Chicago-Today, everyone is making products smaller and
more versatile. And essentially, that's what a host of power transmission
suppliers at last week's National Design Engineering Show were doing-combining
components to come up with more compact designs that cost less and are easier
put together. Here are a few examples.
The ELCOM ST(tm) slotted brushless dc motors from Pittman (http://www.pittmannet.com/300000.html?id=188)
now include control electronics inside the motor housing. The company claims
the result is a smaller, more versatile motor that's less expensive to operate
than conventional brushless dc motors that typically require more complex
The motor's flexible design allows Pittman to configure
it as either a two-wire, single-polarity motor with open-loop speed control,
or as a reversible motor just by changing the windings. The company can even
incorporate other functional components such as closed-loop motor speed
control, and encoders for velocity feedback and enhanced motor
Targeted at engineers seeking the simplicity of a motor with on-board
electronics, but without the expense of an indexer on each axis, the IMS
Motor+Driver from Intelligent Motion Systems Inc. (http://www.imshome.com) consists of a NEMA
17 frame size 1.8-degree motor mounted to a microstepping motor drive. It's
also available in multiple configurations, including a single-shaft
stand-alone device, a standard motor with optical encoder, and an Acme screw
"With prices starting at $113.73 each/100 piece
quantity, it allows the system designer to choose the best method of control
for the application," says IMS President David Coutu. Various setup parameters
can be changed on-the-fly or downloaded and stored in non-volatile memory. And
the motor is available in three different stack lengths. "It's a small,
powerful, and inexpensive solution that offers 'cost-effective versatility,'
and reduces design and assembly time in low-power stepping motor
applications," says Coutu.
Designed for limited space applications, the series 44M100D permanent-
magnet stepper motor weighs in at just 80g (2.82 oz), but it's no lightweight
in terms of power, according to Thomson Airpax Mechatronics (http://www.thomsonindustries.com/airpax/airpax.htm).
Its "super-thin" design measures just 44 mm (1.7 inches) by 12 mm (0.48
inches) long, yet it produces 30 mNm (4.25 oz-in) of pullout torque.
Engineers designing electronic assembly equipment such as component
delivery systems, tape and label feeders, and precision-testing
instrumentation will appreciate its super-thin profile, high torque to inertia
ratio, and low cost of $9.95 for 500 units. Flexible options include custom
mounting/lead egress positions, changes in coil design, and different bearing
Altair has released an update of its HyperWorks computer-aided engineering simulation suite that includes new features focusing on four key areas of product design: performance optimization, lightweight design, lead-time reduction, and new technologies.
At IMTS last week, Stratasys introduced two new multi-materials PolyJet 3D printers, plus a new UV-resistant material for its FDM production 3D printers. They can be used in making jigs and fixtures, as well as prototypes and small runs of production parts.
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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