Tools Inc. expanded its free data
translation service with a variety of new file formats. CAD users who need to
convert 3D data to and from STEP (Standard for Product Data Exchange) part files
should visit the STEP Tools web site: www.steptools.com/translate. The
translator supports importing and exporting STEP data to Parasolid-XT, XML, and
ACIS-SAT. The service also includes support for the EXPRESS/ EXPRESS-X Syntax
Checker and the EXPRESS Printer. STEP models can be exported to an STL file for
rapid prototyping. For visualization applications, users can capture their STEP
AP 203 designs in three mainstream graphic file formats: GIF, JPEG, or VRML for
display on a company's web site. The service limits an upload to a 5-Mbyte file
size and a job run time of 10 minutes. Internet browsers must support file
upload. Users can directly upload files without using FTP.
Algor Inc. (Pittsburgh, PA), makers of Accupack/VE Mechanical Event
Simulation, is offering web courses to give users step-by-step instruction via
the Internet. Participants can phone or e-mail questions during the live
session. A video or CD-ROM will be offered afterwards for engineers who do not
have Internet access. If interested, visit: www.algor.com.
Shop-till-your-fingers-drop is the theory behind CADKEY Corp.'s (Marlborough,
MA) on-line Webstore at www.cadkey. com/webstore. The company's entire CAD
product line and services are offered providing users options to buy products,
renew contracts, upgrade software, and even purchase CADKEY T-shirts, sports
bags, and baseball hats.
A rose by any other name. Notice the new company name
associated with CADKEY software? Baystate Technologies, Inc. decided to change
its name to CADKEY Corp. to more closely identify itself with its well-known
mechanical CAD package. "Independent surveys and surveys of industrial trade
magazine subscribers consistently rank the CADKEY brand name as one of the top
three most recognized CAD products in North America," stated Robert W. Bean,
president and CEO of CADKEY Corp.
Windstar moms: Part of a growing automotive trend
Dearborn, MI-When Ford Motor Co. remade its 1999
Windstar minivan, it took an unusual tack: Let Mom design it. The firm assigned
more than 30 mothers--all engineers--to the project.
The "Windstar moms," as they are now known, added improvements to the
vehicle's ergonomics, safety, electrical system, fuel system, and climate
control. As a result, many have become mini-celebrities, appearing in television
commercials, newspaper articles, and magazine ads.
But Ford's maternal approach was far more than a publicity stunt. It's part
of a growing industry trend for automakers to take fuller advantage of staff
diversity. In many cases, that means incorporating the ideas of female engineers
in projects involving vehicles predominantly driven by women. Or taking
advantage of the backgrounds of engineers from states such as Nebraska and Iowa
when designing pick-up trucks.
Although that may sound like nothing more than common sense, it hasn't always
been that way in Detroit. Up until the late 1980s, automakers drew their talent
from a small, homogeneous pool. Four schools--the University of Michigan,
General Motors Institute, Michigan State University, and Michigan Tech--served
overwhelmingly as the industry's talent source for many years.
About a decade ago, however, the industry realized that too many of its
engineers thought and behaved in the same ways. "One of the goals in Detroit for
some time has been to step away from the 'Southeast Michigan Syndrome,'" notes
David Cole, director of The Office for the Study of Automotive Transportation at
the University of Michigan.
In the case of the Windstar, Ford officials say the user-based approach has
paid dividends. Because twenty of the Windstar moms had children under three,
and because so many young families own minivans, Ford executives saw it as an
opportunity to add new levels of engineering insight to the design.
One Windstar mom, for example, changed the fuel tank's volume. Cynthia
Hodges, mother of two-year-old and eight-month-old children, saw the larger fuel
tank as way of better dealing with an already frantic lifestyle. "Between
grabbing strollers, snacks, toys and kids, I'm always short on time," notes
Hodges, a chassis product design engineer. "A larger fuel tank means less trips
to the gas station for busy moms like me."
Ironically, Ford says the company never set out to staff the Windstar program
with a large number of female engineers. But once the staff was in place, Ford
didn't hesitate to draw on their expertise. "Whenever we can take advantage of
the personal insights of our engineers, we will," says Ford spokesman Bob Roach.
"In the case of the Windstar, it was just serendipity that we had so many moms
on the staff. But it worked to our advantage."
Forged master cylinder gives lighthouse a lift
By John Lewis, Technical Editor
Buxton, NC-You may have heard how The National
Academy of Sciences decided to preserve the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse from a
century of beach erosion. A National Park Service project to move the famous
landmark to a new site, 1,600 ft inland, was completed this summer. But did you
know that relocating the 4,800-ton tower took the largest hydraulic jacking
system ever built in the U.S., the strength of one 9-ton forged master cylinder,
and constant computer monitoring? Expert House Movers of Maryland, the moving
contractor, chose hydraulics to raise the lighthouse for its slow ride along a
2,900-ft track to its new home. Elburn, IL-based Jahns Structure Jacking Systems
Inc. (JSJS) designed the custom hydraulic jacking system that would lift the
structure, and Scot Forge (Spring Grove, IL) produced the master cylinder forged
parts that weigh more than 8 tons.
The three-part, forged-cylinder design provides proper grain-flow
orientation that maximizes impact strength and fatigue resistance to lift
the 4,800-ton tower. The master cylinder consists of an 8,130-lb “blind
hole” forging into which the piston retracts, a 4,450-lb forged piston,
and a 3,150-lb forged end plate.
With a 60-ft diameter base, the lighthouse's sheer size and tonnage demanded
that Jahns use the strongest master cylinder ever in the unified hydraulic
system that would support the lighthouse during its journey. The design consists
of 100 50-ton jacks, in which fifty outlets service two jacks each. Once the
lighthouse was severed from its base, the hydraulic system raised the structure
by pushing all of the jacks at exactly the same rate, regardless of the load on
each jack. To keep the tower perpendicular, a bank of gauges indicated pressure
in each hose line. Sensors at 100 different points in the lighthouse's structure
measured fissures down to a few thousandths of an inch. As important as
preventing damage to the lighthouse itself, engineers needed a "fail-proof"
master cylinder to minimize disturbances to the lighthouse's already precarious
position, and prevent system failures that could send the structure toppling.
On smaller jobs, Jahns uses fabricated and welded cylinders made with bar and
steel tubing for the piston and cylinder, and flame-cut end plates. But this job
called for the strength of forged cylinder parts. Forging eliminates internal
voids and porosity by consolidating the ingot center, and produces predictable
directional grain flow characteristics that result in improved metallurgical
soundness. The forged master cylinder feeds 60 slave (displacement) cylinders
through its end plate.
Scot Forge's hollow forging process reinforces blind-hole forging strength by
working the material (1045 carbon steel, normalized) around a pin to create the
hole, rather than boring the cylinder after the initial forging process. This
technique creates greater strength consistency throughout the part. Forging also
provides greater economies. "We produced the part with 1,740 lb of material
savings to provide cost and machining time reductions," says Scot Forge's Mark
Brouwer. Forging the blind-hole part without secondary boring contributes to
further cost reductions, with additional savings in the forging of the piston
and the end plate.
The true test of any engineering design is in its operation. "When we saw the
jacking system lift the lighthouse 14 inches in one hour on the first day, with
the pressure gauges all indicating a 'go' and the huge striped building moving
upward, there was nothing else like it," says JSJS president Bill Jahns. "And it
took only 21 days to move the lighthouse to its new foundationless than the
estimated time, with the best day being 355 feet of travel."
'Net waste of time?
By Benjamin B. Ames, Associate Editor
Newton, MA-It's human nature to be conflicted.
We want to vote for Al Gore, but he's boring; he's never loosened up and
partied a little. We want to vote for George W. Bush but he partied too much in
his younger days.
But it's in their use of the ubiquitous Internet that design engineers most
flagrantly flaunt this tendency.
saves time (43%)
too slow, too time consuming (18%)
wealth of information (9%)
not enough information (8%)
useful for locating product/ materials suppliers (6%)
not enough companies/ suppliers have web sites (6%)
poor reliability of information (4%)
When Design News did its annual "Engineers on the Internet" survey
(see DN 4/5/99, front cover insert) we got hundreds of responses, saying that
the number of Net surfing engineers is shooting through the roof. An
overwhelming 87% of you use the Internet regularly for work. And the number of
Design News readers who use the Internet "several times a day" has more
than doubled from 24% a year ago to 52% today.
Yet when we asked the standard, "What are the advantages/disadvantages of
using the Internet," we uncovered a train wreck of contradictory opinions. Is
the Internet the fastest way to find data, or a complete waste of time? How
The top four answers on each side of the debate (left) reveal a head-on
collision in design engineers' opinions of the Internet (percentages do
not sum to 100 because survey asked open-ended questions, not multiple choice).
Each of these points can be proved in a quick trip through cyber space. Need
to take that rocket engine you just designed and attach it to the space shuttle?
A visit to www.thomasregister.com (the survey's most popular site) should give a
quick range of answers. But try typing "metal adhesive" on your Yahoo search
screen and see how long it takes to sort through the garbage and find a good
So who's right? This summer's blockbuster movies show that the most popular
plots are made of angst and hand-wringing: Should Star Wars' Jedi
Knights train the young Annakin Skywalker, despite his future as the ultra-evil
Darth Vader? Should the doomed young filmmakers continue to track the Blair
Witch, or should they just stop bickering, work together and go home?
It seems there's no object lesson in the contradictions of the Design
News Internet survey. It is simply human nature to be fascinated by
conflict. And, sometimes, to create it.
Palm Pilot snap-on makes field data acquisition easy
Cleveland, OH-"Wow" was the reaction of the Sensors
Expo crowd huddled around Steve Sabram, president of DataStick, as he
demonstrated a light-weight, low-cost data measurement product which plugs into
the bottom of the popular Palm Pilot to act as a handheld data logger.
The MyCorder DAS-1206 analog-to-digital converter snaps onto the modem
connector of the Palm III, IIIx and VII handhelds to collect data from up to 6
analog sensors. The 6-channel, 12-bit unit weighs but 4 oz. Each channel can be
turned on or off and has an input range that is individually programmable. Users
can take temperature, pressure, light, and acceleration measurements in the
field and record and display the data at the same time.
The unit comes with software, which lets users view acquired data as bar
charts, line graphs, or in straight numeric mode on the handheld. Readings can
be recorded in databases for later export in standard or comma-separated values
(CSV) format for the Palm's Memo Pad or in DOC or DOC CSV format for reading
with DOC reader on the Palm handheld. The HotSync export lets users transport
that data into a personal computer and into common software packages such as
Excel spreadsheets for analysis. Raw measurement data can also be exported, with
and without time stamps and notes, to cross check the system or perform
The device has an 8-pin mini-DIN, shielded input connector. Sensor cables
come with the product. MyCorder DAS-1206 features user-adjustable sampling
intervals between 200 milliseconds and 12 hours and an internal sample rate of
512 samples per second. MyCorder can retain roughly 256K of data, or the
equivalent of 10,000 records at the maximum recording rate or up to 60,000
Another unique feature of the MyCorder DAS-1206 is that it allows users to
compensate for a sensor package's non-linear sensor response curve by
custom-editing the sensor-response conversion functions and thus viewing
real-world, linear readings.
The unit can be programmed to sleep after a trigger measurement--for long
periods of datalogging--for example, sampling every hour for a week, without
draining battery power. The device runs on a pair of AAA batteries.
"We wanted to capitalize on the 5 million Palm Pilots in use today," says
Sabram. "With this system there is no LCD, no new operating system or interface
that users have to struggle to learn. All they have to do is plug MyCorder into
their Palm Pilot."
Because it is so portable, the device is well suited for field work in test,
environmental, industrial, safety and laboratory applications.
"Even the most rugged laptop or proprietary data logger can break if you drop
it, and this can be a very expensive investment," says Sabram. "Our unit can
attach to your body while climbing up a telephone pole where other devices are
too bulky or costly to safely carry."
Some onlookers at the Sensors Expo felt that although the MyCorder lacked the
features of sophisticated laptops or proprietary data logging instruments, its
portability and $295 price tag, a fraction of the cost of high-end data
oscilloscopes and data loggers, made it very attractive.
Handspring, a Palm competitor who has licensed the Palm operating system, has
just developed the Visor PDA, and DataStick plans a springboard expansion module
with USB to provide extra speedy data taking for that platform. An 8-channel
device is also in development, says DataStick, and will be on the market in the
first quarter of 2000.
Connectors help cut film processor failures
By Rick DeMeis, Senior Editor
Geneva, IL-When production of Fischer Industries
new Futura 3000/4000 x-ray film processors began last year, engineers wanted to
incorporate reliable electronics into the body of the processor to reduce a 28%
failure rate. They also wanted a high quality connection that would help to
decrease the processor assembly time. After testing components from a variety of
manufacturers, Fischer chose the COMBICON system from Phoenix Contact
(Harrisburg, PA). Fischer selected these pluggable printed circuit board
terminal blocks because of their ease of use and the reliability of each
connector. "We wanted it to be easy for our technicians to test the components,"
adds Bill Dubon, vice president of engineering for Fischer. "The COMBICON
terminal block allows the insertion of test probes into the opening on top of
each connector, which enables us to test all components and ensure reliability."
The inverted and power COMBICON terminal blocks, part of the processor's
central control unit, provide the interface between the brain of the processors
and the pumps, motors, and heaters within. All the electronic control functions
are incorporated into a single microprocessor, encased in a solid epoxy mold for
reliability. Because electrical connections are now made through the central
control unit soldered directly to the epoxy case, wiring complexity is reduced.
And in going from analog to digital technology, Fischer engineers redesigned the
microprocessor, central control unit, and temperature control unit which allowed
"By simplifying the wiring, we are able to build a more reliable processor
that is easier to service," Dubon says.
In addition, the COMBICON terminal blocks are sealed to provide protection
from the high-humidity and corrosive-chemical internal environment of the
processor. DIP switches also allow for customized adjustment of standby cycles.
Each COMBICON component has an individual fuse that is easily replaced and each
LED is clearly labeled and indicates power being distributed to the component.
The COMBICON design allowed Fischer to make a high quality connection and
assemble the Futura Series in less time than it took previously--1.5 hours
instead of six. By incorporating the COMBICON terminal blocks into the
microprocessors, Fischer designers reduced the overall failure rate by more than
25%, they say.
Out in the field, test openings on each COMBICON terminal block allow
customers to check specific components which has significantly reduced customer
service time and trouble shooting over the telephone. Dubon adds, "We are very
pleased since implementing the new electronics."
Transitioning to 3D is easier than you might think
Ann Arbor, MI-Making the transition to 3D modeling
as easy as possible for engineers is Peter Smith's goal. Smith, the original
founder of CADKEY Inc., and Walter Silva, a writer of CAD books and a CADKEY
user, started Distance Engineering, to make 3D engineering software accessible.
"Anyone can go out and buy software," Smith says, "but not many can effectively
use what he or she buys."
Distance Engineering, in cooperation with Ford Motor Company and the Michigan
Virtual Automotive College, developed a multimedia CD-ROM course to help
engineers at Ford transition from 2D wireframe to 3D solid modeling. Although
Ford uses SDRC's I-MAN software, the course is not targeted at any particular
CAD package. "Our goal is not to teach the menu structure of a given CAD system
but rather to teach how to best understand and use the power of solid modeling.
The principles covered are fundamental methods for creating 3D models," Smith
The program begins by teaching people how to think through a project in 3D.
"We start with, 'How do you begin creating a model?'" says Smith. "We say:
'Start in 2D.'" Engineers try to model much like an inexperienced person might
begin building a house. They hold up a beam in one hand and try to hammer and
nail boards together with the other. It can't be done, he says. Instead, build a
framework. "Design the outline in 2D in free space, and later add the walls,
surfaces, and shapes. This takes the mystery out of the process."
One just has to look at an object and ask, "How many features are in it?"
Think about what you are making in the simplest, most fundamental manner and
find what keystrokes or icons will make those features happen. "No matter what
the CAD program, you typically start in 2D," says Smith.
So why transition to 3D in the first place? "2D is nothing more than a bunch
of dead lines," he continues. "One may think 2D is easier because he or she is
used to it," he says. "But with 2D you have to rely on your brain to make
connections between lines and parts. This opens up the opportunity for
mistakes." With 3D, nothing is left to the imagination. Everything is
visible--hidden lines, balance points, shadows, rendering. One can modify and
see relationships quickly, easily. This means fewer mistakes, and greater
productivity, he continues.
For potential CADKEY users, Smith and Silva developed a $99 quarterly
Multimedia CD-ROM publication called CADInSite. The publication is a set
of 67 Screen lessons and four videos that are full of hints and tricks to make
solid models quickly and easily. The user can play a section of a screen, pause,
and then hit the ALT-TAB keys to jump into CADKEY to practice the steps just
seen. The publication will cover CAD, animation, sheet metal, NC machining, and
other engineering disciplines. For $495, qualified users can get an educational
copy of CADKEY, a one-year subscription to CADInSite, and a copy of the
course Distance Engineering formulated for Ford. If interested, visit www.distance-eng.com.
Get in shape with CADKEY
By Laurie Ann Toupin, Associate Editor
Barrie, Ontario, Canada-Steve Cope land's dream of
a pedal-powered recreational boat was motivated by his participation in
triathlons, a sport that involves running, swimming, and bicycling. He found
that conventional, square paddleboats topped out at two miles an hour and were
inefficient at giving a bicycling-like workout.
With partner Roger Ball, Copeland co-founded an award-winning sports-design
firm, Paradox Design. Inspired by the successes of his clients, Copeland decided
to take an entrepreneurial leap by establishing Velosea, Inc. and developed his
own product: the Soleau (pronounced "solo") human-powered watercraft that's fun
and great for fitness.
The Soleau has a bicycle-like pedal-crank driving a heavy-chain gearbox,
which turns a two-blade shrouded propeller. Copeland created adjustable
outrigger floats to allow the Soleau to go through three-foot waves without
rocking from the pedaling action. The sleek hull cuts through the water at
approximately 10 knots, twice the speed of conventional canoes. He also made the
craft easy to haul and lightweight using a tough fiberglass-composite material.
A Kevlar hull is also available.
Copeland used CADKEY software to model his design. In fact he's used the
hybrid modeling program since 1995. "I wanted a 3D program that was
straightforward and not excessive in cost--purchase cost as well as training
cost. CADKEY fit the bill. We've been able to do some truly complex projects
with CADKEY, like complex sweeping curves and ergonomic forms," he said.
The Soleau's digital prototype is a true hybrid model. Copeland created the
hull using 3D wireframe. He swept a surface through the complex network of
one-and-a-half-foot hull sections. He used solid modeling to develop the boat's
components. The final CAD file contained a combination of 3D wireframe, surface,
and solid models. The data was then passed along for CNC laser cutting. The
hulls are crafted from hand-formed molds taken off the final prototype.
Compressors lighten emissions
By Charles J. Murray, Senior Regional Technical Editor
Livonia, MI-General Motors engineers have developed
a unique way to meet the auto industry's Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) standard.
Using scroll compressors to blow air through the exhaust ports of Cadillac's
Northstar engine, they quickly raise the temperature of the catalytic converter,
thereby burning off most of the pollutants that would ordinarily leave the
engine immediately after ignition.
The development is important for the industry because automakers must comply
with new LEV standards nationwide by the 2001 model year. And the new standards
are strict--calling for dramatic reductions, particularly of hydrocarbon
Cadillac DeVille’s Northstar engine uses a Reaction Heated Catalyst
that enables it to meet Low Emission Vehicle
To meet the EPA requirements, GM engine designers concentrated on reducing
emissions immediately after the car starts. "Virtually all hydrocarbons are
emitted during startup," notes Allen Cline, resident product engineer for the
Northstar and Aurora V8 engines. "Most conventional cars will fail the LEV test
in the first 30 seconds."
GM engineers solved that problem, however, by installing two Bosch SLP2.2
scroll air compressors near the engine. The two scroll compressors--one for each
of the V8 engine's cylinder banks--blow air through tubing that's connected to
the engine's exhaust ports. "The two pumps blow about five times the amount of
air you'd expect to see in a normal engine," Cline says. Their purpose: To speed
the flow of hot air through the exhaust manifold and across the three-foot
distance to the catalytic converter.
The influx of hot air quickly "lights" the catalytic converter. "We see
operating temperatures in about ten seconds that used to take us 90 seconds to
achieve," Cline says. The higher temperatures enable the catalyst to more
effectively burn off pollutants.
The new EPA standard calls for vehicles to cut their hydrocarbon emissions
from 0.25 grams/mile to 0.075 grams/mile--a reduction of about 70%. The
standards are the same for all cars, large and small. Using the new technique,
General Motors engineers say they easily meet the new standard on the 2000
By blowing air from the engine’s exhaust port to the catalytic
converter, engineers were able to ‘light’ the converter much faster,
thereby reducing emissions.
GM engineers considered a number of alternatives before settling on the new
system, which they call the Reaction Heated Catalyst. But other techniques were
not as successful, they say. Moving the catalysts closer to the engine, which
has been successful on a number of other automotive engines, caused a packaging
problem. And electrically heated catalysts potentially added too much cost,
weight, and complexity. Electrically heated catalysts, they say, would have been
too great a drain on the battery and alternator. "The key is to pre-heat the
catalyst," Cline says. "But you want to do it in a way that's best for the