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The best new products of 1997

DN Staff

December 2, 1997

8 Min Read
The best new products of 1997

What other field besides engineering allows its members to work on such diverse problems? Developments abound in such fields as medicine where engineering advances have helped people live more rewarding lives. In space, the recent mishaps aboard the Mir space station have given engineers a chance to work together. Even in entertainment, fluid power and hydraulics are at work to produce movie special effects.

All of these achievements were made possible through engineering expertise and the products to back it up. Design News asked OEM suppliers to nominate their best products in seven categories: electrical/electronic; fluid power; power transmission and motion control; test, measurement, and control; computer productivity tools; plastics, metals, and other materials; and fastening, joining and assembly.

Our technical editors sent the best entries to a panel of outside judges. Their selections are:

  • Electrical/electronic. Reliance Electric, Cleveland, OH, came out on top of this category with an intelligent ac motor that provides on-line machine diagnostics.

  • Fluid power. Fabco Air Inc., Gainesville, FL, took top honors with a pneumatic gripper developed with only three moving parts.

  • Power transmission and motion control. RMB Miniature Bearings Inc., Ringwood, NJ, won first place with microdrives that reduce requirements for motion control.

  • Test, measurement, and control. Hewlett-Packard Co., Electronic Measurements Div., Colorado Springs, CO, was the winner with an oscilloscope that offers the highest sample rate available for general-purpose applications.

  • Computer productivity tools. Structural Dynamics Research Corp., Milford, OH, scored the highest with technology in mechanical design automation software that simplifies development of CAD models of new product concepts.

  • Plastics, metals, and other materials. APM Hexseal Corp., Englewood, NJ, took top honors with a glass-containment colorizing lamp filter that allows safe use of incandescent lamps in applications requiring glass containment in the event of lamp shattering.

  • Fastening, joining, and assembly. Penn Engineering & Mfg. Corp., Danboro, PA, won this category with a self-clinching fastener that eliminates bent tabs and flanges.

Design News will reward one lucky reader with a 35-inch Zenith color TV. The winning product will also be the focus of a special feature in our Engineering Awards issue.


Ac motor provides on-line machine diagnostics

The IQ(TM) intelligent motor with PreAlert technology from Reliance Electric combines advanced algorithms with an on-board microprocessor. Multiple sensors are combined with an intelligent module and integrated into ac motors, resulting in a power conversion device that can communicate motor and related process condition information. The IQ intelligent motor uses PreAlert technology to continuously monitor and evaluate performance using motor current, voltage, and vibration signatures combined with bearing and winding-temperature data.

"The reasons behind selecting this product as number one in its class lie in its integration of predictive alert features and of on-line diagnostic capabilities into the electrical motor design," says University of Illinois electrical engineering professor and contest judge Dr. Daniel Graupe.
Reliance Electric, A Rockwell Automation Business, 24701 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, OH 44117 FAX (216) 266-7536.


Miniature dc brushless motors are for miniature applications

The smoovyTM miniature dc brushless motors from RMB Miniature Bearings Inc. can be used as micro-drives and pumps for minimally invasive surgery, miniature motion-control systems, and tiny remote-control aircraft, and are available in 3- and 5-mm sizes. Each size features a slotless, brushless design in which the cylindrical outer housing serves as the stator, and coils attach to the inner surface of the housing. High-flux neodymium-iron-boride magnets mount to the rotor shaft. The motors run on 2 to 9V dc at currents from 20 to 200 mA, and batteries can be used as a power source by connecting them to a three-phase controller. The motors will operate at speeds as high as 110,000 rpm.

"The product is the result of perceptive strategic analysis. It exhibits excellence in engineering design," says robotics consultant and engineering judge Vincent Altamuro.
RMB Miniature Bearings Inc., 29 Executive Pkwy., Ringwood, NJ 07456 FAX (973) 962-1101.


Pneumatic grippers need no adjustment

The SPG600 Series of parallel-jaw-motion pneumatic grippers from Fabco Air Inc. feature a pair of symmetrical jaws and their synchronizing rocker arm as the only moving parts within the heat-treated, hardened aluminum body. Two ground, stainless-steel guide shafts, which double as air pistons, are press-fit and pinned to each gripper jaw. Guide shafts are placed diagonally and spaced far apart for maximum jaw stability. Two jaw units are linked by a rocker arm that synchronizes jaw motion. The arm does not drive the jaws, so wear is minimal. The shaft/pistons of each jaw pass freely through enlarged holes in its mate.

"(The product) not only incrementally improved upon prior designs, but it also made the new product more integrated, stronger, and more compact," notes robotics consultant Altamuro.
Fabco Air Inc.,3716 N.E. 49th Rd. ,Gainesville, FL 32609 FAX (352) 375-8024.


Software combines 3-D variational and history-based modeling

The VGXTM technology in I-DEAS Master SeriesTM 5 mechanical design software from Structural Dynamics Research Corp., helps users design, analyze, and manufacture large complex parts and assemblies in a collaborative environment. VGX (extended variational) technology provides an intuitive way of designing products in 3-D. The software contains enhanced capabilities in complex part design, advanced surfacing, associative tool design, and collaborative design in the context of large assemblies. It also features capabilities for finite element modeling, sound quality engineering, and durability analysis.

"The SDRC submission deserves first prize in computer productivity tools...multi-dimensional software is difficult, philosophically, to do," says Richard Morley, CEO of Flavors Technology and contest judge.
Structural Dynamics Research Corp. , 2000 Eastman Dr., Milford, OH 45150.


Oscilloscope makes basic controls simpler

The Infinium 54845A oscilloscope from Hewlett-Packard Co., Electronic Measurements Div., features higher bandwith and sample rates to help users view and measure electronic and electric signals. It is targeted for use by engineers working on high-speed digital designs with sub-nanosecond edge speeds, or scientists conducting research on high-speed phenomena. Based on analog-to-digital converter technology, the oscilloscope interleaves its four 4Gsa/s channels to achieve two channels of 8Gsa/s simultaneous, real-time acquisition, with 64K memory on each channel.

"This product was selected as number one in its class since it extends the fields of general-purpose oscilloscope products to much higher sampling rates," says contest judge Graupe.
Hewlett-Packard Co. Electronic Measurements Div., 1900 Garden of the Gods Rd., Colorado Springs, CO 80907 FAX (719) 590-3925.


Fastener is for right-angle attachments

The PEM(R) R'ANGLE self-clinching fastener from Penn Engineering and Mfg. Corp. mates two panels at a right angle and eliminates bent tabs and flanges, the need for right-angle brackets, and tack welding operations. Better EMI/RFI shielding results from elimination of cutouts in panels, and the extruded-aluminum fastener provides a strong right-angle attachment point in aluminum sheets as thin as 0.040 inch. This self-clinching fastener is pressed into a properly sized rectangular punched hole in an aluminum sheet. The fastener mounts securely and permanently with the reverse side of the panel remaining flush.

"(The product) successfully addresses important issues in the fastening, joining, and assembly of products," says contest judge Altamuro.
Penn Engineering and Mfg. Corp., 5190 Old Easton Rd., Danboro, PA 18916 FAX (215) 766-0143.


Lamp filter contains glass if lamp shatters

Series 1813/30 SILIKROMESTM glass-containment colorizing lamp filter from APM Hexseal Corp., allows safe use of inexpensive, high-luminescent, incandescent lamps for glass containment in applications where there is the possibility of lamp shattering. SILIKROMES uses a specially formulated high-temperature silicone rubber that fits snugly around the lamp profile. With the addition of the proper amounts of color pigments, the lamp cover can provide an unlimited range of color choices to satisfy application requirements. The series also colorizes lamps to provide a visual indication of function or meet the color needs dictated by the application. Applications include lighting in the food processing industry, photographic lighting, and portable/drop lighting.

"Low cost, aesthetic, and functional requirements are the reason for this choice," notes contest judge Richard Morley.
APM Hexseal Corp., 44 Honeck St., Englewood, NJ 07631 FAX (201) 569-4106.

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