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Best Products of 1999Best Products of 1999

DN Staff

December 6, 1999

25 Min Read
Best Products of 1999

Take the athlete's credo "bigger, faster, stronger" and invert the first goal: today's engineers are in a flat-out millennial sprint to make the smallest, fastest, strongest products in the market. With pressure from their firms to complete up to 18 projects per year, and pressure from the marketplace to perform better than their competitors, engineers are under world-class stress. And somehow, year after year, they manage to produce dozens of examples of inspired design--the parade of entries in our annual Best Products Contest. These 155 entries include seven runners-up and seven gems of great engineering--the finalists in the march toward being named Best Product of 1999.

We asked vendors to nominate their best products in seven categories: electrical/electronic, power transmission and motion control, fluid power, computer productivity tools, test, measurement and control, fastening, joining and assembly, and plastics, metals and other materials.

Then, we asked a panel of independent judges to select finalists and honorable mentions in each category. Here are their choices for the best products in each individual category:

Electrical/electronic. Banner Engineering Corp., Minneapolis, MN, was judged the best for its Mini-Beam(R)2 photoelectric sensor, just 1/3 the size of its predecessor.

Power transmission and motion control. HD systems, Happauge, NY, won over the judges with its 30:1 gear ratio harmonic drive gearing.

Fluid power. Vickers Aerospace Div. of Eaton Corp, Jackson, MS, is tops in this category with its Intelligent MotorTM, a digitally controlled, variable-displacement, inline motor powered by a hydraulic pump, and used in US Army rocket launchers in the Gulf War.

Computer productivity tools. C-Mold, Louisville, KY, wins this group with its KnowHow! web-based knowledge-sharing system for plastics engineering workgroups.

Test, measurement, and control. Mitsubishi Electric Automation, Vernon Hills, IL, gets the nod for its Alpha simple application controller, a compact-size (71 x 90 x 55 mm), high-output (can switch 10 Amps) control.

Fastening, joining, and assembly. Southco, Concordville, PA, has the best fastening product in its compression-style Push to Close Latch, a push-and-screw latch with vibration-resistant ridges in its screw threads.

Plastics, metals, and other materials. LNP Engineering Plastics, Exton, PA, wins this category with a thermally conductive plastic resin that eliminates the need for heat sinks and fans in chips and transformers.

But there can be only one champion, so now we need to narrow these final seven down to a single winner--the Best Product of 1999. And we need your help to do it. You can vote for the best-designed product of 1999 by completing and faxing back the ballot on page 79 to vote for the product you think best exemplifies outstanding engineering (only one ballot is allowed from each company named as a finalist). Once all ballots are received, Design News will reward one lucky reader with a $250 gift certificate. The winning product will also be the focus of a special feature in our Engineering Awards issue, March 6, 2000.


Vincent Altamuro, President of Robotics Research Consultants,Toms River, NJ.

Derald Herling, Ph.D., P.E., assistant professor of mechanical design at Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR.

Francis C. McMichael, professor of engineering and public policy, and of environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA.


Photoelectric sensor gets trimmer

The Mini-Beam(R)2 photoelectric sensor is one-third the size of its predecessor, at dimensions of 20 x 36
x 8 mm, about the size of a postage stamp. It features a 12-mm threaded nose and single-pushbutton adjustment: hold the button in for maximum sensitivity (excess gain), then click the button again for seven other settings. The sensor uses a visible red sensing beam with six sensing modes: regular and wide-angle diffuse (proximity mode), regular and polarized retroreflective, convergent beam, and opposed (through beams), for accurate sensing at ranges up to 13 ft. The smaller size provides extra protection from environmental penetration at critical part interfaces like the switch, lens and wires, says Derald Herling, a contest judge and professor at Oregon State University. "And the single-multi-adjustment pushbutton switch demonstrates the use of a key design rule--use one form to accomplish many functions."

Banner Engineering Corp., Box 9414, Minneapolis, MN 55441; FAX (612) 544-3213; www.baneng.com.


Harmonic drive gearing has zero backlash

This new harmonic drive gearing has a 30:1 gear ratio, suitable for applications such as semiconductor chip mounting, high speed SCARA robots, and high speed assembly equipment, the manufacturer says. These high output-speed applications have traditionally used planetary gears, with backlash of 3 to 6 arc-min., but the new 30:1 harmonic drive gearing provides near-zero backlash and 1.5 arc-min positional accuracy.

"They modified the tooth profile of prior harmonic drive components to increase tooth contact, resulting in the ability to achieve higher output speeds while maintaining smooth motion with zero backlash," says contest judge Vincent M. Altamuro, president of Robotics Research Consultants. "Their methodical approach to their task is consistent with engineering excellence."

HD Systems, 89 Cabot Ct, Hauppauge, NY 11788; FAX (516) 231-6803.


Intelligent fluid power motor aims rockets quickly

The Vickers Aerospace RMV3-160-1 Intelligent MotorTM was designed as an enhancement to the company's rocket launching system for the US Army. The variable-displacement, inline motor is powered by a hydraulic pump driven by the host vehicle's PTO. It is digitally controlled, for self-diagnostic capabilities, fuel conservation, reduced heat rejection, and reduced operating costs. Further, the digital control improves turret traverse time by a factor of nearly ten, compared to the current system. "Actions requiring high energy in short time intervals imply high power. The Intelligent Motor combines piston displacement with a variable angle yoke to provide variable torque," says Francis C. McMichael, a contest judge and professor at Carnegie Mellon University. "The motor combined with control software achieves high accuracy in positioning circular systems."

Vickers Aerospace Div. of Eaton Corp., 5353 Highland Drive, Jackson, MS 39203; FAX (601) 987-5255.


System lets plastics engineers share knowledge

C-MOLD KnowHow! is a Knowledge Management System for plastics engineering workgroups, providing a web-based environment for creating, sharing and managing the group's ideas. It is equipped with a base of hundreds of web pages on material selection, part design, mold design, manufacturing and troubleshooting. It includes three CAE applications, and allows employees to add documents to their company's corporate Intranet on their own. "Not only does this product display design excellence, but it will contribute to design excellence when used for product design," says contest judge Derald Herling, Ph.D., P.E., an assistant professor at Oregon State University. "After viewing its capabilities, I cannot imagine anyone in this field not using this product. Two areas that are particularly impressive are the ease and simplicity of capturing present knowledge from different sources and the ability to add new material database information to the system."

C-Mold, 9625 Ormsby, Station Rd., Louisville, KY 40223; FAX (502) 423-4369; www.cmold.com.


Compact controller aids building contractors

The Alpha simple application controller was designed for electrical contracting, building automation, home automation, and other commercial markets. It features a real-time clock, high-current output relay, analog inputs, secured access, built in display/programming panel, battery backup, and industrial ruggedness. Available in both DIN rail and panel mounts, it is easily programmable with Visual Logic Software (VLS) for Windows. "It makes a needed function--controlling systems--easier to perform," says Vincent M. Altamuro, a contest judge and president of Robotics Research Consultants. "The designers anticipated the many possible uses of it and provided for those uses, the users' needs and abilities, and the expected conditions of those uses."

Mitsubishi Electric Automation, 500 Corporate Woods Parkway, Vernon Hills, IL 60061; www.meau.com.


Compression-style latch won't vibrate loose

The Push to Close Latch provides both vibration resistance and compression. Once you engage the latch in the housing, turn it to pull the latch and receptacle more tightly together, and to apply compression to the panel and frame/gasket material. The latch also achieves vibration resistance, using ridges on the receptacle that line up with grooves on the latch when it is closed. To open, just turn the latch to disengage, and pull the panel open. It is available with knob-style head for use with gloved hands, or tool-style head for tool-only access. "It is both easy to close and easy to open," says contest judge Francis C. McMichael, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University. "This is a general purpose design that may be used for making hazardous or dangerous mechanical closures or for general non-hazardous closures where rattling or vibration may loosen another latch."

Southco, Brinton Lake Rd., Concordville, PA 19331; FAX 610-361-6314.


Thermally conductive plastic resins replace fans and heatsinks

The KonduitTM thermally conductive thermoplastic compound overcomes the base plastic resin's naturalinsulation properties, providing 10 to 50 times the thermal conductivity of typical thermoplastics. The material is available in either a low-cost group--which uses ceramic additives to impart 2 W/mK thermal conductivity, and comes electrically or non-electrically conductive--or a high-cost group, which uses a specialty carbon fiber to offer 10 W/mK thermal conductivity. It is available in a range of resins, but will focus more on crystalline than amorphous resins. "It reduces or eliminates the need for large volume aluminum passive heat sinks and power consuming fans in high-power computer chips and in transformers," says Francis C. McMichael, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, and contest judge. "This demonstrates both a reduction in mass of a system, a reduction in the number of parts, and a reduction in types of materials used in the design."

LNP Engineering Plastics, 475 Creamery Way, Exton, PA 19341; FAX (610) 363-4749.


Honorable Mention

Pressure sensitive tapes

ARcleanTM pressure sensitive tapes are electronically clean, strippable, acrylic acid-free, and low-outgassing. They are designed for the bonding and assembly of disk drives, and for the clean removal of seals, labels, and microcontamination filters. The tapes will cleanly remove from stainless steel, cast aluminum and e-coated aluminum, with no adhesive residue, after exposure to temperatures up to 100C for 24 hours. "Traditional adhesives introduce contaminants into disk drive enclosures," says contest judge Francis C. McMichael. "This product eliminates this cause for remanufacture and rejection of otherwise satisfactory products."

Adhesives Research Inc. Box 100 Glen Rock, PA 17327 FAX (717) 235-8320.

Precision fluid-dispensing valve

The 725HF-SS precision fluid-dispensing valve will accurately dispense up to 12 oz. of solutions, lotions, creams and other low- to high-viscosity liquids for applications including bottles, pouches, foil packs, and samples. Product will deliver fluid at up to 450 ml/sec. at a high cycle rate of 600/min.

EFD, 977 Waterman Ave., East Providence, RI 02914; FAX (401) 431-0237.

Toggle and pushbutton seal

The HEXSEALTM shielded seal for panel-mounted toggles and pushbutton switches saves parts and labor costs for suppressing stray electromagnetic interference and radio frequency interference. The reuseable, single-piece switch boot is fabricated from a flexible, silicone rubber with a molded-in MONEL wire mesh to attenuate stray electromagnetic interference. Its "perimeter sealing rib" protects both the switch mechanism and the panel itself from environmental contaminants such as oil, grease, water, dust, dirt and cleaning solvents.

APM Hexseal, 44 Honeck St., Englewood, NJ 07631; FAX (201) 569-4106.

Cyanoacrylate dispensing system

The 1500XL-CA cyanoacrylate dispensing system is based on the 1500XL-15, a microprocessor-based dispenser that uses a controlled air pulse to make precise, repeatable dots or neat, controlled beads. Shot times are adjustable by tenths, hundreds, or thousandths of a second, all with a 0-15 psi air pressure regulator and a vacuum control to prevent dripping between shots. Disposable components include barrel reservoirs, unique LV BarrierTM barrel pistons that provide fluid control and help contain fumes.

EFD, 977 Waterman Ave., East Providence, RI 02914; FAX (401) 431-0237.

Precision assembly adhesive

Dymax OP-61 opto-mechanical adhesive is used in precision assembly to prevent movement of critical components during cycling and subsequent thermal cycling. Adhesive will cure in seconds on exposure to either UV or visible blue light. Good for applications including lens mounting, laser diode packaging, fiber pigtailing, transceiver potting, mounting active devices or passive couplers, and prisms and other optical devices.

Dymax Corp., 51 Greenwoods Rd., Torrington, CT 06790; FAX (860) 482-1308; www.dymax.com.

Grommet edging

The new, four-axis Spring-fast(R) grommet edging allows installation of grommets on flanged holes. Designed for use on flanged lightening holes in the airframe industry, it is available in sheet thicknesses from 0.037 to 0.055 (BA2) and from 0.056 to 0.074 (BA3). It has been tested to withstand vibration, shock, immersion, and salt spray.

Device Technologies, 3 Brigham St., Marlborough, MA 01752.

2kW fiber optic laser

The JOLD-2000-CAXF-25P2W2 is a 2-kW diode laser delivered through fiber optics, with power densities up to 250 kW/cm2, designed to be thin and lightweight for robotic applications. The diode has wall plug efficiency of 20-25%.

Jenoptik Laserdiode, Prussingstrasse 41, Jena, Germany D-07745; FAX 860-482-1308.

Puncture-evident surgical glove

The Habley puncture-evident glove (PEG) has a small fold of extra material on the back of the wrist--the AlertTM that balloons to the size of a ping pong ball instantaneously when the glove is pricked or cut. It works without electronics, wires, liquids or non-standard materials, according to the manufacturer. The Alert works whether the glove is wet or dry, whether it is worn or empty, and is adaptable to all types of glove materials, including latex, non-latex, vinyl, powdered, powder-free, surgical, examination, and more.

Habley Medical Technology Corp., 11808 Rancho Bernardo Rd. Suites 123-30, San Diego, CA 92128; FAX (760) 751-9761.

Fluorescing needle bonding adhesives

Single-component, solvent-free adhesives have unlimited shelf life and cure in seconds when exposed to visible and UV light. Dymax 1000 series MD(R) Medical Device Adhesives will brightly fluoresce, which enables automated vision systems to do instant, on-line inspection of the bonds. Adhesive will create particularly strong bonds between the stainless steel cannula and the needle hub, made of substrates including polycarbonate, ABS, polypropylene, PVC, Nylon and glass.

Dymax Corp., 51 Greenwoods Rd., Torrington, CT 06790; FAX 860-482-1308; www.dymax.com.

Ac motor drive cables

The Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) 600V shielded cable was designed for low- to mid-power ac motor drive applications. It was designed to carry the power from ac drive systems to ac motors, so it can handle the high power levels of pulse-width modulated (PWM) signals, and standing wave high voltage, compared to standard metal-clad or conduit cables. It has thick conductor insulation to avoid capacitance and corona discharge.

Belden Wire & Cable, Box 1980, Richmond, IN 47375; FAX 765-983-5294; www.kagroup.com.

Fusion welder

New industrial, miniature, stud welder will instantly attach studs and other small weldable parts to most similar and dissimilar metals. The fusion welding technology produces true metallurgical bonds faster than soldering, brazing or riveting, manufacturer claims. Machine will weld small studs from 0.018 to 0.107-in. diameter, without annealing distortion or discoloration. Small enough to fit on benchtop.

Contract Fusion Inc., 977 Waterman Ave., East Providence, RI 029141378; FAX (401) 431-0237; www.cfistudwelding.com.

Fastening tools

The 66 Series intelligent DC electric fastening tools are available in right angle and inline models, for hand-held and fixtured applications. Tool torque is 25 to 90 Nm for the right angle model, and 20 to 150 Nm for the inline type. Handle shows a four-character alphanumeric digital display of torque readings, torque and tool status information, and scrolling messages up to 16 characters.

Advanced Assembly Group, 2889 Bond St., Rochester Mills, MI 483093515; FAX (248) 844-0844.

Adhesive-lined grommet

Adhesive-lined grommet provides secure edge-holding for rough-edge protection. The glue-based adhesive is designed for repeated use. The grommet is available in Nylon 6/6 and polyethylene in either black or natural colors. The grommet strip is sold in 100-ft rolls.

Richco, 5825 N. Tripp Ave., Chicago, IL 60646; FAX (773) 539-6770; www.richco-inc.com.


Honorable Mention

Wire harness CAD

EMbassyTMis a Windows-based CAD program that combines all the tools for 3D wire harness design. It can capture all electrical, mechanical and component information to create a virtual prototype, then generate accurate manufacturing documentation. Then, it performs design checks of electromechanical and manufacturing errors before production begins. Applications range from automobiles to spacecraft to copy machines. "This excellent wire harness design tool provides a CAD-like tool without having to purchase a high-end CAD package," says contest judge Derald Herling, Ph.D., P.E.

Linius Technologies, 276 Turnpike Rd., Westborough, MA 01581; FAX 508-616-9362.

Design analysis program

COSMOS/Works 5.0 is a design analysis program that allows engineers to analyze 3D products they have designed with SolidWorks. The parts or assemblies can be tested for static, dynamic, buckling, thermal, frequency, fatigue, nonlinear, electromagnetic, and fluid dynamic performance--all on the engineer's desktop PC.

Structural Research and Analysis Corp., 12121 Wilshire Blvd., 7th floor, Los Angeles, CA 90025; FAX (310) 207-7805.

Mechanical design system

The Autodesk Inventor mechanical design system allows 2D or 3D designers to manipulate large models up to 10 times faster than comparative products, the manufacturer says. The system features an "adaptive design" approach, allowing engineers to sketch solutions dynamically in a 2D program, play with those ideas, and test their functionality, all before a 3D model is built. It can also save a portion of the design and expose only certain variable parts for testing.

Autodesk Inc., 111 McInnis Pkwy, San Rafael, CA 94903; www.autodesk.com.

Facility layout and process flow analyzer

Deneb/QUEST is a "virtual factory" environment for modeling, experimenting, and analyzing facility layout and process flow. The simulation package creates models through an intuitive GUI interface, libraries, and import/export capabilities with other major CAD packages, ERP, MES, PLC, and others.

Deneb Robotics, 5500 New King St., Detroit, MI 48098; FAX (248) 267-8585.

Production scheduling planner

The Planner combines the look and feel of a manual planning board with the speed of computer technology. For production scheduling flexibility, it offers infinite size and resources, with multiple scales and views. The interactive tool permits manipulation of jobs with immediate highlighting of the "what-if" changes, such as new work and machine breakdowns. Will also print reports. Windows 95/NT compatible.

MagnaPlan Corp., 1320 Route 9, Champlain, NY 12919-5007; FAX (518) 298-2368.

Mechanical event simulation on CAD solid models

Accupak/VE and InCADPlus allow engineers to simulate mechanical events on the computer using complete CAD solid models. First, InCADPlus connects CAD products such as Mechanical Desktop, Pro/ENGINEER, Solid Edge and SolidWorks to Accupak/VE. Then Accupak/VE simulates motion using linear and nonlinear material models and performs static loading analysis using nonlinear material models. Applications include the aerospace, automotive, transportation, biomedical, chemical, consumer products, electronics, industrial, and military industries.

Algor, 150 Beta Dr., Pittsburgh, PA 15238-2932; FAX (412) 967 2781; www.algor.com.

Interactive product selection guide

The ZOOMTM interactive product selection guide on CD-ROM features over 13,000 Southco products, including latches, captive fasteners, hinges, handles and pulls, and drive rivets. The user can find a product by entering design criteria such as panel thickness, access restriction requirements, desired finish, thread size and material. It includes over 1,600 color photographs, a search feature, glossary, how-to-install section, and tour demo. Suitable for Windows 95, 98 and NT, and in North American or British English, German, French, Italian, and Spanish.

Southco, Brinton Lake Rd., Concordville, PA 19331; FAX 610-361-6314.

Manufacturing simulator

Deneb/IGRIP provides manufacturing simulation and robotic off-line programming.

Deneb Robotics, 5500 New King St., Detroit, MI 48098; FAX (248) 267-8585.

CAE helper

CADfixTM for ANSYS improves interoperability between CAD files by automatically cleaning up CAD models and preparing them for ANSYS design analysis. With this software, CAD geometry can be healed and repaired so that the analysis process runs smoothly. The product works with CATIA, I-DEAS, Pro/ENGINEER, and Unigraphics. Once design work is complete, simply save the model in one of the geometry standards such as IGES or STEP, launch CADfix, and the geometry will be prepared for simulation processes.

ANSYS Inc., Southpointe, 275 Technology Dr., Canonsburg, PA 15317; www.ansys.com.

Sensor and cordset product information finder

The Turck Internet Product (TIP) Wizard is an online sensor and cordset product information finder for Turck products. The electronic catalog is located at www.turck.com, and can be used to find the correct Turck proximity sensor for your application.

Turck, 3000 Campus Dr., Minneapolis, MN 55441; FAX (612) 553-0708.

Feasibility tool for digital mock-ups

Deneb Envision runs feasibility studies for digital mock-ups. The product is a physics-based 3D tool used to design, verify, and rapidly prototype concept designs involving structures, mechanical systems, and humans.

Deneb Robotics, 5500 New King Street, Detroit, MI 48098; FAX (248) 267-8585.

View Pro/E models

Actify's 3D View, a native 3D CAD model viewer, adds support for Parametric Technology Corp.'s Pro/ENGINEER CAD system. Non-CAD users can view and share native Pro/ENGINEER parts and assemblies without access to a Pro/E workstation. They can measure and mark up CAD files without a CAD system, server, or translator. 3D View provides access to other CAD vendors as well, including CATIA, I-DEAS Web Access, SolidWorks, Solid Edge, AutoCAD, Mechanical Desktop, and Parasolid.

Actify, 486 Clipper St., San Francisco, CA 94114; FAX 415-847-6506; www.actify.com.

CADKEY 99 sets sail

Design software, CADKEY 99, incorporates 2D drafting, 3D wireframe, ACIS solid modeling, surface modeling technology, and photo-realistic rendering. The package offers solid body healing and tolerant edge functionality to convert less precise imported model geometry to manufacturable CADKEY solid models. The software also sports a one-pass IGES translator, as well as a new Parasolid file translator for XT files. A new visual feedback tool highlights areas where modeling operations fail.

CADKEY Corp., 33 Boston Post Rd. W., Marlborough, MA 01752; FAX (508) 229-2121; www.cadkey.com.

Assembly manufacturing problem assessment

Deneb/Assembly allows the user to identify assembly-related manufacturing problems before beginning product manufacturing. Doing this assessment in the design phase can reduce lost time and cost.

Deneb Robotics, 5500 New King St., Detroit, MI 48098; FAX (248) 267-8585.

Workplace ergonomics assessment

Deneb/ERGO assesses ergonomics stress and strain for human tasks from shop floor to any workplace. The product has anthropomorphic human models by the U.S. Air Force and tools for quick teaching of tasks.

Deneb Robotics, 5500 New King St., Detroit, MI 48098; FAX (248) 267-8585.

Design migration from 2D to 3D software

SolidWorks99 3D CAD software allows engineers to migrate designs from 2D to 3D programs. Product includes particular enhancements in the areas of modeling, assembly design, detailing, visual communication, ease-of-use, data sharing, piping, and sheet metal.

SolidWorks, 300 Baker Ave., Concord, MA 01742; www.solidworks.com.

Large memory workstation

The HP Visualize J7000, a 64-bit four-way symmetrical multiprocessing (SMP) system, features a memory capacity of 8GB. The newest member of HP's PA-8500-based HP Visualize Workstation family transforms a standalone workstation into a powerful workgroup-capable system, improving several design factors. The 440 MHz J7000 UNIX Workstation sports 8 PCI I/O slots, 72GB maximum internal Ultra2 LVD SCSI hot plug disks.

Hewlett-Packard, 3000 Hanover St., Palo Alto, CA 94304; FAX (310) 535-2601; www.hp.com/visualize.


Honorable Mention

Electronic rotary switch

The DuraSwitch RotorTM is the world's first flat panel electronic rotary switch, the company claims. It operates by creating a magnetic field that, when the knob is turned, rolls gold-plated balls over a printed membrane to open, close, or vary the electronic circuit. It can be integrated with push buttons into a flat membrane of less than 0.080-inch thickness, allowing possible applications such as adding a rotary timer knob to microwave ovens. "A creative electronic solution to a rotary switch need," says contest judge Derald Herling, Ph.D., P.E. "The designers allowed their solutions to expand past the limits of previous boundaries."

DuraSwitch Industries Inc., 234 South Extension, Section 103, Mesa, AZ 85210; FAX (480) 844-1199.

Symmetrical enclosure

The Rittal TS8 enclosure system has a symmetrical design, so components can be bayed in any configuration without using an intermediate frame--for any type of electronics equipment in layouts including side-by-side, one-in-front, corner, U or T arrangements, or different depths. It also features a 15% weight reduction from the previous model, and a 30% higher stability level. It has a four-point locking system, including four lock points and four hinges, as well as downward-facing locking components to ensure they will not swing open during transport or vibration.

Rittal, 1 Rittal Place, Springfield, OH 45504.

Wire terminating tool

The QUiX terminal blocks enable a user to terminate a wire, requiring just a screwdriver for tools, and save up to 60% of installation compared to the use of ferrules and screw clamp terminal blocks, the manufacturer claims. The wire holding mechanism cuts through the insulation of an unstripped wire and makes a quick, tight connection.

Phoenix Contact, Box 4100, Harrisburg, PA 17102; FAX (717) 948-3474.

Inductive proximity sensor

The new Q5.5 inductive proximity sensor is a tiny rectangular device with a 2 mm sensing range and an LED indication visible from three sides. The unit can be fully embedded in steel with no loss of performance, and it has liquid-resistant shielding. Applications include solving origin and end limit detection, robot chuck position, cam detection, linear guide motion, and other small-space situations.

Turck, 3000 Campus Dr., Minneapolis, MN 55441; FAX (612) 553-0708.

Packaged fieldbus retrofit for existing equipment

InterlinkBT TileTM I/O is a packaged fieldbus retrofit for existing equipment. The unit is an open-design fieldbus station that allows system integrators, OEMs, and panel builders to upgrade their existing non-fieldbus controls to a device level network.

Interlink BT, 3000 Campus Dr., Minneapolis, MN 55441; FAX (612) 694-2399.

Zero-force touch buttons

Allen-Bradley zero-force touch buttons were designed for repetitive action use, featuring a contoured surface that mimics the shape of the palm of a hand, thus eliminating the need to switch hands or to operate a touch button with a single finger. The buttons register a user's touch, not pressure. Also, the system minimizes accidental activation, since both sensors must be activated within 0.2 sec. for an operation to begin.

Rockwell Automation, 1201 South Second St., Milwaukee, WI 53204.

SPDT mini-thin relay

The HB miniature relay has dimensions of 7.5 x 12.5 x 10 mm, with a rated current load of 0.5A/125V ac or 1A/24V dc. Operate and release time is 5ms ac, and coil resistance runs from 3V to 24V dc. Dielectric strength is 1000V ac for 1 min between contact to contact.

Hasco Components Intl Corp., 249-250 Jericho Tpk., Floral Park, NY 11001; FAX (516) 326-9125.

Push buttons, switches and lights

The new Telemecanique XB4 range of 22-mm metal and plastic push buttons, switches and pilot lights have a compact design that needs less panel space. They come with three wiring options: screw clamp terminals, molded plug-in connectors, or pins for PC boards. The light modules use LEDs good for up to 100,000 hours of continuous operation.

Square D, U.S. Hwy. 64E, Knightdale, NC 27545; FAX (919) 217-6592.

Thick film quartz heaters

The new thick film quartz heater module is a compact-size, high-watt density heater line that is applied directly to the outside of the quartz tubes, and its thick film delivers an ultra-clean heating solution. Designed for use in aggressive chemical applications such as ammonium hydrochloride, hydrochloric acid, hydrogen peroxide, isopropyl alcohol, phosphoric acid and ultra pure 18 megohm deionized water. It has a maximum operating temperature of 200C, operating pressure of 30 psi, and flow rate of 35 liters/min.

Watlow Electric Manufacturing Co., 12001 Lackland Rd, St Louis, MO 63146; FAX (877) 893-1005; www.watlow.c

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