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Articles from 1998 In March

Other available analysis tools

In relationships, sports, and business, it can generally be said that the more one anticipates, the more effective one can be. The same holds true for product design. That's why analysis programs can prove helpful. Implemented during the design process, they can not only improve the end result, they can eliminate potential problems along the way

The above chart summarizes some popular analysis packages presently on the market, each one emphasizing a particular technology. Pro/MECHANICA from Parametric Technology, for example, uses adaptive refinement technology to reduce the accuracy burden placed on the user. "This is vital to widespread effective use of simulation and optimization," says Brian Sheperd, manager of functional applications at Parametric.

CATIA's Generative Part series of products from Dassault/IBM are for designers and specialists using a common architecture.

"With this architecture, designers and analysts can work together to reduce design lead times while increasing quality by performing more analyses on more parts," explains Jean-Francois Maiziere, CATIA analysis segment manager for IBM.

Industry standards such as Microsoft Windows compliance and ACIS and Parasolids kernels play a major role in mainstream analysis tools. "It's important for the design engineer to work in an integrated and associative environment with the underlying solid-modeling system," argues Olimpio DeMarco, director of marketing and support for MacNeal-Schwendler. "MSC offers these integrated design checking tools with the MSC/InCheck product and an upward mobility path with MSC/NASTRAN for Windows based on the industry standard kernels and user interface."

Other features of today's analysis tools include training and support. SDRC, for instance, offers complete training and consultancy to set up standard repeatable analysis. Matra Datavision offers system-wide data management capabilities specifically designed for analysis experts to guide, manage, and monitor the analysis activities of designers.

Considerations before investing in a specific analysis package? Design Engineers should ask themselves the following questions:

1) What are the factors of product performance that have the greatest impact on the success or failure of the product?

2) How do these factors translate into the analysis that needs to be performed?

3)How reusable is this analysis for downstream products--Is it repeatable enough to be embedded in the software?

4) What will the ultimate return on investment be?

An army of sensors

Seven Siemens S5 PLCs monitor all activities within Muller Weingarten's transfer press. This information comes from the system's many data-gathering components. For example, Mannesmann Rexroth's HED 8 series of pressure switches, which operates in five ranges up to a maximum pressure of 650 bar, monitors hydraulic pressure. VADM and VADMI vacuum suction nozzles and solenoid valves from Festo AG transport freshly minted car body parts from one press station to the next--free from the risk of nicks, bending, or scratches. Non-contacting inductive proximity sensors from Balluff Inc. notify the vacuum system of a part's presence. All told,the Jumbo transfer press employs more than 6,000 actuators and sensors.

Vision goes to work

Traditional EDA tools rely on circuit theory to approximate the electromagnetic behavior of simple systems involving large isolated components where electrical signals vary or switch relatively slowly.

As frequencies and structural complexities are increasing, the amount of electromagnetic interaction in the systems is also increasing dramatically. Ansoft believes that circuit theory, which only approximates electromagnetic interaction, cannot accurately model these systems.

To this effect, Ansoft has incorporated the work of physicist James Clark Maxwell into their software. Ansoft's software applies Maxwell's equations to complex, real-life problems in the following three CAD and CAE design stages:

- Preprocessing: Building a computer model of the simulated device by developing a solid model of the device geometry and then defining the physical properties.

- Solution: Calculating electromagnetic field quantities for each element created during the preprocessing stage.

- Post-processing: Applying additional proprietary procedures to analyze the results from the second stage in light of the specific design environment.

The complexities of the design process can lead to multiple iterations between the stages. To minimize these iterations and thereby reduce design time, Ansoft's software provides estimates of critical design characteristics such as performance, miniaturization, and yield.

Ansoft's software includes electromechanical (EM), signal integrity (SI), and high-frequency (HF) products. Here's how Ansoft describes them:

EM software products enable designers of electromechanical components and systems to optimize the electrical performance of their designs while increasing manufacturing yields. The products in this category include the Maxwell 2D Field Simulator, the Maxwell 3D Simulator, the Electromechanical System Simulator (EMSS), and the Electromagnetic Analysis System (EMAS).

The company's SI software enables the design of computer interconnects, IC Packaging structures, and electronic systems. It accurately captures the degradation in signal quality due to higher clock speeds and smaller physical dimensions. These products include Maxwell Spicelink, Maxwell Eminence, Maxwell SI 2D, and Maxwell SI 3D.

Ansoft's HF software is for designing radio frequency integrated circuits, antenna, radar systems, and microwave components. Products include Maxwell Strata, Ansoft HFSS, Serenade, and Ensemble.

Ansoft products can be used as an independent design platform or are compatible with complementary EDA tools. They are available on Unix workstations and PCs running Microsoft Windows/Windows NT.

Get on board with USB

Get on board with USB

Universal Serial Bus (USB) promises a universal interface for PC and workstation peripherals, eliminating the need for I/O devices such as serial and parallel, keyboard and mouse, and joystick and monitor. Its hot-plug capabilities allow end users to add peripherals to their systems without rebooting. USB offers a bandwidth of 12 Mbps, and recognizes up to 127 different addresses. End users will be able to add up to 127 different peripherals to their systems using USB hubs.

Today, USB is being implemented in PC motherboards, but software compliance issues are postponing the use of USB in peripheral systems. USB is supported by specific chipsets on Pentium processor host PC systems and software device drivers in Windows 95 and 98 operating systems. To take advantage of USB's hot-plug capabilities, the chips in peripheral systems must interoperate with the host PC operating system to ensure automatic recognition by the software drivers.

The industry will begin to see widespread availability in communications devices such as cell phones and personal digital assistants (PDA), which will offer USB connectivity to allow the download of e-mail between device and PC. Digital cameras will offer USB connectivity to allow transfer of graphics files. Web TV systems will also begin to offer USB ports so that end users can use peripherals with a PC.

Peripheral manufacturers will begin to implement USB simultaneously to meet end-user demand. An important strategy for these manufacturers will be to choose an interconnect partner that has established USB component manufacturing in their area. This will help manufacturers keep their interconnect costs even lower as they get on board with this new technology.

To speak with an AMP Inc. applications engineer, call (717) 592-5377 or FAX (717) 592-6146.

Mini antenna

Mini antenna

The DAC series miniature dielectric antenna element is for 2.4-GHz wireless LAN systems. The flat-type antenna provides:

- Vertical polarization reception

- Low profile (6-mm max)

- Omni-directional in azimuth

- Low-interference design

- Central feeding point terminal

- Wide bandwidth

- Light weight

A layer of conductive film on the wall of the substrate's though hole connects the radiation electrode on the substrate's top surface with the ground electrode on the bottom. A conductive pin abutting the electrode's 50V impedance matching point feeds the inner conductor of a coaxial cable, while the ground electrode connects to the outer coaxial-cable conductor.

Adam Horwitz, Toko America Inc., 1250 Feehanville Drive, Mt. Prospect, IL 60056; 847-297-0070.

Industrial heaters

Industrial heaters include band and nozzle, cable, cartridge, cast-in, ceramic fiber, flexible, multicell, radiant, special heaters, strip, and tubular and process assemblies. Providing Heat Expertise catalog provides in-depth product information. Metric equivalents or conversion formulas are listed where applicable, and separate English and metric graphs and charts are featured where required.

Watlow Electric Mfg. Co., 12001 Lackland Rd., St. Louis, MO 63146, FAX (314) 878-6814.


Prediction of Noise Generated by Fans and Compressors in Turbojet and Turbofan Engines data item predicts noise in the free field of a lossless atmosphere. This item and associated computer program are based on work published and recently updated by NASA. Published data covers the aerospace, mechanical, chemical, and structural engineering sectors.

ESDU Int'l plc, 27 Corsham St., London , England N1 6UA, FAX +44 0171 490 2701.

Metal processing

Burr-free cutting, grinding, and polishing is for small-diameter metal tubes, wires, and rods. Length and diameter tolerances are in the microns, parallelism and flatness are less then a micron, squareness is in the minutes, and surface finishes are as smooth as 1 microinch. All metals, including stainless steels; cobolt alloys; NiTi; and pure titanium, precious, and refractory metals are processed for medical device, automotive component, semiconductor, and electronic applications.

Metal Cutting Corp., 59 Village Park Rd., Cedar Grove, NJ 07009.

Motors and gearmotors

Dc brush-commutated and brushless motors and gearmotors feature shafts that can be customized with a flat, journal, keyway, cross hole, slot, groove, swage, gear, clutch, or pulley. Optional shaft diameters are available for some motors and gearmotors, and users can also customize shaft material from standard 416 stainless steel; which offers magnetic properties to optimize motor performance; to non-magnetic grades including 303, 316, and high-carbon, to meet specific application requirements.

Pittman, 343 Godshall Dr., Harleysville, PA 19438, FAX (215) 256-1338.


Single module two-speed synchro to digital converters feature 16-bit resolution and ±0.005 degrees of accuracy hs. The devices convert two-speed synchro or resolver inputs of 11.8 or 26V or 90V 400 Hz or 90V 60Hz into 16-bit parallel binary outputs representing angle. Speed ratios of 1 x 10, 16, 18, 32, 36, 64, or 128 are available. The converters can track rates up to 1,000 degrees/sec and also have a dc velocity output and built-in test digital indication of correct operation.

Computer Conversions Corp., 6 Dunton Ct., East Northport, NY 11731, FAX (516) 261-3308.