Just in - the results of our annual Trend Watch Sensors Survey of design engineers, who specify a wide range of sensor technologies in their applications, from basic proximity and photoelectric sensors to more advanced vision systems and energy-harvesting sensor networks. In general, respondents see sensors as growing in importance, with 56 percent saying they expect to see the use of sensors in their designs increase in the next three years. Half of the survey respondents design products for the industrial market. The balance of respondents works in industries as diverse as automotive and aerospace to packaging and healthcare. A full two thirds noted that in particular vision sensors and systems and wireless sensors will become increasingly more important in their design work. Some 15 percent of respondents noted that more traditional proximity, linear displacement and photoelectric sensors also will play a more prominent role in their design work. Hands down, the hottest trend noted in the survey results is wireless sensor networks, with 60 percent of the respondents saying that they see this technology heating up in the next 12-18 months, thanks to greater reliability and easy-to-use, plug-and-play connections. There is also the potential with wireless for significant savings when it comes to installation costs. When selecting a sensor, respondents said that reliability, accuracy and durability/ruggedness are the top three charactertistics, while product support and availability are critical when selecting a particular supplier. On design engineers' sensor wish list is more comprehensive data sheets and technical documentation, especially with regard to new products, as well as the availability of cost-effective sensors that meet the rigors of their applications. "We're looking for the right functionality with good pricing," one respondent noted.
More and more robots are becoming more autonomous all the time. Now Lockheed Martin has completed a demo mission with two completely autonomous robotic vehicles performing resupply, reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition.
Producing high-quality end-production metal parts with additive manufacturing for applications like aerospace and medical requires very tightly controlled processes and materials. New standards and guidelines for machines and processes, materials, and printed parts are underway from bodies such as ASTM International.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.