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Articles from 2007 In March

EOS To Launch New Laser Sintering System

EOS To Launch New Laser Sintering System

The latest EOS laser sintering system, the FORMIGA P 100, will make its North American debut on May 1st at the RAPID 2007 event in Detroit. The system produces plastic parts in polystyrene or polyamide and has a smaller format than the EOS' previous machines. According to Jim Fendrick, EOS' vice president for North America, the system represents a ground-up redesign. “It's not just a scaled down version of our previous machines,” he says, noting the the new machine features advances in its optics and scanning system that allow it to build walls as thin as 0.016 inches. The FORMIGA P 100 also features a newly designed radial recoater that improves part quality while decreasing powder consumption. “The parts coming off the machine look very crisp,” Fendrick says. EOS is positioning the machine as suitable not just for prototypes but for rapid manufacturing work–or “e-manufacturing” as EOS terms it. Fendrick points out that the FORMIGA P 100 sports 23 components that have been made on EOS' own laser sintering machines. “The machine practices what we preach,” he says.The FORMIGA P 100 offers a build envelope of 8 x 10 x 13 inches and is housed in a 52 x 42 x 77 inch cabinet. North American installations will begin in the third quarter of 2007.

The latest EOS laser sintering system, the FORMIGA P 100


Giant Serpa, Portugal Solar Array Featured in Technology Review

Giant Serpa, Portugal Solar Array Featured in Technology Review

A beautiful photo essay showcasing one of the world’s largest solar power plants was recently published in Technology Review. The entire gallery of photos, archived under “Good Day Sunshine”, can be viewed at the Technology Review Web site.

This southern Portugal PV plant is expected to produce 21,340 megawatt-hours of electricity each year. The plant also illustrates economies of scale. According to PowerLight, the plant’s operator, it was less expensive to build one large array than to spread the cells out into smaller groupings or onto rooftops. In addition, the land will be used for dual purposes. The installations are situated far enough off the ground to allow livestock grazing.

The PowerLight Web site includes extensive press release coverage the array.

For more Design News coverage on this installation and other solar arrays, check out my recent posts: “Located: List of Large Solar Arrays” and “Imagining the World’s Largest Solar Array to Power a Nation”.

Motion Control and Fluid Power: ABB Automation World Highlights

March 30, 2007
Spotlight Story:
ABB Automation World Highlights
Innovations at ABB's Automation World Conference in Orlando, FL include new ACSM1 drives, machine vision and advanced force control for robotics and new wireless adapters.&NOBR>Full Story &/NOBR>
3100 Series High-Pressure Transmitters • 0–100 psi to 0-30,000 psi ranges (0-10 bar to 0-2,200 bar)
• Less than 1" Diameter
• High Performance
These new pressure sensors deliver the long-term stability of thin-film technology, with the economy of capacitance transducers. Full scale accuracy is 0.25% and long-term drift is just 0.1%/year! Amazing performance at an unbeatable price for OEMs.
Gems Sensors & Controls Click Here.
In the News:
Parker Develops Smarter Seal
A new kind of seal for oil drilling equipment fosters downhole automation with fiber-optic data communications and sensing capabilities. Full Story
Linear Motion Technologies Move People, Baggage in Spain
Linear synchronous motors will power airport baggage handling and automated people movers at this week's Passenger Terminal Expo 2007 in Barcelona, Spain. Full Story
Visualizing Step Motor Differences
NEMA defines sizes, but applications can dictate modified and custom versions. Full Story
Phantom of the Opera Chandelier at Venetian Hotel Thrills Audiences
The chandelier in the Venetian Hotel theater for its production of Phantom of the Opera thrills audiences at every performance. Full Story
Sponsored Technology Content
Custom Design and Manufacturing In partnership with Bishop Wisecarver
For over 56 years, Bishop-Wisecarver has been solving our customers' most demanding application challenges. We can accommodate your specifications for most anything from slight product modifications such as non-standard length, bearing or grease requirements to complete custom-designed solutions. Read More
How Important is Motor Efficiency for Applicance and Servo Motors?
A new permanent magnet motor structure from Novatorque looks promising in terms of increasing motor efficiency for appliance and servo motors. How important is motor efficiency as a selection criterion for new product designs? If it lives up to its billing, how promising is this new technology? Post a reply
Have a design problem? Design News and its hundreds of thousands of engineer correspondents can help. Post your question on the new E2E Forums! In order to participate, please create a forum screen name.
The Latest Motion Control Resources Available:
Deublin Company
Deublin, the leading manufacturer of rotating unions, has just issued a new 56-page catalog that includes complete information for selecting unions for a variety of applications, from water and steam, to air and hydraulic, oil and coolant.
Pyramid Inc.This brochure provides information as to the possible uses of the PYRATHANE power transmission stretch belt as well as physical properties and characteristics. Advantages are excellent abrasion resistance, high tensile strength, cleanliness of operation and resistance to oils, grease and ozone. The ability to eliminate idlers and tensioning devices is also discussed.

ABB Automation World Highlights
Parker Develops Smarter Seal
Linear Motion Technologies Move People, Baggage in Spain
Visualizing Step Motor Differences
Phantom of the Opera Chandelier at Venetian Hotel Thrills Audiences
How Important is Motor Efficiency for Applicance and Servo Motors?
Resource Center
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Joseph Ogando,
Senior Editor Charge up your ipods. Next week Design News will launch a series of podcasts in which engineering leaders talk about motion control and automation technologies. First up will be Dr. Eric Warren, Technical Director of Evernham Motorsports. E-mail me with thoughts at Me
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Brr It's Cold in Here

When Bob Wilson, our March 19 Gadget Freak couldn't convince building maintenance at his work that his office was frigid in the morning, he devised a solution by programming a TI MSP430-F2013 microcontroller to record the tempearture continuously over several days. See move about his Gadget here.

Several of you commented on Wilson's temperature sensor, which I was seriously thinking about building (until my job was outsourced) because I too had the same problem. Course now that I'm "working" from home, I don't have that problem - and likely won't (unless I run out of money!).

Here's what some of you said about Wilson's invention:

One reader from the UK said his company is just about to launch a low cost device to do this task. Another offers up a "cheaper" solution. Read all comments here.

In the end though, Bob Wilson explains that his invention was also a "self-training exercise to master the MSP430-F2013."

Calling all Gadget Freaks! Tell us what you think, we want to hear from you!

Dimension Announces 3D Printing Contest

Dimension Announces 3D Printing Contest

Did you know that your Dimension 3D printer could produce a 32-inch flat screen TV set? Well, it can if you win the contest that's part of the company's new "Most Valuable 3D Printer" awards program–or "MV3dP" for short. "The MV3dP Customer Awards program is an opportunity for Dimension users to tell their unique story about how their Dimension 3D Printer has saved the day or made their design team look good," says Jon Cobb, vice president of 3D printing for the Dimension Printing Group's parent company,  Stratasys Inc. Winning customers will receive 20 cassettes of ABS material, which comes out roughly to a one-year supply. The engineer or design team that submits a winning entry will also receive a 32-inch flat screen television. Dimension users can get more information and submit their MV3dP entry by visiting the contest Web site. Submissions will be accepted through June 30th and awards will be announced in July.

What Do Employers Want? Part Two: Motivation

What Do Employers Want? Part Two: Motivation

Everyone wants to be wooed and pursued … even employers. The motivation question lies behind a huge part of the interview process, especially when speaking with a competitor. Last blog entry, we looked at qualifications, the first of three questions present at every interview: “Can you do the job?” The next question is “Why do you want it (and us)?”

Mostly, people move from one place to another because they are unemployed or underemployed. The thrill (or the check) is gone and the only way to get it back is in a new job. But what differentiates one job from the next is the query pondered by company and job candidate alike. It is a question that must be addressed in every job interview. Sometimes it is asked directly: “Why do you want to work for us?”

Other times it is implied: “What are you looking for?” It is a vital question to plan and prepare for in your interview. It can also be effectively used to sell your candidacy to that employer. In the same way that you must address the qualification question in direct response to the company’s most pressing needs, so must you address the motive question. You must present a thoughtful, researched, logical answer to the company’s query "Why us?"

If you are unemployed, the answer might seem obvious. Therefore, you may not think about the question. You might assume that the company understands that you want work. But the question here is not why a job, it’s why this job. You must plan and prepare your answer to this question in advance of the interview. Even if you are there only to explore the opportunity or its potential over your current job, you must still address the motive question to be credible. I can’t emphasize this enough.

Over the years, I’ve met many cocky candidates, people I’ve recruited from a competitor who enter an interview not wanting to appear eager or enthusiastic. “Let them chase me” they say, then find that, surprisingly, they are not. This dance of the coy conversation typically ends in an interview not about career potential, but about shared acquaintances, industry buzz or their golf game. At the end of the interview, the parties each go their own separate, wary ways, unsure about why they met. Unfortunately, they may be unable to logically move to the next step because its purpose was not addressed. In my experience with these situations, those best at playing hard to get invariably win … they don’t get got.

You can always find ways to end an interview process voluntarily and honorably. The position as presented “doesn’t offer a big enough challenge” to warrant a move or the “timing” for a move is not quite right, or the like. The point is that you may never know the strength of a competitive offer or its long-range potential if you do not consider and address the motive question. In a competitor interview scenario, it may even outweigh the qualification question. You will never know where a successful interview may have ended. What’s more, even if the immediate situation isn’t right at present, the impression you create may open up the doors to future opportunities. It all lies in the impression you created in this introductory meeting.

So what do you do to prepare for the motive question? Research the company, learn about its executive team and products, market share and mission statement. Listen intently for what you might contribute to the organization. Stress the confidential nature of your interest but your openness to personal and professional growth. You might even suggest what may be missing in your current role in the way of growth opportunity or development. Do not bad mouth your company. Simply cite anything that you lack personally that might trigger a move. This must not be money or benefits. It may be market forces, management opportunities, personal challenges. Only by suggesting your motivation can you discover the potential availability of its existence at the new company.

Then, let the wooing begin.

E-mail me with thoughts at jack.o'

GEIA plans guidance on lead-free parts

GEIA plans guidance on lead-free parts

The U.S. aerospace industry group, The Government Electronics Industries Association (GEIA), is planning to release guidelines on performance and qualification testing for lead-free solder during the first quarter of 2008. According to an item in ELFNET, the GEIA report, “Guidance Regarding the Performance and Qualification Testing of Aerospace and High-Performance Lead-Free Interconnects,” will be released at the end of this year at the earliest.

The reason behind the guidelines is that aerospace manufacturers may find themselves using lead-free parts even though they are exempt as an industry. For the past couple decades, the defense and aerospace industries have been buying commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) parts because they are less expensive than the hi-reliability military-specification parts.

Most of the suppliers of COTS parts are now moving to lead-free versions and some of them are phasing out their leaded versions. Consequently, many aerospace manufacturers are considering the use lead-free parts. If so, they’re going to need considerable information about the performance and qualification of lead-free components. The project from GEIA will give industry guidance, including test procedures for predicting performance and reliability in the harsh environments common to the aerospace industries.

Chery Tiggo Is No Chevy Volt

Chery Tiggo Is No Chevy Volt

Keep a close eye on developments with China’s home grown car producers, such as Chery, Brilliance and Geely. They put emphasis on low-cost, mass output and not on technical innovation—a critical factor for advancing the use of engineering plastics. We’re not talking the Chevy Volt here; we’re talking the Chery Tiggio. You’ve probably heard a lot about the involvement of VW and GM in the China market. And in fact those two OEMs and their local JV partners are the current leaders in production. But the Chinese-owned and developed companies are growing fastest. Sales by Chery are up 48% for example, while GM’s sales are up 22%. News that Chrysler is collaborating with Chery on new models that will be sold by Chrysler in the United States under the Dodge brand turns up the heat.

United managers fell down, not service reps in India

United managers fell down, not service reps in India

A while back, I complained about losing my bags for five days after weather forced them from a United flight and onto a Delta flight. My phone wrath was directed at United Customer Service agents who happened to be in India. They were so far away and were foreigners taking jobs from Americans. In other words, they were easy targets.

I now realize that my beef over the lost bags probably lies with United's stateside managers. Here's why:

The folks in India were consistently polite and responsive within the limited bounds of their authority. Repeatedly, they tried to call both Delta and United baggage offices in Boston (home) and no one ever answered (they always factored the time zone difference, too). A customer service person, again with an Indian sounding-name, has been trying to track down a Mileage Plus manager to send me a free-something certificate. Again, no response, but the customer service agents in India don't give up. They keep e-mailing saying they are still trying to contact someone with greater authority.

Sure, they're trained to handle angry customers like me and are heavily scripted. That in and of itself is frustrating. Now, I am only surmising that the Mileage Plus manager is in the U.S….maybe not. But I don't think all the fault lies with the customer service agents in India, who I have seen blamed for United indiscretions before. Again, they are easy targets for Americans. The problem at United is poor management and last time I checked, United's top managers are in Chicago. 

All Aboard the Matzo Bus

While I usually try to steer clear of any bus-related news, I just couldn't pass up the chance to get your feedback on this most unusual invention!

When police responded to an early-morning report of smoke in a New York neighborhood, I doubt they expected to uncover this tasty gadget: a school bus converted into a supersized oven for baking Passover matzos.

To create his backyard oven-in-a-bus invention (check out the picture!), Rabbi Aaron Winternitz removed all of the seats from the old red-and-white school bus to transform the entire vehicle into an oven, complete with smokestack, exhaust fans and working fire. The fire was fueled by gas from lines extending from Winternitz's house. The back door of the bus, formerly the emergency exit, served as the oven door.

Winternitz has made the thin, crisp matzo bread for his 50-member congregation in his bus for the past three Passovers and was hoping to carry on the tradition for this year's upcoming holiday. No such luck — while a building inspector called this oversized gadget "very creative," it isn't nearly up to code.

Alright my fellow Gadget Freaks, we've got 50 hungry mouths to feed! Any ideas for what Winternitz could do to make his oven-in-a-bus less of a fire hazard? And who out there has a tasty invention to top this one? Let me know! Now off to lunch - this Gadgeteer is getting hungry!