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Articles from 1997 In October

Night-vision drives back the dark

Night-vision drives back the dark

While less than a third of driving is done at night, just over half of all accidents occur in the dark. The night hides hazards, induces eye sensitivity to glare from oncoming headlights, and reduces visual acuity in drivers older than 40. And reduced visibility in precipitation is often accompanied by slick road conditions.

Penetrating such vision cloaks "is now past the technical feasibility," according to a design engineering manager at one of the companies developing night-vision systems. He adds, "The technology is proven. The next step is to commercialize it." Cost, human factors, and marketing may dictate when and in what form night vision is on your next car, with the turn of the century most often mentioned for availability.

Continental drift. European designers have taken the lead in night-vision development. Impetus comes from the Program for European Traffic with Highest Efficiency and Unprecedented Safety (PROMETHEUS) fostered by the European Union (EU). Driven by the relaxation of border regulations within the EU, which will increase traffic, the program seeks improvements in traffic flow "harmonization," safety, and transportation management. Night vision comes under safety and hinges on four key technologies: sensors, processing, displays, and illuminators. Sensors not only include vision enhancements but radar and electro-optics for collision avoidance and blind-spot warning; processing goes beyond image processing and includes object recognition by contrast or edge enhancement.

While sensors are the key to night vision, image processing must efficiently present objects to a driver in a recognizable form. For example, a sensor with 256 gray-scale levels might drive a display limited to 20 to 30 levels--data compression must maintain object definition.

Jaguar's Night Vision System (NVS) functions in the near IR (NIR) using conventional high-beam lamps, suitably filtered, for illumination. A 680 (500-pixel charge-coupled device (CCD) monochrome digital camera from the European subsidiary of Raytheon TI Systems, formerly Texas Instruments (Dallas, TX), mounted over the driver's head furnishes a nearly drivers-eye view ahead. Pilkington Optronics (Glasgow, Scotland) used its military head-up display (HUD) experience to produce the car's display on the windshield, superimposed over the driver's field of view. The image is focused just in front of the vehicle to minimize eye refocusing. Cranfield University (Cranfield, England) provides signal processing.

With roughly half of the lamp's available energy invisible to the eye, sufficient near-IR lighting allows the camera to form an image. The CCD-camera circuitry prevents "blooming" (spilling of energy from brightly illuminated pixels onto neighboring cells for a glare effect)--important for compatibility with oncoming NVS-equipped vehicles. There is also a "motion-smear" subtraction feature. Intuitive to operate, the system furnishes the driver's primary view of the road with backup provided by normal vehicle headlights. Trials have shown detection of pedestrians at two to four times the normal range, depending on the driver.

Jaguar's night-vision system uses a camera within the passenger cabin to produce an infrared-illuminated eye-level view of the road, which is superimposed over the driver's field of view on the windshield. A signal processor controlling the illumination lamps and CCD camera helps optimize the display image.

The digital signal processor (DSP) image-enhancement function analyzes the image intensity and ambient lighting to optimize the picture presented to the driver. Speed of this computation along with frame update rate are important for creating a system that feels natural to the driver. "DSP allows more complex and robust weighted functions to be used," compared to a microcontroller, says Paul Mulvanny a principal technical specialist with Jaguar, Coventry, England. Operations also include feature extraction so that road markers and edges, vehicles, and other objects are sufficiently distinct.

Delco Electronics' (Kokomo, IN) safety, security, and communications (SSC) concept-demonstrator vehicle features the NightdriverTM night-vision system developed jointly by the company and Raytheon TI Systems European operation. The former furnished the wide-angle EyecueTM HUD, and the latter provided the thermal imager and systems integration. Working in the far-IR, the system is passive, sensing temperature differences between objects in its view, eliminating separate illuminators. Because the system detects only heat, ambient light or oncoming headlights do not induce glare in the image. Nightdriver wavelengths also penetrate dust, fog, and precipitation to some extent. Effectiveness of the system was born out last November when off-road racer Rod Hall's team won the Baja 1000 using Nightdriver units to see not only in the dark but through natural and competitors' dust as well. Hall says the system allowed his son Chad's Hummer to "follow the course landmarks while maintaining his speed of 90 miles per hour."

Initial versions of the Delco Electronics EyeCueTM head-up display provide symbolic and digital vehicle information below the driver's line of sight on the windshields of some Buick and Pontiac models. A wider-angle version was required to display images for the SSC vehicle's NightdriverTM thermal night-vision system.

Delco sees the system as a driver aid and not the primary means of looking ahead. The image is projected on the windshield below the driver's line of sight where it can be glanced at to identify objects ahead. On the SSC, the camera is in the grill, along the driver's centerline. Such alignment is needed, according to Ross Olney, former Delco SSC program manager, to present an instinctive image for driver interpretation. "You wouldn't want the camera on the right and the driver on the left. In the vertical it's not as critical," he says, which can also be adjusted to the optimal viewing position via a tiltable mirror in the HUD. Physics precluded an in-the-cabin installation--the far-IR wavelengths don't penetrate auto glass. But the camera's pricy IR-transparent germanium lens could be a roadblock to commercialization.

HUDs up. Developing a large-diameter HUD (for the necessary viewing angles) and stuffing it into the dash panel was a design challenge according to both Delco and Jaguar. "It's pretty busy on the centerline," says Delco's Olney, who's proud of fitting in "the largest viewing-angle HUD for night-vision use." The EyeCue HUD can also display digital or symbolic information that, due to LCD image generation, can be reconfigured by the driver as needed, rather than use set icons in fixed positions.

A HUD keeps a driver's night scan out the windshield; more of a daytime pattern is obtained. A large "eye-box" HUD permits viewing over a wide range of natural head movements, giving a comfortable, natural feel. Use of LCDs rather than CRTs, injection-molded rather than optical-glass aspheric lenses, holographic narrow-band reflective optics, and enhanced optical coatings have large HUD cost and size.

While automobile night vision is poised for the mass market, it remains to be seen if initial use in luxury models can spur wider driver interest leading to increased production and lower prices. "It is envisaged the initial price will equate to that of a good quality in-car audio system," says Jaguar's Mulvanny. One factor not usually present in acceptance of new technology: peak interest is coming from numerous, and more affluent, older drivers whose night vision would reap the greatest benefit.

What night-vision means to you:

Enhancement of fleet, industrial, and commercial driving applications.

  • Emergency response for search-and-rescue and brush-fire detection.

  • Law enforcement surveillance and border patrol uses.

Get me on your wavelength

Several wavebands outside the visible spectrum of 400 to 700 nm are potentially useable for night vision, with object detection often hinging on illumination levels and atmospheric conditions. "A vision-enhancement sensor must produce an output which ultimately allows a driver to recognize objects with minimal or no [training] experience," according Jaguar's Paul Mulvanny. Thus radar would not be suitable--a high degree of data processing would be needed to present a pseudo-visual display. And image intensification (high amplification of minute amounts of light) is subject to blooming when viewing an intense light source.

"The responsibility for determining an object type, range, and bearing must remain the task of the driver. It is for this reason that wavebands close to the visible have been chosen," says Mulvanny. Using the UV band (below 400 nm) produces photoluminescence where visible light is emitted when an object is "painted" by UV light--no image detector, other than the Mk. 1 eyeball, is required, and other drivers would see the objects as well. But ultraviolet headlights are needed, which must be filtered to cut out harmful UV as well as visible red emissions, and not all objects are photoluminescent. And while UV is low-cost for individual vehicles, appropriate road signs and markings would be needed for maximum benefit.

Jaguar's night-vision system works in the near-IR (800 to 1,000 nm or 1mum) and requires an illuminator and camera for detection. Fortunately, the spectral response of a typical charge-coupled device (CCD) camera and the output of a tungsten headlight suitably filtered match quite well around 800 nm. The filtered high-beam lamp used in Jaguar's night vision provides a detection range somewhat farther than high-beam lighting (while not blinding oncoming drivers) with good object resolution and depth perception. Precipitation can cut down on range, much like visible wavelengths, but enhanced contrast remains for object recognition.

Thermal imagers in the mid- and far-IR (3 to 5 mum and 8 to 13 mum, respectively) need no illumination because they detect heat given off by objects and can see to longer ranges than near-IR devices. Mid-IR is better suited to hotter objects such as engine exhaust temperatures, whereas longer-wavelength far-IR emissions are common to objects in the everyday (or everynight) environment, particularly pedestrians. The latter is the basis of the system Delco Electronics has developed in its experimental SSC vehicle for GM. Temperature differences within a scene govern object resolution and depend on time since sunset, object emissivity, atmospheric water content, and whether weather wets the scene.

Hot products

Hot products

Calibrator handles 61/2-digit meters

An updated multiproduct calibrator from Fluke, the 5500A, calibrates: digital and analog multimeters, RTD thermometers, panel meters, data loggers, stripchart and oscillographic recorders, process calibrators, graphical multimeters, and more. Optionally, it can also calibrate analog and digital oscilloscopes up to 600 MHz. Compared with the 5500A, the 5520A offers increased accuracy in most calibration functions. Lower output uncertainties add the ability to accommodate 51/2- and 61/2-digit multimeters such as the Hewlett-Packard 34401A, Fluke 8840A and 8842A, and Keithley 2000.
Fluke Corp., FAX (206) 356-5116.

Tiny instrument measures force

The KNM-DYN12, a new addition to Keithley's SmartLinkTM series of miniaturized instruments, makes laboratory-grade measurements of force, acceleration, and dynamic pressure in virtually any plant location. Because the unit measures only 6.7 x 1.3 x 1.1 inches, users can locate it inches away from demanding signals and sensors, minimizing lead-length errors and induced electrical noise. The unit accepts up to eight transducer or digital inputs. Users can link measurements to a remote PC or controller, or display and store results locally on a digital readout device or palmtop PC. Communications support includes Ethernet, RS-232, USB (Universal Serial Bus), and IEEE 488.
Keithley Instruments Inc., FAX (216) 248-6168.

EMI tester gets around

Thanks to a strategic alliance between Tektronix and Rohde & Schwarz, Germany, Tek will be marketing and supporting R&S's ESCS 30 EMI (electromagnetic interference) tester in North America. A relatively low-cost, portable unit for commercial EMI test requirements, the ESCS 30 is designed for testing new products during the design phase. The automatic test receiver functions as a stand-alone unit that performs measurements and documents the results on a color printout or a Windows-compatible file on floppy disk. "The ESCS 30 is designed to lower the cost of EMI compliance testing," says Tek's Cliff Morgan. "It delivers a complete series of certification tests, yet costs significantly less than other existing solutions." Pricing starts at $44,750.
Tektronix Inc., FAX (413) 448-8033.

Logic probe simplifies trouble shooting

A new instrument from Hewlett-Packard redefines the capabilities of a logic probe. The HP LogicDart incorporates a 100-megasample/second timing analyzer, logic monitor, dc voltmeter, and continuity tester. Different beeper tones indicate high and low conditions; graphic timing displays and blinking LEDs also alert the user to testing results. The probe's sharp point and thin profile make working with fine-pitch ICs and narrow circuit-board traces easier and more precise. The $795 LogicDart can display all three of the timing analyzer's input channels simultaneously and store up to ten 2,048-sample waveforms.
Hewlett-Packard Co., Phone (800) 452-4844, ext. 1893.

PCI bus DAQ boardpacks channels

Data Translation's DT3010 high-speed data-acquisition board gives users the functionality of multiple plug-in DAQ boards in a single PCI slot, according to the company. It includes: 32 single-ended or 16 differential analog inputs; 16 digital I/O channels that can run synchronous with analog inputs; 2 dynamic digital outputs; 2 high-speed analog outputs; and 4 counter/timer channels. Users can configure a few channels for high sample rates or many channels at medium sample rates. Maximum sample rate is 1.25 megasamples/second with 12-bit resolution.
Data Translation, FAX (508) 481-8620.

Stripchart recorder shuns paper

A next-generation recorder from IOtech combines the familiar feel of paper-based stripchart recorders with the features of the company's PC-based data-acquisition systems. Unlike hybrid recorders--which often include complex push-button menu systems, low-visibility LCDs, and inconvenient multipurpose keypads--the ChartScan/1400 recorder includes ChartViewTM software, which uses many familiar Windows-type commands. The graphics-based package displays data in a smooth-scrolling stripchart fashion, and includes digital meter, analog meter, and bar graph formats. Scan rate is up to 147 channels/second in normal multi-channel dc and thermocouple applications. For ac measurements, the unit can sample a channel at 20 kHz and convert those samples to a true rms reading. ChartScan/1400 costs $1,995; module pricing starts at $695.
IOtech, FAX (216) 439-4093.

Engineering News

Engineering News

Cadillac's databus: Solution in search of a problem

Washington D.C.--Ask an engineer to ex-pound on the advantages of databuses, and you're likely to hear a dissertation about wiring reductions and space savings. Databuses, after all, have repeatedly proven that they can save time and money by shrinking huge wiring bundles to single strands.

But when Cadillac introduced its 1998 Seville a few weeks ago, it showed that databuses offer more than mere wiring reductions. They offer a foundation for innovation. "When you've got the databus and computing power and sensors in place, it changes everything," notes Scott W. Badenoch, manager of vehicle performance for General Motors' Delphi Chassis Systems. "With the design power that it gives us, we're finding that the 'car guys' can take over again."

By allowing the "car guys" to take over, Cadillac has endowed its new Seville with a multitude of technical features. Its highly publicized anti-skid feature, known as StabiliTrak, is joined by road- sensing suspension, speed- sensitive steering, traction control, antilock brakes, adaptive seating, side air bags and a series of electronic-based concepts almost too numerous to list. Better yet, all of those features are neatly tied together by the Seville's Class II databus. "Seville is adding content while other luxury manufacturers are 'de-contenting' their cars," says Jack K. Horvath, vehicle chief engineer for GM's prestige cars. "And the best part is that we're keeping the customers' costs stable while we do it."

Solution in search of a problem. Engineers say that the databus is the enabler for Cadillac's "up-content" scheme. In essence, they say, it's a solution in search of a problem. Because it allows existing sensors and microprocessors to talk to one another, it gives engineers an opportunity to dream up and implement performance-enhancing features without the addition of hardware, in many cases.

The Seville powertrain, for example, offers a feature never before seen in an automatic transmission. Known as Performance Shift Algorithm, it "knows" when the transmission should switch to a more aggressive shift pattern. It recognizes when a driver steps deeply into the accelerator pedal, or brakes aggressively, or corners hard. It then responds with more aggressive transmission performance--most often by downshifting at the right time.

Incredibly, this feature employs no additional hardware. Yaw sensors and lateral accelerometers, both of which play a key role in the new shifting scheme, were already in place on StabiliTrak. Similarly, Seville's electronic transmission already used speed and throttle sensors.By placing the signals from those sensors on the bus and making them available to every other system in the car, Performance Shift Algorithm was born.

Within GM, the success of Performance Shift Algorithm serves as an example of the fast development schedule for software-related features. Invented by GM engineer Ed Lansinger in May, 1995, the Performance Shift Algorithm was incorporated into the Seville in 26 months--an extraordinarily quick turnaround for any automotive feature. The reason for its fast turnaround, Lansinger says, is that it required no new hardware. As a result, there were no packaging issues and development cost was minimal.

Electronic enabler. The idea for the databus first surfaced nine years ago, when GM engineers noticed that electronically based systems--from ABS to traction control--were quickly multiplying throughout the company's vehicle lines. Because each of the systems had their own microprocessors and sensors, engineers realized they would soon face a wiring nightmare. With a databus, they reasoned, they could reduce their hardware needs and cut costs.

Still, no one foresaw the design dividends that would accrue from their databus decision. As the number of systems increased, however, and more hardware was installed, new possibilities eventually emerged. "Now engineers can add algorithms as new ideas come up," Badenoch says. "As a result, Cadillac is exploding with new capabilities."

Among those capabilities are enhancements to systems ranging from steering to cell phones. If, for example, hard braking causes a pitch or roll of the vehicle, StabiliTrak's sensors recognize it, then share their data with the suspension system. As a result, the road sensing suspension can firm up one corner of the vehicle to compensate for the pitch or roll. Similarly, StabiliTrak's yaw sensors can share data with speed-sensitive steering. Then, when the car yaws, the steering system can change the turning effort required by the driver.

Seville's Class II databus allows for data sharing between 16 modules (18, if optional OnStar and Navigation Modules are included). To put things into perspective, if the databus hadn't been available, each door would have needed 60 wires, rather than nine. Overall, 65% of the wiring was eliminated.

Data-sharing even works with General Motors' OnStar system. Linking the GPS-telephone with the databus enables OnStar agents in another part of the country to access the doorlocks. Hence, when an owner in Albuquerque calls the OnStar center to say he's been locked out, an agent in Michigan can remotely unlock the doors. In the near future, GM engineers also say that the OnStar-databus link will enable remote computers to help diagnose car troubles.

Wiring reductions, too. As expected, GM engineers also reaped the traditional advantages of databus architecture--that is, they dramatically reduced wiring. They estimate that they cut wiring splices by 92%, reduced the number of wiring terminals by 25%, and decreased the average wire diameter by 15%. Overall, they say, they eliminated an astounding 65% of Seville's wiring mass.

Better yet, the databus enabled them to add features that couldn't otherwise have been installed. Seville's doors, for example, now employ only nine wires. Those nine wires carry conventional electrical current and data. They light the bulbs in the door-mounted switches, and carry information for the seats' memory functions, windows, and mirrors.

But if the databus hadn't been available, each door would have needed 60 wires, rather than nine. "You simply cannot build a car by running 60 wires into the door," Horvath says. "It's not achievable in the assembly plant because it increases the opportunity for manufacturing error. Without the databus, there would be no way to incorporate all these features in the door."

In that sense, Cadillac's Class II databus is not much different than the ones used in countless automated factories and giant aircraft. There, databuses have made their mark through wiring reduction. But the ability to tie features together through data sharing should make databuses more attractive to engineers in other industries. "Bus networks that have been previously used in factory settings are finding their ways into other areas," notes Steve Glaze, program director for Micro Switch Division of Honeywell, the Freeport, IL-based maker of the Smart Distributed System. CAN-based databuses, Glaze says, have recently been used in off-road vehicles, dock loaders, and train brakes.

In the future, GM engineers say that the databus could be an enabler for countless algorithms that will link seemingly unrelated parts of the car. One day, they say, they can imagine linking a vehicle's rain-sensing wipers to its brakes or traction control, in order to tell those systems that it's raining outside. They predict that such connections will grow rapidly in the next five years. "Now that we have the databus in place, we have to ask ourselves: 'What problems can we solve today that we couldn't solve before?'" Badenoch says. "A lot of the solutions haven't even been dreamed of yet."

What this means to you

  • Databases can be applied to vehicles, both off-road and on-road

  • Using databuses, vehicle designers can add features without adding hardware

Photoelectric sensor shines in harsh environments

Eden Prairie, MN--Extreme cold, heat, moisture, fog, dirt, bright sunlight and salt spray: Apply all of those to a conventional photoelectric sensor, and you're likely to get poor performance.

But a new photoelectric sensor from Sick Optic-Electronic, Inc. successfully faces all of those conditions in a new "touchless" automatic car wash. The sensor, part of a family of devices known as the W.2000 series, moves a spray nozzle inside the touchless car wash. In that environment, it must not only stand up to dirt and moisture, but must also "see" through shrouds of fog. And it must distinguish between its own light and bright sunlight.

The W.2000 sensor family accomplishes all that through a number of design innovations. Primary among those is a new optical design that employs vertical orientation of the sender and receiver lenses. By orienting the lenses vertically, rather than in conventional horizontal fashion, Sick Optic engineers say the new sensor offers greater range and consistency. "Since the lens orientation is parallel to the plane of the sensed object, you get a more consistent switch point," notes David Lagerstrom, division manager for industrial sensors at Sick Optic.

In the car wash application, one of the most difficult tasks for the sensor is to pick out incoming light during the winter, when cold outside air creates a foggy shroud inside. To deal with such situations, the sensor employs a special Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) designed by Sick Optic's engineers. The analog section of the ASIC incorporates a special pre-amplifier that analyzes incoming light and provides a better switch point. The result, Lagerstrom says, is a higher "excess gain"--a value commonly used to determine a sensor's capabilities in difficult environments. "With the longer range and the higher excess gain, we have the ability to punch through the fog in the air," he says.

The digital portion of the W.2000's ASIC also provides the sensor with the ability to deal with another condition of the car wash: bright sunlight. Special digital circuitry gives the sensor greater immunity to high frequency light and defeats potential sensor confusion.

To enhance the ability to deal with dirt and moisture, Sick Optic engineers ultrasonically welded the optical window to the sensor body and provided a special silicone rubber gasket for the top of the enclosure.

With its longer range, high excess gain, and enhanced sealing, engineers say the sensor is ideal for harsh environments.

Record-setting electric cars go farther and faster

by Mark A. Gottschalk, Western Technical Editor

Seal Beach, CA--The recent achievements of two electric cars might help transform the image of electric vehicles as inherently slow and short-ranged into one of speed and endurance. One car is taking a shot at the electric-vehicle Land Speed Record (LSR)--currently 183 mph--while the other eclipsed the world distance record of 325 miles by traveling 1,043 miles on a single charge.

World Record Performance Associates of Santa Ana, CA, commissioned the design of the 2,450-lb LSR vehicle called White Lightning. Its chassis and carbon-fiber bodywork were developed by the Arivett Brothers (San Bernardino, CA). With a Cd of 0.13, White Lightning is expected to top 300 mph and had reached 237 mph as of press time.

Amazingly, the drive train consists of a pair of stock, commercially available electric-car motors and controllers supplied by AC Propulsion (San Dimas, CA). Called the AC-150, each contains an AC induction motor rated at 200 hp from 6,000-12,000 rpm and 165 ft-lb of torque from 0-5,000 rpm.

They were developed by AC Propulsion's founder, Alan Cocconi, who also designed the controller for the original GM Impact that evolved into today's Saturn EV-1. "Induction motors are well suited for electric vehicles," he says, "because you want high power, yet for freeway cruise you want high efficiency at low power and high rpm."

For the record runs the motors will draw 1,000 amps at 300 volts for three minutes. This power is supplied by a battery system consisting of 6,120 small NiCd batteries, weighing 55-gm each, which are normally sold for use in radio-controlled cars. Masterstroke, a development company in Montebello, CA, assembled the batteries into groups of 306 cells all soldered together inside 20 fiberglass tubes. "They were the only rechargeable batteries we could find that could be discharged fully in 90 seconds," Cocconi says.

In addition to the White Lightning, the AC-150 drive train has been installed in everything from buses in Africa to Honda Civics. Cocconi's latest invention, a 2,400-lb roadster called the Tzero, uses a 220-hp version to bolt from 0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds.

White Lightning won't be chasing the record alone. Donald Wales, grandson of land-speed legend Sir Malcolm Campbell, recently unveiled another LSRelectric car, Bluebird.

Keeps going and going... At the other end of the spectrum is B.A.T. International's (Burbank, CA) AT-1. Fitted with Zoxy Blitz(R) zinc-air batteries from Kummerow Corporation (Burbank, CA), the vehicle ran for 1,043 miles at 20-25 mph.

The batteries consist of 180 zinc-air cells weighing 4-lb 1-oz and outputting 1.1 volts each. On the record run they delivered 76 kW-hr of power with 10% remaining, compared to the Saturn EV-1's total capacity of 16.2 kW-hr from a lead-acid battery pack which weighs 50% more than that in the AT-1. A unique aspect of Kummerow's batteries is that they are intended to be physically swapped from the vehicle in minutes instead of recharged onboard for hours.

Intended for emerging-market countries, the AT-1 is a five-passenger utility vehicle that can be configured in a variety of ways. Weighing 1,400-lbs, it can carry a 1,300-lb load. Depending on motor, it has a top speed of 40-70 mph.

While zinc-air batteries offer about four times the energy density of lead acid, their weakness is specific power. Hans Kummerow, the company's president, notes that this could be addressed by combining zinc-air batteries with other batteries or an ultra-capacitor. "As vehicles based on crude oil lose their selling position," he says, "I expect zinc-air fuel cells to capture a substantial part of the market."

The supply-chain goes online

Dearborn, MI--Ford Motor Co. is reaching out beyond the confines of its internal engineering organization to make suppliers an integral part of the design and manufacturing process. The idea is to get key component-makers on-board Ford's global computer integration initiative, dubbed C3P.

According to Richard Riff, manager of Ford's C3P Project Office, the objective is to unify CAD, CAM, CAE, and product information management (PIM) so as to make them effectively a single application from the user's point of view. "There is no reason to differentiate design, analysis, manufacturing, and information management," Riff says. "All of these activities are necessary to create a product."

Structural Dynamics Research Corp. (SDRC), Milford, OH, supplied the software components of the C3P architecture. The company's I-DEAS Master Series CAD/CAM software provides design and manufacturing functions. Ford is also using the FEA solver integrated into I-DEAS for engineering analysis.

Perhaps the most important element of C3P is SDRC's Metaphase PIM system. Riff describes Metaphase as the "bus" through which engineering and product information is passed throughout Ford and exchanged with suppliers. "This is the enabling technology that gets our suppliers involved," Riff says. "We are asking all our full-service suppliers to get on-board with C3P."

Supplier involvement is seen as essential because many suppliers have test, analysis, and manufacturing responsibilities for the components they design. The engineering data produced from these activities can, through C3P, be assessed by other suppliers and engineers at Ford in the context of the assembly.

To date, more than 3,000 Ford employees worldwide have received C3P training. More than 800 companies supplying Ford have purchased I-DEAS Masters Series and Metaphase Series 2.3 software to support the C3P effort.

WE ARE HERE!!!Stress analysis assists cancer detection

Houston--Researchers at the University of Texas Medical School (UTMS), the University of Kansas Medical Center (UKMC), and Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal are developing a new type of medical imaging called elastography. The process uses ultrasound and other technologies to create an image that describes the elastic properties of certain tissues.

Applied to breast cancer, an elastogram shows how a lesion looks when pressure is applied. Malignant tumors are 10 to 100 times stiffer than other breast tissue, and thus move in a different manor than benign tissue.

To create an elastogram, two ultrasound images of breast tissue are taken: one of the tissue in its regular state, one in a compressed state. These images are compared by signal processing, which determines how the tissue moved and then converts these signals into an elastogram.

"For this method to be effective, we need to test a variety of scenarios," says Dr. Michael Insana, researcher at UKMC. "Algor software (Algor Inc., Pittsburgh, PA) enables us to create samples that represent the gamut of possible tissue arrangements."

For each hypothetical placement of tissues, Insana uses Algor to create a computer model of the tissue in its normal state. He then compresses the tissue 1%. By applying mathematical formulas that represent movement in the real world, Algor's linear stress analysis software tests this compressed model to see how the tissue moves.

"The resulting analysis image indicates if a particular tissue arrangement is difficult to detect," says Insana. "If that's the case, we perform a real life test using gelatinous materials that imitate the various lesions and breast tissues."

Setting up a test takes about one week to create the gelatinous form to the team's exact specifications, explains Insana. "Considering it only takes Algor software about a half hour to run an analysis, it's pretty clear how much time and money we're saving by using it."

"We also know we can depend on Algor since we've found it to be very accurate," says Insana. "Our real-life tests of gelatinous materials have been in close agreement with the Algor analyses."

WE ARE HERE!!!Bypass surgery explores new dimensions

Linkoping, Sweden--This fall the University Hospital of Linkoping will perform coronary bypass surgery on a human for the first time in medical history. Obviously, a procedure of this intensity requires a great deal of preparation. To this effect, the medical team is collaborating with Proslavia Clarus AB, Gothenburg, Sweden, on the development of Virtual Cardiothoracic Endosurgery (VCE), an endoscopic surgical simulation tool.

The set-up for the simulator mimics the real-world scenario of this medical procedure. In one hand users hold a camera, which serves as a force feedback system. When surgeons move the camera, it sends signals to the computer to update the image. Additionally, they will "feel" the different objects and body structures as the camera collides with them. The other hand operates the tools necessary for practicing the procedure.

Although most of the procedure is conducted by looking at a 2-D screen, advanced processes such as sewing require stereo vision. A head-mounted display (HMD), supplied by a unit of Kaiser Electro Optics, meets this requirement by providing 3-D vision.

The VCE application runs on a Silicon Graphics Onyx workstation. "Simulating medical procedures is a complex task. We think the power of Onyx offers the best technology," says Frederick Gustafson, executive VP at Proslavia Clarus AB.

The software for VCE utilizes Proslavia Clarus AE's development toolkit, Oxygen. This toolkit consists of three basic parts: the Oxygen Base; Oxygen Technology plug-ins for specific technologies such as CAD data import, virtual-reality peripherals, Newtonian physics, and real-time collision detection; and ready-to-use Oxygen applications including Assembly, Showroom, Machine, Man Machine Interface (MMI), and Medical.

"Since all of Clarus AE's medical applications are based on our Oxygen software package, these simulators will soon run on platforms other than SGI," says Gustafson.

"For the first time in history it will be possible to perform minimally invasive cardiothoracic surgery in a simulator. Surgeons will have the ability to enhance their skills at any time in a fully realistic environment, without a real patient," says Ulf Hermansson, M.D. at the University Hospital of Linkoping.

The next step is to train new surgeons on the different techniques. These skills include the entire procedure, as well as just sewing, cutting, or the handling of different instruments. Any procedure within the heart or lung area can be practiced. When the system is finished, it will be simple to add or change the procedures. In addition, follow up with medical procedures is simple since sessions are recordable.

"Because endoscopic procedures are extremely demanding, training tools are urgently needed," says Stefan Hallin, president of Proslavia Clarus. "Proslavia Clarus understands the importance of making endoscopic surgical procedures available to medical communities globally, rather than only a few experts in the field."

Developers will preview the VCE simulation system at the 11th annual meeting of the European Association for Cardiothoracic Surgery, scheduled for this fall in Copenhagen. Release is set for the spring of 1998.

Sensors help safeguard against potential hazards

Hingham, MA--Telescada Inc. recently developed a remote terminal unit (RTU) that enables utility companies to monitor the regulation and flow of gas from the main pipeline to a house or commercial building. The goal was to minimize operating costs while improving system performance with accurate real-time data.

In the past, monitoring natural gas pressure was an inefficient and labor-intensive process. Mechanical paper chart recorders installed at regulator vault locations recorded inlet and outlet pressures of the gas. (A change in pressure can demonstrate a potential problem with the regulator station.) Every seven days technicians retrieved the recorded results and replaced the paper chart. Engineering departments later reviewed the charts for discrepancies. However, due to the high number of vaults on a given system that need to be reviewed, engineers typically studied results at a much later date and often identified problems after the fact.

"Too much time and labor was spent retrieving the information rather than reviewing results. A remote system solution was a necessary change for the better," notes Dennis Mantia, sales manager at Telescada.

When designing its automated system, Telescada needed to determine the most accurate way to obtain pressure readings. The company wanted pressure sensors that provided minimum power consumption and excitation voltage, 0 to 5V dc full-scale output, ease of calibration, repeatability, high accuracy, and stability. Model 209 pressure sensors from Setra Systems Inc. (Boxborough, MA) met those criteria and came in a variety of off-the-shelf ranges Telescada required. The compact pressure transducers also maintain their accuracy in the face of mechanical shock and vibration, thermal shock, RFI, corrosive media, and other extremes common in industrial environments.

"One strong feature of the 209 Series is that the output device is electrically identical, regardless of the selected range. This enabled us to manufacture a single analog input module for all required pressure ranges. In addition, Setra provided a low-pressure sensor that maintained temperature stability and accuracy over range for very small pressure readings--as low as 0-1 psi (0-6.89 kPa). And Setra was willing to work with us to ensure the results we needed," says Mantia.

The remote monitoring unit provides an early warning for system failures and potential danger. A user dials into the RTU and downloads the recorded information on demand, a process which takes only minutes per week rather than hours per day. Another benefit: Immediate action can be taken if fluctuations in pressure or gas flow are detected because the remote unit automatically calls in alarm conditions as they occur.

Each unit has between one and four sensors for monitoring gas pressure. One sensor monitors inlet pressure with varied pressure ranges from 0-100 to 0-1,000 psi. Another monitors outlet pressures, which can have readings as low as 0.25 psi or 1.72 kPa and up. "The Model 209 plays a crucial role in this system," says Mantia. "We recognize the important function of our monitoring device and want to ensure its proper performance. Setra's 209 guarantees us we are providing the best system possible."

Bearing is forgiving in rugged applications

Livermore Falls, ME--When the floor began to vibrate severely at Wausau Paper's Maine-based papermill, maintenance workers knew it couldn't be an earthquake in this area of low seismic-risk. Ultimately identifying a 10 year-old drying cylinder as the source, maintenance supervisor Larry Castonguay suspected that the guilty party might be a settling of the floor in the turn-of-the-century papermill. "Even a slight angular misalignment will change the load distribution on the cylinder's non-locating bearing," says Castonguay.

Depending on the bearing arrangement, a minor axial displacement could cause similar stresses. But the bearing in question was not axially restricted, in order to accommodate a 0.39 inch expansion of the shaft during high temperature operation.

Opening the cylindrical roller bearing on the front (non-drive) side of the drying can, maintenance workers were stunned to see that the lock nut was broken and that the inner raceway had worked itself nearly halfway out of the bearing assembly.

Although today's bearings are designed to have extremely long service lives, they rarely fail due to material fatigue--as the case at Wausau Paper illustrates. In addition to culprits like moisture, vibration, contamination, and lubrication distress, the force imbalance resulting from angular misalignment or axial displacement can send a bearing into premature retirement. A bearing on the verge of failure can wreak havoc on the shaft as well.

The buildup of stresses on a bearing is particularly problematic in applications involving high operating temperatures, heavy loads, settling floors, and long shafts--just like the drying cylinder at Wausau Paper. Until recently, designers have been able to address only part of the problem.

Standard cylindrical and needle bearings can accommodate axial displacement (up to approximately 8% of the bearing width), but cannot tolerate much misalignment without special enhancements. And while spherical roller bearings can manage misalignment and displacement, overcoming the latter also requires special engineering of the housing and adjacent components.

Wausau Paper's solution, however, was a new type of self-aligning bearing (SKF USA Inc.) designed to accommodate both. This is the first U.S. application of the bearing, called CARBTM (for Compact Aligning Roller Bearing), which was introduced in Europe two years ago. The design itself is based on a systematic way of equilibrating the force imbalance caused by a misalignment or displacement. CARBTM utilizes a long, barrel-shaped roller with a radius of curvature slightly less than that of the outer ring. When a misalignment or displacement occurs, the rollers move freely to the location at which the forces are once again in balance. An inner raceway serves to maintain correct spacing between rollers. This degree of freedom sets the bearing apart from any other designs.

Maintenance workers at Wausau are satisfied with the performance of the new bearing. In fact, they are closely monitoring the vibration levels on all 35 drying cans, planning to install CARBTM bearings as soon as the existing bearings show signs of wear. Reception has also been good elsewhere; several motor manufacturers and a maker of generators are currently conducting field tests. Future tests are scheduled for continuous casters, industrial fans, and planetary gearboxes.

Now if bearing makers could only solve another nagging problem: Although CARBTM handles high loads and accommodates misalignment and displacement, it is not designed to carry an axial load--precluding its use as a locating bearing.

Plastic pulleys reduce inertia for servo system

by Charles J. Murray, Senior Regional Editor

Fairport Harbor, OH--In most power transmission applications, component cost is critical. It's even more important in servomotor applications, where the inherent cost of servo technology can become a large percentage of an overall machine.

For engineers from Mexico Plastics, Mexico, MO, servomotor cost even represented a make-or-break situation in a bag-cutting application. The company, which makes plastic products, needed the precision of a servomotor to accurately cut plastic bags. Problem was, use of a large servomotor was not deemed cost effective. "We needed a servomotor," notes Jay Johansen, plant engineer for Mexico Plastics, "but if we used one that was too large, it could have doubled the overall cost of the project."

To obtain the necessary precision, and still keep costs down, the company's engineers minimized the size of the servomotor by reducing the inertia of the system. The solution: lightweight pulleys.

The system, which feeds plastic sheet and then cuts it into bags, employs a 2.5-inch-diameter pulley on the servomotor shaft and a 7-inch pulley on the feed roller. The pulleys are connected by a timing belt. A 7-inch steel pulley for the application weighed approximately 10 lbs, Johansen says. But by switching to a plastic-and-steel pulley, the weight dropped to about a pound.

The pulleys, designed and manufactured by Torque Transmission, a division of Rampe Manufacturing, Fairport, OH, employ an outer plastic rim, and a steel hub, web, and locking collar. The locking collar behaves much like a machine tool collet, locking the hub down on the shaft so it doesn't slip during the fast start-stop action of the bag-cutting application.

The locking collar is critical for such applications, says Torque Transmission engineer Doug Gryczan, because a keyway-type system would be prone to widening under start-stop loading. "When you clamp down with this locking collar, you are grabbing the shaft around all 360 degrees, as opposed to just a few selected locations," Gryczan says.

By employing the plastic pulleys, Mexico Plastics could use a mid-sized servomotor to keep costs in check. The servomotor, in turn, provided the company with better cutting precision than the previous clutch-brake system. "The pulleys are an important component of the low inertia design of the entire system," Johansen adds. "Overall, we have increased productivity on each machine by about 35%. We also significantly reduced our downtime and maintenance costs."

TI puts networking silicon to the test

by Julie Anne Schofield, Senior Editor

Dallas--Texas Instruments' Network Technology Center (NTC) is home to millions of dollars of networking equipment, more than 10 miles of cable, and 4,000 to 5,000 connect-ion points. Its purpose: to develop and test TI network silicon chips and to test OEM networking equipment in a real-world environment. The result: reduced cycle time for both chips and equipment and a much smaller chance of failures in the field.

The key word at the NTC is interoperability--testing to make sure that TI's silicon works across the board, in every possible networking configuration.

"Customers have an implicit expectation that equipment will work the first time no matter what their system configuration," says NTC Director David Brenner.

There are literally millions of possible equipment combinations. "The more equipment we can expose our designs to, the better," says Brenner. In fact the lab is connected to TI's internal data network for testing in a "real world" environment.

The NTC tests new chip designs by using hardware emulation and its network systems test capability. This lets silicon designers test a functional model of a chip before committing to silicon. Modeling new designs this way allows TI to reduce development costs and quickly bring new products and technologies to market.

After silicon prototypes of a device have been manufactured, the NTC often serves as the alpha test site. TI extensively tests new devices in a variety of network environments--multiple vendors' 10Base-T, switched Ethernet, 100Base-T, 100VG-Any LAN, token ring, and ATM equipment--to verify standards conformance, function, and interoperability. "We want to catch flaws before the chips leave TI," says Brenner.

Customers who use TI silicon can use the data from the NTC's extensive characterization and interoperability test database to support testing requirements for their end equipment. This, in turn, decreases the time needed to take their products to market.

The third major task of the NTC is testing reference designs that application teams create for networking chips. Such designs let new entrants who don't have the experience to design networking equipment from scratch get to market fast.

Take the tour. Walking through the NTC is a dream come true for networking aficionados--or a living nightmare for IS managers. Modeled on a star topology, the network has equipment from all major vendors, as well as some offbeat or defunct ones. "If companies are using it, we're testing it," Brenner says. Once the lab was established, he says, companies were more willing to donate new equipment. Ratio of what is donated to what the NTC buys is approaching 50:50.

Hardware includes PC clients, servers, and RISC machines from Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, ACER, Dell, IBM, Micron, Zeos, AST, NEC, Digital Equipment Corp., Gateway, and Apple. The "server farm" has close to 100 different machines. Servers plug into a video/keyboard switching unit, so eight or so units can share one monitor and keyboard, thus cutting down on cables. Server software varies from Netware, varieties of Windows, UNIX, OS/2, and AppleTalk for Macs.

Connecting the hardware is Type 1 shielded twisted-pair copper cable, voice- (Category 3) and data-grade (Category 5) unshielded twisted-pair copper cable, and single- and multi-mode fiber-optic cable.

For proper testing, cables can't be rolled up, so one weekend workers ripped up the floor of one room and laid cables underneath. The maximum copper cable length for a valid configuration is 100m, but TI's lab also has 120 and 200m cables lying under the floor. Not everyone follows the rules, and the lab has to take that into account.

"People expect equipment to work in a network--even one that doesn't meet standards or has rats running around the wiring closets--the first time," stresses Brenner. "If it doesn't, they'll buy something else."

Self-lubricating bearing eliminates need for maintenance

by Charles J. Murray, Senior Regional Editor

Downers Grove, IL--In some applications, there's no easy way to grease a bearing. On large excavators, for example, maintenance personnel must often climb ladders to reach bearings. Or they may install complex lubrication systems, complete with pumps and tubing lines, to deliver a steady stream of lubricants.

Now there's a better way. Engineers at Rexnord Corp. have developed a self-lubricating, composite spherical bearing. The bearing, which employs a filament-wound ball within a fractured steel outer race, is said to be ideal for use on hydraulic cylinder devices. As a result, it could see use on construction equipment and agricultural vehicles. The bearing could also serve on conveyors, packaging machinery, scissors lifts, and a host of other applications.

Rexnord engineers say that the composite ball can be retrofitted into existing applications using a special tool. "Size for size, it's the same as a steel bearing," notes Bernard Harris, manager, engineering and marketing for composite bearings at Rexnord. "So people who use a lubricated metal bearing can now have a self-lubricating bearing without major changes."

Key to the design is the spherical, filament-wound Duralon ball. During use, the ball's convex outer surface mates with the steel race's concave inner surface, enbaling it to rotate or move axially within the inner race. This, along with its self-lubricating quality, enables the new bearing to handle installation misalignment and oscillatory loads.

Up to now, the vast majority of such bearings have employed steel-on-steel construction. The reason: Composites couldn't handle large loads. Rexnord, however, solved that problem by helically winding the ball with glass fibers along its long axis. Fibers are wound over the resin-saturated Duralon fabric, then machined off in an operation that gives the ball its spherical shape.

Static tests of the composite bearing showed an ultimate strength of 108,000 pounds.

That process also endows the ball with surprising strength. Tests done by engineers at Rexnord Technical Services, Milwaukee, WI, showed that the bearing has a compressive ultimate load capacity of 108,000 pounds. In dynamic loading, it features a capacity of more than 30,000 psi. In contrast, steel-on-steel spherical bearings typically begin losing lubricant at about 8,000 psi, Harris says. Beyond that, metal-to-metal wear and galling can occur, ultimately followed by seizing of the bearing.

To employ the new bearing, users must make one special accommodation, Harris says. Mating shaft surfaces must be made from ground and polished bar stock or tubing. Rexnord engineers recommend chrome plating, electroless nickel coatings, or nitrocarbrized steel.

By eliminating the need for special lubricating pumps and plumbing lines, the self-lubricating bearing also disposes of a potential failure mode. "In construction, it's not unusual for a plumbing line to be damaged," Harris notes. "And when that happens, the user has bigger problems because then the bearing fails, too."

Although the bearing's initial cost is slightly more than steel-on-steel designs, it compensates for that cost across its useful life. Says Harris: "The goal of this design is to eliminate the need for maintenance."

Astute engineering sticks new Volvo to unimproved roads

by Rick DeMeis, Associate Editor

Girdwood, AK--Short of another gas crisis, the plague of vision-blocking so-called sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) continues. Volvo, looking to intelligently tap into this market, has developed the 1998 V70 XC (cross country) all-wheel-drive (AWD) vehicle.

Referring to the sometimes tricky handling and instability of these traditionally truck-based vehicles, "SUV characteristics may not be best for safety," says Peter Boisen, Volvo's business project manager. In approaching this market, Volvo is using its front-wheel-drive V70 wagon plat-form to give customers a car that is "safe and as functional as in the past but with features desired in the SUV class," says Boisen. "It can outhandle any SUV and has wagon utility," adds Helge Alten, president of Volvo Cars North America, with the fuel consumption and emissions of a car.

The AWD is key to the XC. It features: Volvo's standard front-wheel traction control, at speeds below 25 mph (for getting underway in mud or snow); a bevel-gear transfer differential to power a rear axle similar to that in rear-wheel-drive Volvo S90/V90 models; a viscous clutch from Viscodrive (Bruneck, Italy); and a locking rear-wheel differential to limit slip under 25 mph.

The silicone-oil viscous coupling normally keeps 95% of engine power on the front wheel. It changes this distribution, completely reversing it if needed, compensating for front wheel spin "in milliseconds," according to Volvo.

Freewheelin'. A freewheel unit in the drivetrain, behind the viscous clutch, disengages the rear drive during braking, engine breaking, or coasting, for better stopping action. It allows using unmodified front-wheel-drive ABS. The freewheel also locks up in reverse for four-wheel-drive traction.

The simple AWD system, except for the standard traction control, is entirely mechanical. "Without [extra] electronics, it was easier to develop," according to Krister Broo, the designer and project manager for AWD systems. He notes, "The challenge was designing the system into an existing car," such as fitting the required viscous-clutch drivetrain into the underfloor tunnel.

A rear drivetrain also dictated changes in exhaust-system and fuel-tank layouts--the lowest underbody point now being the catalytic-converter shield rather than a subframe. But rear-suspension spacers for increasing clearance also gave more "maneuver room" for larger rear wheels.

Northern muse. A recent test drive in Alaska confirmed the AWD effectiveness--even on roads so rough that at least one car-rental company forbids its customers to travel on them! When power was applied, no slipping over the gravely, rut-and-bump surfaces occurred--whether on level ground or navigating the steep, turning grades of Hatcher Pass. No changes in power distribution to the wheels were evident, and suspension dynamics smoothed out the worst of each individual hole or rock.

The XC has 6.5 inches of ground clearance, 1 inch more than the V70 wagon. "Quite respectable," Volvo says, compared to most SUVs. Other utilitarian features include: strengthened roof rails; an electrical "power point" in the cargo area; and a flip-out cover for the rear bumper so it can serve as a bench without dirtying your clothes, something appreciated first-hand. A neat option is a roof-rack-mounted, streamlined, conformal cargo pod, with gull-wing doors, that comes in the car color. More goodies: a "link-frame" rack for single-person (albeit a tall or strong one) loading of bicycles, and a dog compartment with a fan for Fido when you're out of the car fishing--or shopping.

Racking brains. Seemingly simple, the XC roof rack, stronger than those on previous Volvos, required an interdisciplinary design effort, says Ake Bengtsson, XC project manager. Design aesthetics limited the overall cross section of the thicker, stronger transverse rails. Wind-tunnel tests, however, showed that symmetric, and even aerodynamic, shapes "sounded like an organ at highway speeds," according to Bengtsson, because of the resonance from alternating vortices shed by the rails, the same way as wind-in-wires produces sound. Solution: a more square lower front edge reducing airspeed under the bars and a row of small, angled ridges along the top--like aircraft-wing vortex generators--spinning the flow streaming back, breaking up the vortices, and killing the noise. Drag is virtually unaffected, says Bengtsson.

Viscous coupling distributes power proportioned between front and rear wheels as required by driving conditions while a locking axle limits individual rear wheel slippage.

Other impressions from two days and well over 300 miles in the state with perhaps the most rugged roads to match its scenery: This car can get you anywhere you want to go provided there is a semblance of a road. Volvo is quick to point out that the XC is not an off-road vehicle but one for unimproved tracks--as another journalist found out in committing a cardinal sin, even for an off-road vehicle: trying to turn in a rock-filled stream, and hanging-up the car! On this trek, in addition to "pushing" the XC, fuel economy respectfully averaged between 20 and 21 mpg.

In one respect, Volvo may be playing too much to the "American market" by offering only a four-speed automatic transmission and not the five-speed manual available elsewhere. The engine is a 2.5-liter, 193-hp, five-cylinder light-pressure turbo. Two well appreciated features on the XC are the separate driver and passenger air-temperature controls and a killer surround-sound system. Now, if only the instrument panel was a darker gray or black for better daytime readability.

Automation moves closer to design

Automation moves closer to design

The perceived threat of foreign competition in the 1980s drove many semiconductor manufacturers to search for an automation technology that would help them respond quickly to market changes. Hopkinton, MA-based Control Technology Corp., (CTC) answered the call. CTC's technology lets design engineers write their own programs--and control their own destiny.

"The semiconductor industry represented a different clientele with a unique and evolving set of problems," explains CTC President Ken Crater. "We managed to capture a market that no other company was paying any attention to at the time. By letting engineers program their machines in a language they were comfortable with--and in fact, already were using to describe their machines--we made integrating all aspects of machine control fast, easy, and inexpensive."

Since 1975, CTC has maintained a strong customer focus, and worked closely with design engineers to automate machinery. While CTC technology essentially grew up in Silicon Valley, today, all industries face similar pressures. CTC's product line was literally born of decades of customer contact working on individual applications.

"Our customers cut across the entire manufacturing marketplace. I can't think of a single industry that we're not involved in to some extent," says Crater. "That's why we don't approach sales development by looking at markets. Each customer is different."

Addressing difficult manufacturing problems from the designer's perspective caused CTC's technology to evolve very differently than traditional programmable logic controllers (PLCs). "While PLCs are programmed with relay ladder logic (RLL), CTC chose state language as a framework for programming, because it makes more sense to design engineers," Crater explains.

The main problem with RLL in describing a machine's operation is that it essentially assumes an electro-mechanical, relay-based control system is used. In fact, most designers make no such assumption, according to Crater. They usually start with a manufacturing problem, develop the mechanisms required to complete the operation, then automate.

In contrast to PLCs, CTC's QuickstepTM for Windows State Language lets engineers describe the machine's functionality in words they already use to describe a machine's operation. "Terminology familiar to designers is built into the product line," notes Crater.

'DSP-less' motion control. It was the semiconductor marketplace that drove CTC into motion control. Initially, CTC technology was used primarily to control simple digital I/O functions. But as Silicon Valley's demand for flexible automation grew, so did the demand for step-motor and servo-motor control.

"That's fundamental to why our product has taken the form it is right now," says Crater. Both CTC's hardware and language technology offer engineers the flexibility to quickly tackle manufacturing problems, program machine control, debug, and beat the competition to market.

Just as Quickstep sidestepped the confusion of RLL's endless rungs of code, CTC's hardware architecture never adopted digital signal processors (DSPs) for motion control. "We may be alone in the motion control industry in never having adopted DSPs," says Crater. "We've used Complex Instruction Set Computing (CISC) technology since the beginning. It allows us to implement motion control with very complex algorithms, and it also gives us the complete freedom to communicate with the axes. Something impossible to do using DSPs alone."

Quick response to market changes means more companies integrate machinery within the plant or between plants today. To do this effectively engineers need to focus on communication. That's where CTC shines. "Meaningful communication, in our view, only occurs when the data collected is used as information. It's not enough to create a data stream and feed it off into a network, we have to see it used in an EXCEL worksheet, data historian, or an operator interface," explains Crater.

Control Technology Corp. attributes much of its recent growth to its customers' growth.

In architectural terms CTC believes in distributed control. A typical system may have four to 12 processors. "We make that transparent to the user. As far as they are concerned they are dealing with a single system, writing a single program, in a single language," explains Crater. But by allowing multiple processors to work together, more power is available and axes can be added without any performance degradation.

CTC's distributed architecture leverages a multiprocessor design that delivers high-performance control. Dedicating individual CPUs to the analog I/O subsystem, motion controller, communications processor, and the main controller provides repeatable, high-precision results.

Holistic machine control. CTC's broad definition of control means the motion subsystem must participate in a community of control that may include analog control, digital sequencing, communications to external systems, or any number of other activities. "If there is one differentiating factor for our company it's that we look at the whole machine, not at individual pieces," Crater notes. From hydraulics and pneumatics to motion control and communications, the entire machine is orchestrated via one program.

Because of competition, today's designers can't afford to view their machines as a series of discrete events to be controlled. Instead, by viewing the machine holistically, CTC technology lets engineers wire the machine as a single entity, and lets them program it as such. Result: less time and effort to program and debug a machine to get it up and running.

"We've seen a dramatic increase in acceptance of our technology over the last 5-7 years," says director of marketing Scott Pete. "Our recent growth stems primarily from our customers' growth. We have found, much to our satisfaction, that our technology has allowed our customers to grow quite quickly, and as a result, our business growth has averaged greater than 20% over the last five years."

CTC works on new products on several levels at all times. "To be truly of service to our customers, we can't just focus on one aspect of control," explains Crater. With 45 employees, 14 that are engineers, CTC maintains a staff of experts in the fields of motion control, language development, software, and hardware to continually research and make certain CTC will be there for the next level of integration.

"To maintain the strong customer focus, we make sure our people have the tools they need to help our clients," says Crater. He believes that internal communication and information systems are critical, and so is continual reevaluation. At a recent planning meeting, Crater discussed the concept of the "Fractal-company." This concept involves efforts to push more autonomy to every level of the company. "We want to create an environment where people feel free to act in the best interest of the company. People will feel that they are authorized to, in some instances, take risks--and do things without going through long bureaucratic processes of budget approval."

CTC looks for people that are bright, and creative, when hiring engineers. "We also need engineers that can work well in an environment of ambiguity," Crater emphasizes. "Because in a period of such rapid technological change, anyone attempting to create a three-year product development plan may have to assume that certain chips will be available when we need them. Engineers must be prepared to switch gears if the technology focus changes or the needs of the customer change."

Designer's corner

Designer's corner

Fish-friendly turbine

Hydroelectric plants make life miserable for migrating fish. Salmon ladders may lead to higher water behind the dam, but the only way back is through the generator turbine blades. Some 15% of the fish never make it.

NREC's proprietary software programs COMIG for CAE and VISION for CFD, helped create the impeller shape. Serpentine impeller gie migrating fish safe passage through hydroelectric power stations.

Reasons include the sudden pressure drop, as well as cutting action of the blades themselves. A new impeller addresses these problems by 1) decreasing blade number from the usual 13-18 to three, and 2) lengthening the distance over which the pressure drop occurs by a factor of ten.

A collaborative effort between NREC and Alden Research Labs, Holden, MA, the fish-safe turbine reduces kill rate to less than one-half percent. Turbine efficiency drops only slightly from the 94% range to about 90%.

James Watts, Northern Research and Engineering Corp., 39 Olympia Ave., Woburn, MA 01801-2073, 617-935-9050.

Hydraulic-filter monitor

Patented microprocessor/surface mount electronic circuit in the unit uses the change in flux density to determine the proportion of clogging in the filter.

Most of today's hydraulic filter monitors provide only a yes/no indication of the filter's status. Either it's completely clogged, or it isn't. As a result, the user doesn't know there's a problem until it's too late.

Engineers at Western Filter Corp., however, have found a better way. Their Intelligent Filter Indicator (IFI) tells how much the filter is clogged. To accomplish that, the IFI device uses a piston containing a magnet. As the filter clogs, differential pressure across it increases, causing the piston to move. When the magnet in the piston moves closer to a Hall Effect sensor, the sensor detects a change in magnetic flux density. To account for the effect of temperature changes, the circuitry also reads temperature data from a thermistor and, as a result, is able to prevent false indications due to "cold start" conditions.

With the IFI, users can have continuous, remote readouts of pressure and differential pressure for factory-wide monitoring of filters in real time. As a result, they can replace filters before they are completely clogged, thus prolonging the life of hydraulic equipment.

Kanwar Suri, Western Filter Corp. , 26235 Technology Drive, Valencia, CA 91355, 805-295-0800.

Balanced-pilot check valve

The balanced check has been cycle tested without lubrication for 10 million cycles with no sign of wear or failure.

Most ball- or poppet-type check valves that lock pneumatic cylinders in position, require high opening forces. Forces wear on the valve each time it's cycled. A balanced design increases valve life by reducing operating forces.

With air trapped behind the poppet (output side), the checked piston tries to pull the poppet off its seat. Slightly increasing the pressure area behind the poppet makes it larger than the piston area, and partially biases the poppet to its seat. With pressure applied to the pilot, the force required to open the poppet is the small difference in pressure between poppet and balancing piston.

Norbert J. Kot, NGT LLC, P.O. Box 5223, Elm Grove, WI 53122-5223, (414) 782-6125 or Fax (414) 782-0197.E-mail: or

Engaged-rotor mechanism

ERM pumps use engaged teeth to maintain seal instead of the tangential surface of two lobed rotors. Higher vacuum levels and less leakage result.

Large working teeth, superimposed on the primary rotor's involute teeth, engage large grooves on the secondary rotor. Working teeth compress one chamber to expel fluid, while the other chamber expands to draw in fluid.

This design reduces noise and vibration by eliminating eccentric rotating masses found in most fluid-compressor designs. Applications include compressors, hydraulic pumps and motors, metering and vacuum pumps, hydraulic stepless speed regulators, and rotary engines.

Frank Hu, 4444 Thrushfield Ct., Flint, MI 48507, (810) 257-3966.

Delivery delivers new industry standard

Delivery delivers new industry standard

Technology forces change. Those companies that don't catch up will be left in the dust, says Berg's Lamothe.

Design News: Many consider your industry to be old and stagnant. How do you view it?

Lamothe: I agree with the majority, but I expect that the pendulum is about to change direction. It is imperative that suppliers begin to recognize that technology is forcing its way into the mechanical components market. I'm not talking about the transition of mechanical to electrical components. I'm referring to the methods in which we perform work and improve services to our customers.

In the three years that I've been involved in this industry, I've focused on building the core business strengths at Berg, while studying those of other suppliers. The most overwhelming observation is the large number of small, privately held, $1 to $10 million suppliers that service this market. For the most part, we all produce "low-technology/me-too" components that can be supplied by anyone with a little skill and a few machines. That's how it all started in the 1950s and 60s.

Q: What is your company doing to meet today's technology challenges?

A: First and foremost is the education of employees. Exposing them to new concepts, training them on new equipment, and reducing their fear of change was a big first step. In fact, it's an ongoing effort. The most tangible of these concepts is simply management's commitment to provide the proper tools to work smarter and not harder. This commitment required a major overhaul of our information systems, along with the recapitalization of our entire manufacturing division.

On the business process side, we utilized reengineering principles as a catalyst for change. One of our first efforts was the compression of the quoting department into customer service, where computerized routing systems can amortize machine set-up costs and develop prices for the wide range of products and quantities requested. These quotes, developed by what is called Technical Service Representatives (TSRs), can be developed within minutes for standard components, then faxed directly to the customers from TSR's computer.

The momentum has spawned the automation of order tracking, shipment tracing, credit card sales, and bar coding for product and process control. A new telephone ACD system handles over 15,000 calls per month, with an abandonment rate that averages less than two calls per day. Recent addition of T1 lines is a first step in developing a caller ID system. Linking this to our business system will screen-pop the customer's account at the same moment our customer service people answer the phone.

Q: Anything else in the way of technology changes?

A: We also added technology to the manufacturing floor, which was a low-risk task with very measurable benefits. CNC machines have eliminated most manual machine functions. These programs are downloaded from the network, reducing human error and improving overall quality. More than 1,500 work-in-process orders are systematically tracked throughout our manufacturing division. With over 40,000 different manufactured components offered out of 60,000 in our catalogs, the service gain has been substantial. We see the improvement in reduced lead times.

Q: Do you deliver products differently than others?

A: We measure performance and define it differently. Our business has two aspects of success. The first is availability, the second delivery. Availability is defined by us as shippable from stock. All 60,000 components we offer are not available. Half of them are unpopular extensions of a product family, yet over 18,000 items are stocked and actively traded. This number is growing as our material handling committee statistically begins to factor in customer need. In the old days, the only way to manage inventory was based on the sales history. Now, we also factor in the hit ratio of the most requested non-stocked items.

Q: What does all of this mean to a design engineer?

A: Most of what I've mentioned deals with technology and procurement-based issues. On a day-to-day basis, this has little to do with a design engineer's job--except to build a confidence factor that we are investing in practices that promote quality, consistency, and timeliness. In a more direct way, we have forged a relationship where most of our standard component drawings are available in CAD. This provides a great opportunity to eliminate drafting time by utilizing a point-and-click technology for readily available components.

High-speed motor and drive target next-generation fuel cells

High-speed motor and drive target next-generation fuel cells

Los Angeles, CA--An experimental high-speed motor and drive may help engineers create long-range, flexible-fueled electric vehicles for use early in the next millennium. Powering a small turbine compressor--not the car's wheels--the motor feeds oxygen (air) to a prototype fuel cell, one of several different designs bidding to bypass batteries as the primary source of onboard electric energy. Developed by AlliedSignal Aerospace (Torrance, CA), the motor turns the turbine at a dizzying 104,000 rpm and is controlled by a custom drive supplied by Westamp (Chatsworth, CA).

The effort is part of a DOE project involving Detroit's Big Three and many supplier companies to develop viable electric-vehicle fuel cells. Many engineers see fuel cells as a way to leapfrog the problems with batteries and enable electric cars with the range and refueling flexibility of today's gasoline vehicles. Invented by Sir William Grove in 1839, fuel cells remained laboratory curiosities until NASA began placing them on space vehicles in the 1960s.

But the past few years have seen renewed interest for application in electric cars. In fact, Daimler-Benz unveiled a fuel cell A-Class car, known as NECAR 3, at the Frankfort auto show in September.

Fuel cells combine hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity and a friendly exhaust product, water. While hydrogen could be supplied directly from tanks, this method faces several obstacles: no current infrastructure exists to supply it; and the public commonly believes hydrogen is uncontrollably explosive.

'Reformer' fuel cells are considered a practical way of generating electricity for electric cars. They derive the hydrogen they need from a readily available source, such as methanol. A compressor feeds oxygen (air) as the other fuel-cell reactant.

As an alternative, hydrogen can be generated on demand from readily existing fuels, such as methanol, in what are called reformer fuel cells. Typically, after the hydrogen is extracted from the methanol, the remaining components are burned in the turbo-compressor to aid efficiency. (The theoretical efficiency of fuel cells is considered to be much higher than that of internal combustion engines.)

Oxygen, on the other hand, can be supplied directly from the air. It's here where the high-speed motor and drive play their part. The DOE is evaluating various air-compressor methods, and AlliedSignal's turbo-compressor is one of them. Its advantages are compactness, low weight, and superior efficiency compared to scroll or piston compressors. The prototype (which leaves much room for optimization) measures roughly 12 x 9 inches and weighs less than 20-lbs.

A custom, ultra-high speed brushless servo motor drives AlliedSignal's turbine compressor at 104,000 rpm. The compressor feeds air into an experimental automotive fuel cell.

Engineers at AlliedSignal designed the turbo-compressor to feed 11-lbs/min of air at a pressure ratio of 3.2:1 to the fuel cell. It's turned by a custom permanent-magnet, brushless servo motor turning at 104,000 rpm. "Our uniqueness is that we can make permanent magnet motors that operate at turbine speeds," says Bob McConnell, electrical systems engineer.

The motor is a derivation of a basic family developed by AlliedSignal. It contains a simple rotor to keep down windage. At the center lies a permanent magnet contained by a stiff sleeve which attaches directly to the turbine shaft. Outboard of the rotor is a stator stack of laminations and windings. Output is 7.7 hp at 104,000 rpm on 300-400 volts.

Inside a reformer fuel cell hydrogen-derived from methanol-combines with oxygen from the air to create electricity and a pleasant exhaust, water.

The motor rides on air bearings chosen for several advantages. Namely, they don't use oil, which can easily contaminate a fuel cell. And they handle extremely high speeds with aplomb. Their downside? Below about 10,000-15,000 rpm--the point where the shaft is finally supported by a cushion of air--the drag can be rather high.

This drag defines the peak current for Westamp's drive. "It has to output 150 amperes up until "liftoff" of the shaft," says Brad Landseadel, president and CEO of Westamp. Average output is 70 amperes RMS at up to 400 volts DC. Peak power output of the drive is 48 hp at 300 volts, which outputs a more than necessary 38 hp at 104,000 rpm.

Surprisingly, the drive is a one-off version of the production SP 150 series. Engineers at AlliedSignal selected Westamp partly for this reason. "We chose the SP 150 because it uses programmable logic and gate arrays that allow for easy customization," says Landseadel.

An example of that customization can be witnessed with the motor feedback. Instead of the normal encoder feedback, AlliedSignal used only Hall-Effect sensors. This prompted engineers to modify the drive to derive velocity signals from the Hall signals. Engineers take the Hall signals and redirect them with gate array logic into a frequency-to-voltage converter, and then use the Hall signals for a velocity signal in place of the usual encoder signal. "It is very coarse information to work with, but we had to make do to accomplish what they wanted," Landseadel explains.

And what they wanted to do was formidable. "They told me 104,000 rpm, and I thought the decimal point was off," he says. "We've never worked on anything like this."

To attain this high speed, engineers had to optimize the current loops. Because no complete motor was available, they performed a mathematical analysis of the drive and a single coil of the motor. After generating a Bode plot to find the frequencies and break points, they were then able to compensate the amplifier so that the motor and drive functioned as a complete package.

To date, the prototype has run past 55,000 rpm, and engineers say the full 104,000 rpm should be attained within weeks. "We had always said that the programmable logic in our devices allowed for great flexibility," says Landseadel. "This was really the first application to prove that."

Other Applications

  • High-speed machining

  • Turbomachinery

  • Compressors

Additional details...For motor drives, contact Westamp, 9006 Fullbright Ave., Chatsworth, CA 91311, (818) 709-5000,

For turbomachinery, contact Mark Gee, AlliedSignal Aerospace, 2525 W. 190th St., M/C TOR-36-2-93084, Torrance, CA 90504

CSG Editor, Version 2.1

CSG Editor, Version 2.1

Although AutoCAD R13 offers a wealth of advantages over R12, I've noticed the reluctance of some to upgrade. One reason for this reluctance seems the most pervasive. R13 doesn't provide editing tools to modify solid models created using constructive solid geometry (CSG) techniques--a particularly bothersome deficiency since R12's AME had this capability.

CSG Editor efficiently solves this problem at a reasonable price. An AutoCAD Runtime Extension (ARX) application, CSG Editor blends easily into the R13 environment, trapping solid modeling commands and saving the data needed to modify primitives at a later time.

CSG Editor can modify any parameter of R13's solid primitives (box, cone, cylinder, sphere, torus, and wedge) at any level of a CSG construction tree.

Solids created by extruding or revolving 2-D profiles may be edited, changing profile, path or height, and draft angle for extrusions, and changing profile, axis, and angle for revolutions.

Once a solid is selected for editing, a primitive may be selected directly, or selection may be cycled through the primitives until the desired one is reached. In addition to editing primitive parameters, a primitive may be copied, deleted, moved, replaced, or changed in color. The CSG Editor move command is powerful, permitting redefinition of the current UCS, and then rotating or translating in this temporary UCS.

CSG Editor modifies standard R13 chamfers and fillets, and provides its own versions of chamfer and fillet commands to simplify the editing process. Although chamfers and fillets in a CSG modeler can often be difficult to edit (the reference edges can move during other edits), CSG Editor makes these editing operations as simple as possible. If a reference edge has moved, the Editor permits reselection of the edge to complete the chamfer or fillet.

I found the CSG Array command particularly useful. It simplifies the construction and editing of hole patterns and other repeated geometry. A pattern created with this command can be edited as a single entity, for example, you can change the number of holes in a pattern; or all repeated features can be edited with a single modification of the parent solid (a cylinder, say, for a hole pattern). Patterns can be generated from a complex solid, making this tool very flexible.

The Editor offers two means of separating the primitives of a complex solid. The first totally decomposes a solid, extracting all primitives and deleting the original solid. The second extracts primitives, one at a time, beginning with the most recently added.

For those with an existing database of R12 AME solids, CSG Editor offers a translator which generates editable R13 solids from the old models.

Documentation is well written and complete. A short tutorial provides sufficient instruction to use CSG Editor efficiently. Menu text is included to easily integrate the new CSG Editor commands into the existing AutoCAD menu structure. CSG construction alternates are available as LISP commands.

CSG Editor adds a solid's construction trail as extended entity data. This data can be stripped by exporting a solid to a SAT file, then importing the SAT file.

CSG Editor is an elegant solution to an important need. With its addition, R13 is clearly superior to R12, and the only viable objection to upgrading is eliminated. Anyone creating AutoCAD R13 solids with CSG techniques will benefit from CSG Editor.

Note: CSG Editor Version 3 for AutoCAD R14 became available as of press time. It offers the same advantages the earlier version brought to R13 with the addition of very easy installation, toolbar icons, and clear dialogs. The new version fits well with R14's improved user interface, and makes the combination an easy-to-use, powerful solid modeler.

Spec Box

CSG Editor

This AutoCAD add-on provides extensive editing capability for solids created using constructive solid geometry (CSG) techniques. It is compatible with AutoCAD R13, C4 or higher, and R14. CSG Editor integrates transparently into the AutoCAD environment, offering new solids editing commands when needed. Solids created with CSG Editor installed can be processed by any AutoCAD command accepting solid entities.

List Price: $295

Context CAD, Inc.
103 Lincoln Dr.
Sausalito, CA 94965
ph: 800-840-8050.

A similar product: AutoCAD R12 AME Solids Editor
Autodesk Inc.
111 McInnis Pkwy.
San Rafael, CA 94903
ph. (415) 517-5000

UK Manufacturing Week

UK Manufacturing Week

Much of the UK's 1998 manufacturing budget will be decided and allocated at this year's UK Manufacturing Week, which attracts more than 20,000 key buyers and specifiers, and more than 500 exhibiting companies. In addition, it is the only exhibition to showcase all aspects of the manufacturing process from the design stage to end product production through plant and factory maintenance.

Representatives of the manufacturing industry gather in pursuit of new products and applications, meeting new suppliers, and learning about the latest technologies.

John Battle, Minister of State for Industry, Energy, and Science, will present the Industrialists' Summit's key address which will focus on innovation in UK manufacturing. In addition, a special feature on the University of Cranfield's role in the development of advanced technologies will highlight Design and Manufacturing Excellence and Expertise.

Exhibiting companies are split into two halls: Hall 2 is for production and plant exhibitors, and Hall 4 focuses on design. The schedule includes an educational platform, political forum, showcase for state-of-the-art technologies, and a recruitment fair.

Manufacturing Week is co-located with the following shows: Computers in Manufacturing Tooling '97, and Inspex. A combined audience of more than 40,000 people is expected.

This event is organized by Reed Exhibition Companies Ltd. and Independent Exhibitions. Supporting industry associations include the Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), Engineering Employers Federation (EEF), and the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE). For more information visit


Hansen quick-release hose couplings include the HK Series of self-sealing couplings and the ST Series of straight-through couplings. Both are available from 1/8 to 21/2 inches in steel, brass, and stainless steel. Alternative seal materials are available to handle most industrial and process fluids.
Guyson International Ltd.
Booth 2425

Southview Business Park,
Guiseley, Leeds LS20 9PR, England
FAX +44 1943 850042

Diaphragm pump

Type VC0201 linear electromagnetic- diaphragm pump performs at 20l/min and has a rated pressure of 0.1 bar on continuous duty. Features include quiet operation, low vibration, oil-less construction, long life, and high efficiency. The VC0201 is suitable for applications such as solder removal, scientific analysis equipment, health-care products, and ozone producers.
Nitto Kohki Europe Co. Ltd.
Booth 4049

Unit 21, The Empire Center,
Imperial Way,Waterford, Herts, WD2 4YH, England
FAX +44 1923 248815


The StealthTM planetary gearhead for servomotors features the HeliCrown(R) helical gear. Gearheads are available in 4 frame sizes with reduction ratios of 5:1, 20:1, 30:1, 50:1, and 100:1. A balanced pinion supported by a floating bearing provides true alignment of the input pinion and the helical planetary gears, allowing input speeds to 10,000 rpm.
Bayside Precision Gearheads
Booth 4112

27 Seaview Blvd.
Port Washington, NY 11050
FAX (516) 484-5496

Linear motion system

The basic Lo-Pro aluminum-based low-profile linear motion system is available with a commercial/wiper wheel plate. Drive options include a belt, chain, lead-screw, and pneumatic cylinder actuator. This system is available in four sizes, providing a wide range of capacities from small to large loads. Lo-Pro is based on the Dual-Vee system and may be built to any length.
Hepco Slide Systems Ltd.
Booth 4161

Lower Moor Business Park,
Tiverton Way, Tiverton, Devon, EX 16 6TG, England
FAX +44 1884 243500


Two series of solenoids are available. Series 65 miniature solenoids are dc pulse-operated and magnet-maintained. They are suitable for low-energy applications such as equipment powered by dry cells. Available for either push or pull action, Series 65 includes 3 and 20W versions as standard, operated by dc pulses of 5, 6, 12, 24, or 48V. In addition, Series 44A provides drop-in replacements for earlier models, with identical mounting and electrical characteristics. The standard range includes ac as well as dc versions, with push or pull action.
BLP Components Ltd.
Booth 4345

Exning Rd., Newmarket,Suffolk CB8 OAX, England
FAX +44 1638 660718

Light sources

MVS-700 Series of high-intensity strobes incorporate flash-lamp technology and a reflector design. This series delivers over 40% more light-per-watt than the MVS-2020 Series. Both series meet CE 97, EMI, and safety requirements. Other products include the XeC-100 continuous xenon light source for color line-scan applications, the MVS-5700 IR illuminator for surveillance applications, and the MVS-5450 for applications requiring a high level of light uniformity.
EG&G Optoelectronics
Booth 2429

Bay T53, Shannon Free ZoneCo Clare, Ireland
FAX +353 61 472390

Aqueous washer

MARR STORM is a front-loading aqueous washer for fast degreasing and cleaning of larger components weighing up to 500 kg and measuring up to 800 mm in diameter and up to 500 mm high. Consistent results are possible due to a full 360-degree high-intensity spray of heated water-based cleaning solution at a regulated speed, for a pre-set time cycle, around each component load. This is discharged from each of a series of 22V spray jets at a rate of up to 4l/min at a pressure of up to 60 psi. The spray is then filtered, re-heated at a temperature of up to 60C, and recirculated from a high capacity 300l tank.
Guyson International Ltd.
Booth 2417

Snaygill Industrial Estate
Keighley Rd., SkiptonNorth Yorkshire, BD23 2QR England
FAX +44 1756 790213

Mixing machine

The Unipre two-component meter/mix/dispenser type G 32 includes electronically controlled, fully adjustable output ranges from 1g/sec to 10 kg/minute. To avoid the use of undesirable solvents the Unipre GP 25 SD mix head offers dynamic mixing using a disposable mix tube which can be cleaned using a built-in air-purge system.R.F.
Bright Enterprises Ltd.
Booth R4640

Enterprise House
London Rd., West Kingsdown,Sevenoaks Kent, TN15 6AP, England
FAX +44 1474 853944


Ac and dc axial flow fans and ac centrifugal blowers are available. Two PMC compact stepping/driver units feature a 37% increase in torque for the PMC 33 models and a 39% increase in torque for the PMC 35 models. In addition, two single-phase ac 230V, 60 and 90W electromagnetic brake motors have also been added to the product line.
Oriental Motor Ltd.
Booth 4250

Unit 7, Farnborough Business Center
Eelmore Rd., Fanrborough Hampshire GU14 7XA, England
FAX +44 01296 770769

Microstepping driver

The IM481H 96W bipolar drive incorporates advanced ASIC technology to reduce motor heating. The IM481H drives stepping motors to size 23 and measures 1.1 3 2.7 3 0.17 inches. Features include short-circuit and thermal protection and adjustable automatic current reduction at full step and fault outputs. This driver accepts an input voltage of 12 to 48V and has 14 built-in microstep resolutions from 400 to 51,200 steps/revolution, in binary and decimal, that can be changed at any time without resetting the driver.
Intelligent Motion Systems Inc.
Booth 4144

Box 457
Marlborough, CT 06447
FAX (860) 295-6107


The PN40 rated, full-bore, brass-ball valve is BSP-threaded. Fitted with an electric single-phase synchronous unidirectional motor, the standard power supply is 220V ac at 50/60 Hz. Standard rotation time for 90 degrees is 100 seconds, but rotation options include 20 seconds for 90 degrees and 180 seconds for 90 degrees. Connection options for the PN40 include: male/female, male/male, female/Hose-union, and NPT thread. Other options include a 24V power supply, relay, IP55 protection against water, bidirectional, a transparent plastic cover, and two LEDs that indicate valve position.
LeenGate Valves
Booth 4341

Clover Nook Industrial Estate
Somercotes, Derbyshire, DE55 4QT.England
FAX +44 1773 521591


Fine-nylon MG is a rapid-prototyping material for use in medical device applications. This material has been USP Class VI-certified by NAMSA, allowing a medical device prototype created in fine nylon MG to be taken into the operating suite and undergo exposure of 24 hours or less within a living body.
DTM Corporation
Booth R4634

Otto-Hahn-Strasse 647021 Hilden, Germany

Information service

The information service, Inside Web, provides desktop access to British library collections via the World Wide Web. The database holds content listings from over 20,000 journal titles and 16,000 conference proceedings held by the British library. Articles can be ordered and delivered in as little as two hours. Information is provided across a range of disciplines involved in the research, development, production, and marketing of industrial products.
The British Library
Booth 4375

Boston Spa,
Wetherby,West Yorkshire LS23 7BQ, England
FAX +44 1937 546571

Tooling pastes

Two tooling pastes are extruded onto an undersize core in foam or wood, and then CNC-machined to precise dimensions to deliver seam-free models with a smooth finish. The epoxy version features fast 40-mm-thick layers and is useful for the production of full-vehicle models. A polyurethane version is extruded in 20-mm-thick layers and is suitable for the production of single-panel models. Also available are Araldite(R) industrial adhesives for use in applications such as aircraft construction and maintenance to performance sports products.
Ciba Specialy Chemicals
Booth 4420

Customer Service Center,
Duxford, Cambridge CB2 4QA, England
FAX +44 1223 493322

Lubrication management tool

LubriPlan 2000 total lubrication management tool runs on a PC or networked computer in a Windows-type environment. A plant survey is included in the package. Features of this system include the ability to control all lubricants stock, automate stock control, produce work orders automatically, and prevent over- or under-stocking. LubriPlan 2000 can be used to produce comprehensive reports and store machine photographs and manuals. A password system provides data security.
Shell Oils
Booth 2348

Delta House,
Wavell Rd., Wythenshawe,Manchester, M22 5SB, England
FAX +44 161 499 8648


Two printers include the EXCEL(R) 178i and the Apollo impulse printer. The EXCEL 178i prints up to four lines of information and a range of bar codes, can selectively embolden, and has a tower print capability. Dynamic environmental compensation features allow this printer to be tolerant of changing environmental conditions.
Videojet Systems Int'l
Booth 2231

153 Dixons Hill Rd.
Welham Green, Hatfield Herts AL9 7JE, England

More on ADSL

More on ADSL

Website Exclusive

More on ADSL

ADSL Pros and Cons
Pros Cons
Uses existing copper Highest speeds are only attainable on loops &18K feet
High access speed may be mismatch versus Internet backbone capacity
Star topology Unknown Telco tariffs
High data network access speeds possible Telco positioning as consumer service
Data travels over less expensive, non-switched infrastructure Standards confusion
Flat rate pricing Lagging behind cable modem implementations
Potential for turnkey application solution in Internet access

ADSL Trials and Service Deployments

Company and Location


Trial dates
Dalton, GA & Hudson, OH
Down: 1.5 Mbps
Up:64 Kbps
Ameritech and IBM
Wheaton, ILL
Down: 1.5 Mbps
Up:64 Kbps
10-96 with deployment by mid-1998
Bell Atlantic
Northern Virginia
Down: 1.5 Mbps
Up:64 Kbps
Atlanta, GA
Down: 6 Mbps
Up:64 Kbps
10-95 with deployment 1-98
Cincinnati Bell
Cincinnati, OH
Down: Down 640 K-2.56 M; 272-1.08M 1-97
Irving, TX
Down: up to 4 Mbps
Up: up to 500 Kbps
2-96 with deployment in 1997
GTE and Microsoft, Redmond, WA Up to 6 Mbps; 384 Kbps 9-96
Intelecom Data System
Rhode Island
Down: 640 Kbps-2.5 Mbps
Up:275 Kbps-1.08 Mbps
Deployment 3-97 in Rhode Island with plans to expand to other areas in New England
Chicago, IL
Down: 1.5 Mbps
Up: 64 Kbps
Deployment 9-96
MCI Communication Corporation with partners NW Iowa Telephone & NW Iowa Power
Iowa, New York and Detroit
Down: 1.5 Mbps
Up: 64 Kbps
10-96 with deployment in 8-97 in Iowa, will add rural areas in 10 states nationwide by early 1998
Network Access Solutions
Mid-Atlantic Region
Down up to 6 Mbps Deployment 2-97
Nynex and Lotus
Boston, MA
Down: 1.5 Mbps
Up: 64 Kbps
8-96 with deployment in 1998
Northland Comm
New York
Down: 1.5 Mbps
Up: 64 Kbps
2-978 with deployment to Utica/Rome and Syracuse in late 1997
Pacific Bell
San Ramon, CA
Down: 6 Mbps
Up: 640 Kbps
8-96 with deployment beginning in 9-97
SBC Comm. and Shell Oil
Houston, TX
Down: 6 Mbps
Up: 640 Kbps
Deployment late '97
Signet Partners
Austin, TX
Down up to 6 Mbps Deployment starts in 1997
Transport Logic,
Portland, OR
Down: 640 Kbps
Up: 275 Kbps
Deployment beginning in 1997