Energy conservation and efficiency are subjects that seem to come and go, at least in the minds of consumers. But in industry, they're issues that are always front and center. And they will be all the more prominent in the next few years, according to engineers contacted by Design News editors.
The automotive and electric motor industries are leading the way with development projects that aim at producing breakthrough energy-conservation technology on several fronts. For example, the move toward 42V electrical systems for cars could very well result in major fuel savings. Likewise, fuel cells, originally developed for aerospace applications, could soon find their way into the family car, bringing with them even greater energy savings. And the motors that drive factory equipment and other products are getting more efficient all the time.
Indeed, several studies show that motor-driven systems consume more than 60% of the energy used in industry. Suppliers of those systems are working hard to lower that number:
Baldor, for example, is now offering energy-savings workshops to teach engineers how to control their energy costs. The company labels its Super-E Premium Efficient Motors with an energy guide sticker to let users know the energy the motors use, and provides customers with software to calculate their energy savings. Company President John McFarland says the Super-E motors can cut electricity usage by 9% per year.
Rockwell Automation is combining variable-speed drives with motors to cut motor speeds and energy costs. Recently, the company demonstrated for U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta a 1,600-hp motor with superconducting coils that's designed to cut energy costs by 50%. Says Rick Payton, Rockwell's lead engineer for energy-efficient motor systems: "Engineers have to look at each component of the motor system—motor, drive, and reducer—to truly save energy."
Regal-Beloit President Gary Schuster agrees with that holistic approach, and has several energy-efficiency initiatives underway at the Rockford, IL company. Regal-Beloit makes motors and generators for driving pumps, conveyors, machine tools, and other devices.
Energy efficiency is coming to be seen as a must rather than a nicety. The updates on the following pages will show you what to expect in a few important applications.
Lantronix Inc. has expanded its line of controllers for sensor networks with the release of a rugged controller that improves management of automation systems used in a number of industries, including manufacturing, oil and gas, and chemicals.
Inspired by the hooks a parasitic worm uses to penetrate its host's intestines, the Karp Lab has invented a flexible adhesive patch covered with microneedles that adheres well to wet, soft tissues, but doesn't cause damage when removed.
A quick look into the merger of two powerhouse 3D printing OEMs and the new leader in rapid prototyping solutions, Stratasys. The industrial revolution is now led by 3D printing and engineers are given the opportunity to fully maximize their design capabilities, reduce their time-to-market and functionally test prototypes cheaper, faster and easier. Bruce Bradshaw, Director of Marketing in North America, will explore the large product offering and variety of materials that will help CAD designers articulate their product design with actual, physical prototypes. This broadcast will dive deep into technical information including application specific stories from real world customers and their experiences with 3D printing. 3D Printing is