While most engineers argue Ethernet TCP/IP is inappropriate for an I/O bus, Gerd Hoppe, President of Beckhoff North America, says his company is going in the opposite direction with its new product RTEthernet—introduced in Europe in November 2002 and just now available here in the U.S. Beckhoff 's software engineers, old hands at tinkering with the Windows operating system, have devised a way to communicate directly with a standard COTS Ethernet controller card using short, 7-microsecond telegrams. One of these tiny telegrams could contain the status of as many as 368 I/O points. Regular TCP messages are held temporarily in a buffer while the telegrams pass through the system. Aptly described as an "onion ring" design, it can encapsulate any fieldbus protocol inside its Ethernet telegrams, giving RTEthernet potential compatibility with dozens of different fieldbus systems.
What if algae borne of fertilizer runoff that pollutes rivers and lakes could be harvested and used as biofuel feedstock? What if the leftovers could be recycled into farm soil nutrients, eliminating at least some of the need for artificial fertilizers in the first place? Western Michigan University researchers have a plan.
Manufacturers of plastic parts recognize the potential of conformal cooling to reduce molding cycle times. Problem is, conformal molds require additive manufacturing (AM), and technologies in that space are still evolving. Costs also can be high, and beyond that, many manufacturing organizations lack the knowledge and expertise needed to apply and incorporate additive technologies into their operations.
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