MIT has developed a Machining Variation Analysis system that allows designers to create machine tools on the computer and use those tools to virtually machine parts and predict the exact shape of a part given any error that may exist in the machine tool. "Before the MVA, machine-tool designers could not predict the effects of the dozens of error sources that plague a real process," said MIT Professor Alexander Slocum of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. "Every time a machine was designed to make a new part, the company took a gamble. The MVA takes the risk out of developing new manufacturing equipment." With MVA, the user provides information including the geometry of the part and sources of error in the machine's operation. With these parameters, MVA determines the exact shape of the part including all the consequences of the specified errors in machine operation. Slocum developed the MVA with Professor Kevin Otto of mechanical engineering, Daniel Frey of MIT's System Design and Management Program, and colleagues from the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Landis Division of Western Atlas, Inc. For more information, e-mail the news office at [email protected] or call (617) 253-2700.