MOLA fathoms the face of Mars
By Rick DeMeis, Senior Editor
Greenbelt, MD-NASA has released images showing the
best topographic maps yet of the surface of Mars. Gleaned from data taken by the
Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) on board the Mars Global Surveyor now
circling the planet, the data show surface elevation differences of nearly 19
miles, "one and a half times the range of elevations found on Earth,'' says MOLA
Principal Investigator David Smith of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.
At the heart of MOLA is a 1064-nm wave-length neodymium:YAG laser with input
power >13.5W. "This was the last laser delivered by McDonnell Douglas'
Electronics System Div.,'' notes Dana Marshall, president and CEO of Cutting
Edge Optronics (CEO, St. Charles, MO), which is now licensing the technology.
EG&G Canada (Vaudreuil, Quebec, Canada) made the silicon avalanche
photodiode detector that senses the laser pulses reflected from the planet's
surface. MOLA's hardware was originally spares for the Mars Observer program of
the early '90s, whose spacecraft was believe destroyed by a fuel-system rupture
before it could return data. Software and hardware upgrades to MOLA have boosted
performance and precision.
So far, MOLA mapping shows the northern Martian hemisphere is smoother and on
average three miles lower than the planet's southern half indicating a
global-scale water flow northward in early Martian history such that northern
lowlands would have drained 3/4 of the planetary surface. The large Hellas
impact basin in the southern hemisphere (darkest area in figure) is nearly six
miles deep and 1,300 miles across. A ring of material thrown out from a likely
asteroid impact surrounds the basin to a distance of 2,500 miles from its
center. This ejected blanket rises 1.25 miles above the surrounding terrain the
equivalent of covering the continental U.S. with a layer of material two miles
Elastomer keeps people mover moving
Airlines passengers, even last-minute arrivals, miss fewer flights at the
Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport, thanks to an automated people mover built
by Otis Transit Systems Inc. The people mover runs in an underground tunnel that
connects Delta's check-in and baggage-claim area with two gate concourses where
passengers depart or arrive.
A wire-rope cable, guided by a series of idler sheaves, propels the cars. The
sheaves feature elastomeric liners with a groove in which the cable rides.
Cable loading on most of the sheaves averages 200 lb/sq inch. However, at
both ends of the system, where the continuous cable must make a 180-degree turn,
critical deflector sheave loads can reach 2,500 lb/sq inch.
Soon after the system went into service it become apparent that the deflector
sheave lines couldn't handle the severe cable loads. Also, a lubricant supplied
by a system that drops a friction-reducing film on the cable contributed to
early failure of the rubber liners. When the sheaves had to be replaced every 12
weeks, Otis engineers began a search for a better liner material.
The optimum material solution resulted from the technical efforts of three
companies: Uniroyal Chemical Co. (Middlebury, CT), Winfield Industries Inc.
(Buffalo, NY), and the DuPont Co. (Wilmington, DE). Winfield makes the new,
long-life polyurethane deflector sheave liners out of Adiprene®, a
polyether polyurethane rubber (PPDI) prepolymer supplied by Uniroyal that
contains a proprietary curative blend formulated for this application.
The prepolymer has at its base a special diisocyanate, Hylene®
PPDI, commercialized by DuPont. It results in polyurethane elastomer parts said
to have improved dynamic properties and toughness when compared with more
conventional methylene diphenyl (MDI) and toulene (TDI) diisocyanates.
The new PPDI deflector sheaves have operated for more than 20 million cycles.
"They have exhibited no evidence of wear," says Otis engineer Peter Brovero.
"Maintenance people at the site can now focus their efforts on other tasks."
"The PPDI doesn't degrade," adds Winfield's Ken Hays, the project's leader.
"In fact, it helps extend the life of the cable as it flexes."
Otis engineers liked the performance of the PPDI so much that they used it
extensively in the company's latest people mover system at the John Paul Getty
Museum in Los Angeles. Brovero notes that Otis intends to specify the material
in all future high-load applications.
Win a ride on AmericaOne-Down Under!
Palo Alto, CA-Design a "headsail halyard lock that
is 100% reliable, weighs nothing, and withstands an enormous load," and become
the 17th crewmember on an AmericaOne sailboat during one of the preliminary
America's Cup races, held in mid October in New Zealand. That's the challenge
from Hewlett-Packard (HP), Engineering-e.com (a division of The
MacNeal-Schwendler Corporation (MSC)), and AmericaOne. "A lot of people think
the America's Cup is just a boat race," says Knute Christensen, technical
program manager for HP's AmericaOne sponsorship. "But it's a lot more. The
purpose of this contest is to highlight the technical components of the event."
The jib halyard lock retains the top-most corner of the forward sail,
otherwise called a genoa or jib on a sloop rig. Normally the halyard used to
raise the sail maintains the hoist by continuous tension from the forward sail,
up and over a sheave, back to the deck, and out to a winch for tension. The
present AmericaOne's jib lock doesn't work perfectly, says Christensen.
Sometimes the clamp slips and crew members find it difficult to maintain the
correct tension on the leading edge. AmericaOne is hoping for a top-notch design
to improve this dilemma. There are no requirements for how engineers design the
lock, nor in what format they submit their designs. "Entries can be sent to us
in CAD or on the back of a napkin," says Christensen.
Designs will be judged according to creativity/originality, elegance,
functionality, practicality/manufacturability, and cost. Entries will be
accepted until September 1, 1999. A panel of four judges who have engineering
backgrounds will determine the winners.
Although there is no guarantee that the winning design will be implemented in
this race, AmericanOne is currently building two boats for the America's Cup
2000 races, each with an extra mast. Christenson says depending on the
manufacturability of the winning design, the extra masts may be retrofitted with
the new device. For more information, or to enter the contest, visit http://americaonedesign.org or FAX:
Industrial PC shipments reach new peak
Dedham, MA-1998 shipments for industrial computers
worldwide totaled nearly $650 million, and ARC Advisory Group (Dedham, MA)
predicts IPC (Industrial Personal Computer) unit shipments to grow at an average
annual rate of greater than 10% through 2003.
Price pressure should escalate, as a proliferation of small-sized suppliers
cater to niche markets, while large suppliers incorporate the latest available
Because of declining prices, faster data buses, and more stable operating
systems, engineers continue to find cost-effective ways to use industrial PCs
for direct I/O and control operations. The spotlight is on passive-backplane
standards such as PCI and CompactPCI, the bus architecture targeted at telecom
applications, and the emergence of Windows-CE as a reliable working alternative
Growth for worldwide industrial-computer shipments is expected to
continue over the next five years.
North America and Europe account for more than 85% of industrial PC
Industrial computers crack open machine-tool industry
Paris-Open-architecture. PC-based control. Buzzwords
that echoed through the halls of EMO Paris '99, and promise to open machine
tools to the world through Ethernet and the Inter-net. This exhibition devoted
entirely to machine tools and machine components was held May 5th through 12th
just north of the French capital in Villepinte.
Defining such jargon isn't always easy. It really depends on whom you talk
to. But no one at EMO disputes the magnitude of IPC's (Industrial Personal
Computer) influence in the CNC (Computer Numerical Control) evolution to help
reduce non- productive machine time, automate tool and part changes, and
While CNC/PC convergence began several years ago with the PC primarily
supporting the HMI (Human Machine Interface), today's controller architectures
bond CNC and PC more closely together. OEMs realize productivity gains during
integration with easy-to-use customization tools. Object libraries accelerate
HMI customization. Open interfaces such as OPC (OLE for Process Control) assist
in data exchange between system applications and the outside world.
For the end user, modular and open CNC/PC convergence means easier HMI
customization with third-party development tools, and critical machine
communication with company management systems. Because PLCs (Programmable Logic
Controllers) proliferate in the machine-tool industry, traditional controls
suppliers need to address two main goals in order to survive: systematic use of
standard PC tools, and intensive use of PLC-type components.
Axium, Num's (Naperville, IL) new generation PC-based CNC is a good example
of how Schneider Electric (N. Andover, MA) integrates PC tools with its PLC
components. Axium's design uses mainly PC hardware and software. A
standard-support chassis includes the power supply module, an ATX motherboard
with a Pentium processor, a hard-disk drive, and a 3˝-inch floppy-disk drive.
The basic system includes RAM banks and a multiconnection VGA-graphics card
for linking to the display units. The PC platform also houses the CNC program,
PLC coprocessor, and the servo-drive interface. External HMI components
(keyboard, CNC panel, display unit, machine panel, CD-ROM drive, etc.), as well
as PLC I/O modules, and axis and spindle drives also connect to the PC via the
Another example, GE Fanuc's (Massy, France) Series 160is/ 180is/ 210is CNC
hardware incorporates Windows CE 2.0 in the GUI (Graphical User Interface). The
pc-board with memory is situated directly behind a slim 10.4-inch LCD. The
product features hardware that maintains power in the event of unexpected power
loss long enough to automatically save critical files in flash memory.
Mitsubishi Electric (Ratingen, Germany) takes PC design one step further with
it's MELDASPAC III. The PCMCIA card-sized CNC is a 64-bit RISC Processor CNC
with integrated PLC. For production lines, the MELDAS Magic Card 64 integrates
into Mitsubishi's Network Panel Controller with a Windows CE-based HMI. Tight
integration of PC, PLC, and CNC provides high-speed processing and
communications in a small PCMCIA form factor.
Products such as these are just a sign of the times. With CNCs and PLCs
residing in the heart of PCs, machine tools are opened to the world through
Ethernet and the Internet.
Integrated approach improves transmission sealing
advantage of vendor skills, OEM engineers can now simplify the process of
designing seals for automotive transmissions and engines.
A new program from Freudenberg NOK (Milan, OH), known as Total Transmission
or Total Engine Sealing, enables engineers to work with a single vendor to
develop all of the seals on a product. That's important, because it enables the
OEM to more effectively leverage the knowledge and manpower of the vendor, thus
freeing up its own engineers for other chores.
It's also important because a transmission typically has 30 to 35 seals, all
of which present their own design dilemmas. Transmission seals include rotating
seals, lip seals, piston seals, housing gaskets, O-rings, D-rings, and many
others. Very often, engineers find they must go to one supplier for piston seals
and elastomeric gaskets, then go to several others for such things as lip seals,
O-rings, and D-rings.
Under Freudenberg's Total Powertrain Sealing approach, Freudenberg engineers
work with customers to develop seals, as well as adjoining components. "We do
all of the program management, as well as the design of the components," notes
Scott Follett, director of brand management for powertrain products for
Freudenberg NOK. "Previously, the OEM would have assigned several of its own
engineers to do this. Now, we can make those engineers more productive in other
The integrated sealing approach also helps the OEM cut costs. On a machined
aluminum clutch piston, for example, Freudenberg says it eliminated two assembly
operations and two machine operators. Bottom line? A savings of $45,000
annually. Elimination of operators and part numbers also accounted for savings
of $167,000 and $75,000, respectively.
By assigning a program manager to the project, Freudenberg says it can also
provide special help during the benchmarking process. If an automaker wants to
compare its proposed product to an existing design, or to a best-in-class
competitor, the program manager can help in the analysis of existing seals and
Freudenberg has applied the approach in the design of a 2.7l engine and a
1.8l engine for Daimler Chrysler. It is currently working on a large
transmission program for a North American manufacturer. Follett says the firm
can also work on transmissions and engines for manufacturers of off-highway
New standard doubles data density on MO disks
By Dennis Normile, Japan
TokyoSony Corp.and Fujitsu Ltd. have cracked limitations on magneto-optical
(MO) data storage capacity with Magnetically induced Super Resolution. MSR
allows the density of MO data marks to be doubled while using current optical
heads, servo mechanisms, and signal processing. The two companies have worked
out a technical standard called GIGAMO. Fujitsu has released a GIGAMO MO disk
drive that can read and write up to 1.3 Gbytes of data on 3.5-inch disks, double
the capacity of previous disks.
In MO recording, a semiconductor laser heats a spot on a magnetic
film to the Curie temperature, allowing a recording head to magnetize the spot.
The polarity represents the ones and zeros of digital data. For reading, the
laser hits the spot at lower intensity and the polarization of the reflected
light is detected. The writing process results in marks smaller than the width
of the beam. But for readback, the marks spaced so the laser picks up one mark
at a time.
With MSR, the marks are recorded at twice the density but
magnetic masks allow them to be read one at a time. MSR disks have a three layer
magnetic film: a recording layer of a terbium-iron-cobalt amorphous alloy
furthest from the laser source, an intermediate layer of a gadolinium-iron
alloy, and a playback layer of agadolinium-iron-cobalt alloy.
The middle layer Curie temperature is much less than that of the
other two layers, and the laser is tuned such that this middle layer reaches the
Curie temperature only for the brief instant a recorded mark is at the very
center of the laser beam. At the same time, a weak "readout" magnetic field is
applied. Below the Curie temperature, the readout magnetic field aligns the
magnetization of the intermediate layer.
Due to the exchange coupling effect, the playback layer takes the
opposite magnetization. When the middle layer reaches the Curie temperature, it
adopts the opposite magnetization of the recording layer, and the playback layer
aligns with the recording layer. As the middle layer exceeds its Curie
temperature it loses all magnetization. The playback layer then aligns with the
readout magnetic field.
Put together, this means that the magnetization ahead and behind
the mark to be read are oriented in opposite directions. The reflected laser
beam, then, is only affected by the magnetization of a single mark.
Fujitsu makes the drives, primarily using its own components.
Sony manufactures the disks. Fujitsu says otherfirms may make
drives to the GIGAMO standard in the future.
How MSR works
MSR takes advantage of the differing magnetic properties of the three layers
so all magnetization ahead of the mark to be read is oriented in one direction
and the magnetization behind the mark is oriented in the opposite direction. At
the low temperatures at the leading edge of the laser beam, magnetization of the
intermediate layer is aligned with the readout magnetic field, giving an
opposite magnetization to the playback layer. Precisely at the mark to be read,
the middle layer is at the Curie temperature, allowing its magnetization to
become the opposite of the magnetization of the recording layer. This makes the
magnetization of the playback layer align with the recording layer. At the
higher temperature at the trailing edge of the laser beam, the middle layer
loses magnetization, allowing magnetization of the top layer to be set by the
readout magnetic field.
Sponsors back engineering innovation
companies are helping fuel technology development by supporting the Design News
Engineering Awards Program, now in its thirteenth year.
This year welcomes a a dual addition to the team. Omron Electronics steps up
from its position as a Foundation sponsor to provide a $20,000 donation for a
"Omron's Global Innovation Award broadens the scope of the Design News
Engineer of the Year program by recognizing that all of us work beyond the
borders of the North American continent in a truly global community," says Frank
Newburn, president and COO of Omron Electronics Inc. "This award recognizes not
only great engineering on a global scale but truly innovative engineering that
pushes the envelope of the discipline. Because Omron prides itself on its
innovative engineering and global scope, it seemed a natural step to sponsor
Returning to the field for its thirteenth year, the Torrington Co.
(Torrington, CT) leads the way with a $25,000 award for the Engineer of the
Year. The honoree, selected by Design News readers, demonstrates an innovative
path of design work that impacts the engineering industry. The most recent
winner, Lynn Otten received the 1999 award for her work at Medtronic where she
spearheaded development of a revolutionary implant to control the
life-shattering tremors that plague Parkinson's disease sufferers.
"Co-sponsoring the awards program each year and paying tribute to this
generation's engineering leaders is nothing short of an honor for Torrington,"
says Milanne Miles, marketing communications manager. "But just as important is
the commitment to 'excellence in education.' This commitment from Design News
and all the sponsorshelps recognize the need for continued achievement of
engineering excellence, especially at a time when global competition is
requiring us to take academics and technological innovation to another level."
Backing the Engineering Education Foundation (EEF) for its tenth consecutive
year, NTN Bearing (Des Plaines, IL) provides a grant for $20,000. This gift is
awarded to the Design News Special Achievement Award winner and donated to the
college of that person's choice. Editors select this honoree based on a history
of outstanding lifetime achievements in the engineering field. The 1999
recipient, Paul MacCready, has sired an eclectic mix of remarkable vehicles for
air and land.
"It is vitally important that the accomplishments of the engineer in our
society be understood and respected by the public at large, by government, by
industry, and particularly throughout our educational system," says George
Hammond, president of NTN Bearing Corp. "All must encourage students to pursue
the challenging and rewarding career of the design engineer." He adds that, "NTN
hopes that other companies for which the talented engineer is essential, will
join us to further this objective."
The Engineering Quality Award, received this year by Xerox Vice President and
Chief Engineer John Elter for his role in the push to develop a clean-sheet
digital copier design, is being supported for the eleventh year by Schneeberger
Inc. (Bedford, MA). This producer of precision bearings' $20,000 grant is
presented to a school of the winner's choice.
"The Engineering Awards program is a special event for Schneebergeran evening
we truly look forward to each year. We are honored to participate in the most
important program of its kind, to salute the best engineers in America," says
George Jaffe, vice president at Schneeberger Inc. He adds, last year
Schneeberger was especially proud because the Quality Award winner designated
the gift to be used to establish much needed scholarships for Native American
MCS Software will provide three $6,000 technology prizes, up $1,000 each from
last year, to the Grand Prize winners of the Excellence in Design contest, now
in its twentieth year. Last year's recipients were Mark Tempel, senior
mechanical design engineer at Stratos Product Development Group LLC, for his
automated salmon marking and tagging system; Jim Bylander, Technical Manager for
3M's Telecom Systems Div. Optical Systems Laboratory, for his work on a simple
connector design that spearheads high-performance fiber-to-the-desk
communications; and Dave Fadness, owner of Mechanical Design and Development
Co., for his work on the mechanical design of Mobetron, an electronic linear
accelerator that delivers high doses of radiation directly to an exposed tumor
site during surgery.
"As the engineering market has continued to grow and change over the past
year, we have seen the demand for the design software market significantly
expand to address enterprise customers, professional design engineers, small
business owners, and manufacturers around the world who design and build all
sorts of mechanical devices and structures," says Frank Perna, Jr. Chairman and
CEO at MCS Software "The Excellence in Design Award winners have realized the
value of engineering in new product designs. We are proud to be a part of this
Design News program."
Design News will present four, second-place winners in the 2000 Excellence in
Design competition with an Acoustic Wave stereo system manufactured by Bose
Finally, Edmund Scientific Co. (New York, NY) has donated four Astroscan
telescope packages to be given to the third-place winners in the design contest.
Most awards will be presented at the Design News Engineering Awards Banquet
on March 16, 2000, at the Ritz Carlton, Chicago. This event is held in
conjunction with the National Design Engineering Show at National Manufacturing
"Design News is honored to be at the forefront of the engineering industry,
recognizing innovations that contribute to the advancement of technology and
impact society," says Design News Publisher Larry Maloney. "The continued
support of our sponsor companies extends today's path toward a bright
engineering future for the global engineering community."
Jaguar S-Type -- steppin' out in style
By Rick DeMeis, Senior Editor
Leo Carrillo Beach, CA-Ever drive a twisty road for
the first time and find yourself naturally slowing down in unfamiliar territory?
Well, here I am wringing out Jaguar's S-Type over the switchbacks of Mulholland
Highway like a local. The car's combination of handling, control, and ride
quickly gives you that kind of confidence.
That basically says it all about how Jaguar engineers have tuned the precise
variable-ratio, speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering along with the
short/long arm front and double-wishbone rear suspensions, which give a supple,
but not soft, ride. These, in combination with a nearly 50/50 front-and-rear
weight distribution in a rear-drive layout, make the S-Type a kick to drive.
The V6 S-Type I drove in the morning seemed a bit light on the power, perhaps
due to having an automatic transmission. But the afternoon's V8 was more than
enough for anyone. Now, if only Jaguar would bring a manual version to the U.S.
market, the control picture would be complete. I prefer a manual's tighter
coupling of engine to drive wheels rather than the more elastic feel coming from
an automatic's intervening torque converter. While the Jaguar J-gate allows
"manual" shifting, it's not as precise as a true stick. Jaguar says the American
market for manuals is too small to justify importing them.
Jaguar class is all over the S-type if Sean Connery were still playing James
Bond, this would be the car he'd drive. Styling cues hint at the S-type shapes
of the sixties the oval grill, separated headlights, and body and side-window
lines. This car turned heads from bikers and film crews, to the Jaguar owner who
pulled alongside to eyeball the car.
Options? A sport-handling package features the aptly named CATS (Computer
Active Technology Suspension). Dual-position magnetic actuators inside the
Bilstein shock absorbers switch damping, by controlling porting, between soft
and firm (10% below to 30-40% above standard damping). The idea is more normal
comfort, with greater control in the extreme. Road conditions (vertical
acceleration front and rear), longitudinal and lateral accelerations, and driver
input (speed, braking) govern when and how quickly the settings are switched.
Mike Cross, a senior chassis development engineer, told me, "The idea is to
stay in the 'soft' mode as much as possible, go to the harder as needed to get
back under control," and then quickly back to the softer setting. "Originally it
was thought to go to the harder setting automatically at a certain high speed.
The system reacts so quickly it wasn't necessary," he added. For example, at 65
mph, a severe lane change or heavy undulation would be needed to activate CATS.
Ford's Visteon subsidiary supplies the voice-activated system for cell phone,
entertainment-system, and climate-control use.
Finally, for the drive back to LA, a few simple instructions allowed me to
try the GPS navigation. It helped locate a turnoff along some wooded curves,
mistakenly given too early in my printed directions.
Within 0.05 sec, CATS shocks switch from soft to firm—so quick that
only compression or rebound may be changed. Rapid valve cycling also
produces piston force levels within the hard and soft boundaries
EMO innovations make machines more productive
Paris: Everyone who is anyone in the "monde des
machine-outils'' attended EMO between May 5th and 12th, just north of the French
capital in Villepinte. Just the auto shows provide a glimpse of future
automotive products, EMO presents ideas and concepts that foreshadow tomorrow's
machine tools, and exposes new components that help engineers make machines more
Schneeberger’s Monorail braking and clamping elements come with
manual, pneumatic, and hydraulic drives, or electronic drives for even
shorter breaking distances.
Compared with the last EMO in Germany, there was greater focus on high-speed
machining techniques with rapid traverse speeds, higher accelerations, and
greater precision. Many component suppliers touted new linear-motor offerings,
and even though more machine builders have modified machine architectures to
accommodate these direct-linear drives, innovative ball-screw, motor, gearhead,
and bearing products still dominate the precision-production scene.
The SP-High SpeedTM planetary gear from alpha gear drives Inc.
(Elk Grove Village, IL) is a good example. It reportedly offers a 30,000-hr
service life in continuous operation at 4,500 rpm. By using the gears to cool
the motor, the design effectively doubles the life of conventional planetary
gearing by reducing thermal and mechanical stress. Special gaskets and a
three-chamber, minimum-lubrication design, as well as new materials and
geometries, reduce friction and boost efficiency to 98.5%.
INA W. lzlager Schaeffler oHG (Herzogenaurach, Germany) introduced a
maintenance-free system for linear ball bearing and guideway assemblies. Mounted
on each end of the carriage, the long-term lubrication units use a reservoir to
store lubricant irrespective of the system's position. A mechanism releases
lubricant through pockets immediately adjacent to the raceways, and oil wipers
and seals resist lubricant loss during operation.
INA Lineartechnick oHG’s maintenance-free system for linear ball
bearing and guideway assemblies extends service intervals.
FAG’s radial-oil-supply DL spindle bearings, use O-rings on both sides
of the oil-distribution groove prevent leakage
Schneeberger Inc. (Bedford, MA) also displayed a self-lubrication cartridge
of its own, and announced availability of Monorail braking and clamping elements
that offer safety during power loss. The normally closed (powered open) version
provides positional safety on any linear-motor driven axis and is compatible
with DIN 645 for ease of assembly. Applications include:
Stabilizing the location of a linear axis
Designed for radial oil supply, FAG's (Schweinfurt, Germany) DL spindle
bearings, reportedly offer more reliable and direct lubrication and lower
spindle design costs compared to axial oil-supply designs. DL stands for direct
lobe. FAE targets these bearings at high speed applications (2.8 mm/min and
more). An oil distribution groove delivers oil through holes that are positioned
away from the ball-to-raceway contact zone. With the oil-distribution groove in
the outer ring, bearings can be mounted without special angular orientation.
O-rings on both sides of the oil distribution groove prevent leakage losses
ensuring that the small quantities of oil get safely into the bearing.