Engineering News

Trying to find the best plastic for a new design? Looking for engineers to
give advice on a stress-analysis problem? Need a software update?

As the Internet's popularity explodes, an increasing amount of such engineering data is popping up on line.

Engineers with Internet access can already tap into a wealth of information posted by vendors, universities, and government agencies. And, systems now under development may soon let engineers search for products or order things like custom-made cables on-line.

Vendors on the 'Net. Many major computer companies have set up "home pages" on the Internet's "World Wide Web" (WWW). There, you can typically find product announcements and specs, company news, technical papers, and access to customer service. Some sites post software, such as up-dated drivers, for customers to download.

Among the many CAD suppliers on the Web: Digital Equipment Corp., Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intergraph, Rasna, Silicon Graphics, and Sun Microsystems. "People can view data 24 hours a day world-wide," says Grant Smith, program Manager for the Access HP Internet project. HP receives inquiries from more than 80 countries.

Probably the hottest growth area on the Internet, WWW offers users graphics as well as text, and lets them navigate from one subject area to another by clicking on icons-even if the new menu item resides on a computer halfway around the world. As the Web expands, an increasing number of non-computer companies are setting up shop there as well. GE Plastics, for example, put up its "home page" on Oct. 13 and already averages 600 inquiries per day.

"It's extremely useful," says user Fred Schenkelberg, who designs heating cables for Raychem Corp's Chemelex Division, Menlo Park, CA. "In a 15-minute session, we got a very quick comparison of polymers. It's another resource that we don't have to keep on our bookshelf."

Many universities and government agencies are also on the Web, offering details about their research and technology-transfer projects. "It's excellent for contacts who might be working on similar projects," says Steve Waterbury, CAE specialist at Goddard Space Flight Center.

The Internet is more than the Web. Another area of interest for engineers: newsgroups, where professionals sharing similar interests can "meet" in cyberspace, ask questions, and exchange information. In many cases, engineers have access to this information from home computers or on business trips, not just in the office.

The "Usenet groups" function like electronic bulletin boards, where anyone can post messages for others to read. Postings include queries about solving software problems, recommendations on product purchases, and discussion of technical problems. Schenkelberg at Chemelex said he recently posted a message seeking advice on a mathematics problem; he received a helpful reference from a colleague in Australia within a day.

"The newsgroups are a powerful communications vehicle," says John McGuigan, MCAD manager at Sun Microsystems. "It's an invaluable way to get feedback. We monitor them." Some newsgroups are also available as e-mail distribution lists, for those with electronic mail but no access to newsgroups.

Coming soon? Projects in the works promise a major leap in on-line convenience. Now being tested: a system that finds parts matching your needs, based on product specs you type in. If you needed a ball bearing, for example, you could input rated life, size, load, and type; the system would then query electronic catalogs across the Internet.

Another experiment would help a major aerospace defense facility to produce custom cable harnesses for private industry.

"The Internet is very much in its infancy," says Rick Pocock, general manager of marketing communications at GE Plastics. "But we are absolutely convinced it's going to become a very commonplace means of communications."


Navigating the Internet

Some WWW addresses (known as URLs, for Universal Resource Locators) of interest to engineers:

CFD Resources Online - A compendium of numerous sites and data around the world of interest to those who work in computational fluid dynamics. The "home page" is based in Sweden. http://eru.dd.chalmers.se/~f88jl/CFD/cfd_online.asp

Engineering WWW Virtual Library - A great place to begin browsing the Web for engineering resources, this offers links to top engineering universities, as well as government agencies such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology and their technology-transfer projects. Find this at the URLhttp://epims1.gsfc.nasa.gov/
engineering/engineering.asp

Guide to Japanese Information Resources - This treasure-trove of Japanese corporations, universities, and government-research centers is an experimental project at Stanford Univerity's US-Japan Technology Mangement Center. Follow menu choices to the experimental guide, and then Japanese Science and Technology. http://fuji.stanford.edu

IndustryNET - A good spot to find vendors on the Web, this system has announcements about workstations, engineering software, and other products of interest to engineers. You must be a registered user to enter the "Super Mall," but registration is free. http://www.industry.net

Searching for specifics - While there is no standard address format for the Web, another good way to start looking for a particular company is to use the address http: www.companyname.com. For example, GE can be found athttp://www.ge.com, Sun athttp://www.sun.com, etc. (http stands for HyperText Transport Protocol, and means the address has links to other documents). The Web has some search tools to let you look for a title keyword. One search spot: the JumpStation Search Page athttp://www.stir.ac.uk/jsbin/js ? search (located in the U.K.); another is at http://akebono.stanford.edu/yahoo/search.asp (Stanford University).

The Web is generally accessed though graphical user interface software such as Mosaic. One of the "Big Three" commercial on-line services, Prodigy (1-800-PRODIGY), offers its own graphical Web browser. However, engineers with text-only Internet access may also be able to "surf" the web, if their system runs a text-based Web browser such as Lynx. Not sure? Ask your system administrator - or try typing lynx at your system prompt and see what happens. Many e-mail and newsgroup Internet access sites, such as CompuServe, cannot access these Web sites directly.

Newsgroups. UNIX-system users typically access newsgroups through newsreading programs; common ones for text-based systems include rn, nn, and trn (trying these commands at your system prompt is one way to check for newsgroup access). Several major commercial services also offer newsgroup access.

There are literally thousands of newsgroups on every conceivable topic, from politics and current events to hobbies and popular TV shows.Newsgroups of possible interest to engineers: alt.cad, alt. cad.autocad, alt.cad.cadkey, comp. cad.autocad, comp.cad.cadence, comp. cad.pro-engineer, sci.engr, sci.engr. mech, and sci.engr.advanced-tv.

Mailing lists. These are similar to newsgroups. However, messages are sent to all subscribers' individual e-mail accounts, instead of being posted in a public area which anyone can view. Thus, you must subscribe to the list to participate.

CAEDS-L, CADS-L, CADAM-L - CAD-related lists. Want to subscribe? Send an e-mail message to [email protected] with only the words "SUBSCRIBE listname yourname' (without quotes, where 'listname' is the name of the list you wish to join, and 'yourname' is replaced with your first and last names).

CFD-L - For those interested in computational fluid dynamics. To begin receiving these mailings, send an e-mail message to [email protected] asking to join.

INFO-OPTOMECH - Dedicated to optomechanical/instrument design, sponsored by the International Society for Optical Engineering. Send an e-mail message with only the words "SUBSCRIBE INFO-OPTOMECH' (without the quotation marks) to [email protected] to subscribe.

TECHSERV - Discussion forum about technology transfer and other programs, resources and services of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. To join, send the following command to [email protected] in an e-mail message: "SUBSCRIBE TECHSERV' (without quote marks).

WISENET - For Women in Science and Engineering. Send a message with only the following "SUBSCRIBE WISENET yourname' (without quote marks) to [email protected] to join.

Additional tools and resources. Internet has several other important tools. For example, "telnet' allows users to tie directly into remote sites; 'ftp' allows Internet browsers to tap into remote sites to download computer files (and there is an unimaginable wealth of software avalable on the Internet); while 'gopher' offers a menu structure to search for information.

Along with numerous general-interest Internet instructional publications, more engineering-specific material is cropping up. SPIE Press just published The Internet for Scientists and Engineers by Brian J. Thomas ($25 for SPIE members, $30 non-members, plus shipping; send e-mail to [email protected] or call 206-676-3290 [area code soon changing to 360]). Circle 543

And, Soliloquess Communications, Worcester, MA ([email protected] ), publishes a somewhat pricey ($190/year) monthly journal Science & Engineering Network News which focuses on the Internet.


AEG-Schneider merger creates new global automation competitor

Newton, MA-The recent consummation of the world-wide joint venture between AEG Daimler-Benz Industries and Group Schneider means big changes in the industrial-automation market. Now called AEG Schneider Automation, the united entity brings the products and services of AEG-Modicon, Square D, and Telemecanique under one umbrella. Depending on how one defines the market, it becomes the second- or third-biggest complete supplier of power-distribution and manufacturing-control devices.

For designers, the venture's soup-to-nuts product line offers the chance to pare back the number of vendors on a given project reducing integration hangups and simplifying part sourcing.

Kent Howard, manager of applications marketing for Square D Co., explains that the union fills gaps in each partner's product line. Square D, he explains, was strong in integrated power and control products, but lacked a significant market presence in programmable logic controllers (PLCs). Conversely, Modicon has been a leader in PLCs since its inception, but couldn't supply all automation needs. "The marriage is welcome on all sides," he says.

AEG Schneider Automation's multinational pedigree provides opportunities for economies of scale and engineering synergies, Howard continues. "There may be slight problems with communicating in French, German, and English, but in the global market, everybody's going to have to get used to that."

Product consolidation will proceed in an evolutionary fashion, with "mature" products giving way as the partnership takes hold. The combined workforce of 2,500 includes some 600 engineers. Howard concedes that this figure may decrease eventually, but adds that the new company has a full plate right now-it's contracting out added software development work to ensure compatibility across its product line.

In the U.S., Modicon equipment will now be available through Square D's network.


Processor-controlled ski binding could reduce knee injuries

-Julie Anne Schofield, Associate Editor

Thornton, CO-As microprocessors find their way into sporting goods such as exercise machines and sneakers, look for them next on the ski slopes. Inventor and skier Tom Fiock has designed and patented a ski binding that uses a Motorola 68HC11 microcontroller. When a skier's knee is in a position susceptible to injury, the chip causes the ski boot to release from the ski. Among those interested: the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Knee injuries currently account for more than 20 percent of all alpine skiing injuries, and the knee has become the most common injury site, Fiock says. The knee is weakest-and most prone to injury-when hyperflexed or fully extended and is strongest when slightly bent.

Conventional ski bindings contain spring-loaded jaws, which are adjusted for tension according to skiing conditions and the skier's weight and skill. Releasing the ski is solely a function of the forces that develop between the boot and the binding.

Fiock's design uses a potentiometer to measure the knee flex of the skier. This information is fed to the 68HC11, which makes a release/retention decision separate from that of the mechanical bindings. This concurrent decision is based on the skier's strength as a function of position. The operation of the mechanical bindings will be unaffected, except at the instant the processor sends a signal to release the ski. The intent: Give the skier an added level of safety.


Resin cuts weight, cost of lawn tool

Troy, NY-Engineers at Garden Way used material originally developed for the automotive industry to cut the weight and increase the strength of the company's new 5-hp Troy-Bilt Chipper/Vac.

GE Plastic's XENOY(R) thermoplastic resin, used by automakers for exterior body parts, also helped engineers cut the cost of the unit by 20%.

The self-propelled Chipper/Vac, which retails for about $1,000, looks and operates like a lawn mower, but it doesn't cut grass. Instead, it vacuums leaves and small branches, shreds them, and bags them.

"Our principal goals were to design the Chipper/Vac as lightweight as possible, to make it strong enough to withstand the rough terrain of our customers' yards, and to create a dynamic suction capability able to pick up the most unwieldy piles of leaves and brush," says Garden Way Vice President of Engineering and Quality Assurance Peter Sawchuck.

The company decided to use XENOY resin for the machine's housing instead of the metal stampings and welding used on previous models. The highly asymmetrical housing anchors the unit's battery, rotor, fan, engine, wheels, transmission, and collection bag, all of which must fit into specially designed compartments to meet the company's precise engineering goals.

The material cut the unit's weight from 180 lbs to 95 lbs. It also eliminated the need for painting and helped lower cost and production time by reducing the complexity of parts and number of welds, engineers say. They add that XENOY resin also provided good flexural modulus for stiffness, chemical resistance, and high-heat resistance for withstanding exhaust and engine heat.


Closer look at auto 'lenses' saves time, money

Toledo, OH-An automotive supply company has shaved about three months and $50,000 from car-design time by changing the way it prototypes "lenses." The solution was to use rapid prototyping from Cubital.

Producing a prototype lens-the optical covering for a car's parking, turning, or side lights-used to require aluminum or Kirksite (sand-cast zinc) molding tools and 12 to 15 weeks. The cost: up to $100,000. Such molds can produce several thousand copies of a prototype. Nevertheless, once a prototype is approved, manufacturers know that steel molds are needed for full-scale production runs.

However, Toledo Molding and Die now uses a Cubital 5600 system for the work. "Our total cost was about $4,500, of which about $3,750 was for the Cubital master and the rest was for clean-up and mold-making," says rapid-prototyping supervisor Stephen Lenhart. "It was so much cheaper it was unbelievable." And, the process was cut to three weeks. "Our customer was absolutely happy," he reports.

During the first week, Toledo technicians received CAD data in IGES format with the lens design, and converted that to the STL format used by most rapid- prototyping systems. Parts were created directly from that computer data, and craftspeople hand-finished the prototype lenses to add some optical de-tails and smooth the surface.

Model-makers then made silicon rubber molds of the prototypes, and multiple copies were generated in clear and color plastic.

"The customer's primary concern was fit and function," Lenhart explains. "They did not give us specific tolerances, but the lenses had to fit the housings on the car bodies like a glove. There were no problems with accuracy-fit was perfect."


CAD/CAM figures the angles

Danielson, CT-In producing a cast bracket component for one of the Big Three auto makers, H&H Machine Tool Co., Dayton, OH, needed an automated unit to insert two solid dowel pins in the casting. The dowels would serve as locator pins for subsequent machining assembly.

The mounting plate of the pin-insertion unit would have to fit a large frame in the H&H setup to accommodate the company's manufacturing sequence. In addition to through-holes and tapped holes for mounting, the plate would require dowel holes aligned within thousandths of an inch. The hole pattern would have to be precisely angled, requiring careful X- and Y-axis orientation.

H&H called Spirol International, a leading developer and producer of automated pin-insertion equipment, to design a unit that could be integrated into its production process.

A key element in solving this design dilemma for H&H was CAD, says John Firlik, applications engineer at Spirol International.

"The number and angle of the holes required in such a large plate and the critical tolerances associated with many of them made the CAD/CAM process an ideal choice," Firlik says.

The engineering department determined that a hydraulic unit would be required to insert the solid dowels. The unit would have to be carefully stabilized, as H&H's processing sequence would require the simultaneous insertion of two pins at times or the insertion of just one pin at others. To accommodate the frame size specified by H&H, the top plate would have to be 55 in long, 14 in wide, and 2 in thick.

The design, involving final sizing of the plate and positioning, angling, drilling, and tapping of all holes, was developed using AutoCAD Release 12. Engineering generated a DXF file, and sent it to a machine shop that used the file to make the part-eliminating the need for a paper blueprint.

"Done the conventional way, it would have taken about 13 hours from design to finished product," Firlik says. "Using CAD/CAM, it only took about five hours to accomplish the design-to-finished-product cycle."


Silicone bead solves sump-pump leakage

Beaver Falls, NY-For some years, high-tech gaskets have kept automotive transmission fluid from leaking onto the road. Recently, they helped remedy a troublesome leak in a sump pump.

The major pump manufacturer, located in upstate New York, discovered that one of its "leak-free" sump pumps had developed a leak at the joint of two injection-molded plastic flanges at the the pump's base. Gasket-maker Beaverite Products traced the problem to flanges joined with an irregular bolting pattern using simple screws and a paper gasket. When the flanges were joined, the screws and the irregular bolt pattern failed to furnish a tight seal.

"Any time you have an oddly shaped flange, you'll probably also have irregular bolt pressure and less-than-perfect seal," explains Andy Anderson, Beaverite's national sales manager. "The pump has oblong-shaped, flat flanges. When they were torqued, the seal leaked. We thought a silicone-beaded gasket would create a tighter seal."

The gasket features a bead of silicone applied on one or both sides of a fiber composite gasket. The silicone adds the precise thickness needed to seal any gaps between the flanges.

For the pump project, Beaverite engineers first learned where flange pressure existed on the gasket. They determined this by inserting a sheet of photographic paper between the flange where the gasket normally sits. The paper records the pressure points once the flanges are torqued. Points that show little or no flange pressure indicate where a silicone bead is most needed.

The engineers then examined the original pump gasket and its composition. Several gasket materials were tested with the silicone beads, exposing them to fluids that typically pass through the pump. An Armstrong material best accepted the bead and would not deteriorate over a long time in service.

Based on these results, engineers produced a prototype gasket and gave it to the pump manufacturer for testing. "Since the seal's introduction, we have had no complaint or reports of leaks," says Tony Ganzon, an engineer at the pump maker.

"The success the pump manufacturer has enjoyed indicates a promising future for this technology in other industries and applications with different materials," adds Beaverite's Anderson.


Software library aids adhesive selection

Rocky Hill, CT-It may be the next-best thing to having an application engineer at your beck and call. New software designed to interact with CAD packages gives engineers a way to design adhesives into a product at its inception.

Developed by Loctite Corp. and Baystate Technologies, Marlboro, MA, the Adhesive Cad Expert (ACE(TM)) is an interactive library of more than 100 adhesive products. It is similar to Baystate's popular Draftpak(TM), which includes libraries of mechanical fasteners.

ACE works within CAD software to let engineers automatically add adhesive bonds to a CAD drawing. "Decisions about the type of joining method are typically worked out on CAD drawings, at the beginning of product development," explains Loctite Design and Development Engineer Frank Telo. "When you get into a CAD drawing, it's a pain in the neck to go away from your drawing to use a library," he adds. "So we're bringing the library right into the CAD drawing."

Loctite engineers believe the system is the first CAD library to let engineers automatically add a specific adhesive bond or joint at an exact location in a design. The library covers the eight most popular adhesive categories: bonding, gasketing, vacuum impregnation, thread sealers, thread lockers, potting, retaining compounds, and surface-mount devices (SMDs).

Each category is represented by an icon. When the user clicks an icon, the library presents a list of all products within that category. "From there, you can go into Select mode to identify the substrates you're working with, then scroll through fluid-resistance requirements, temperature ranges, and any other related criteria for the selection of an adhesive," explains Telo.

Once an engineer identifies a bond and bond area, the Label icon automatically adds the selection to the drawing. "It's as interactive as all the other peripheralCAD functions," says Telo.

A print function offers a fax order form and lets the user request technical data sheets from a list of world-wide technical centers. The library also includes a case-history file with typical configurations of standard products, and an information icon with key-term definitions.


Prototyping aids in Nimble design

Garden Grove, CA-How did Nimble Computer design a 486-based Windows computer, pager, phone, and fax machine that weighs only 1 lb? President John Cannizzo says the project received a big boost from an important source: rapid-prototyping technology.

"We're months ahead of schedule, with product-development costs well below projections," he says. "It's largely because of the stereolithographic rapid-prototyping process we used to design the housing."

Cannizzo, initially working on the project at home, developed a mock-up of his idea out of child's clay. He then brought the clay model to Scicon Technologies Corp., a Newport Beach, CA, service bureau.

It took two hours to convert the mock-up to a CAD file, which Cannizzo analyzed for fit, interference, and airflow. Then Scicon created a prototype of the device, using an SLA 250 machine from 3-D Systems and EXactomera 2202SF resin from AlliedSignal.

The three prototypes-upper housing, lower housing, and battery door-came out accurate to plus or minus 0.005 in. And, the cured EXactomer resin was tough enough to stand up to touch-up machining, constant handling, and being accidentally dropped, says Brad Bulger at Scicon.

Scicon then used the prototype as a pattern for silicon rubber molds, and produced another 20 urethane prototypes. Time from clay to functional first prototype: about a week. At his previous job with a computer company, Cannizzo says, "it would normally take six months to create a rough prototype just good enough to show around the office."

Cannizzo says he's already received 20,000 orders for the NimblePad, although it's not yet in commercial production.


Acetal cuts auto speaker-grille costs

Ford and Chevrolet may fight it out in the world marketplace for auto sales, but there's one thing that both agree on-stereo-speaker grilles made of a UV-stable acetal.

The material, Celcon(R) acetal copolymer resins from Hoechst Celanese Corp., Summit, NJ, was specificed for the grilles in Chevy's Lumina and Ford's Mondeo World Car. The acetal combines ultraviolet-radiation resistance, impact strength, and ease-of-molding for the grille applications. And it provides these benefits at a significantly lower price, according to Dave Conley, manager of automotive interior/exterior systems at Hoechst Celanese's Automotive Development Center in Auburn Hills, MI.

"In selecting Celcon UV90Z to mold the speaker grilles for the Lumina, the molder realized a substantial per-part cost saving over painted polycarbonate, while improving part quality," Conley adds. "The material also offers mar and scuff resistance that enhance product quality."

The Lumina grilles are molded in five colors, with integral snap-fit fasteners. A dust cloth, or scrim, is heat-staked to the back of each grille, which is then snapped into the door assembly. The grilles must resist fading and degradation due to exposure to UV light. The Celcon UV90Z provides this protection in more than 220 automotive colors.

In the case of Ford's Mondeo World Car, the automaker turned to the German equivalent of Celcon UV270Z, a grade that flows three times faster than UV90Z. The Eurostyle grilles contain complicated geometry, high degrees of curvature, and a fine mesh. Such designs, formerly produced in expanded metal and painted, are now molded in color with the acetal-at a lower cost per part.

"Higher-flow UV270Z and its Host-aform(R) equivalent can mold these complicated designs, which feature webbing as thin as 1.5 mils," says Conley. "And switching from metal to acetal reduced the grille weight by 50% and the cost of painting the metal."

Moreover, the Celcon UV resins are a step ahead of expected new laws when it comes to environmental concerns. Hoechst eliminated cadmium from the resins in November 1992. Beginning with the 1998 model year, automakers will no longer accept any plastics that contain cadmium pigment in an effort to beat the anticipated U.S. governmental ban.


Plastics consolidate parts for John Deere tractor

Horicon, WI-Breaking with tradition can sometimes prove a costly mistake. But that's exactly what John Deere's Lawn and Grounds Care Div. did in switching from stamped steel to an engineering thermoplastic for the grilles on its 400 series lawn and garden tractors. And the results were far from costly.

The grilles now consist of Estaloc(TM) 59310, a new reinforced engineering thermoplastic from The BFGoodrich Co., Cleveland. The switch not only increased production efficiency by reducing the number of parts in the grille assembly, but enhanced the long-term durability and appearance of the component.

"Quality and long service life are of paramount concern, especially since the grille is one of the most abuse-prone areas of the tractor," says Dean J. Tessenske, John Deere product engineer. "Grilles must stand up to the high temperatures of the engine and the sun, periodic impacts, and a wide variety of acids and chemicals."

In the process of converting, Deere eliminated the added costs of metal stamping, while reducing the number of grille parts from six to one. The grille includes molded receptacles for reflectors and de-cal and logo mountings, again cutting the parts count. There also is no need for the costly leaf-spring assembly required by the traditional stamped-steel grille.

Deere looked at a number of tough materials before selecting Estaloc. "With the grille's very long section, we needed low shrinkage," explains Tessenske. The thermoplastic has coefficients of linear expansion similar to aluminum and steel. With such dimensional stability, the grille should not expand from the steel support frame that surrounds it.

To help insure proper product design, Goodrich provided Deere with mold-flow analysis using C-Flow from AC Technology, Ithaca, NY. "When we ran the first products in shop analysis after the initial design, mold flow was predicted accurately," says Tessenske. Goodrich representatives also assisted with machine set up, operator training, and optimization.

How about field performance? After extensive use by consumers, the grille has performed "extremely well," Tessenske reports. "Needless to say, we are very pleased with the material."


CAD advances at Chrysler

Auburn Hills, MI-Responding to market de-mand for a shorter design cycle, Chrysler switched from its traditional design process to one that lets designers use a mathematical model rather than clay as the design master. The new process also allows design, engineering, and manufacturing teams to share data. Two technologies are critical to the design process: CATIA from IBM and Conceptual Design and Rendering Software (CDRS(TM)) from Evans & Sutherland.

CATIA provides a common database throughout the company for communicating geometric information. It is used for CAD, surface and solid modeling, engineering analysis, and manufacturing. CDRS acts as a design system for CATIA, allowing designers to create, evaluate, and modify their designs while drastically reducing the need for physical modeling.

Designers start by creating a mathematical model on CDRS that can be checked for continuity and viewed on the screen for aesthetic evaluation. The design can instantly be converted to Chrysler's standard CATIA format and transmitted to engineering and manufacturing over the corporate network. The CDRS model is analyzed for structural soundness, aerodynamics, producability, and safety. At the same time, engineers evaluate structure and manufacturability.

The result is a streamlined design process. "When we used these techniques on the LH Series and the Viper," says Michael Holmes, CAD/CAM manager in the Auburn Hills, MI design office of the Chrysler Corp., "we reduced product development lead time by 53% compared to previous benchmarks."


Plastic filter makes clean air a snap

Cornwall, UK-Heavy-duty pneumatic equipment for dusty construction and mining jobs demands clean air to operate-and lots of it. So when engineers at CompAir Holman Ltd. designed their MQ Power air compressors, they sought an economical air filter that would offer high-volume capacity.

They chose a new metal-free air filter from Mann + Hummel GmbH, Ludwigsburg, Germany. CompAir engineers fitted the Europiclon filter to the air intake of their portable, wheeled air compressors. Their large Multiquip(R) compressors power down-the-hole hammers for drilling in hard rock; smaller compressors drive jack-hammers and other pneumatic tools.

The main benefits of the Europiclon filter are its high-volume capacity and cost savings, says Arthur Jackson, CompAir marketing manager. The filters are available in five sizes, with nominal flow rates from 2 to 12 m3/min. The filter is suited for engine ratings up to approximately 130 kW, say Mann engineers. Applications in-clude combustion engines in marine and farm machinery.

Instead of a metal housing, the Europiclon filter uses impact-resistant polypropylene PP T20. "It's totally recyclable, and also cheaper than a filter with a metal housing," explains Mann + Hummel Product Manager Peter Treiber. Mann engineers consolidated parts and molded in snap-fit fasteners to make the filter lighter, less expensive, and easier to disassemble than previous designs.

The filter element's patented center tube is permanently installed in the housing. An airtight seal between the filter element and the housing eliminates the need for a central bolt. If necessary, the user can insert a secondary filter element as a safety back-up inside the center tube. Mann engineers say the new design's boosted separation efficiency extends the service life of the filter element by as much as 20%.

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