07, 1998 Design News
THE BEST PRODUCTS OF 1998
The Best Products of 1998
Christine M. Ferrara New Products Editor
Imagine trying to run as fast as you can in a specific
time frame. Then, the time is shortened. And shortened,
and shortened more, yet the required pace increases.
That's what engineers go through to get products to
market. They must stay on the cutting edge of technology,
while doing their jobs faster and faster every year.
Indeed, a recent survey sponsored by Design News found
that engineers work on 18 projects a year, up from 15
just five years ago. (DN 5/4/98, p. 92)
The average design engineer today specifies five of
the nine categories associated with design work, so
they have to keep up with the newest products available.
We asked vendors to nominate their best products in
seven categories: electrical/electronic; power transmission
and motion control; fluid power; computer productivity
tools; test, measurement, and control; fastening, joining,
and assembly; and plastics, metals, and other materials.
Then, we asked a panel of independent judges to select
finalists in each category. Here are the judges' choices
for the best products in each individual category:
- Electrical/electronic. DuraSwitch Industries
Inc., Mesa, AZ, took this category with a thin-film
switch for use in extreme environments.
- Power transmission and motion control. Haydon
Switch and Instrument Inc., Waterbury, CT, is in first
place in this category with a linear/rotary dual-motion
actuator that provides linear and rotary motion in one
- Fluid power. Iversen Hydraulics ApS, Sonderborg,
Denmark, tops this category with a hydraulic pressure
intensifier for use in applications where higher flow
at intensified pressure is required.
- Computer productivity tools. CoCreate Software
Inc., Fort Collins, CO, was the winner here with a web-enabled,
real-time product-development solution that enables
engineers, regardless of location, to work together
in real time.
- Test, measurement, and control. Schenck Trebel,
Deer Park, NY,scored the highest with an intelligent
machine monitor that can learn a machine's normal operation
- Fastening, joining, and assembly. Mek-Lock
Fasteners, Thousand Oaks, CA, won this category with
an extended-release fastener drive system that provides
fastener handling with integrity in all situations.
- Plastics, metals, and other materials. Alyn
Corp., Irvine, CA , took top honors here with a material
used in an engine cradle that has a soluble core made
with pressure casting technology.
You can help choose the best product design of 1998
by completing and faxing back the ballot on page 89
to vote for the product you think best exemplifies outstanding
engineering. Once all ballots are received, Design News
will reward one lucky reader with a special prize. The
winning product will also be the focus of a special
feature in our Engineering Awards issue.
PANEL OF JUDGES
Vincent Altamuro, President of Robotics Research Consultants,Toms
Dr. Daniel Graupe, Professor of Electrical Engineering
and of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University
of Illinois, Chicago.
Richard Morley, CEO of Flavors Technology, Milford,
Switch featureslow profile
The PushGate(TM) switch from DuraSwitch Industries
Inc. has been tested to more than 80 million actuations
and features a low profile and thin panel of 1/10 inch.
The switch's magnetically operated armature provides
realignment as well as a distinct click upon pushing
and releasing the switch. Maximum voltage is 50V dc
or ac peak for the rigid base, and 30V dc or ac peak
for the film base.
"It is clean, modern, a utilitarian design, done
with an eye towards cost production and cost for the
user," says Richard Morley, CEO of Flavors Technology
and contest judge. "A good design is not necessarily
romantic and sexy, but one that accomplishes the function
for the ultimate purpose desired. DuraSwitch PushGate
certainly satisfies that need."
DuraSwitch Industries Inc.
333 S. Nina Dr.
Mesa, AZ 85210
FAX (602) 844-1199
POWER TRANSMISSION & MOTION CONTROL
Actuator provides linear and rotary motion in one
The MS Series linear/rotary dual-motion actuator from
Haydon Switch & Instrument Inc. provides linear
and rotary motion in one unit, which eliminates components,
simplifies product design, and saves space. The actuator
is capable of rotary motion. The motor can be used to
replace multiple motors and actuators in specific applications.
The motor's shaft can translate and rotate independently
"This product was selected because its designers
created a product which can provide independent sequential
or simultaneous linear and rotary motion in one compact
package," notes robotics consultant and engineering
judge Vincent Altamuro. "Overall, their work shows
good engineering analysis and excellence in engineering
Haydon Switch & Instrument Inc.
1500 Meriden Rd.
Waterbury, CT 06705
FAX (203) 756-8724
Pressure intensifier is for higher-flow applications
The HC6 hydraulic pressure intensifier from Iversen
Hydraulics is a self-contained device that incorporates
a reciprocating, bi-area piston and an integral dump
valve, which provides users with a source of high pressure
from an existing low-pressure hydraulic system. The
intensifier boosts inlet pressure up to an 8.2:1 ratio
without the use of external power and maintains this
high pressure by automatically compensating for the
consumption of oil on the high-pressure side. Applications
include those where higher flow at intensified pressure
"The product was selected as the winner in this
category because the engineers successfully designed
it to be an improvement over existing products,"
notes contest judge Vincent Altamuro. "Their design
shows that they recognized and addressed the needs of
users and the problems of manufacturers of products."
ApS Ellegardvej 25GDK-6400
FAX +1 45 7442 4204
COMPUTER PRODUCTIVITY TOOLS
Product development solution enables engineers to
work together in real time
OneSpace web-enabled, real-time product development
solution from CoCreate Software Inc. enables engineers,
regardless of location, to work together in real time
with customers, partners, and suppliers. With OneSpace,
all participants can view each person's input simultaneously.
Because all members of a design team are collaborating
on the actual model, problems can be identified and
rectified earlier in the design process. OneSpace functions
on top of most 3D CAD environments.
"This web-centric design embraces global considerations,
and allows users quick access on an interactive basis
with designs in a heterogeneous manner," says contest
judge Richard Morley. "It's quick, it sits on top
of the other killer applications, and allows agility
in the landscape of design."
CoCreate Software Inc.
3801 Automation Way, Suite 110
Fort Collins, CO 80525
FAX (970) 206-8068
TEST, MEASUREMENT & CONTROL
Machine monitor learns machine's operating behavior
The VIBRO-IC intelligent machine monitor from Schenck
Trebel learns a machine's normal operation behavior,
anticipates when an abnormality is about to occur, diagnoses
the potential problem, and initiates corrective action
through a fuzzy-logic program. Adapted limit values
are combined with relative limit values and complex
Boolean logic to make decisions about machine condition.
An advanced, event-based logic system uses digital and
analog inputs, combined with digital and analog outputs,
which can make adjustments to operation and provide
reasonable recommendations regarding solutions.
"I consider this machine monitor to be an imaginative
design that brings together aspects of most recent theoretical
advances in decision theory, such as artificial intelligence,
signal processing, and fuzzy logic, to produce a machine
monitor," says University of Illinois electrical
engineering professor and contest judge Dr. Daniel Graupe.
535 Acorn St.
Deer Park, NY 11729
FAX (516) 242-4147
FASTENING, JOINING & ASSEMBLY
Fastener drive system locks onto fasteners during
installation and removal
The Mek-Lock(reg) extended release system from Mek-Lock
Fasteners is based on a ball-and-socket interconnection
to form the torque transfer system. With the angular
orientation of the ball/socket axis, the wrench's outer
sleeve forces the balls into the sockets of the nut
or bolt, thus maintaining the engaged position. The
drive system locks onto the fastener during installation
and removal and requires zero end-force to maintain
engagement of the fastener. The extended release allows
precise control during limited-access operations, and
freedom from cam-out or dropped nuts or bolts in the
"The system reaches difficult-to-access bolts
and locks onto them during their installation and removal,
and it prevents the dropping of bolts, which would be
difficult and costly to retrieve," says contest
judge Vincent Altamuro. "It is a fine, innovative
design, and the product should find wide use in many
2965 E. Hillcrest Dr. #304
Thousand Oaks, CA 91362
FAX (805) 495-2747
PLASTICS, METALS & OTHER MATERIALS
Material is used in electric vehicle engine cradle