Standards update

Standards update

Deluge of new safety guideliens
will affect machinery designs

Designers of machinery for world markets will have to contend with a flood of new safety standards. Among the busiest technical committees of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is TC 199, formed in 1991. Its sphere, "safety of machinery," has expanded to embrace the hazards of chronic damage to health, including toxic materials and noise. TC 199's major work is ISO/TR 12100, a standard that sets general principles for machinery design. The committee followed that last year with more specific standards covering design of emergency stops and minimum gaps to avoid injuries to operators. TC 199 also has been circulating draft international standards covering design of interlocking de-vices for guards, reduction of risks from dangerous substances emitted by machinery, and hygiene requirements for the design of machinery. Other subjects under study include pressure-sensitive protective devices and safety-related parts of control systems.

Leaflet attacks false claims, such as 'ISO certification'

ISO managers hope to stamp out misleading claims by organizations that have achieved ISO 9000 or ISO 14000 certification. Especially annoying, they say, are expressions such as "ISO certification" that appear in some advertisements. Although ISO developed and published the standards for managing quality and environmental systems, it does not certify firms that adopt them. Rather, certifications come from independent auditors. ISO also wants to put an end to company statements that imply that ISO 9000 signifies product quality or that ISO 14000 means that a product is "green." The guidelines concern management systems, not products directly. The international standards-making group also warns organizations against using its trademarked logo without permission. ISO describes many such misuses in its leaflet Publicizing your ISO 9000 or ISO 14000 Certification. The leaflet also gives examples of accurate ads. "As the variety of styles of these good examples illustrates, being accurate does not mean limiting the imagination," the publication notes. You can get a free copy of the leaflet in English or French from ISO Central Secretariat in Geneva or from national members of ISO worldwide.

Software devised to simplify writing of global standards

Not surprisingly, there are standards for writing standards. But not everybody in the business follows them. Now ISO Central Secretariat is offering software to help make standards writing simpler and faster. One of its electronic tools is a template. It guides the user through a series of panels and document "skeletons" that incorporate predefined stylistic and structural rules. One limitation: You can use the template only with Microsoft Word 6 or Word 7. For other popular word processors, ISO provides a model document in the form of a simple style sheet. You can get both, along with manuals, by mail from ISO headquarters, or you can download them from ftp://ftp.iso.ch/pub/out/template/isostd30/.

Rules formed to protect devices from effects of nuclear bursts

The International Electrotechnical Commission is drafting standardized methods for protecting devices against the effects of high-altitude nuclear bursts. These effects could disrupt many electronic systems, including communications, electric power, and information technology. The Commission already has developed a new international standard for testing protective devices for high-altitude nuclear electromagnetic pulse (HEMP). The standard primarily covers tests for voltage breakdown and voltage-limiting characteristics. It also details methods to measure the residual voltage under HEMP conditions for very fast changes of voltage and current.

Uncle Sam postpones enforcement of tests for faulty fasteners

The United States will not begin invoking standards on fasteners used in "critical" configurations until May 27, 1998. Originally, testing mandates were to begin May 27 of this year. However, the director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) determined that not enough laboratories had received accreditation in time to conduct the required testing. The director estimates that 425 laboratories will be ready by the new date. NIST wants all accreditation bodies and laboratories that want to participate in testing to apply by August 1, 1997. The testing is part of the United States Fastener Quality Act, which Congress forged to counter an influx of bogus fasteners, especially from abroad. The Act pertains to fasteners used in vital applications, particularly in automobile, aerospace, construction, chemical, and machine-tool industries. An example of a critical configuration is the attachment of engines to fuselages. The law requires that critical fasteners conform to the exact specifications represented by the manufacturer. Inspections, testing, and certification must conform to current standards for fasteners.

What did he say?

What did he say?

We must have read it wrong! A recent issue of USA Today quoted Hollywood Director James Cameron making what some could consider a snide, snobbish remark about design engineering.

Cameron is director of the movie Titanic, the special-effects-laden tale of the ship by the same name that was originally scheduled to be at a movie house near you sometime this summer. Production problems--specifically, difficulties developing the computerized version of the special effects--have delayed the debut until approximately December.

Answering some complaints about the delay in the movie's release, the director bragged about the movie's artistic risks. Then, he said: "If you can't take chances as an artist, you might as well be working at General Motors designing the next family sedan."

Say what!

You mean, Mr. Cameron, that there's no risk in automotive design? Maybe you don't realize what's at stake when specifying new materials, alternative braking-system components, new transmission linkages, passenger-side air bag systems, or any of the thousands of other elements that will make up the innovation in the next family sedan.

Design that sedan poorly, specify the wrong components, blow the finite element analysis, and you can build a car that could kill a company--or people. Ask Ralph Nader. Read his book on the Corvair, Unsafe at any speed.

Automotive engineers wrestle with risky decisions every day. For example, what's the optimum height for minivans that will both satisfy customers' wants and not tip over? Engineers use an incredible amount of imagination to solve such problems.

The same is true in aerospace design, medical design, and other engineering tasks, where much more than just critical acclaim is riding on even the smallest decision. The risks designers take in those industries--and the imagination they display--can vastly improve the quality of all our lives.

Maybe we're being just a little too thin-skinned. But, gratuitous comments like Cameron's really frost us.

And he, of all people, should know better. After all, it's design--special effects, computerized and otherwise--that will make his movie a hit. Just ask the directors of Batman and Robin and Anaconda, both of which rely heavily on fluid-power design technology, as reported in this issue.

Lighten up, James Cameron. Don't take yourself so seriously. And, start taking others--like those sedan designers--a little more seriously. You owe them. We all do.

Technology bulletin

Technology bulletin

Chest imaging system uses energy subtraction

A combination of advanced data visualization techniques and precision mechanism design has resulted in a breakthrough medical imaging system. The Fuji FCR 9501ES upright reader, developed by Fuji Medical Systems, U.S.A., produces images of the human chest cavity of unparalleled clarity. The device uses high-energy and low-energy signals in tandem to capture snap-shots of soft tissue and bones on separate imaging plates. Through a push-button process of energy subtraction, physicians are able to view either tissue or bone. David Armstrong, director of Fuji's electronic imaging group, said the system is particularly valuable for examining the chest because tissue abnormalities can be hidden behind the ribs. The practicality of energy subtraction traditionally has been limited by the difficulty in precisely aligning separate sheets of film by hand. The Fuji 9501ES incorporates a mechanism that automatically aligns the film. In addition, the imaging plates and copper filter are integrated into the reader, with no cassette handling required. The reader has the capacity to process 120 image plates per hour. For more information, call (203) 353-0300.


Motor control sans sensors

By many accounts, the induction motor is the most commonly-used electric motor in the world. A Swedish company has adapted its patented natural field orientation (NFO) technology as a cost-effective way to control electric motor speeds without the need for on-board speed sensors. NFO Drives' NFO Controller is primarily designed for induction motors operating in the 1-20 kW range. According to controller designer Ragnar Lund, the application area is currently industrial frequency converters, but NFO Controllers for consumer products, such as washing machines, are in the immediate future. "The circuit functions like a preprogrammed ASIC but lets designers choose their own co-processor," Lund says. "With the NFO Controller, small- and medium-sized manufacturers will have access to an economical solution." The hardware consists of a standard Intel microprocessor preprogrammed with NFO algorithms. The price for a complete circuit is US$22 for quantities of a thousand. For more information, call Ragnar Jonsson, NFO Drives AB, at +46 46 16 8500.


Mechanical process key to YAG laser precision

Developed by the French Atomic Energy Agency, yttrium-aluminum-garnet (YAG) microchip lasers are now in production for use in infrared telemetry applications. The lasers offer peak power output of only a few kilowatts and a divergence of about one milliradian, making them very precise. Sfim ODS was granted an exclusive license to commercialize the YAG laser in 1995. The company's production process starts with a single-crystal rod of yttrium-aluminum-garnet, developed by Grenoble-based Crismatec, measuring approximately 25 mm in diameter. The crystal bar is cut into fine slices one mm thick, each of which is doped with quadrivalent chrome by liquid-phase epitaxy. The rear face of the crystal is polished to eliminate the deposit. "This mechanical operation enables us to adjust the thickness of the layer of saturable absorbent in line with the specifications of the laser," says Jean-Pierre Herriau, sales manager at Sfim ODS. Mirrors are applied directly to the crystal by thermal evaporation or physical vapor deposition. The crystal is then cut up into units of one cubic millimeter using a microsaw: Each disk can yield between 200 and 300 YAG microlasers. For more information, call Jean-Pierre Herriau at +33 1 34 63 39 37.


OnStar is watching you

Motorola has teamed up with General Motors' Vauxhall and the Automobile Association (AA) of the United Kingdom to develop an "intelligent car" communication system. The so-called Vauxhall OnStar system will provide drivers with emergency response, roadside assistance, and other services via a 24-hour Vauxhall information center. The system incorporates Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers along with a custom-fitted cellular phone that operates through the car's audio system. In an emergency, the AA will be able to pinpoint a vehicle broadcasting GPS data over the cell phone. On-line access to traffic and navigation data and digital maps enable Vauxhall operators to provide drivers with recommended route or real-time traffic information. The information can be sent verbally or as a short text message on the phone's screen. OnStar is scheduled to be up and running this fall. The service is expected to expand to include telephone directories and a hotel reservation service. Vauxhall's sister company, Opel, is developing an OnStar system for Germany. For more information, call Jeff Weingard, Motorola, at (312) 372-6045.


Brushless motor keeps guided missiles on-target

Control Techniques Dynamics Ltd. has developed a brushless permanent magnet motor with integral gearbox for incorporation into a High Pressure Pure Air Generator (HPPAG) built by Ultra Electronics Weapon Systems. The HPPAG 320 replaces rechargeable gas bottles used to cool infrared guidance systems on missiles and IR sensor packages carried by combat aircraft. Losing the bottles simplifies logistical support and maintenance and provides life-cycle cost savings. The motors' rare-earth magnets drive the gearbox, which in turn drives the compressor that produces the pure air. The generator can support a single sensor at high altitude or multiple sensors at low altitude. Control Techniques' motor meets UK aerospace and environmental qualifications and has been certified by the U.S. Navy. For more information, call Gill Mears, Wessex Public Relations, +44 1202 601050.


Getting powertrain design tools in a row

Siemens Automotive, Regensburg, Germany, has partnered with Hewlett-Packard Co. to develop the former's powertrain design software into a standardized, integrated toolkit. The understanding, which is expected to evolve into a firm agreement over the next year-and-a-half, will leave HP with exclusive marketing rights for the products in Europe. "Over the past decade, application tools for automotive electronic control systems have become an integral part of the automotive manufacturing process," says Michael Reinfrank, general manager of Siemens' application tools business. "Engine and transmission-control systems cannot be brought into production without a highly sophisticated development platform." According to HP, standardization of these same tools will enable engineers to focus on design challenges rather than tool development. For more information, call Gustav Mayert, Siemens, +49 913-174-6489.


Medical material blocks and breathes

Medical applications often have need of materials that are at once barriers to water, bacteria, and blood and permeable to water vapor. These seemingly incompatible requirements have been met by the Arnitel polyester-based thermoplastic elastomer developed by DSM Engineering Plastics, The Netherlands. Unlike microporous films, Arnitel film does not contain pores that can become blocked over time. The film is chemically inert and resists a variety of common chemicals, including mineral acids, solvents, and oils. It passes the ESZI blood breakthrough and ES22 bacteria impermeability tests. In addition, Arnitel's low modulus provides medical garments produced with it with the desired "silky" feel and drapability. Arnitel can be cast or blown into films between 15 and 30 mum thick. For more information, call Consultek 2 at +31 0 73-521 5592.


Wormgears help hollow out solid aluminum

Engineers at Holroyd Machine Tools, Milnrow, England have developed a set of bespoke wormgears for a machining center manufactured by Marwin Production Systems, Wolverhampton. The Automax machining center is destined for Philadelphia, USA, where it will be used by Boeing to produce long, thin-walled aircraft structural members from solid aluminum. Holroyd has invested in a single-flank error testing machine that performs transmission, lead, and pitch error tests with the worm and the wheel in mesh. Such equipment is important, company officials say, for delivering wormgears with high orders of efficiency. Holroyd claims a world record for wormgear efficiency, a 4:1 ratio set tested at the UK's National Physics Lab that returned a 98.2% efficiency under loads up to 64hp. For more information, Richard Bird, Fairfax Marketing, +44 1274 510304.


Low friction wire is environmentally safe

The manufacture of wire coils typically requires an oil-based lubricant be applied to the surface of the wire to reduce friction. Otherwise, scratches can lead to uneven temperature distribution. Such lubricants must be cleaned off using trichlorethylene, which can be harmful to the environment. Kanthal AB of Sweden has developed a new wire with a modified surface structure that reduces friction to the point where no lubricant is needed during coiling and other forming operations. The new material provides uniform production quality with fewer steps than conventional coiling. Furthermore, wires made from the low-friction material have corrosion and oxidation properties identical to those of standard alloys. In high-temperature applications, where a very clean surface is required, the low-friction wire can be cleaned with water. For more information, call Richard Fareham, Kanthal UK, +44 1782-22-48-00.


Studies address safety issues of rocket propellants

Sandia National Labs, Albuquerque, NM, USA, has initiated studies to explore the safety of certain rocket propellants. Of particular interest are the thermal decomposition properties of ammonium perchlorate (AP) and AP-based composite propellants. Such fuels are commonly used for military tactical and strategic rockets. Researchers Richard Behrens and Leanna Minier developed predictive models of how the propellants respond to fire using thermogravimetric modulated beam mass spectrometry. The technique produces gas, and the buildup of gas pressure causes chemical reactions in propellant and binding agents. The studies examined gas formation rates and the effects on propellants at three different temperature regions. The work, supported by the U.S. Department of defense and Department of Energy, is intended to develop new safety procedures for handling and storing rocket fuels. For information, call Lisbette Cox, Combustion Research Facility, at (510) 294-2322.

CEBus aims to cut power use

CEBus aims to cut power use

Newton, MA--We all know leaving lights, appliances, and other equipment on means higher electric bills. But how many of us realize the broad negative effects of our conspicuous consumption?

For example, generating electricity requires burning fossil fuels, which in turn releases harmful pollutants into the air. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), electricity generation accounts for 35% of all carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S., 75% of sulfur dioxide, and 38% of nitrogen oxides. Reducing energy consumption not only saves money, it can help combat smog, acid rain, and climate change by decreasing air pollution.

To address the problem, the EPA developed several Energy Star Programs to encourage the production and use of energy-efficient equipment. Manufacturers who have partnered with the EPA have created efficient models of products ranging from office equipment to homes to commercial heating and cooling systems.

An Energy Star home, for example, uses at least 30% less energy than required by the national Model Energy Code while maintaining or improving indoor air quality. Expected commitments from program partners by the year 2000 will provide home buyers with $1.8 billion in utility-bill savings, and pollution prevention equivalent to removing more than 50,000 cars from U.S. roads, the EPA says.

Several other energy-saving initiatives are underway around the country as well. For example, the Photovoltaic Design Assistance Center at Sandia National Laboratories (Albuquerque, NM) and the National Park Service (NPS) have partnered to promote energy conservation and increase the use of renewable energy at NPS facilities.

A driving force behind the initial 25 parks project was to replace diesel-powered generators with photovoltaic power systems, which convert sunlight to direct-current electricity. The generators are noisy, costly to operate, produce considerable emissions, and have potential for soil and water pollution associated with fuel storage and transportation.

The photovoltaic systems have replaced 11 diesel generators so far. Seven projects provide electrical power where none was previously available. Three systems have been installed in association with local utility companies that provide photovoltaic systems as a customer service option.

"This approach uses the existing energy supply structure in a non-conventional way to provide a win-win situation for the NPS, its visitors, the local energy supplier, and for photovoltaic technology," says Hal Post of Sandia's Photovoltaic System Applications Department.

Perhaps the biggest step toward conserving energy would be widespread adoption of the CEBus standard, say its advocates. CEBus (Consumer Electronic Bus) is a set of open-architecture-specification documents that defines protocols for how to make products communicate through power line wires, low voltage twisted pairs, coaxial cable, infrared, RF, and fiberoptics. A CEBus network provides a standard communication base for exchanging control information and data among devices and services in the home.

In essence, CEBus-compliant devices "talk" to each other and exchange valuable information about product function, energy use, etc. Some 21 trials are taking place around the country using the standard to communicate between homes and power companies. The goal is to modify power consumption either through homeowner-initiated conservation based on time-of-day pricing or through load shedding taking place at the utility company.

As with telephone bills, time-of-day pricing enables consumers to pay less for electricity during certain hours of the day. In order for utilities to put such programs into effect, they must be able to track a consumer's use of electricity to determine prices at specific times, something possible through CEBus communication.

A CEBus network would also enable load shedding: A power company could turn off devices within appropriately equipped homes during peak demand times. In a neighborhood of 17 homes, for example, the utility company could cycle energy use so that certain devices in every tenth home would be off for 15 minutes on a rotating basis.

The lapse of power during that time would be barely noticeable to the consumer because it would affect devices such as water heaters, pool pumps, and heating or cooling units. But the utility company could significantly decrease the overall demand for electricity and eliminate such problems as brown outs. Continued development with the standard is underway by the CEBus Industry Council (CIC), a non-profit organization comprising firms such as Microsoft, IBM, Compaq, AT&T, Honeywell, Panasonic, Sony, Thomson Consumer Electronics, Leviton, and Pacific Gas & Electric. The CIC is developing a non-profit testing laboratory where manufacturers will be able to verify conformance of their product and its performance in a home network environment.

"Communication between the power company and the consumer is the way conservation will take place in the future, and CEBus is one of the best vehicles to achieve that,"says Kurt Kyvik, director of marketing communication at Intellon Corp., the Ocala, FL-based manufacturer of CEBus chips.


Other applications for CEBus

CEBus can handle control-communication requirements for a wide range of residential applications. In addition to energy management, CEBus is well suited for:

Remote control

  • Status indication

  • Remote instrumentation

  • Security systems

  • Entertainment device coordination


Behind the CEBus specs

In 1984, members of the Electronics Industry Association (EIA) identified a need for standards that included more than just ON, OFF, DIM, BRIGHT, ALL LIGHTS ON, and ALL LIGHTS OFF controls. Engineering representatives from several companies developed the CEBus standard and introduced it to the world in 1992.

CEBus (Consumer Electronic Bus) is a set of open-architecture-specification documents that defines protocols for how to make products communicate.

The standard includes such things as spread spectrum modulations on a power line. Spread spectrum involves starting a modulation at one frequency, and altering the frequency during its cycle. The CEBus power line standard begins each burst at 100 kHz and increases linearly to 400 kHz during a 100-ms duration. Both the burst (the superior state) and the absence of burst (the inferior state) create similar digits, so a pause in between is not necessary.

A digit 1 is created by an inferior or superior state that lasts 100 ms; a digit 0 is created by an inferior or superior state that lasts 200 ms. The resulting transmission rate varies, depending on the number of 1s and 0s in the transmission. The average rate is 7,500 bits per second.

CEBus transmissions are based on strings or packets of data that also vary in length, following the amount of data included. Some packets can be hundreds of bits in length. The minimum packet size is 64 bits which, at an average rate of 7,500 bits per second, will take about 1/117th of a second to be transmitted and received.

The standard involves device addresses that are set in hardware at the factory and include 4 billion possibilities. It also offers a defined language of object-oriented controls that include commands such as volume up, fast forward, rewind, pause, skip, and temperature up or down one degree.

Currently, all of the communications hardware, language, and protocol is available on a chip produced by Intellon Corp. (Ocala, FL). Manufacturers can purchase the chip for use in their products, or purchase a developer's kit. Intellon also manufactures private label and OEM products using the CEBus standard.

Electronics personalize guns

Electronics personalize guns

Of the victims of serious crimes in 1993, 1.3 million victims report that they faced an offender with a firearm, according to the National Crime Victimization Survey. Add to that the FBI report of 17,168 murders committed with firearms that same year, and it's clear that any discussion of ways to reduce crime and its effects has to consider gun safety.

The statistics parade continues: Thirteen police officers are killed each year in the line of duty with either their own or a fellow officer's gun, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice.

More than half a million guns are stolen from homes each year, says a report in the Journal of Crime and Criminology. Many of those guns are then illegally sold on the street and used to commit still more crimes. In fact, studies show that 40 to 70% of the guns used by felons are stolen--most from private homes.

But what if only a gun's legal owner could fire the weapon? By personalizing a gun, manufacturers could reduce gun deaths through design changes--and maybe take a bite out of crime.

Clearly, not all gun deaths are preventable with personalized, or "smart," guns. There were 38,500 gun deaths in the U.S. in 1994, says Jon S. Vernick, associate director of the Center for Gun Policy and Research at Johns Hopkins University. "No one would want to suggest that personalized guns would have prevented all those deaths," he says, "but we think it might prevent not just the law-enforcement killings, but teen suicides and some unintentional deaths among children."

And manufacturers say that if a personalized gun were stolen, the criminal would have to have access to a machine shop to make that gun operable. "The technology also decreases the temptation for a criminal to burglarize the home," adds Vernick, "because the value of a personalized gun on the street might be dramatically diminished."

No guns come standard with devices that effectively personalize a weapon, but there are several that can be fitted to the firearm after purchase. Many of these devices use magnets, which are easy to overcome. In some cases, a magnetized ring on the finger lets someone fire any gun that has been modified. Other magnet-based systems require the owner to have the magnet in a precise position to get the gun to work. If the magnet's off by just a degree, the reliability takes a dive.

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) funded preliminary smart-gun research at Sandia National Laboratories. Sandia researchers concluded that radio-frequency (RF) technology would be best for the application because an RF signal could contain a code programmed into one or more firearms so that one or more officers could use the same gun. Basically, it's the same technology that lets you push a button on your car's keyfob to remotely lock or unlock the doors or trunk.

Colt's Manufacturing Co., Hartford, CT, got funding from the NIJ to develop a smart gun prototype for law enforcement based on the Sandia research. The platform is Colt's Law Enforcement Pistol--a .40-caliber semiautomatic. TEK Industries, Manchester, CT, did the electronics work for the first prototype.

Radio signals allow an RF receiver in the weapon to recognize and respond to a transponder worn by the authorized user. The transponder's range is only a few inches, so the gun won't work for a stranger who snatches it. The weapon can recognize up to 50 transponders, so other police officers could fire the gun, if necessary.

Kevin Kaminski is the development engineering test lab manager for Colt's. "Reliability was one of the key design requirements," he says. "Another was ease of use. You wouldn't want to change the design of the base firearm to the point where it would actually change the characteristics of use. You want it to work the same way an ordinary firearm would work, but with a smart gun, you're adding another level of safety: use denial."

Colt's just got funding from the NIJ for the second prototype, which will be tested by a group assembled by the Law Enforcement Council. The program started in May 1997 and will last one year.

Changes. In the second prototype, the goals are to improve reliability and shrink the electronics.

Designers plan to include everything that was in the magazine into the frame--but without changing the basic dimensions of the gun.

Another feature slated for change is the transponder. The first prototype uses an active device that transmits an RF pulse all the time and so requires a battery. The plan for the second prototype to go to a passive system. Such a system would be an inductively coupled transponder that wouldn't need its own power supply, but you'd have to charge the gun's electronics or get batteries that last an entire shift.

Colt's officials and others estimate that adding the electronics to make a gun smart would initially increase the price about 50%. The firm's plan is to make the gun available for law-enforcement personnel within three years and then approach the civilian market.


How a personalized gun works

Colt's Manufacturing Co.'s first working smart-gun prototype, the EP-1, works by using short-range radio frequency (RF) to enable and disable the gun. When energized, the gun emits a radio signal from the electronics in the magazine. When within 10 inches of the gun, a small transponder, worn by the person authorized to use the gun, receives this signal and returns a 918-MHz signal with a unique embedded HEX code. When the gun picks up that signal, a micromotor removes a blocking pin from the trigger mechanism, enabling the gun to fire. When the transponder is beyond 10 inches of the receiver, the motor turns in the direction that causes the armature's appendage to block the trigger pull.

EP-1 demonstrates that all the necessary electronic and mechanical components can fit inside a full-size pistol, and that authorization can be made well within the time required to draw and aim a weapon.

Colt's started designing its second smart-gun prototype in May. It will incorporate a much smaller transponder, an integrated power supply and RF module in the grip, a laser aiming device, an improved blocking device, and a small on-board diagnostic display.

Designer's corner

Designer's corner

Sensor improves ABS

Under development for 1999-model year automobiles, a new ABS system offers to improve low-speed (below 3-4 mph) traction-control-system performance. The secret: wheel speed-sensors that leverage the latest giant magnetoresistive (GMR) technology and can maintain large signal outputs at low frequencies.


Manufactured from alternating, ultra-thin layers of ferromagnetic and non-magnetic materials, GMR devices are so-named because the magnetoresistance effect is large compared to conventional solid state magnetic sensors.

The sensor works in conjunction with a toothed sprocket incorporated into the wheel bearings. As the sprocket rotates, its teeth perturb the magnetic field and create a dynamic signal in the sensitive axis of the sensor.

GMR devices measure magnetic field strength directly and will produce an output even if the field is static. This provides for operation right down to DC. Other applications? Transmissions, camshafts, industrial gear-tooth sensing. Nonvolatile Electronics, Inc., 11409 Valley View Road, Eden Prairie, MN 55344-3617, 800-467-7141.


Smart bag tags

Imagine matching every bag in an aircraft's cargo hold to a passenger without sorting or unpacking. That's what a low cost, passive, read/write radio frequency identification (RF/ID) system offers airline security teams trying to comply with the Gore Commission's Federal PPBM Mandate.

On-chip power conversion when passed through an RF field eliminates the need for cumbersome batteries and allows the chip to remain active indefinitely.

The system, comprised of scanner and microchip-embedded labels, has a 1.5- to 6-ft scanning range. Based on field-programmable gate-array technology, the system's two-way protocol between chip and scanner facilitates reading 50 labels/sec and writing as much as 1024 bits to permanent memory. Data is tamper-proof, resisting static, UV light, extreme voltage and operating temperatures.

Standard 0.8 mu CMOS silicon manufacturing yields a 2.54-GHz chip for $0.95 each. Pallet and parcel tracking, textile rental and cleaning, pharmaceuticals and brand name verification are some other applications.

Rick Ono, SCS Corp., 10905 Technology Place, San Diego, CA 92127, Fax: (619) 485-0561 or info@scs-corp.com

Software enables component reincarnation

Software enables component reincarnation

According to the American Plastics Council (APC), 12 states recently reported having less than a decade of disposal capacity left. As reported by the Department of Applied Research in Anthropology at the University of Arizona, by the year 2,000, 55% of the total municipal solid waste will end up in landfills; only 30% will be recycled.

While these numbers represent an improvement over recent years, much remains to be done to tame our throwaway society. Stricter environmental requirements, including ISO 14000, the growing number of eco-labels such as the German Blue Angel and the Nordic Swan programs, and an increase in requests for environmental guides as part of customers' procurement processes will help. But is it enough? The engineering community doesn't think so. In fact, governments, companies, and universities have quietly researched how engineering can become more eco-oriented.

Software solutions. A major factor in this drive involves designing for recyclability. To aid in this attack, Boothroyd Dewhurst Inc. (BDI), Wakefield, RI, and the TNO Institute of Industrial Technology, Delft, Netherlands, have introduced Design for Environment (DFE), version 1.0. This Windows-based software involves product engineers and concurrent engineering teams at the earliest stages of designing automobiles, computers, and other industrial, military, and consumer products.

The DFE software analyzes and optimizes the disassembly sequence of products for end-of-life recovery. The resulting data reveal cost benefits for various options, such as material recycling, part re-manufacture or reuse, and disposal through land filling or incineration. Designers can also pinpoint the disassembly sequence where major economic and ecological benefits end or where further disassembly proves of no benefit financially or environmentally.

The Product Stewardship Group at Digital Equipment Corp., Maynard, MA--working to minimize product impact on environment, health, and safety throughout the entire life cycle, while maintaining price/cost, performance, and quality standards--has been part of a consortium to help develop this software over the past two years and has evaluated several pre-release versions. "This tool provides a fast, cost-effective way to compare different design alternatives," explains Larry Nielsen, product integration manager at Digital. "We use it to give us a reliable standard on time to disassemble."

"We are working to design product stewardship features into all of our products, and that includes design for recyclability," notes Nielsen. "We see the BDI tool as a good way to show the designer how to change certain characteristics in a product that will shorten time to disassemble, making recycling much easier."

To facilitate recyclability, Digital engineers design products for easy and fast disassembly and recovery of components and raw materials after the products' first useful life. Modular product design allows for easy functional upgrade to extend product life and recovery and reuse of modules. Examples include: modular CPUs, memory, I/O, and communication and graphics options. Plastic parts are marked to identify polymer, additives, and reinforcing materials in accordance with ISO 11469, a widely recognized standard from the International Organization for Standardization. This type of marking facilitates recycling when the product reaches the end of its life.

Design for disassembly has been used on all recent Digital high-volume PC desktop products, including the new Venturis FX family. "By designing these products with disassembly in mind, end-of-life disposition allows greater recovery of materials."

Plastics progress. In other recycling efforts, The American Plastics Council (APC), Washington, DC, has teamed with MBA Polymers, Richmond, CA, to introduce a comprehensive research facility to study the recovery of plastics from computers, automobiles, refrigerators, and other durable goods. The facility integrates an array of plastics recovery, recycling, and identification technologies, and it can process more than 10,000 lbs of material per hour.

The new operation offers two processes, that according to APC are critical to effective, economical, yet complex plastics recovery: distinguishing between the many types of plastic, and separating the plastics from non-plastic materials.

The pilot line incorporates various stages in a sophisticated recycling process. It includes a size-reduction operation that can accommodate foreign materials such as metals; a state-of-the-art, multi-stage-air classification system that can produce up to four different material streams using air; and a low-energy, high-throughput wet grinding system. Once sized, the materials pass through a series of hydrocyclone separation systems to remove the remaining foreign material and to separate plastics by density.

The facility's Plastics Identification Laboratory features a collection of prototype plastic identification instruments. "Just five years ago identifying durable plastics took several minutes. For recyclers to devote minutes to identify each part isn't profitable, but that's changing. Today, the minutes have turned into nano-seconds and large, awkward equipment that was too difficult to transport has given way to hand-held instruments," says Jack Benson, chairperson of APC's Information Technology Industries Subcommittee. "We may see automated plastics identification lines with parts on conveyor belts being identified by infrared scanners in a matter of seconds," adds Benson, who is also the business development director for Dow Plastics. That vision is already coming to pass. APC plans to purchase such a system for light-colored plastics.

"The progress we've made in identification has encouraged us to believe that there will be substantial growth in the small number of product-specific streams presently being economically recovered at a purity level high enough for recycling back into durable goods," notes Benson.

If there is to be further progress in the effort to design for recyclability, economics will certainly be a driving factor. Such products as the BDI Software and more research from the likes of the APC will help provide a catalyst for a strong future.

Designing for the Environment embraces numerous Design for the Environment (DFE) principles. Some of the recommendations:

When using multiple materials, designers should ensure that all materials can be easily separated from the primary plastic.

  • Using fewer materials reduces both the use of natural resources and the amount of material that needs to be recycled.

  • When using more than one type of plastic, make sure they are compatible for recycling together.

  • Designers can facilitate recycling by selecting materials that can be used in internal "closed loop" recycling processes. Plastic parts and enclosures should be designed to be recycled into the same part or into a different part within the same product whenever feasible.

  • Whenever possible, designers should select resins and design techniques to avoid using materials that may become contaminants in the plastic recycling process.

  • To facilitate product recycling, designers should avoid the attachment of plastic and non-plastic parts, as well as the attachment of parts made from different plastic materials.

  • When metal fasteners are to be used in a product, carbon, or magnetic stainless steel should be preferred over non-magnetic stainless steel, aluminum, or brass.

  • Once molded, engineering plastics become very difficult to identify. Testing the material is time consuming and not always conclusive. At a minimum, plastic enclosures and significant sized parts should be marked according to ISO Standard No. 11469.

Engineers on a wild ride

Engineers on a wild ride

As we wrapped up last year's exclusive Design News Careers/Salary Survey, the scenario went something like this: Many corporate sales reached new heights, the stock market was surging to record levels, the economy moved steadily upward, and downsizing appeared to have been held pretty much in check.

Engineering salaries averaged $55,000 annually in this year's Design News exclusive Careers/Salary Survey, up more than $1,000 from last year.
On average, OEM engineers enjoyed a respectable raise of just under 5%.

This year's setting, although not nearly as dramatic, is still witnessing high corporate profits; the stock market, although reeling a bit, continues to break the 7,000-point barrier; and the economy inches steadily ahead. As a result, the 1997 Design News Careers/Salary Survey once again paints a relatively rosy picture for design engineers in the OEM marketplace. Salaries, on average, moved upward, and the job outlook looks bright due to the growth in corporate sales and profits and low unemployment.

However, there is a dimmer switch on some of this brightness. For example, the survey reveals that engineers are working harder and performing more jobs than ever, are feeling the pressures of shorter design cycles, and find it more difficult to keep up with the latest technological innovations.

Moreover, survey respondents have other concerns on their minds, particularly when it comes to the environment. In this respect, water and air pollution head the list of issues the engineers either face on the job or feel will have a significant impact on their lives. There also is uneasiness about product safety, air travel safety, and the crime scene.

Payroll productivity. Let's begin this year's survey findings with a topic of utmost interest to all engineers--salaries. Once again, the news is good. The survey reveals that our OEM engineer respondents have an average base salary of $55,000. That's up a healthy $1,340 from the $53,660 average yearly pay reported last year.

Part of that salary surge might relate to the 14% boost in net income realized by the Forbes 500 companies. The $325 billion total matched the performance of the S&P 500. And for 1997, analysts are expecting a 15% gain. That bodes well for more salary increases this year. As an indicator of which engineers might benefit most from this revenue revelation, check out the big chemical companies. Exxon Corp. replaced GM as the most profitable U.S. corporation, with Mobil, Amoco, and Chevron also pumping up big earnings. IBM also was a major gainer.

The healthy corporate profit figures also could bode well for adding more engineers to the payroll. The most recent figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) appear to bear this out. The BLS reports that the number of engineers employed in the first quarter of 1997 rose to 2.05 million from 1.98 million in the fourth quarter of last year. On the downside, the report notes that the engineer unemployment level went up as well, from 1.8% to 2.0%, with 43,000 engineers out of work.

Where the big bucks are. When it comes to who makes the most, aerospace engineers once again head the list. Of the 175 aerospace engineers responding to the survey, 54 made $70,000 or more per year. Automotive engineers don't do badly either, with 27 of the 139 respondents earning $70,000-plus annually. But perhaps the area to watch is computers and business machines, where 14 of the 39 respondents have hit that lofty salary plateau.

As might be expected, those engineers who have been on the job the longest earn the most. For example, 140 of the 378 engineers with 20 or more years of experience take home $70,000 or more in pay. Only one engineer with less than two years of experience had reached that level, and just two of the 138 respondents with two to five years on the job earned as much as $60,000 to $69,000.

Unlike past Design News surveys, education didn't play as big a factor in how much engineers make. For instance, 117 of the 670 respondents with a bachelors degree in engineering earn more than $70,000, while 74 of the 238 engineers with a masters degree earn that much, and 11 of the 24 Ph.Ds were in that same salary range. Getting a masters degree in business administration might add to an engineer's earning capacity, however. A total of 24 of the 70 respondents with a business degree behind their name make $70,000 or more.

It also might not be too surprising that engineers employed in the bigger companies earn somewhat more than their counterparts. Of the 559 repondents in firms that employ 1,000 or more, 135 fall into the $70,000-plus salary range. Only 28 of the 186 engineers in companies with less than 100 employees could make that claim.

And when it comes to what area of the country pays the most, the Pacific region takes top honors. Of the 133 respondents from this area, 50 garner wages of $70,000 or more. Engineers in the Middle Atlantic states also made a strong showing, with 50 of the 304 respondents in the $70,000-plus bracket. Only two of the 87 engineers in the West North Central region have reached this wage scale.

Another respected report, Dallas-based Source Engineering's 1997 Engineering and Manufacturing Salary Survey and Career Planning Guide , discloses that engineers in the design development category receive the following median salaries: software, $50,000; digital ana-log design, $49,900; semiconductor, $49,000; and mechanical/robotics, $44,800. In the manufacturing arena (equipment/test/QA/IE) engineers earn a median salary of $42,000.

The greatest growth segment, according to the Source Engineering report, is computer engineering, particularly in the software market. The survey also notes that employers are looking for pro-cess engineers with a proven track record in increasing productivity and reducing costs.

Raises the rule. How does the increase in salaries translate when it comes to who received them and how much they swelled paychecks? According to the survey, 54% of the design engineer respondents received a raise of under 5%, another 17% relished raises from 5 to 7%, 8% garnered 8 to 10% increases, and another 8% saw their checks go up by more than 10%. This compares favorably with last year's survey, where the average raise came to 4.9%.

On the downside, 12% of the respondents reported they received no raises. Only 1% said they had the unfortunate experience of having their salaries cut.

The National Society of Professional Engineers, which also publishes an annual engineering salaries report, did not have its 1997 version available prior to press time. However, Nick Wright, who coordinates the report for the society, says that he anticipates this year's figures won't differ much from last year's. In that case, engineers in all categories should expect to see an average increase in salaries of about 2.8%. That figure should fall just above the anticipated increase in the Consumer Price Index.

Preliminary figures of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' (IEEE) annual salary survey, due out this month, reveal that electrical and computer engineers also reaped rewards from the booming economy. For example, the median primary income of IEEE members in the U.S. stood at a whopping $72,000. In 1995, the same figure was $67,000.

Engineers may be taking home more pay, but they are also working harder than ever to meet the pressure of shorter design cycles.

The gains look even better if income from all sources is counted, the report notes. Supplemental earnings from second jobs, overtime, pension benefits, and the like pushed the median for full-time engineers to $76,000, compared to $69,725 in 1995, a gain of 9%. The increase is even greater for IEEE engineers on the job for 10 years. They saw their salaries increase a whopping 14.3% from 1995 to 1997.

As the National Business Employment Weekly put it recently: "Engineers nationwide can afford to be choosy these days. Demand for these professionals, especially those specializing in the mechanical, electrical, and software field, is increasing greatly.

Adds Al Schirmacher of Career Counseling and Search (Madison, WI), "A lot of this is pent-up hiring pressure. Companies didn't hire from 1990 to 1993, and now that they're growing, they're going out of their way to find candidates."

As a result, the business employment weekly notes that base pay for engineers rose between 5.5% and 7.6% from 1995 to 1996, and pay raises of 10% to 15% when changing jobs are standard.

Stressed out. Although a majority of our engineer respondents report they are satisfied with their jobs, they are finding the work more stressful. For example, the survey shows that design cycles have decreased by 26% over the past year.

These data come on top of last year's report, where our readers told us that the design cycle was surging along at a 39% faster clip. This indicates that engineers must get their products to market in less than half the time it took only three years ago.

As to what type of work these engineers do, about one-third (34%) say their main concentration is on solving problems they have identified. And they perform this task either as part of the job or "on a voluntary basis."

How to cope. Heavier workloads and less time to accomplish their tasks also create a "keeping ahead of the game" dilemma for engineers. Heading the survey list of reader concerns is the challenge of dealing with fast-paced changes created by technical innovations. This is followed closely by the need to improve computer skills, the ability to handle jobs outside their engineering speciality, and the ability to become more adaptable to a growing global economy.

How do the engineers plan to cope with these concerns? The survey reveals that the "preferred" way (56% of the respondents) to keep current about the latest technologies is by reading engineering magazines. What they hope to find out is "how other engineers use technologies to develop better products."

CD-ROMs are another good way to keep informed, according to three out of five of the respondents. What type of information is most believable? Articles written by magazine editors tops the list, followed by supplier data. Trade shows (10%) and seminars (5%) are the least informative, say the readers.

What's the best way to deal with faster design cycles? Readers tell us that design teams (46%) provide the best solution. Next in line: purchasing engineering software (39%); outsourcing design activities (37%); hiring more engineers (23%); and purchasing or leasing rapid-prototyping tools (11%).

What will impact the design engineering field the most over the next 10 years? Specialization! More than 60% of the respondents cited this trend as a major factor for the profession. Only 26% expect the type of work they perform to remain relatively the same, while 11% predict there will be less specialization.

What type of specialization will play the most prominent roles? Three out of five respondents envision telecommunications becoming more specialized. Nearly half expect biomechanics to emerge on the scene, while another one-third see nanotechnology and ceramics as growing specialties.

Netting the Internet. Another problem-solving aid appears to be the Internet. Our survey reveals that nearly three out of five design engineers now have access to the Net at work, and of that number, nearly half surf the Net on their jobs.

Of the surfers, four out of five use the Net to gather supplier information and for literature searches, while more than half want to learn more about new technologies. Another 40% use the Net to download new software, 16% to discuss design problems with other engineers, and 16% to collaborate with others in remote locations or about designs. Only 5% use the Net to submit designs to others for approval.

To help engineers extend their Internet reach, the Source Engineering survey reports that corporate investment in the Net today stands at $2.5 billion. By the year 2000, it predicts this figure will skyrocket to $25 billion, an estimated growth rate of 40 to 70% a year. "Companies worldwide are discovering the value of having a presence on the Internet and doing business on-line," the report states. "It has now become a viable vehicle to conduct real-time product and service sales."

Advances on the horizon. The survey also asked design engineers to identify the field most likely to produce advances for solving anticipated problems in areas ranging from air pollution to illegal drug use. Of the 13 problems they observed (see table), the respondents believe that sensors and materials will most likely produce the best solution for at least five of the problem areas.

What kind of advances do design engineers expect to see over the next five years in some of these critical areas? In the domain of air pollution, they predict that alternative cleaner fuels, better filters, and the use of electric vehicles will lead the list. On the water pollution scene, they forecast that better filtration and monitoring will pave the way. To improve crime detection, they say that better detection devices and sensors will help. To improve air-travel safety, they believe that safer aircraft, tighter security, and better detection methods will turn the tide. And in energy conservation, our readers feel that better design and more efficient appliances and vehicles will go a long way towards conserving precious energy resources.

Booming economy means jobs. So what can engineers look forward to seeing in next year's survey report? Once again, the outlook appears rosy.

For the first quarter of 1997, the U.S. Commerce Department reported that the output of goods and services grew at a torrid 5.6% annual rate, the best quarter in nine years. Moreover, the government now estimates that the economy has expanded by an impressive 4% after inflation during the past year. But inflation has yet to revive. U.S. prices climbed at a 2.2% annual clip in the first quarter, less than in the quarter before.

As a result of this strong financial picture, the economy is sucking into the labor force many more workers--2.5 million in the past year--than any of the experts had predicted.

Many workers who weren't looking for work a few years ago--because they as-sumed that no one would hire them--are discovering that things are different now. Moreover, the long-term pace of productivity improve-ment many be quickening at last, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Keeping up with the latest technologies has become a major concern with engineers.

In addition, globalization continues to restrain American inflation. The strong dollar and oil-price declines are pulling down costs of imported goods.

And the best news of all for engineers is that the nation's unemployment rate tumbled below 5% in April for the first time in nearly a quarter-century. "It's a worker heaven," says Allen Sinai of Primark Decision Economics. "This myth that the American worker is an unhappy camper went away eight to 10 months ago. There are plenty of jobs available."

Boeing provides some indication of how open the job market might be for engineers in the near future. Late last year, Aviation Week & Space Technology reported that the aerospace giant was having trouble recruiting and retaining engineers. In fact, the job offer acceptance rate in certain areas, such as PEs, was as low as 9%. In the meantime, Boeing must bulk up its labor force by some 13,200 workers to accommodate surging transport orders.

More engineers are surfing the Net as adesign aid.

Commenting on the latest economic report, George Perry, an economist at the Brookings Institution, notes that the "best piece of news we've gotten in a decade is that we can continue to expand this fast and reduce unemployment and produce a lot of jobs for people without running into a barrier of inflation." This should bode well for engineering jobs.


Anatomy of a design engineer

What does today's typical design engineer look like? Based on the 1,144 engineers who completed this year's Design News Careers/Salary Survey, the typical OEM engineer's resume might read like this:

He or she has been on the job for about 14 years. They work for a company that employs more than 700 people. They don't supervise anyone. They hold a bachelors degree in engineering. And their workload continues to grow.

Breaking down the responses more closely we find that not only do 58% of the engineers have a bachelors degree in engineering, but one out of five has a masters degree.

About a quarter of the engineers are employed at automotive or aerospace firms. The remainder are about evenly divided among firms that make everything from consumer and electronic products to defense systems, industrial controls, machine tools, appliances, and construction equipment. These companies have an average of 764 on their payrolls, with 49% of the respondents' companies employing more than 1,000 people.

Another one-third report they have been on the job for 20 or more years. Only 5% have worked less than two years.

More than half (56%) of the design engineer respondents do not manage other people. Those that do report the average number of people under their supervision is seven. Only 3% managed more than 20 people.

About 30% of the engineers work in the East North Central (Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan) region, 13% in both the Middle Atlantic (New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey) and Pacific (California, Nevada, Washington, and Oregon) regions, and 9% in both the South Atlantic (Delaware, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida) and West North Central (Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas) regions. The rest were spread about equally among the New England (Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut), Mountain (Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona), West South Central (Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Arkansas), and East South Central (Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi) regions.

Do they like their jobs? Nearly three-quarters of the engineers report they are either satisfied or very satisfied with their work. Another 21% say they are marginally satisfied, with only 6% reporting unsatisfactory working conditions.

Bigger companies, bigger bucks
Engineers who work for the nation's largest companies tend to get the most pay.
Annual base salary
Company size #/% responding $20K-$29K $30K-$39K $40K-$49K $50K-$59K $60K- $69K $70K-$79K Over $80K
Less than 100 186
16%
13
34%
37
26%
58
22%
26
10%
20
10%
16
15%
12
11%
101-500 296
26%
15
39%
50
35%
85
32%
60
22%
42
21%
22
21%
20
18%
501-999
110
10%
6
16%
17
12%
21
8%
37
14%
14
7%
6
6%
8
7%
1,000 or more 559
49%
4
11%
37
26%
101
38%
150
55%
127
63%
61
58%
74
65%
Note: Totals add to greater than 100% due to multiple response
Source: Design News/Cahners Research
Wages a matter of degrees
Advanced degrees had less impact this year than in the past on how much an engineer makes.
Annual base salary
Type of degree #/% responding $20K-$29K $30K- $39K $40K-$49K $50K- $59K $60K- $69K $70K- $79K Over $80K
Bachelors degree in engineering 670
58%
6
16%
83
58%
152
57%
175
63%
131
65%
60
57%
57
50%
Masters degree in engineering 238
21%
--
--
9
6%
43
16%
57
21%
49
24%
32
30%
42
37%
Ph.D. in engineering 24
2%
--
--
--
--
4
2%
5
2%
4
2%
4
4%
7
6%
Masters in business administration 70
6%
--
--
2
1%
8
3%
14
5%
21
10%
10
9%
14
12%
Bachelors in non-engineering field 71
6%
3
8%
7
5%
21
8%
16
6%
9
4%
7
7%
7
6%
Advanced degree in non-engineering field 33
3%
--
--
2
1%
3
1%
8
3%
10
5%
5
5%
5
4%
Note: Totals add to greater than 100% due to multiple response
Source: Design News/Cahners Research
Where does your region rate?
West Coast engineers typically command the best salaries.
Annual base salary
Region #/% responding $20K- $29K $30K- $39K $40K- $49K $50K- $59K $60K- $69K $70K- $79K Over $80K
New England 82
8%
3
9%
8
6%
23
10%
25
11%
6
3%
7
8%
9
9%
Middle Atlantic 133
13%
3
9%
21
17%
27
11%
37
16%
24
14%
8
9%
12
13%
South Atlantic 87
9%
4
12%
9
7%
20
8%
27
12%
12
7%
9
10%
6
6%
East North Central 304
30%
11
33%
46
36%
73
31%
70
30%
52
30%
26
29%
24
25%
East South Central 44
4%
1
3%
6
5%
13
5%
8
3%
10
6%
4
4%
2
2%
West North Central 87
9%
3
9%
11
9%
30
13%
15
6%
19
11%
5
6%
2
2%
West South Central 62
6%
4
12%
5
4%
16
7%
12
5%
13
8%
6
7%
5
5%
Mountain 69
7%
1
3%
8
6%
16
7%
19
8%
13
8%
8
9%
3
3%
Pacific 133
13%
3
9%
13
10%
20
8%
21
9%
24
14%
17
19%
33
34%
Note: Totals add to greater than 100% due to multiple response
Source: Design News/Cahners Research
Time means money
Engineers may be taking home more pay, but they are also working harder than ever to meet the pressure of shorter design cycles.
Annual base salary
Time on the job #/% responding $20K- $29K $30K- $39K $40K- $49K $50K- $59K $60K- $69K $70K- $79K Over $80K
Under 2 years 57
5%
6
18%
35
26%
10
4%
3
1%
1
--
--
--
1
1%
2-5 years 138
12%
11
33%
43
31%
58
22%
23
8%
2
1%
--
--
--
6-10 years 206
18%
8
24%
23
17%
83
32%
62
23%
20
10%
7
7%
3
3%
11-15 years 204
18%
2
6%
8
6%
41
16%
78
28%
45
22%
17
16%
12
11%
16-20 years 152
13%
1
3%
9
7%
29
11%
40
15%
36
18%
17
16%
19
17%
Over 20 years 378
33%
5
15%
19
14%
39
15%
69
25%
98
49%
63
61%
77
69%
Note: Totals add to greater than 100% due to multiple response
Source: Design News/Cahners Research
Concerns vs. Advances
Length of employment also means bigger paychecks, with those on the job 20 years or longer averaging $70,000 a year or more.
Problem/Issue Types of Advances Expected
Air pollution Alternative cleaner fuels, better filters,and electric vehicles
Water pollution Better filtration and monitoring, and increased legislation
Crime detection Better detection and sensors
Home/work security Computer advances and better sensors
Traffic congestion Computer modeling for improved traffic flows
Terrorism Better security, detection, and prevention measures
Product safety Improved materials, more legislation, and better testing
Natural disasters Better, earlier prediction methods
Air-travel safety Safer aircraft, more security, better detection methods
Energy conservation Better design, more efficient appliances, vehicles, etc.
Famine Improved food distribution and fertilizers
AIDS, other disease Improved awareness and better medication
Illegal drug use Legalization, better detection, and improved education

Low-VOC coatings cut air pollution

Low-VOC coatings cut air pollution

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), air quality in the U.S. has steadily improved since 1970. Professionals working in industry agree that air pollution in this country has become less serious.

"Certain cities still have air pollution problems," says John Burke, manager of corporate environmental engineering for Eaton Corp., Cleveland, OH. "Generally things are getting slightly better, not slightly worse." And Robert Lapp, director, governmental and public affairs at Timken Corp., Canton, OH, insists that air quality has improved. "Air pollution in the U.S. is substantially less than it was 20 years ago. Investment made and compliance established over the last ten years has been substantial."

As data have accumulated, EPA has changed its focus somewhat. "The current agency emphasis is on tropospheric ozone--urban smog--and on fine particulate matter," says Blair Martin, associate division director at EPA's National Risk Management Research Laboratory, Research Triangle Park, NC.

Reflecting that emphasis, last November the EPA proposed revisions to primary and secondary National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for particulate matter (PM) and ozone. The EPA proposes to set an annual standard for particles 2.5 mum in diameter (PM2.5) of 15 mugm/cu-meter and a set new 24-hour standard at 50 mugm/cu-meter. Present standards apply to particles 10 mum in diameter (PM10). As for ozone, the EPA proposes to set a standard of 0.08 ppm as an eight-hour average exposure. Final rules for PM2.5 and ozone will be issued by EPA by July 19.

Attacking ozone.For a large part of the country, reducing ozone emissions involves cutting nitrogen oxides rather than Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). A number of technologies have the potential for control levels beyond current low-NOx burners. One, selective non-catalytic reduction, involves injecting compounds to create NH radicals in the upper regions of a furnace, under conditions where the NH reacts selectively with the NO to form N2 and water. "This approach achieves 50 to 60% NOx control on top of the control achieved with low-NOx burners," says Martin.

A selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system places a catalyst into the hot flue gas stream, and injects ammonia upstream of the catalyst. "You have a catalytic selective reaction of the ammonia with the NO. And that technology gives you 80% to 90% NOx control," Martin explains. One such SCR system, made by ARI Technologies, a subsidiary of U.S. Filter/Engineered Systems located in Schaumburg, IL, uses a fluidized bed of transition metal oxide catalyst. In one application, ARI designed an Econ-NoxTM SCR system and retrofitted it into a wastewater treatment plant in 25 weeks. The equipment handles VOCs and NOx, achieving better than 90% NOx control and removing 98% or more of VOCs and hydrocarbons.

Natural gas reburning, a technology widely used overseas, adds a stream of natural gas to NOx formed under normal combustion conditions in the primary burner zone. Doing so helps consume excess air and create a reducing condition. This condition generates NH radicals and other compounds that reduce NOx to N2. Adding air completes secondary fuel burnout. This approach controls 50% to 60% of NOx.

Meeting the PM2.5 standard. EPA's Martin says there are a number of interesting technologies for control of fine PM. One is super ESP, a technology related to conventional electrostatic precipitator technology. Another is the electrostatic fabric filter. A marriage of the two involves removing the ESP plates from the precipitator's last field and installing an electrostatic fabric filter.

"There's a lot of emphasis on low-VOC or no-VOC coatings," says Martin, "both in terms of the nature of the coatings themselves and in the application equipment. And there are a horde of innovative technologies for VOCs being developed."

The new standards will certainly impose new costs on industry. For some companies, those costs could become a significant problem. If the proposed PM2.5 standard becomes law, "We would find it extremely difficult to be globally competitive," says Timken's Bob Lapp. "Some of our biggest competitors are Japanese, Chinese, Korean. They do not have these standards, but they do have other costs that are substantially lower than ours."

Eaton's John Burke has a different view: The PM2.5 standard "is going to affect every industry that has an exhaust stack." But are environmental controls threatening the viability of businesses like Eaton? Burke doesn't think so. "We're concerned about new regulations, and we don't like to be picked on. We may reach a breaking point, but I don't think we're there yet."


How to live without VOCs

Truck transmissions made by Eaton Corporation are protected by a coating of paint that must survive a 480-hour salt-spray test. Meeting this requirement, as well as the EPA's regulations governing VOCs, called for something new. "The way we did it was to research various paint systems, explains Eaton's John Burke. "After about 1 1/2 years of looking, we found a water-reducible paint that had roughly 98% less VOC content in the as-mixed formula."

Its VOC content gives a paint the ability to wet into a surface and penetrate into pores. That penetration ensures adhesion. "We're painting over some surfaces that are bare steel, some that have been primed by casting supply houses, and different substrates--including aluminum, steel, cast iron, and hoses," says Burke. "And all these have to be coated with one paint, one color."

In addition, speed to cure was extremely important. "Our painting process is the final operation on a transmission; the parts go on a skid, four transmissions to a skid, and then are shrink-wrapped together. Well, if the paint is still tacky," says Burke, "you could shrink-wrap them, but when the guy takes the shrink-wrap off, the paint comes with it." Eaton's paint cures in roughly 15 minutes.

The solution required not only water-based paint but an entirely new painting system, which cost Eaton more than $500,000. "Everything was new. We had all new paint guns," Burke explains. "We couldn't use any of the old components, nor could we use the original paint booth." The residual VOC level generated by the new painting system is so low that standards do not require it be captured. "We couldn't have painted ten transmissions with the high-VOC paint and met the regulations," says Burke. With the new system Eaton meets all the regulations that affect the Kings Mountain plant.

Product news

Product news

Transformers

Today's electronic equipment utilizes circuit cards with minimal clearances. Planar E Cores meet the requirements of emerging low-profile assemblies. This low-profile shape and ease of construction offer fast, error-free winding, excellent heat sinking properties, and efficient repeatable performance at low cost.

These miniature transformer devices can be inserted directly into the circuit board without compromising space. The cores are available in a variety of sizes and specifications.

TT/MMG, 126 Pennsylvania Ave., Paterson, NJ 07503, FAX (201) 245-1172.

Shims

Company can provide low-cost shims for applications requiring standard materials and thicknesses. Recent investments to stock, more raw materials, and new equipment can reduce both cost and lead time, and offer a wider range of standard shims. Standard materials in stainless steel, brass, laminated materials, high- and low-carbon steel, and aluminum are available. Thicknesses range from 0.001 to 0.250 inch. Standard shims are made to customer specifications using in-stock materials and thicknesses. Standard shims are used for industrial machinery and equipment and other applications where tight tolerances are critical to performance.

Spirol Int'l Corp., 321 Remington Rd., Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44222, FAX (330) 920-3659.

Identification system

The CIS3 read/write identification system permits contact-free identification of tools, workpiece carriers, pallets, and vehicles in production and all other logistic areas. This low-cost system requires no batteries in the data carriers due to inductive energy and data transmission. Features include simple installation of reading head through 24V parallel interface, easy integration into each fieldbus system, a compact head design, no external evaluation device required, 0 to 12 mm reading distance, and up to 30 m/min dynamic reading possible.

Euchner USA Inc., 300 Roundhill Dr., Unit 4, Rockaway, NJ 07866, FAX (201) 586-1590.

Switch

M5970 liquid level switch is a miniature side-mounted model that is constructed of 316 stainless-steel. The switch extends less than three inches into the tank and is suitable for limited-switch applications with high-temperature or corrosive conditions. The M5970 is rated at 30W, has a float specific gravity of 0.7, and is rated for temperatures up to 200C and pressures up to 100 psig.

Madison Co., 27 Business Park Dr., Branford, CT 06405, FAX (203) 481-5036.

Data loggers

The RTU-164K data logger/remote controller modules record and report data from standard analog and digital remote site sensors to a PC via a choice of radio links, cellular transmitters, phone lines, or local RS-232. A single-host module can be used with additional remote modules to monitor and control larger installations and multiple sites. The system is scalable to users' needs. The industrial-grade module can operate for several years without battery charge.

Synetcom Digital Inc., 1426 Aviation Blvd., Suite 203, Redondo Beach, CA 90278, FAX (310) 372-2331.

Motion controllers

ORIONTM motion controllers offer the 586/133 MHz processor or a selection of 80486 microprocessors, 4 Mbytes of RAM, a 256K external cache, a keyboard connector, two pc card slots, and up to seven 16-bit ISA expansion slots. Built on the IBM-PC architecture, ORION is a fully integrated motion controller offering DSP-based servomotor control and convenient interfaces to high-speed sensors, programmable limit switches, machine I/O, human-machine interfaces, and popular factory networking options.

Ormec, 19 Linden Park, Rochester, NY 14625, FAX (716) 385-5999.

Connector

Push-EZ male "F" coaxial cable connector features Low Insertion Force Termination technology (LIFTTM). It is the employment of LIFT termination that enables the Push-EZ to securely hold stripped RG59 cables without the use of tools. The connector is for TV/CATV applications where permanent and reliable coaxial cable connections are required. The male "F" connector provides connections as securely as a crimp, but with the ease of a twist-on. To attach the connector to the coaxial cable, the user needs to strip the cable jacket and insert cable into connector.

Bomar Interconnect Products Inc., 1850 Rt. 46 E., Ledgewood, NJ 07852, FAX (201) 347-2111.

Safety switch

The Lifeline 4 safety switch combines both rope- and button-operated emergency stop functions in a single unit. Installation can occur along or around exposed conveyors and other awkwardly configured machinery that requires an emergency stop to be instantly accessible. Whenever the rope is pulled in any direction, or the emergency button is activated, the Lifeline 4 immediately sends a stop signal to the guarded machine. A positive-mode mechanism ensures the contacts are immediately latched open on actuation and can only be reset by turning the reset knob. This unit is housed in a die-cast alloy/stainless-steel weatherproof case.

Scientific Technologies Inc., 6550 Dumbarton Circle, Fremont, CA 94555, FAX (510) 744-1442.

LEDs

SMT LEDs with internal series resistors save 40% of required pc-board space compared to LEDs with separate resistors. Designed specifically for LED construction, the SMT package contains a parabolic reflector. This reflector increases mcd ratings from 10 to 80. Viewing angle has also been increased from 90 to 120 degrees. The LEDs will perform at 2-20mA with a typical forward voltage of 2.0V. Tape and reel packaging is standard.

Gilway Technical Lamp, 800 W. Cummings Park, Woburn, MA 01801, FAX (617) 938-5867.

Gage heads

Series 285B LVDT gage heads provide accuracy to OEM engineers for applications such as precision gaging, profile measurements, and quality assurance. Advantages include an inherently infinite output resolution, better than plus or minus 0.25% full-scale non-linearity at optimum frequency, and stable output over the operating temperature range. The exterior housing is all stainless steel which provides shielding against magnetic fields and added protection over wide temperature ranges.

Transicoil Inc., Box 9011, Valley Forge, PA 19485, FAX (610) 539-3400.

Air cylinder

The MPRL air cylinder incorporates a powerful piston rod locking device that enables the piston rod and locks it in position. The locking device is of the air/spring activated type and is integrated into the front cover of the cylinder. In the absence of air signal pressure, full holding force is applied to the piston rod. When air is present, 60 psi, the locking device is released. The unit offers construction that is easy to clean, well sealed, and is splash proof.

Parker Hannifin Corp., Motion & Control, 500 S. Wolf Rd., Des Plaines, IL 60016.

Welders

The SureWeld line of plastic welders feature rectangular support columns, which eliminate deflection and deliver uniform bonding over the entire weldment. Each of the 20, 35, and 70 kHz units provide repeatable accuracy. Ultrasonic technology utilizes vibrational energy which is introduced at the interface of the plastic parts being joined. This causes the plastic material to soften in a fraction of a second.

Sonobond Ultrasonics, 887 S. Matlack St., West Chester, PA 19382, FAX (610) 692-0674.

Cylinders

Bore Micro Model cylinders are for limited- space applications such as clamping and fixturing. These 3/4-inch bore cylinders are available in both spring-return and double-acting models. The spring return series can be furnished in 1/2-, 1-, 2-, and 3-inch strokes. The double acting series is available in 1/2-, 1-, 2-, 3-, and 4-inch strokes. The new cylinders offer heavy- duty naval-brass-construction for long service life and are fully serviceable in the field. C1141 ground and polished plated steel shafts are standard, but stainless shafts are available for specialized applications.

Air-Mite Devices Inc., 4739 W. Montrose Ave., Chicago, IL 60641, FAX (773) 286-4703.

Alloy coating

Titanium Aluminum Nitride (TiAIN) is a temary alloy coating that withstands high- speed cutting of difficult-to-machine materials. TiAIN's thermal stability and high oxidation resistance protects the substrate material at elevated cutting temperatures even when cutting dry. It is very ductile making it suitable for interrupted cuts, and has high hardness, exhibiting excellent wear and erosion resistance when machining alloy steels, tool steels, cast iron, and high-nickel materials.

National Coating Technology, 3625 Woodhead Dr., Northbrook, Il 60062.

Motion controller

The ACR2000 is a PC-Bus or stand-alone motion controller (SMT). This 1/2 size SMT card can control up to 4 servo or stepper axes of motion. Features include a 32/64-bit floating- point DSP at 50 MHz, a pre-emptive multi-tasker, a 50-microsecond servo update rate, ladder-logic PLC, a programmable limit switch, and segmented electronic CAM.

Acroloop Motion Control Systems Inc., 7801 Park Dr., Chanhassen, MN 55317.

Brushless motor

ABH350 automation-duty, NEMA 34 frame compact motors are for high torque, velocity, and/or positioning applications. An anti-cog magnetic design offers smooth low-speed operation. Peak torques exist at up to 220 lb-inch and continuous torque to 44 lb-inch, with speeds to 6,000 rpm.

QMC Technologies Inc., 14700 Martin Dr., Eden Prairie, MN 55433.

Inductive sensors

Inductive proximity sensors detect metallic objects that enter their detection zone. Features include no moving parts or contacts and full encapsulation. The units function without wear providing low maintenance; reliability; and protection against vibration, shock, dust, dirt, and humidity. This line is suitable for harsh environments.

SICK Optic-Electronic Inc., 7694 Golden Triangle Dr., Eden Prairie, MN 55344, FAX (612) 941-9287.

Digital control

CTA10/ECODRIVE digital rollfeed control integrates single-axis motion control, amplifier, power supply, operator terminal, and dedicated I/O into a single, compact control system. This control eliminates the need for an additional PLC, external pushbuttons, relays, and switches--significantly reducing the amount of necessary wiring. Connection can be made directly to 230 or 480V ac power lines, further reducing costs by eliminating the need for added transformers and soft-start circuitry.

Indramat, 5150 Prairie Stone Pkwy., Hoffman Estates, IL 60192, FAX (847) 645-6201.

Tool holders

Tool holders are for high-speed machining on automotive-type transfer lines, special multi-station dial index machines, drilling and tapping machines, swing arm tapping machines, and multiple spindle drill and tap heads. Holders are also suitable for CNC vertical and horizontal machining centers and CNC turning centers.

BILZ/RMT Tool Co., 2035 North 17th Ave., Melrose Park, IL 60160, FAX (800) 937-7752.

Valves

SVA10 and SCA20 Series of solenoid valves are constructed mainly of plastic. Features include a compact, lightweight design, and high flow capacity. The SVA10 drives 3-inch bore cylinders, is 10 mm wide, and has a Cv of 0.4. Nine- or 25-pin D-sub connectors are available. The SVA20 is 16 mm wide with a Cv of 0.4 and drives a 5.5-inch bore cylinder. Nine- or 25-pin D-sub connectors or 26- or 40-pin ribbon-cable connectors are available. An increased flow capacity makes the units suitable for applications ranging from machine control to air logic systems.

Pisco USA Inc., 2228 Landmeier Rd., Elk Grove Village, IL 60007, FAX (847) 427-1317.

Flow divider

The 25201 pressure-compensated priority flow divider package is for applications requiring electric remote flow control. The Series uses either MFC-10 or MFC-16 as the adjusting element for priority flow control to a primary function with excess flow bypassed either downstream to tank or used to operate another function. Relief valve and solenoid dump valve options are available with the package. Standard on 25201 packages is the body, pressure-compensating divider element, and a motorized flow control. The MFC-10 accommodates flows from 0 to 15 gpm at working pressures to 3,000 psi. The MFC-16 is available in three configurations from 0 to 20, 0 to 33, or 0 to 50 gpm flow rates. Manual override is standard on both models.

Source Fluid Power Inc., 331 Lake Hazeltine Dr., Chaska, MN 55318, FAX (612) 448-3392.

Enclosures

QLINETM enclosures provide protection for delicate instrumentation. Enclosures are rated UL Type 4X and provide protection in wet, dusty, or corrosive environments. They are available with clear or opaque covers in more than 150 different models. Models include enclosures with flexible PC-card mounting, adjustable panel depths, rear-mount covers, and tamper resistant designs.

Hoffman Engineering, 900 Ehlen Dr., Anoka, MN, 55303, FAX (612) 942-6940.

Speed reducer

Model 103 planetary speed reducer has a 15,000 inch-lb rotational torque rating. This reducer is for swing-drive applications with tapered roller bearings for increased side-load capability. An integral output pinion and a spring-applied hydraulic-released disc brake are available. Gear ratios are available from 4:18 through 64:1. Also available are SAE hydraulic motor and shaft mounts.

Gear Products Inc., 1111 N. 161 E. Ave., Tulsa, OK 74116, FAX (918) 234-3455.

Piston motor

A 5.5-cubic-inch piston motor has a standard tail shaft for mounting an incremental encoder. The motor comes standard with a SAE B shaft and mounting. An alternative to the orbit motor, this motor delivers up to 3,455 lb-inch torque at 4,350 psi with a speed range from 1 to 1,000 rpm. The addition of an incremental optical encoder and servo or proportional directional control package will enable the system engineer to precisely control speed, position, and stall at full load. Applications include test equipment; machine tools; process control; agricultural machinery; robotics; and food-processing, textile and paper equipment.

Nutron Motor Co. Inc., 102 Dow Hwy., Eliot, ME 03903, FAX (207) 439-8611.

Plug buttons

Plug buttons are hole enclosures. They incorporate screens, lenses, inserts, embossing, seals, and a number of prong designs in sizes ranging from 0.125 inch to 3.00 inches in diameter. Materials include steel, stainless, brass, aluminum, plastic, rubber, and others. Plug buttons can be used with vents, drains, indicator lights, tamper-proof closures, and more. These enclosures serve the automotive, electronics, electrical, and other industries of both industrial and consumer products.

National-Carr, Rolex Co., 385 Hillside Ave., Hillside, NJ 07205, FAX (201) 926-5626.

Bug strips

Die-cut bug strips are available. A pressure-sensitive adhesive in the perforated or knitted mesh material keeps unwanted insects or debris out of the electronic enclosure while allowing outside-air ventilation. Made from a clear polyester with high-strength acrylic adhesive, polycarbonate, polyethylene, and polypropylene, these strips can replace a welded-in-place wire-mesh screen or mechanically fastened screen assembly. Tolerances stand at plus or minus 0.031 inch. Applications include use with outdoor electronics cabinets.

PressCut Industries, 2828 Nagle St., Dallas, TX 75220, FAX (214) 350-4713.

Solenoid valve

SV51 Series direct-acting, two-way, normally closed diaphragm valves offer a flexible diaphragm to isolate the valve's metallic parts from the fluid being handled. Featuring bubble-tight shutoff, the Series is made of virgin TFE Teflon for maximum inertness and compatibility with a wide range of fluids. A right-angle body increases flow per orifice size and is mountable in any position. Model SC51 is suitable for light industrial applications, both new and retrofit, and is available in four orifice sizes.

Valcor Engineering Corp., 2 Lawrence Rd., Springfield, NJ 07801, FAX (201) 467-8382.

Needle valves

Needle valves are for controlled cylinder air flow. Meter-in and meter-out capabilities allow speed control in single, reverse, and short-stroke-length double-acting cylinders. Features include a chrome-plated, zinc die-cast banjo; high-strength anodized-aluminum-alloy stem; stainless-steel adjusting needle and gripping teeth; and quick-connect fitting for tubing. A recessed needle is available for more tamper-proof control. A knurled knob offers easier control. Valves are designed to fit 10-32, 1/8, 1/4, and 3/8 ports.

Bimba Mfg. Co., Box 68, Monee, IL 60449, FAX (708) 534-5767.

Scrap drum magnets

Designed for high-volume, heavy-duty applications, these scrap drum magnets offer electro or permanent magnetic circuits for maximum performance. The all-electro agitator-type scrap drum utilizes a deep field rectangular core pickup magnet to reach out and grab ferrous material. Then, a second rectangular core agitator magnet flips, or agitates the ferrous material--removing any loose, mud, paper, fluff, and trash. The all-permanent-type scrap drum uses a deep field radial pickup magnet and pole shoes to convey or transfer the ferrous material around the drum shell to the discharge area.

Eriez Magnetics, Box 10608, Erie, PA 16514.

Ball valves

Carbon-steel ball valves provide shut-off on general industrial and hydraulic lines. Available in 1/4- to 2-inch sizes, these valves are pressure rated to 2,000 psi, with a working temperature range from -20 to 450F. All valves are rated to 150 psi in saturated-steam service. The 1/4- and 3/8-inch sizes come with full ports for maximum flow, and 1/2- to 2-inch sizes have standard ports. An optional stainless-steel ball and stem ensures optimal fluid compatibility.

Parker Hannifin Corp., Fluid Connectors Group, 17325 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, OH 44112.

Air cylinders

The Clean-Act(R) line of low-emissions pneumatic cylinders are for use in semiconductor, pharmaceutical, electronics, biomedical, high vacuum, food-contact, laboratory, and instrument applications. These cylinders are available in 3/4- through 3-inch bores and stroke sizes to 4 inches. Double-acting, the cylinders feature an extra set of rod seals with four sealing points and a vacuum port positioned between the two multi-lobed seals.

Compact Air Products Inc., Box 499, Westminster, SC 29693, FAX (864) 647-9574.

Transformers

SPW-1000 Series of 2.5 VA pc-board power transformers are UL, CSA, IEC, and VDE approved. Features include shrouded primaries and 3-flange bobbins. No electrostatic shield is required. Each primary and secondary has two separate windings. The Hipot rating for the unit is 4,500 VRMS dielectric strength.

Prem Magnetics Inc., 3521 N. Chapel Hill Rd., McHenry, IL 60050, FAX (815) 385-8578.

Pressure transducer

Model UPF flow-through pressure transducer is made from a single piece of 316L VAR stainless steel, making it largely immune to stresses from vibration or torque applied to the transducer body during installation. Applications include use with demanding UHP applications in the semiconductor industry.

Sensotec Inc., 1200 Chesapeake Ave., Columbus, OH 43212, FAX (614) 486-0506.

Air filters

Uni-Foam cleanable air filters provide protection for electronics, computer, telecommunications, medical, and general-purpose equipment applications. They are custom-designed; certain filter models are specifically designed for limited-space electronics applications. The filters are listed for UL 900 Class 2 applications. The polyurethane foam media has an open-cell structure that is available in a wide range of pore sizes. The random arrangement of strands and pores gives the filter media strong dust-holding capacity.

Universal Air Filter Co., 1624 Sauget Industrial Pkwy., Sauget, IL 62206, FAX (618) 271-7300.

Blowers

Intended for both pressure and vacuum service the low-noise ACOUSTICAIRTM rotary blowers range in capacity up to 1,900 CFM, with pressures to 15 psig and with vacuums to 15 inches Hg. Optional equipment enables blowers to operate in high temperatures or in high-performance applications. For instance, optional lube systems and optional oil cooling systems can be provided for continuous service applications.

Tuthill Corp., M-D Pneumatics Div., Box 2877, Springfield, MO 65801.

Power supplies

A family of 750W switching power supplies features 0.99 power factor correction and the seven outputs required by VXIbus standards. The Series is designated as FXID-YY and is derived from the Moduflex(R) family of switchers. Dimensions are 11.63 x 5.20 x 2.63 inches. The main output provides 5V at 60A with auxiliaries that offer 2V at 12A, 5V at 12A, 12V at 8A, and 24V at 4A. All outputs are floating and auxiliaries individually regulated with high-speed mag amps. Options for this Series include individual current limit with wireless droop-current sharing, a VXI power-monitor with power- fail and system reset signals, enhanced modules for star-point current share, and dc output good logic signals.

Deltron Inc., Box 1369, North Wales, PA 19454, FAX (215) 699-2310.

Motors

The brushless Plus Series of two-wire brushless dc motors have only two connecting wires and provide full four-quadrant servo performance when connected to a standard, single "H" bridge servo amplifier, eliminating the need for more costly conventional three-phase brushless servo amplifiers. With brushless plus motors there is no longer the need to change the drive electronics or the cabling when changing from dc brush to longer-life, higher-reliability dc brushless designs.

MFM Technology Inc., 200 13th Ave., Ronkonkoma, NY 11779, FAX (516) 467-5176.

Valves

40-900 Series mini proportional valves are for pneumatic pressure control. The valves are easily interfaced to any 0-10V dc or 4-20 mA control circuit and suitable for pressures to 230 psi. The unique design offers manifold mounting and low electrical power consumption. Applications include control of grippers, miniature cylinders, remote regulators, and vacuum ejectors.

Herion USA Inc., 176 Thorn Hill Rd., Warrendale, PA 15086, FAX (412) 776-0310.

Motor

A miniature brush-type dc motor is offered as part of the Big Inch(R) line of gearmotors. The dc Big Inch combines a small dc-brush motor and an integral geartrain into a 1-inch diameter package, which delivers durability. This compact gearmotor produces torque up to 25 oz-inch and output speeds as low as 10 rpm, depending upon the gear ratios used. Available in 8 and 12V versions, the motor is suitable for any application with a dc power source available. Typical uses include printing equipment, valve control, computer peripherals, automotive controls, medical instruments, business machines, clocks, and timers.

Haydon Switch & Instrument Inc., 1500 Meriden Rd., Waterbury, CT 06705, FAX (203) 756-8724.

Gearmotor

A size 34 ac induction motor features a fully integrated gearhead. This configuration achieves higher torque at lower speeds than normally possible with the ac motor alone. Furnished in die-cast housing, the motor features grease-lubricated gearheads and is equipped with either sleeve or ball bearings to ensure maintenance-free operation and long life. Designed to meet MIL-Spec requirements, the single- or three-phase motor is reversible operating at variable speed with inverter drives. Rated torque for the size 34 is up to 87 lb-inch. Thermally protected, the single- or dual-voltage motor can be adapted for nonstandard voltages and frequencies.

Eastern Air Devices Inc., 1 Progress Dr., Dover, NH 03820, FAX (603) 742-9080.

Fan guards

Plastic fan guards offer maximum airflow while maintaining compliance to safety regulations. Each guard is made from UL-listed material and offers a cost saving comparison with wire-form fan guards. Four new styles from 40 to 120 mm are available.

Qualtek Electronics Corp., 7675 Jenther Dr., Mentor, OH 44060, FAX (216) 951-7252.

Topology units

FYX 600 Series of magnetic-resonance topology units offer the maximum power density with a low profile. The first in the Series, the 60W unit, measures only 2.75 x 5.00 x 1.18 inches, yet offers 3.68W/pci, four outputs, universal input, and power factor correction. Applications for the FYX include datacom, telecom, industrial controls, computer peripherals, and office equipment.

Shindengen America Inc., 5999 New Wilke Rd., Suite 406, Rolling Meadows, IL 60008, FAX (847) 593-8597.

Cables

PROTOFLEX line of highly flexible electrical cables offer extended life in process lines, material-handling facilities, and assembly lines. The cable line can operate at the higher speeds and duty cycles associated with state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment, including cable track, robotic, machine-tool, and servo applications. PROTOFLEX PVC and PU jacketed cabling is resistant to oils, chemicals, and mechanical abrasion. Shielded cables provide protection from electromagnetic interference.

Siemens Energy & Automation Inc., Power Cables, 3333 Old Milton Pkwy., Alpharetta, GA 30202, FAX (770) 740-2530.

Software

MoldDesignTM generates mold designs straight from 3-D solid model parts, automating the process of designing plastic and high-pressure aluminum injection molds. MoldDesign frees designers from the tedious work in mold design, including creating mold plates and components as well as detailing slots and holes. MoldDesign uses rules-based technology and parametric libraries to generate fully detailed 3-D solid models of the mold from the original part. The streamlined workflow and exchange of information boosts the productivity of the mold designer, increases part quality, and reduces time to market.

Bentley Systems Inc., 690 Pennsylvania Dr., Exton, PA 19341, FAX (610) 458-1060.

Rapid prototyping

FDM2000 rapid prototyping system incorporates the patented fused-deposition modeling technology. The system can build models up to 254 x 254 x 254 mm, within plus or minus 0.127 mm accuracy, and in a variety of materials including ABS, medical-grade ABS, and investment casting wax. With ABS, users can create functional prototypes for testing and final design verification. The system operates on Hewlett Packard, Silicon Graphics, Sun Microsystems, and Windows NT workstations.

Stratasys Inc., 14950 Martin Dr., Eden Prairie, MN 55344, FAX (612) 937-0070.

Work station

This work station features adjustability and modular componentry allowing for customization. The Levitech System is available in manual, hydraulic, and electric height and tilt adjustment models. Ease of adjustment promotes proper operator posture, safe body mechanics, and allows frequent postural adjustments. The system provides the necessary foundation to complete the ergonomic work station with shelving, bins, articulating arms for binboards and monitors, jib arms, document holders, overhead tool trolleys, power strips, and lighting.

The Saunders Group, 4250 Norex Dr., Chaska, MN 55318, FAX (612) 368-9249.

Gearhead

GP016A planetary gearhead offers a wide range of ratios for speed reduction or torque multiplication in a 16-mm-diameter package. There are 20 different ratios ranging from 4.38:1 to 4,591:1. Efficiency is from 59 to 90% depending on the ratio. Maximum continuous torque is up to 42.5 oz-inch and 63.7 oz-inch on an intermittent basis. Weight varies from 20 to 35g. Sleeve bearings or ball bearings are available. Maximum radial load is 36N at 6 mm from flange, maximum axial load is 8 N, the recommended input speed is greater than 6,000 rpm, and the operating temperature range is -15 to 65C.

Maxon Precision Motors Inc., 838 Mitten Rd., Burlingame, CA 94010, FAX (415) 697-2887.

Firmware

Version 2.40 of the control firmware in the SR2500/SR2500 digital test subsystems includes SmartLEARn to reduce test configuration load time. With this firmware, when the SR2500/SR5000 is learning the test configuration only the pins of the active I/O modules are read. When later outputting the saved test program to the VXI timing/control module, only the programming for the active modules is transferred. This greatly reduces test configuration time. In certain instances, depending on the number of unused modules in the test setup, load time can be reduced to as little as 14% of the time that would otherwise be required without the SmartLEARn feature.

Interface Technology Inc., 300 S. Lemon Creek Dr., Suite A, Walnut, CA 91789, FAX (909) 595-7177.

Pump

A high-flow diaphragm pump delivers up to 170 gpm without the air motor stalling and icing problems that are inherent with pumps of this type. A Simul-ShiftTM air valving design virtually eliminates pump stall-out under any condition, including low-air inlet pressures. By directing cold and wet exhaust air away from the pump's air motor section, a "Quick Dump" design provides high-flow fluid handling an ice-free future. Bolted construction reduces the possibility of material spillage/contamination, while providing a positive, hard-joint diaphragm seal and much easier reassembly.

Ingersoll-Rand Co., Fluid Products Div., Bryan, OH 43506, FAX (419) 636-1674.

Amplifiers

This line of amplifiers has been expanded to include a stand-alone panel-mount version. Options include trapezoidal and sinusoidal Hall effect, software commutation, and resolver feedback. The overall size of the unit is 102 x 221 x 126 mm. Two rack enclosures are also available and both are 482 mm wide. Each rack accommodates up to four industry-standard Eurocard 3U-format amplifier cards, universal backplanes with D-type connectors, a power supply, and a fan to maximize drive efficiency. Both panel- and rack-mount packages possess an ergonomic design with easy access to connections, adjustments, and test points. On most models, selection between velocity and torque mode is jumper selectable. The power levels range from 2 to 2,000W continuous, with either a 100 or 220V ac input supply range.

Anorad Corp., 110 Oser Ave., Hauppauge, NY 11788, FAX (516) 435-1612.

Rocker switch

MLW Series rocker switch is power rated at 5A at 125V ac SPDT, SP3T, and DPDT types with numerous circuit configurations. A compact 0.657- x 0.635-inch panel opening and 0.902-inch behind-panel depth optimize panel space. Unique stainless-steel retaining clips, interlocking anti-jamming actuator, corrosion-resistant stainless-steel housing, built-in protective cover, and epoxy-sealed solder-lug terminals insure longer switch life.

NKK Switches, 7850 E. Gelding Dr., Suite 100, Scottsdale, AZ 85260.