Design News is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


Articles from 1997 In August

Designer's Corner

Designer's Corner

Scotch-yoke redesign

Redesigning the yoke in a classic scotch-yoke engine adds dwell to the piston motion at the top of each stroke. Advantage? Substantially reduced unburned hydrocarbons and NOx, and exhaust gas temperatures of 477F to 819F.

The yoke frees the flywheel to turn for a portion of its rotation while the pistons remain stationary. Combustion occurs in a fixed volume for more complete burning of the fuel/air mixture.

Available in a two-stroke configuration with four-cylinders displacing 25.23 cubic inches, the engine is targeted towards portable generators, water pumps, and lawn and garden equipment.

Yoke design increases dwell angle to maintain constant cylinder volume during initial combustion. Reduced hydrocarbons, NOx, and exhaust temperatures result.

Richard Davis, Zero2000, 557 California Avenue, Boulder City, Nevada 89005, (702) 459-1207, Web:

Innovative interconnect

Soldering a ball-grid array to a low-mass adapter subjects the BGA to less thermal stress than direct soldering to the motherboard. Also: An adapter allows BGA insertion/extraction.

A threaded heat sink, part of the Pop-Top(R) BGA socket adapter system, offers three further benefits.

First, the sink's retention clip lines up adapter pins and sockets for quick positioning. Second, sink screw-down forces socket penetration. Third, sink travel limits insertion depth, lowering extraction force.

Socket adapter's limited insertion stroke protects devices and fragile solder joints by reducing extraction force.

Ann Cibelli, Advanced Interconnections Corp., 5 Energy Way, Box 1019, West Warwick, RI 02893, (401) 823-5200.

Washington Beat

Washington Beat

Energy Department plans boosts
to wind, solar industries

The federal government is launching new programs to stimulate the harnessing of energy in winds and the sun. First, the Department of Energy (DOE) has inked two research pacts--each valued at about $20 million--aimed at lowering the cost of wind-generated energy. The cost-shared agreements are with The Wind Turbine Co., Bellevue, WA, and Zond Systems Inc., a subsidiary of Enron Wind Corp., Tehachapi, CA. By 2001, the firms are to complete design, construction, and testing of prototype wind turbines that will produce electricity for approximately 21/2 to 31/2 cents/kW-hr. What's more, the proposed turbines are for sites with moderate wind speeds that average 13 to 15 mph. The hope is that new regions of the United States will take to wind energy, reducing the cost of wind-generated power by 20 to 25% and stimulating more technological advances. DOE also is leading an effort to place one million solar energy systems on the roofs of buildings and homes across the United States by the year 2010. As the world's largest owner of buildings, the federal government controls more than 500,000 rooftops.

Government considers changing energy tests on dishwashers

Federal testers thought they had a good way to gauge the energy efficiency of dishwashers, but technology got ahead of them. Now DOE and the National Institute of Standards and Technology are studying ways to revise the tests. Current ratings are geared to conventional dishwashers in which energy consumption remains stable whether the dishes are soiled or not. Sensors in new adaptive-control dishwashers, however, gather information on the soil load. Internal controls adjust the wash cycle to meet the demand. In tests run on these dishwashers, the "clean" load prompts the unit to shorten the normal cycle. Result: The "smart" machines get low energy-consumption ratings. But NIST officials say when they loaded machines with dirty dishes, the energy consumption for units with adaptive controls climbed to about the same level as that of conventional units.

NASA licenses its technology for monitoring air quality

A technology developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for monitoring atmospheric air quality is now helping industries reduce smokestack pollution. The system features a fast-response remote gas sensor that can detect pollution at or near the ground. A "fence" arrangement allows the nonmechanical sensor to see around an area with the help of mirrors. Advantages over conventional gas sensors include: remote sensing, area source monitoring, higher reliability, faster response, and a more compact design. Through a patent license agreement, NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA, is transferring the technology to MERCO Inc. of Golden, CO.

Mid-career engineers picked for 'Frontiers' symposium

The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) has selected 82 engineers to spend three days in September discussing problems in each other's fields. They will attend the annual Symposium on Frontiers of Engineering, which NAE started in 1995. Participants, aged 30 to 45, come from industry, academia, and government. "Bringing together these outstanding engineers not only helps to establish contacts among the next generation of engineering leaders," says NAE President William A. Wulf, "but also will lead to collaborative work and the transfer of new techniques and approaches across fields." Among topics at this year's symposium in Irvine, CA, are decision-making tools for design and manufacturing, biomechanics, sensors and controls, and intelligent transportation systems. NAE chose the participants from 270 applicants recommended by managers and deans. This year's list includes Ronald A. Rinke, senior design engineer at Western Litho-tech, and Shalini Venkatesh, hardware design engineer at Hewlett-Packard Laboratories.

1998 National Engineers Week to feature Draper Prize

Presentation of the world's richest prize for engineering achievement will be part of next year's National Engineers Week. The week will be February 22 to 28. Headquartered in Alexandria, VA, coordinators of the week's events arranged for NAE to present the biennial $450,000 Charles Stark Draper Prize on February 24. National Engineers Week aims to increase awareness and appreciation of the engineering profession. Since its inception in 1951, the week has been expanding its breadth of activities from the marbled halls of NAE to kindergarten classes. Phillips Petroleum, for example, is developing a kit to support K-12 classroom visits by volunteer engineers. The kit offers activity ideas, a video, and hands-on props. Much of the kit focuses on the popular Slinky(R) toy. The Slinky will demonstrate many factors engineers must take into account, including potential and kinetic energy, longitudinal waves, gravity, and inertia.

Electrical and Electronic

Electrical and Electronic


Single-button switches, available in 1/2-, 3/4-, and 11/4-inches, control the current level from microamps to amps and activate dc or ac systems. With no moving parts, the switches have an operational life of up to 50 million cycles. Hermetically sealed, they are impervious to chemicals and temperatures operating in the range of -40 to 125C. They are suited for use in medical applications and are available with or without lighted faces and in a wide array of colorful housings with illumination.
Piezo Switch Development Inc., 25 Reservoir Ave., Providence, RI 02907, FAX (401) 461-2710.


EMIshielding gasket installation is easier with Easy-Peel release liner, featuring an easy-to-grasp design. Available on all FoamTite EMI gaskets, the liner is extra-wide, allowing for faster removal of the liner from the adhesive strip and increasing the ease of product placement. The low-compression force EMI gaskets are offered in a range of performance levels from 50 to 100 dB.
Advanced Performance Materials, 57 Hunt Rd., Amesbury, MA 10913, FAX (508) 388-0099.


Model 7600 Snub-Nose DeltaTM photoelectric sensor features cable placement that allows for storage in tight spaces without obstructing the LED visibility. Measuring 18 mm wide, the 7600 fits into a standard 18 mm cutout and may be ordered with thru-beam, polar, retro- or diffuse-sensing options and FET, NPN, or relay outputs. It operates on ac or dc voltage with either cable or connector, and can be customized to meet special requirements.
Automatic Timing & Controls, 114 Earland Dr., New Holland, PA 17557, FAX (717) 354-5463.


PicoDotTM Class II convergent laser sensor measures 40 x 45 x 12.7 mm. A precise convergent point size of 0.25 mm at its focal distance makes this laser suitable for applications such as semiconductor wafer mapping, miniature parts detection, and connector-pin counting. An overall sensing distance of 50 to 115 mm exists with a focal distance of 100 mm. Fixed-field sensing ensures that any object beyond the maximum sensing distance is ignored. A response time of 0.2 msec allows the sensor to work effectively in high-speed applications such as lead or pin counting. The sensor operates from 10 to 30V dc and is available with either NPN (sinking) or PNP (sourcing) output.
Banner Engineering Corp., Box 9414, Minneapolis, MN 55440, FAX (612) 544-3213.


RUBRGLASTM transparent seals fit snugly around the unit's bezel to protect it from harmful contaminants such as lubricants, rain, dust, dirt, and washdowns. Their perimeter-sealing rib seals the panel cut-out in which the component is mounted, protecting the internal electronic system from the hazardous environment. Units are available for popular switches/circuit breakers from Carlingswitch, Arrow-Hart, Airpax, Cutler Hammer, and Potter & Brumfield's W33 Series. Applications include use in boat control panels, portable test equipment, communications equipment, floor/carpet cleaning equipment, and medical instruments.
APM HEXSEAL Corp, 44 Honeck St., Englewood, NJ 07631, FAX (201) 569-4106.

Test, Measurement, and Control Instrumentation

Test, Measurement, and Control Instrumentation


Microprocessor-based differential pressure and flow instruments give users the ability to present readings on analog or digital displays and interact with computer systems. The instruments provide current, voltage, frequency, or RS-232 serial communication signals, plus two independently adjust-able SPDT relay outputs. EMI/RFI-protected Hall-effect sensors and circuitry convert pressure or flow values to electrical signals that are transmitted via a 3-wire cable to the user's equipment. A selection of useful flow and differential pressure ranges are included in the first group of instruments that include four explosion-proof models.
Orange Research Inc., 140 Cascade Blvd., Milford, CT 06460, FAX (203) 783-9546.


This controller provides the power and flexibility of a high-speed distributed I/O network in an ultra-compact package and is based on the SRMI micro network rather than on the controller's fixed I/O. The controller is expandable from 4 to 256 I/O and offers communications options including RS-232C communications to a PC.
Omron Electronics Inc., 1 E. Commerce Dr., Schaumburg, IL 60173, FAX (847) 843-8081.


Model 2410 is a high-voltage SourceMeter(R) and Model 2420 is a high-current SourceMeter(R). Both combine precision voltage and current sources with a high-resolution digital multimeter and measurement firmware. Source accuracy (1 year) varies from 0.02 to 0.88% depending on instrument and measurement range. The instruments can make more than 1,000 non-buffered readings per second at 41/2 digits resolution over an IEEE-488 bus, or 2,000 readings per second into memory.
Keithley Instruments Inc., 28775 Aurora Rd., Cleveland, OH 44139, FAX (216) 248-6168.


This oil-quality, capacitive-based sensor measures changes in the dielectric constant of oil. The dielectric constant gradually increases as antioxidant additives in the oil deplete and rapidly increases if coolant contaminates the oil. Output increases as the dielectric constant increases. The sensor requires 5V input and the output changes from 0.5 to 4.5V through the life span of the engine oil. Primarily designed for automotive applications, the sensor can be configured for other application-specific requirements.
Kavlico Corp., 14501 Los Angeles Ave., Moorpark, CA 93021, FAX (805) 523-7125.


The FGM Series hand-held fluxgate magnetometers measure low-level magnetic fields from dc to 400 Hz for package inspection, magnetic signatures, MRI field mapping, and shielding effectiveness. The magnetometers can measure dc magnetic fields from 1 gamma to 2 gauss on three full-scale ranges: plus or minus 2,000, plus or minus 200, and plus or minus 20 milligauss, and provide 1 gamma resolution on the 200 milligauss range and plus or minus 0.02% linearity on all ranges. The 9V battery-powered magnetometers incorporate a 31/2-or 41/2-digit LCD display and a buffered plus or minus 2V analog out-put capable of driving a strip-chart recorder or connecting a data acquisition system. They have a dc to 100 or 400 Hz frequency response and a noise level of less than 0.5 gamma.
Walker Scientific Inc., Rockdale Street, Worcester, MA 01606, FAX (508) 856-9931.


The protechline lightning and overvoltage arresters guard against equipment damage in industrial and process-control operations. A zone concept is used to reduce the effect of direct- and nearby-lightning as well as surges, electrostatic discharges, and other types of transient voltages. The Power LP lightning arresters use a spark gap technology conforming to IEC Standard 1312-1. They are connected from each power line to the ground. Modules are compact and self-extinguishing, allowing easy handling, plus repetitive high-performance operation.
Entrelec Inc., 1950 Hurd Dr., Irving, TX 75038, FAX (800) 862-5066.


Type 8030 electronic inline continuous-flow sensor and Type 8035 flow transmitter or batch controller are modular units that feature an integrated inline design with a built-in paddle-wheel and quarter-turn, 'bayonet'-style mounting platform. The inline design eliminates the need to physically drop the flow sensor down into the fitting and worry about achieving the right insertion depth or angle to the flow. Because the paddle-wheel flow sensor is integrated within the fitting, no contact is ever made with the fluid. The integrated fitting promotes modularity of function, and electronic modules connect to the fitting's bayonet mount with a quick quarter turn.
Burkert Contromatic, 2602 McGaw Ave., Irvine, CA 92614, FAX (714) 223-3198.


The LDT100 Series of ultrasonic linear displacement transducers offers direct displacement measurement and control in a 2- to 36-inch and longer stroke range with plus or minus 0.007-inch resolution and plus or minus 1% accuracy over temperature. Features include 12-bit D/A analog output, a 30 measurement per second sample rate, and optional serial outputs, all in a corrosion-resistant housing. The LDT100 units are suitable for real-time linear displacement measurements of machine members, structural joints, suspension components, and many other linear- and rotary-position control jobs ranging from automotive to mining applications.
Contaq Ultrasonic Products, 100 Allen Brook Lane, Williston, VT 05495, FAX (802) 872-0474.


Dash 8 8-channel field recorder displays and records real-time data at frequencies up to 2 kHz. The unit features a 10.4-inch active color LCD monitor, internal 1-Gbyte hard drive, DSP for programmable filtering, and a built-in 100-Mbyte removable Zip drive for data transfer and archiving. The recorder also has an input range of 50 mV to 500V full scale, and can record voltage, current, temperature, strain, and pressure. The unit can be used for acquiring, viewing, and printing data in applications in the aerospace, automotive, and metals manufacturing industries.
Astro-Med Inc., 600 E. Greenwich Ave., West Warwick, RI 02893, FAX (401) 822-2430.

Label dispenser

"Dispense-A-Temp" semi-automatic label dispenser applies temperature indicators at a rate of 60 per minute. By releasing the hand trigger, temperature-indicating labels are systemically released and applied to the assembly. Handling is not required except to load a new roll, which consists of 500 labels. The label dispenser is suitable for assembly and production-control applications.
Tempil degrees , Div. of Air Liquide America Corp., 2901 Hamilton Blvd., South Plainfield, NJ 07080, FAX (908) 757-9273.

Fastening products

Fastening products

Draw latch

Rotary-action draw latch is available in two styles--a concealed spring-loaded version and a fixed-anchor plate version. The spring-loaded version compensates for mounting-hole irregularities, panel variations, and gasket set. It absorbs shock and vibration and reduces rattling. A lift-and-twist action is necessary to open the latches. This dual action prevents a latch from snapping open, making it suitable for applications where safety or accidental opening are a concern. Applications include use in industries ranging from RV/caravan to off-highway, farm equipment, medical, food equipment, furniture, and exhibit.
Southco Inc., Brinton Lake Rd., Concordville, PA 19331, FAX (610) 361-6314.


AcupointTM anti-cross-threading fasteners feature a spherical point that allows the fasteners to self-align from both off-angle and off-center positions. This point design allows quick engagement into the hole and thread engagement only when the fastener is properly aligned. Its shorter point length minimizes interference. Available sizes will include M4, M6, and M8.
Camcar Textron, 516 18th Ave., Rockford, IL 61104, FAX (815) 961-5345.

Adhesive tape

FM 2453 double-coated adhesive-foam tape is for bonding exterior mirrors to plastic housings on cars and trucks. Features include a proprietary black-foam carrier coated on both the unwind and liner sides with 1.8m of an acrylic adhesive that provides a bond for attaching mirrors to their housings. The tape product has a continuous operating temperature of 180F and an intermittent operating temperature of 225F. The foam is useful for gap filling and offers complete adhesive coverage over the back of the mirror, enabling the mirror to be shatter- resistant.
Avery Dennison, Specialty Tape Div., 250 Chester St., Painesville, OH 44077, FAX (216) 639-7518.


The Trim-Line swinghandle can be fitted with a variety of internationally standardized actuator drives and lock cylinders. An overall height variance of 9 to 12 mm makes it possible to shrink the dimensions of the swinghandle to 133 mm in length and 36 mm in width. Driven by a special shaft and innovative linkage, either the modern DIRAK flat-rod latching system or 3-point cam-controlling rods can be utilized. Single or 2-point closure is also possible. Applications include use in equipment construction and small housings such as those found in advanced electrical technology.
DFS International Inc., 7151 Lake Ellenor Dr., Orlando, FL 32809, FAX (407) 858-9601.

Mold-in insert

DODGE(R) Ultra-MoldTM threaded insert features a two-part design that eliminates dead space, tapping chips, and debris left inside. This threaded insert is manufactured from two separate pieces of brass material. Threads are tapped completely through the insert body before an end cap is attached. Since the entire length of the insert is threaded, smaller inserts can be used. A bolt pilot allows fast entry of screws and mold pins, and the capped end eliminates material back flow. Available sizes include #8, #10, 1/4, 5/16, and 3/8 inch, and metric M4, M5, M6, M8, and M10. Ultra-MoldTM inserts are designed for industrial, automotive, and electronic applications.
Emhart Industrial, 510 River Rd., Shelton, CT 06484, FAX (203) 925-3109.

Contact tip

Delta II triangle contact tip features a wire contact of 2 points, an inscribed circle diameter of 1.24 plus or minus 0.02 mm, and a clearance of 0.45 mm to eject flaking. A triangle hole versus the conventional round hole helps to reduce or eliminate common tip problems such as spatter. Other improvements include better electric conductivity, a reduction in downtime, and a decrease in the required amps/voltage. The tip is available in sizes that fit robotic and automatic welding guns with metric thread.
Daido Corp., 615 Pierce St., Somerset, NJ 08875, FAX (908) 805-0122.


SurelockTM quick-connect clamp features a pull-through-band feed design for rapid, bind-free take up. The captured-screw design ensures trouble-free engagement and final tensioning, in difficult conditions or confined areas. An extended-housing design accommodates more screw threads for superior screw-to-band engagement and a more positive seal. The 9/16-inch-wide band, housing and saddle, and 5/16-inch hex-head screw feature premium 300-grade stainless-steel construction for superior corrosion resistance.
Stant Corp., Ideal Div., 3200 Parker Dr., St. Augustine, FL 32095.


Bi-Sert insert provides a permanent precision metal thread in molded plastic parts. The hex shape, useful in rotational molding, provides torque and resistance to pull out. The space between the hexes provides flow characteristics, making the Bi-Sert suitable for use with fiber-resin plastics.
Yardley Products Corp., Box 357, Yardley, PA 19067, FAX (215) 493-6796.


5320/5327 ICS design casters are made from a thermoplastic material that is corrosion and rust resistant, making them easy to clean and able to withstand disinfectants and detergents. The thermoplastic or polyurethane wheels, combined with the rounded profile design, reduce rolling resistance and allow for smooth rolling in any environment. The casters are available in 4- and 5-inch swivel, or without the total lock system, and are suitable for the medical industry.
Tente Casters Inc., 2266 Southpark Dr., Hebron, KY 41048, FAX (606) 586-5859.


Ergonomically designed workstation is made from T-slot aluminum framing products and can be assembled using standard hand tools. This workstation is designed to function as either a stand-alone unit or a section integrated into a more extensive layout. Features include ergonomically designed parts bins, information boards, and tool racks; power strips; air bags; and tool balancers. In addition, three-way light bars and adjustable foot rests help reduce fatigue.
Bosch Automation Products, 816 East 3rd St., Buchanan, MI 49107, FAX (616) 695-5363.

Expansion bolts

Superbolt(R) expansion bolts replace large-fitted or interference-fit bolts. Loose fit sleeves of 0.010 to 0.020 inch are easily inserted, even in a hole misaligned due to rotation. Tightening can be done in less than five minutes per assembly. The split sleeve springs back to the original size, making it much less likely to hang up during removal. These bolts generate axial and radial force simultaneously and require no honing or coupling face machining. Applications include use with steam, gas, and hydro turbines; large motor couplings; marine drives; ring and split gears; and flanges.
Superbolt, Box 683, Carnegie, PA 15106, FAX (800) 345-2658.

Insert driver

Heat insert driver is for installation of miniature inserts as small as 2 mm across by 2.5 mm in height. Modular in design, this driver is for the manufacture and assembly of cellular telephones. It automatically feeds, orients, and installs up to four inserts at a time. The heat-insert process yields more consistent performance in terms of jack-out torque and pull-out force than alternatives such as ultrasonic welding.
Spirol International Corp., 30 Rock Ave., Danielson, CT 06239, FAX (860) 774-0487.


PRISM(R) 4203 and 4205 are rubber-toughened cyanoacrylate adhesives that provide resistance to impact, vibration, prolonged heat, and damp environments. PRISM 4203 is a low-viscosity adhesive, while PRISM 4205 is a non-running gel adhesive. Both products achieve fixture strength within 20 to 30 seconds on most substrates including steel, aluminum, nitrile, rubber, ABS, phenolics, and SBR. These adhesives cure to a clear, durable bond line, and are suited for bonding speaker and appliance assemblies, automotive components, electrical equipment, oil filters, disk drives, and other applications.
Loctite Corp., 1001 Trout Brook Crossing, Rocky Hill, CT 06067, FAX (860) 571-5465.

Mini spring line

Line of self-contained disposable mini nitrogen-gas springs includes the RD-12 with an OD of 0.472 inch, the RD-19 with an OD of 0.748 inch, and the RD-25 with an OD of 0.98 inch. Designed for smaller, higher-speed dies, these mini springs can be dropped into a die-spring pocket and mounted using the tapped hole in the bottom or by attaching a flange part. They are available in six stroke lengths, ranging from 0.28 inch to 3.15 inches with initial force ranging from 15 to 450 lbs. Flange mountings are also available.
Associated Spring Raymond, 1705 Indian Wood Circle #210, Maumee, OH 43537, FAX (419) 891-9192.

Captive self-clinching fasteners

Captive self-clinching studs are available with a special nylon patch applied to the thread area. The compressed patch exerts a spring-like wedging pressure on one side of the thread, between the stud and mating nut. This creates a tight metal-to-metal contact on the opposite side of the stud thread and provides a strong yet fully adjustable locking action when nut tightening stops. Patch thickness can be tailored to desired torque levels upon request. Studs can be fed through standard automation insertion equipment. The need for a separate lock washer is eliminated and the repeated removal and replacement of the mating nut is allowed.
Captive Fastener Corp., 19 Thornton Rd., Oakland, NJ 07436, FAX (201) 337-1012.


For life-safety and protection, these fasteners provide ready access only to authorized servicing. Available in bolts and nuts in all sizes, with a three-dimensional tamper-proof design as standard, the fasteners can be custom keyed for exclusive customer use with more than 250,000 unique head combinations. A lock-on, high-torque, coded wrench adds confidence to critical installations.
Mek-Lock Fasteners., 2965 E. Hillcrest Dr., Suite 304, Thousand Oaks, CA 91362, FAX (805) 495-2747.

Education doesn't stop with graduation

Education doesn't stop with graduation

Companies should enable employees to continue lifelong learning, says Winzeler, as well as help engineering students get practical, hands-on experience.

Design News: Why should companies take an active interest in educating their employees? Can't they just hire people with the appropriate education and skills?

Winzeler: Well, we certainly haven't been able to do that. We are at the leading edge of our technologies, and in the Chicago area there certainly isn't an abundance of people that can function in our environment. That's what drove our need to educate and take a more long-term view. The best thing we can do is educate our workforce. I can't guarantee someone lifelong employment, but I can guarantee to keep their resume current. As employees who take advantage of Winzeler's educational opportunities grow in their skills and capabilities, so do we. That's a win-win environment.

Q: What kind of training are university engineering graduates missing?

A: When I was going to engineering school, I was among students who were mechanical. They were very interested in working with their hands and were the right people to be in mechanical-engineering school. Today I see a lot of people who are computer literate and good in math and science but don't necessarily have the hands-on skills that we had in the '60s. An engineer today who doesn't understand the manufacturing processes or the quality disciplines certainly can't design an adequate product.

Q:How can they pick up these skills?

A: Part-time work, internship programs, and co-op education lets students work and study. I don't think the business community makes it easy for someone to get the experience they need to be a competent engineer early on. We're a small company and can only absorb one intern per semester. Some big organizations use job shadowing and job mentoring to network with the schools they tend to recruit from.

Q: How do you get employees to take more of an interest in their careers?

A: I encourage my employees to figure out what they want to be when they grow up. We spend a lot of time working with a hired industrial psychologist to do career planning for everyone in the organization because I don't think people take that seriously until it's either too late or they reach a stage in their life when there are no options. There's a very poor correlation in this country between what people go to school for and what they do for the rest of their lives. Career planning is something you should do every three to five years as life's events occur. We all change our priorities and needs--it's an ongoing process. In this fast-paced world, if you don't love what you're doing and you can't separate the work from the fun and the fun from the work, you're not going to be able to deal with lifelong learning or the dynamics of staying current in your career.

Q: You say you're not CAD-literate yet you manage a CAD department. What are your plans for learning CAD?

A: I will probably start CAD training this fall--I'll at least get a CAD for Dummies under my belt or a managerial course in UNIX and Pro/E because of the things we're doing at Winzeler today. I'm continually taking short courses because I know if I'm encouraging everyone else to do it I better be doing it. But I enjoy it--I'd love to go back to school full time.

Q: What portion of your employees are taking advantage of the career-planning and educational opportunities the company offers?

A: For 34 people, we have a $50,000 educational budget. We've done everything from helping people get a four-year degree through night school to associate degree programs to helping people get certified in various disciplines. Typically about 10 to 15% of the organization is aggressively taking advantage of what we offer. I would like it to be higher.

Q: How can companies motivate employees to keep their education up to date?

A: It really boils down to helping people decide what they want to be when they grow up and then facilitating that whether it's inside or outside your organization. That's probably one of the best things a company can do. Our approach has been that we invest unconditionally in our people--we have no contracts that say they have to stay if we fund their college degree because we don't want them shackled here. What I hope to get out of it is a motivated, committed worker for some period of time. If every firm in this country were committed to long-range education, there would be a better workforce pool to draw from and we'd all benefit.

Plastics lead a sporting life

Plastics lead a sporting life

As the weather warms up, so do sales at sports and recreational equipment outlets. The ringing cash registers bring a sparkle in the eyes of plastics and composite producers that supply the materials for everything from water sports and camping equipment to golf and boating gear. And the rewards are not minuscule.

Last year and into part of this year, sports and recreational equipment accounted for some 267.9 million lbs of plastics sales, according to the Plastic Buyer Profiles complied by Phillip Townsend Associates, Inc., Houston, TX. Camping, fishing, and hunting equipment led the way with some 65.5 million lbs consumed for these activities, followed closely by pool, swimming, and diving products with 60.8 million lbs marketed.

Polyethylene heads the list when it comes to the types of resins employed in the sports and recreational arena, with 159.5 million lbs of plastics going into these products. The next closest resin was polypropylene, with sales reaching 50.3 million lbs during the 1996-1997 time period. Here's a look at some of the innovative uses for these materials.

Extreme games. If hot weather has you in the doldrums, this adventure should help cool you off. Arctic explorers Lonnie Dupre of Grand Marais, MN, and John Hoelscher of Yeppoon, Queensland, Australia, have joined forces for a 4,600-mile, 15-month expedition around Greenland. The journey began May 15th and constitutes the first ever circumnavigation of Greenland by ground transportation.

The expedition departed from Paamiut on the southwestern coast and traveled 1,420 miles north by sea kayak to Pituffil (Thula Air Field). The team will depart by dog sledge to travel the 2,560 miles of Arctic coastline and sea ice through the winter and early spring of 1998. This will put them in contact with the North Greenland Inuit, one of the Earth's most isolated people. At Ammassalik on the southeastern coast, the expedition will travel the remaining 760 miles by sea kayak back to their starting point.

What does this record-breaking expedition have to do with plastics? For one thing, THV fluoropolymer supplied by Dyneon (St. Paul, MN) will accompany the excursion. Because the material has great flexibility and optical clarity, plus processing versatility, it seemed the perfect solution for tent and kayak sail windows. Even with these properties going for it, the material does not sacrifice its weathering, chemical, hydrolysis, soil resistance, low flammability, and low water absorption qualities.

Previous attempts to circumnavigate Greenland have failed, and this geographic "first" still remains elusive. However, by incorporating contemporary modifications like THV into traditional dog sledge and kayak designs, Dupre and Hoelscher should be able to cope with any conditions they expect to encounter.

The team plans to travel 7 to 12 hrs per day, and cover an average of 22 miles. On a regular basis, the expedition will give updates and send out digital photographs from the trail using a laptop computer. The journey also opens the door to Dyneon THV applications not explored to date. These include map cases, boat covers, and fish-house accessories.

"The circumnavigation of Greenland by dog sledge and kayak epitomizes the human spirit of adventure," says Dyneon's Bryce Johnson. "It represents an incredible test of individual will in which Dyneon is pleased to participate."

Better boating. A less demanding way to cool off under the summertime sun is to take to the water. And what more relaxing way is there to do that than in a boat. Here again, plastics help make the journey less stressful, safer, and more effortless.

The marine market turned to plastic products more than 30 years ago for materials that provided superior protection from the elements at greatly reduced weights. Today's boat builders also find that the right combination of plastic-based materials can protect the environment.

For example, Sea Pro Boats, Inc. (Newberry, SC) uses patented, foam-filled fiberglass beams, or "stringers," that offer significant weight savings and durability over traditional plywood systems. An added benefit: the beams have a non-ozone-depleting foam core.

COMPSYS, Inc., (Melbourne, FL) makes the PRISMA(R) composite preform stringer and bulkhead systems. They incorporate the ZONE3(R) rigid polyurethane foam system developed by BASF Corp.'s Urethane Specialties Group (Livonia, MI).

"The PRISMA stringer system has a better load distribution when compared to plywood systems," notes Tommy Handcock, Sea Pro president. "It has reduced my stringer assembly labor costs by as much as 50%, and the stringers will not rot or decompose."

The systems are made in closed box molds. First, the mold interior is lined with stitch-bonded E-glass covered with a layer of polyester fabric. Piping and mounting hardware is then positioned inside the mold, which is then closed and injected with a predetermined amount of the ZONE3 material. Once cured, the preform is removed from the mold, inspected, and shipped to the boatbuilder, where it can be immediately wetted out and installed.

The stringer systems also can enhance the structural integrity of the boat, since they include built-in radiused edges that provide stress relief at the hull-stringer joint. In contrast, plywood stringers can create a "hard spot" where stress cracking can occur.

And from an environmental standpoint, "BASF's proprietary formulations have consistently outperformed other competing zero-ozone depleting products in terms of flow, cell uniformity, processing, batch-to-batch consistency, and quality," says Allan Syrop, technical services manager for BASF's Urethane Specialties Group.

Pollution-free boating. For more summertime enjoyment that offers a cooling environment, try a pontoon boat. Once shore-bound by restrictions prohibiting the noise and pollution of gasoline-powered watercraft on their favorite small lakes and rivers, recreational boaters are now singing "Anchors Away" aboard a new electric-powered pontoon boat.

Leisure Life Limited (Grand Rapids, MI), maker of the first thermoformed pontoon boat for this niche market, selected a weatherable polymer coextruded with acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) from Bayer Corp.'s Polymers Div. (Pittsburgh) to make the boat tough, resistant to the elements, and attractive.

"For our ElDeBo pontoon boat we needed a material that provided high rigidity, as well as high gloss and fade resistance," says Philip G. Globig, Leisure Life national sales manager. "The vast majority of our boats are made of polyethylene, but the material is not as rigid, doesn't offer the luster we wanted, and can't be glued."

Leisure Life found the solution in Bayer's Centrex(R) 825 weatherable polymer, coextruded over Lustran(R) 752 ABS resin. The combination delivers extrudability, formability, durability, and weatherability.

Primex Plastics (Richmond, IN) supplied the 891/2 x 1647/8-inch sheet. Each sheet measures 0.250-inch thick, and has a 20% layer of Centrex coextruded over 80% Lustran.

"In terms of weatherabilty, Centrex is superior to fiberglass, and it's lighter in weight," Globig explains. "It also will take a lot of punishment and still maintain like-new appearance."

The boat builder thermoforms the sheets in a three-station rotary press. Cycle times average between five and six minutes. The thermoformed sheet forms the hull and deck of the ElDeBo, and the one-piece components are joined like a clamshell. Foamed polystyrene is placed inside the hull for flotation.

"Our electric-powered pontoon boat gives a luxury boating experience back to consumers who want to socialize, fish, or swim on small lakes and rivers," Globig adds. "Centrex and Lustran resins give us a material that communicates form and beauty and delivers durability."

Sea-Doo duty. If speed is your thing, then check out the 1997 model Sea-Doo(R) XP watercraft from Bombardier Motor Corp. (Melbourne, FL). PWC Magazine called it "Best Musclecraft Value," and Personal Watercraft Illustrated touts it as the "acceleration and speed king."

The redesign includes a new hourglass hull shape, topped by a new deck and Direct Action Suspension. The combination produces solid straight-line tracking with the nimbleness and cornering that's expected from the signature watercraft that's propelled by a twin-cylinder, 110-hp Rotax(R) Marine powerplant. Once again, plastics helps make all of this happen.

For example, when Bombardier engineers began evaluating alternative materials for the Sea-Doo's storage cover, their mission was clear: find a performance thermoplastic that could reduce costs without sacrificing performance. They got that and more with HivalloyTM engineering resin alloys from Montell Polyolefins (Wilmington, DE).

By using Hivalloy W130 general-purpose resin, Bombardier's molders could process the storage covers without drying at a lower clamp tonnage, injection pressure, and temperature--all of which resulted in cost savings. What's more, scrap rates were reduced by about 25%. And since the Hivalloy resin is less dense than the PC/PBT blend used previously, resin costs dropped, as did the weight by 27%. Chemical resistance and acoustic properties also improved.

In exterior weather testing, an experimental grade of Hivalloy W resin has shown substantially better retention of original color and gloss than PC/PBT or ASA, widely regarded as the standard materials when it comes to weatherability. "The results against ASA indicate the Hivalloy W resins may be one of the most weatherable engineering thermoplastic available today," notes Ken Durgis, business director for the resins. Other applications include their use in marine deck hatches and bridge chair backs.

The benefits of plastics don't end here, however. For the XP's seat, Bombardier turned to a polypropylene thermoplastic composite from Azdel, Inc. (Shelby, NC), a joint venture between GE Plastics and PPG. The result: cost and weight reduction.

Part consolidation was the key. In the one-piece seat redesign, the composites (Azdel Plus R401-B01 40% random-glass mat and C401-B01 40% chopped fiber) replaced a rolled aluminum frame, six aluminum brackets, six fasteners, two aluminum side plates, an injection-molded seat, and a rear plastic cover.

"The design also enabled Bombardier to mold in a shock mount that formerly consisted of steel," says Matthew Marks, application development engineer at the GE Application Development Center, Southfield, MI. Adding the C401-B01 composite aided in filling out features in the shock and mount area.

Marks adds that the composite materials' strength-to-weight ratio also contributed to the seat design's ability to cut part and assembly costs, while reducing overall weight. The new seat is about 20% longer, but weighs only 10.4 lbs, the same as the old model.

A 'reel' fish story. Boats and fishing naturally go together. And to land that big one, try out Zebco's new Red Rhino reel. Adding refinement to the reel is a thumb button created by Phillips Plastics Corp. (Prescott, WI).

Zebco designers turned in a one-shot design for the thumb button to give the injection molder the overall impression of how the part should look. However, Joe Gleason, a Phillips Plastics design engineer, was given the task of creating a functional, yet aesthetically pleasing two-shot design for a button that, when depressed, would be durable enough to spring back independently. Moreover, the overmold had to cushion the thumb of the fisherman who casts numerous times for that illusive fish.

"We remodeled the geometry to remove undercuts and redesign areas that couldn't be molded," Gleason recalls. "Then we broke Zebco's one-shot design into first and second shots, created in-mold graphics, and proposed a living hinge."

Phillips Plastics engineers also recommended changes to remedy thick-to-thin wall sections that could affect aesthetics of the parts. They took venting and gating into consideration to enable the remaining thin-walled section to fill properly.

The living hinge is designed to flex when depressed, yet, due to the inherent properties of the polypropylene used, it returns to its original shape. The molded-in hinge replaces two metal components from the previous assembly. "With this design, the one-piece thumb button closes up the back of the reel and protects the gears from dust and debris," adds Zebco senior design engineer Kent Zwager.

The hinge design with tactile overmold was proven out during the prototyping phase. Here, the thumb button prototype mold was made using a stereolithography (SL) mold. SL molds are made by building mold cavities, rather than parts, in the 3-D Systems (Valencia, CA) SLA-250 machine. The molds are strengthened and placed in an injection-molding machine to produce a limited number of parts.

The two-shot design requires heat for material bonding. With SL technology, the design engineers could locate and solve potential problem areas at a cost savings for Zebco by eliminating rework on production tools. In the case of the Red Rhino reel, design verification occurred in two weeks, rather than the six weeks it would have taken using more traditional design methods. This decreased Zebco's time-to-market, giving the firm a competitive edge.

Plastics on the fly. But the tale of plastics' use to make fishing more enjoyable has yet another chapter. Take the case of a fly-fishing fin produced by Huston Plastics (McMinnville, OR).

Huston recently turned to Engage(R) polyolefin elastomers from DuPont Dow Elastomers (Wilmington, DE) to create fins that are buoyant and resist the elements. Not only did the materials meet the need, but ultimately helped Huston achieve reduced cycle time, lower barrel temperatures, reduced energy costs, and better colorability.

The fins help the fly-fisher "steer" from a float tube--an inner tube with a seat that allows access to areas tough to reach by boat. The fins originally were molded with theromplastic rubber (TPR), but the material would fall to the bottom of the water if left unattended. Also, frequent exposure to the elements and harsh chemicals often led to cracking.

"The TPR caused the fins to sink because the polymer had a specific gravity greater than 1.0," explains Bill Wylde, Houston's molding manager. "We tried everything to get them to float--we even added foam without success--which is when we decided to change the material."

The fins now float to the top because Engage has a specific gravity of 0.8. And, the material resists exposure to sun and water, as well as gasoline used in outboard motors.

"We noticed processing benefits as soon as we made the switch," Wylde adds. "We reduced overall cycle time by 15 to 20% over TPR, lowered barrel temperature by more than 37C, and cut energy expenses by using less injection pressure and speed. In addition, Engage proved easier to color since it has a clear formulation."

Moor for less. Keeping boats moored has become far more practical, thanks to over-sized, one-piece dock floats from Meese Orbitron Dunne (MOD) Co. (Ashtabula, OH). The new dock flotation system enables marina owners, operators, and designers to protect aquatic life, reduce labor costs, and increase dock life.

Rotomolded into a single, uniform piece from either linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) or cross-linked polyethylene (PE), the floats resist attack from water, salt, gasoline, and other corrosives. They also can withstand temperatures from -30 to 150F without distorting.

The floats come in foam-filled or hollow designs, and can stand up to severe impacts from speedboats, jet skis, and other watercraft without puncturing or absorbing water. In contrast, traditional polystyrene floats absorb water, deteriorate and contaminate the environment, while posing a danger to marine life, necessitating frequent replacement.

The foam-filled floats measure 4 x 3 x 2-ft, weigh 76 lbs, and can withstand up to 1,224 lbs of force. The same size, the hollow versions weigh 40 lbs and resist impacts of up to 1,260 lbs.

No fender benders. If you are a boat owner, you want to protect that expensive investment. One way to do that is with the "Fendergrip" that can help prevent boat damage through faster, more effective fender deployment.

The device, made by New World Marine, Inc. (Pompano Beach, FL), eliminates the time required to tie and retie lines. Its push-button feature allows boaters to set fenders instantly at just the right height to cushion bumps against the dock or other boats. A release of the button provides a positive lock to hold the fender line in place.

Fendergrip consists of four parts made of injection-molded acetal--a two-piece housing, a push-button, and a cam--plus four screws and a spring made of stainless steel. Line threaded through the unit is locked between integral teeth in the interior of the housing and the cam. Actuation of the push button disengages the cam and allows raising or lowering of the fender. Molded-in ridges on the casing and push button allow a sure grip, even for wet hands.

The housing parts consist of a special white UV-stabilized Delrin 527 acetal supplied by DuPont Engineering Polymers (Wilmington, DE). The push button and cam are molded from black, 25% glass-reinforced Delrin 577. The reinforcement provides added strength to withstand actuation and locking forces.

New World Marine specified the acetal because of its strength, toughness, low wear and friction, and its resistance to attack by salty air and water, common marine chemicals, and sunlight. "In the development stage," says company President Peter Cook, "our molder tried a competitive material, but had shrinkage problems and couldn't get the material to release from the mold."

Just how confident is Cook in his product? The Fendergrip comes with a three-year warranty that isn't common in the marine industry, but "the performance of Delrin lets us provide that service to our customers," Cook reveals. He sees broad potential for the device in other line-adjustment applications such as aviation tie-downs, tenting, and tarpaulin tensioning.

Goof-proof golf. The golfer's elusive search for the perfect drive may be over, thanks in part to a golf balled currently in testing at Spalding Sports Worldwide (Chicopee, MA).

"A few years ago Spalding began searching for a material with good low-temperature toughness and improved hardness that also had the flow needed for processing," explains Michelle Bellinger, senior polymer scientist at Spalding. The firm's search ended at AlliedSignal Plastics (Morristown, NJ) with a new material that could be blended with an ionomer and deliver the performance and durability that golfers desire.

"When we think nylon, we see AlliedSignal Plastics as a technological leader," adds Michael Sullivan, Spalding VP of research & engineering. The cover of Spalding's test golf ball consists of Capron(R) HPN TM nylon--part of the Ultra-toughTM family of nylon resins--blended with an ionomer. The cores are made of rubber; the ball is coated with urethane for shine.

The new, harder material means greater distance off the drives and better control. "These balls are very durable and long," says Bellinger. "The Capron nylon toughens the ball and will benefit the golfer who wants a low spin rate and longer distance."

"Durability is a given to a golfer. Our customers expect it. If you don't offer durability, nothing else matters," Sullivan adds. Judges for AlliedSignal Plastics' first design contest were equally impressed by naming the ball an award winner. Contest results were announced in June at the National Plastics Exposition in Chicago.

A shift in shafts. A new golf shaft--said to be the only commercially available shaft made of thermoplastic composite--also enhances a golfer's performance and comfort. The Thermo-PlasticTM shaft, designed by Quadrax Corp. (Portsmouth, RI), is said to give the golfer longer shots and better accuracy on the fairway.

Shaft construction starts with Quadrax's Unidirectional Tape, fabricated by imbedding fibers of carbon as a high-strength reinforcing material in a matrix of either nylon 6 or polyphenylene sulfide (PPS) thermoplastic resin. A 65% carbon to 35% resin ratio is used.

Multiple layers of tape are assembled into a lay-up of the number of plies and angles or orientation of fibers specified to achieve desired strength, stiffness, flexibility, and other engineering characteristics. The layers are then fused into a laminate. The design provides the shaft with the feel, playability, accuracy, and distance golfers demand.

Very high vibration damping of the nylon-based shaft gives it an even softer feel than shafts made of conventional graphite. Senior golfers especially like this feature. In contrast, the PPS-based shaft has a very crisp feel, giving a better tactile response to the fingers and hands of the golfer who hits an off-center shot. It appeals to low handicap golfers.

High vibration damping also provides a more consistent dispersion pattern of balls hit, meaning more accurate shots. Reducing the oscillation in the head--the flexing and twisting as it comes down into the ball--keeps the head square when it hits the ball to provide a straighter shot.

In several tests, Thermo-Plastic shafts performed head-to-head against conventional graphite shafts that were identical except for the material. In robot testing, balls hit by the Thermo-Plastic shaft matched the graphite shaft in distance, while providing a tighter dispersion pattern.

In tests by players, golfers drove balls on a simulated fairway defined by cones placed 40 years apart. Over 70% of the players said they preferred the feel of the Thermo-Plastic shaft to that of the graphite shaft. Balls hit with the two clubs traveled equally far in the air, but 61% of the balls hit with the Thermo-Plastic shaft landed in the target area vs. 48% by the graphite shaft.

What's next? Quadrax is working toward an ultra-light (below 60 gram) shaft, as well as different resin/fiber concentrations and sizes and shapes of shafts to further improve their feel and performance.

Cleftless cleats. But such equipment might not help if, after a day of heavy use, the golf course turns into a putter's nightmare because of the imprints left from metal spikes. With this in mind, more and more golf courses are requiring golfers to use spikes made of plastic.

Consider this. The average golf shoe features 12 metal spikes, and the United States Golf Association has computed that a player averages 28 paces per green. Multiply those 28 paces by 24 spikes: nearly 700 impressions per green times 18 greens equals 12,000 impressions per round. And with an average of 200 rounds per day, that's 2.4 million spike marks daily.

To overcome this problem, many courses offer rental shoes with plastic spikes at a reduced price or will make a metal to non-metal exchange for a slight fee. A set of plastic replacement spikes runs anywhere from $4 to $6.

One resin producer who has profited from this change is Dow Plastics (Midland, MI). Many of the spikes now on the market consist of special grades of Dow's Pellethane(R) thermoplastic polyurethane elastomers (TPUs). For instance, Pellethane 2102-90AR has "superior abrasion resistance and wear characteristics for shoe soles and cleats," says Mark A. Remmert, Dow Plastics senior product market manager. In sports and recreation applications alone, Remmert believes that some 100 million lbs of elastomers are used.

One company that has benefited from the switch from metal to plastic cleats is Softspikes(R), Inc. (Rockville, MD), who claims to be the original developer of the only patented non-metal spike. The company has cornered the market on the Senior Tour with nearly 70% usage.

"It's a change in mentality," says Kelly Elbin, vice president of marketing for Softspikes. He reports that currently four million golfers are wearing some form of an alternative plastic golf cleat. "We are truly witnessing a revolution in the game of golf," he enthuses.

Ray Floyd had this to say after a round of golf at a Massachusetts course last year: "Golf is my life, and I wouldn't be using Softspikes if it jeopardized my playing ability."

Engineering Productivity Kit - Power Transmission

Engineering Productivity Kit - Power Transmission

Compact transmissions bring maneuverability to home mowers

Eden Prairie, MN--Peek beneath the housing of a zero-turn-radius lawnmower and you're likely to find a hydrostatic transmission. It's been that way for years, and it's likely to remain that way for as long as anyone can foresee.

Nevertheless, there's a new twist in the zero-turn-radius lawnmower market. And the chief agent of that change is the seemingly static hydrostatic transmission.

Using a new breed of smaller, simpler, less costly hydrostatic transmissions, engineers are taking zero-turn-radius mowers out of the realm of the professional groundskeeper and into the garages of homeowners. That's good news, especially for homeowners with large lots, because zero-turn-radius mowers can dramatically reduce the time needed to mow expansive lawns. Some users claim they can cut an eight-hour job to a mere four hours using a zero-turn-radius mower. Others say that zero-turn-radius enables them to dispense with special trim mowers for hard-to-reach places, because these mobile mowers can turn on a dime and reach virtually any spot.

"There's always been great interest in these machines among commercial cutters, " notes William Lowe, director of marketing for Snapper, Inc., McDonough, GA. "The reason is that the zero-turn-radius reduces your mowing time because it maneuvers faster."

The most common technique for creating a zero-turn-radius machine is to connect two right-angle transmissions together. The two right-angle transmissions provide both steering and propulsion, and, more importantly, create a machine that can articulate around its own transaxle.

Up until recently, however, this type of power arrangement was too costly for most homeowners to afford. Part of the high cost was attributable to the use of the two right-angle transmissions. But with the introduction of simpler, more compact versions, such as Eaton Hydraulics' Model 778,cost has dropped low enough for homeowners to take advantage of the technology.

Eaton's Model 778 accomplishes all that through integration of its hydraulic pump, motor, and gear train. This integration provides the unit with "plug-and-play" capabilities. "When customers receive it on the assembly line, they attach a linkage and simply bolt it in place," explains William Byrd, Eaton's chief engineer for light duty hydrostatics.

As a result, the assembly time normally required to install three separate components, along with related plumbing, is eliminated. The integrated design fits neatly in a program of "least installed cost" for the customer, Byrd says. In most cases, Eaton engineers believe they can cut the customers' installed cost for the unit by at least 15%.

Key to the success of the Model 778 design is the use of a planetary gear train and a radial pump/motor combination. In comparison to the spur gears often used for such applications, the planetary gear set offers greater compactness that translates to less material use, which lowers cost. And the radial pump uses less components than axial piston pumps, which are also commonly used in hydrostatic transmissions. The overall result: simpler manufacturing and lower cost.

For companies such as Snapper, use of the Model 778 has alleviated much of the conventional assembly line complexity. Used on the Snapper Yard Cruiser, the hydrostatic unit eliminated the need for independent hydraulic motors at the drive wheels. It also eliminated the need to run dedicated hydraulic lines to the wheel motors and to bolt a hydrostatic pump to the mechanical gear box.

As a result, Snapper executives report that they can produce about three times as many mowers in a day as they could using stand-alone components. And the unit's performance "is as good as those of the split systems."

"It's functionally is the same as a large zero-turn-radius transmission," notes Gale Maddy, marketing group leader at Eaton Corp.'s Hydraulics Division."But we're able to package it smaller and scale back the costs to meet the needs of the competitive market."

In addition to the Snapper Yard Cruiser, Eaton's unit has been employed on the EZ Rider mower, made by Ariens Co., Brillion, WI. Most of the 16 or so major manufacturers of lawn equipment, including Toro Co. and Dixon, make zero-turn-radius machines for the home market. By some estimates, manufacture of zero-turn-radius machines has increased 25% in the past two years.

"There's good reason for the popularity," Lowe says. "They're fun to drive, easier to operate, and they take less time. When you combine all those features, you create consumer interest."

SmartMotor focuses on performance, reliability, simplicity

David Benson, Electronic Project Engineer Baldor Electric Company

Fort Smith, AR--The Baldor SmartMotorTM is the first product to integrate an adjustable speed inverter control with an industrial motor in one package. This innovative design represents a standard in Matched PerformanceTM for the drive (motor + control) industry.

The motor is a Baldor TEFC (Totally Enclosed, Fan Cooled), Super-E premium efficient AC induction motor with a specially designed winding and insulation system. A Baldor inverter specifically designed for motor-mounted applications connects on top of the motor.

The Baldor SmartMotor is available in NEMA standard frame sizes, from 1 through 10 hp at 230 or 460V, and in NEMA 1 and NEMA 4 enclosure types. All ratings are UL and cUL approved.

Matched Performance is a commitment by Baldor for motor/control compatibility and to provide tested performance data for the drive (motor + control). Integration of the motor and control into one package takes Matched Performance another step. The parameters necessary for optimum performance in variable torque or constant torque applications and protection of the Baldor SmartMotor are preset in the control. The control protects the motor with a timed current overload (I2t) that is approved by UL so no motor overload sensors are necessary.

With the short distance between the inverter and the motor winding, the amplitude of voltage spikes at the motor terminals is minimized, and the enclosure acts as a shield, eliminating the potential for radiated EMI/RFI noise from the motor leads. Besides the Matched Performance advantage, motor/control integration also provides a simple, cost effective installation and requires no panel space for the control.

The Baldor SmartMotor is not a micro inverter bolted to a motor. Instead, Baldor designed a specific control to withstand the excessive temperatures, vibration, and EMI experienced by the electronics in a motor-mounted application.

Cooling for both the motor and the electronics is provided by a patented method using the fan mounted on the shaft of the motor. The highly integrated IGBT power module uses a DBC (Direct Bond Copper) substrate that is preferred over an Insulated Metal Substrate (IMS) when thermal stress is the dominant design factor, as in this case. The module was designed for motor-mounted applications and withstands the vibrations and extreme thermal stress.

Cylindrical cavities in the electronic housing secure the bus capacitors in place and help remove heat from their cores. With the high temperature-rated capacitors and a dc choke, the lifetime of the inverter is greatly increased in extreme operating conditions. Additional advantages of the dc choke include reduction in input harmonics, improved input power factor, and a 1% minimum line impedance compared to the competition's requirement for 3%.

The Baldor SmartMotor gives the industrial drives market a reliable product with guaranteed performance. Similar to Baldor's wall-mounted controls and motors, the Baldor SmartMotor provides Matched Performance, all in one package. Focusing on reliability of the product, engineers designed a specific control to withstand exposure to vibration and thermal stress, while remaining easy to install and simple to operate. Design validation testing and comparison tests on competitors' units have confirmed that our focus on performance, reliability, and simplicity delivers a superior product for our present and future customers.

Integrated Motor Drive cuts installation costs, saves space

Dave Peiffer, Design Engineer TB Wood's Incorporated

Chambersburg, PA--Wire runs from inverters to motors have increased dramatically with recent changes in industrial plant design. Control panels often are installed hundreds of feet from motors doing the work. This scenario presents a host of power quality problems for the motor, in addition to the heat load introduced when putting an inverter in the control cabinet.

The solution is simple: move the inverter out of the cabinet and onto the motor it drives. But this remedy presents its own challenges. Under the guidelines of NEMA (MG1) specification and the IEC, motor profiles must meet standard dimensions. Mounting the inverter on top of the motor housing, as some manufacturers do, may render the assembly non-compliant. Yet the MG1 specification does offer some flexibility, as it does not define the length of the motor.

The Integrated Motor Drive (IMD) from TB Wood's takes advantage of that opening. It integrates the inverter into the end of the motor.

Inverters generate heat, as does the motor. When the inverter is mounted on top of the motor, cooling can become a problem, especially at continuous low-speed operation when the cooling comes from a shaft-driven fan. The TB Wood's IMD solves this problem by integrating a dc-powered fan into the end of the inverter to provide consistent cooling.

When the IMD is installed in applications requiring control of electromagnetic or radio frequency interference (EMI/RFI), filters can be easily integrated right onto the motor, with a slight increase in size of the power junction box. The IMD can therefore be brought into compliance with the CE mark.

Separating the power from the control also simplifies and allows enhancements to the control of the IMD. A simple swap of the standard input/output (I/O) interface allows use of DeviceNet, Modbus Plus, Interbus S, Profibus, or future network connections.

In typical material handling, a single power bus feeds many IMDs, which are controlled through a network interface, allowing for a clean, low-cost installation. This installation is further simplified via design flexibility: IMD's I/O interface can be mounted in the F3, F2, or F1 positions. The IMD can also be foot-mounted or flange-mounted.

The IMD's two main components are an inverter-duty motor and a totally redesigned XFC inverter. The motor frame sizes range from a 48 to 184T for a power range of 0.5 to 5 hp.

Input power can be single-phase to three-phase, 200-460V, depending on the model. Future releases will feature 115V single-phase and higher-horsepower ranges.

Operating speed range is 20:1, with an overload capacity of 110% continuous, and 150% for 60 seconds of constant torque.

Vibration and other environmental factors may cripple some integrated inverter motors, but the IMD is designed to withstand the same rigorous use to which a motor is normally exposed. To prevent vibration damage, the inverter assembly is filled with epoxy. With the inverter rated at NEMA 12, the entire IMD satisfies the Totally Enclosed Non-Vent (TENV) standard.

The IMD employs the same keypad as other TB Wood's inverter products. The deceptively simple design uses eight buttons and a backlit alphanumeric display to control and monitor commands and operating parameters. Step-through configuring makes set-up and operation straight forward, while sensors and software allow fault determination and data rending.

TB Wood's engineers set out to integrate motor and control in a single, streamlined package that meets or exceeds the standards that designers must consider for industrial applications. By achieving that goal with the IMD, Wood's developed a unique solution that reduces the cost of installation and saves space at the same time--simplifying two challenges that all designers face.

Products to watch

Brushless linear servo motors

The Solution series of brushless linear servomotors is designed for applications requiring smooth motion, high accuracy, quick acceleration, and greater stiffness. Designed by engineers at Airex Corp., Dover, NH, it uses patented technology to produce true unit-to-unit repeatability and zero cogging. A very strong magnetic field is created using high temperature rare earth magnets attached to highly permeable magnetic backiron. The magnet track is designed to maintain high mechanical stiffness while allowing flexibility in mounting.
Airex Corp., Route 108, Dover, NH 03820, FAX: 603-742-0977.

Rollfeed controls and servo drives

High speed precision rollfeed controls and ac servo drives from Indramat are designed to meet the performance needs of metalforming applications. They offer precise, closed-loop, high performance motion control with pre-defined inputs/outputs and diagnostic/status messages in multiple languages. The product line includes compact single-axis control for small rollfeeds, a standard single-axis control with jerk-limiting and S-curve acceleration, and one- or two-axis synchronized rollfeed control with registration, measuring wheel, tool gagging and loop control capabilities.
Indramat, 5150 Prairie Stone Parkway, Hoffman Estates, IL 60192, FAX: 847-645-6201.

Induction motor designed for easy mounting

A new size 34 ac induction motor conforms to NEMA MG 7 frame standards. It allows for easy mounting into customer equipment or drop-in replacement into existing systems. Designed by Eastern Air Devices, the motor features a flange mounting complete with pilot, making it compatible with standard mounting brackets and gearboxes, and allows for precise shaft alignment with other machine components. Shaft dimensions are compatible with a variety of industry standard accessories, such as pulleys, couplings, and gears.
Eastern Air Devices, Inc., 1 Progress Drive, Dover, NH 03820, FAX: 603-742-9080.

Air cylinders simplify mounting

A new line of medium-duty cylinders offers a unique design that allows for equipment to be mounted to four tapped holes at each end of the cylinder. The same four holes can be used to add a detachable mounting, making the cylinder interchangeable with the NFPA medium-duty cylinder standard. Designed by engineers at Advanced Machine & Engineering, the Series CA cylinders are available in bore sizes ranging from 1.5 inches to 12 inches for use with up to 250 psi air. A separate series, known as Series CCA, also offers integral rod clamps.
Advanced Machine & Engineering Co., 2500 Latham St., Rockford, IL 61103-3963, FAX: 815-962-6483.

Did you know...

...motor quality and reliability is the most important factor in selecting a motor/drive supplier, according to a recent Design News survey?

Plastics, Metals and other materials

Plastics, Metals and other materials


ZTA-96 is a zirconia-toughened alumina ceramic that offers wear and corrosion resistance, high strength, and toughness. ZTA-96 components can be manufactured to precision tolerances and finishes in a wide range of shapes and sizes. Other features: Vickers hardness of 1,750 HV, flexural strength of 110 kpsi, and a maximum temperature use of 1,650C.
Astro Met Inc., 9974 Springfield Pike, Cincinnati, OH 45215, FAX (513) 772-9080.

Rubber rollers

New methods for the production of precision ground silicone rubber rollers for use in business machines have been developed by this company. Silicone rubber is suitable for precision rollers for business machines because of its high and low temperature stability, resistance to compression set, and chemical resistance. Complete molding, grinding, and finishing equipment are available to meet stringent surface finish and dimensional tolerance requirements for silicone rubber rollers.
Moxness Products, Versa Technologies Inc., 1914 Indiana St., Racine, WI 53405, FAX (414) 554-2321.


PolyMed Generation II composite tubing offers dimensions as small as 3 millimeters in diameter. The 3-mm tubing meets the stiffness requirements needed by the medical industry for minimally invasive surgery. Applications for the tubing include scissors, graspers, and electro-cauterizing devices.
Polygon Co., Box 176, Walkerton, IN 46574, FAX (219) 234-2265.


WearComp self-lubricating bearings and bushings are for harsh applications that are characteristic of down hole drilling and petrochemical processing. The material of which they are made combines two ingredients with natural lubricity--graphite fibers and a specially formulated polymide resin. The reinforcing fibers provide the strength and dimensional stability that permits usage in continuous temperatures of 550F. The material is resistant to corrosion, exhibits high tensile and impact strength, and may last longer than greased aluminum bronze in heavy moving-part applications. WearComp materials do not experience creep or cold flow.
HyComp Inc., 17960 Englewood Dr., Cleveland, OH 44130.

Rubber products

Custom-extruded seals, profiles, gaskets, tubing, and custom liquid molding including high consistency silicone injection molding, transfer, and compression processes are available. Fabric reinforcement is also available. Each silicone product is custom designed to the individual need or application, including in-house mixing and compounding. Functional and versatile, these elastomers are ozone and corona resistant, offer low compression set, and withstand temperatures from -100 to 600F. They are environmentally friendly and nontoxic when burned.
Flexfab, Div. of FHI, 1843 Gun Lake Rd., Hastings, MI 49058, FAX (616) 945-4802.

Elastomer system

These thermoplastic grades can bond with Nylon 6. Santoprene(R) rubber nylon-bondable grades enable designers and manufacturers to develop components with a high-performing elastomer bond to an engineering resin; with an impact strength, temperature, and abrasion resistance superior to that of polypropylene. Previously, Santoprene rubber chemically bonded only to polypropylene. The rubber is available in black and colorable grades, and is expected to be utilized for demanding applications in the appliance, automotive, electronics, fluid delivery, industrial, and power tools markets.
Advanced Elastomers Systems L.P., 388 S. Main St., Akron, OH 44311, FAX (330) 849-5599.


Multi-step MAGNAPLATE HTR surface enhancement coating technology increases mold release efficiency and wear resistance of all metals, including steel, copper, brass, and aluminum by creating a surface with an extremely low coefficient of friction. Treated substrates maintain their levels of mold release and wear resistance, and can be effectively employed even when subjected to continuous operating temperatures over 950F, intermittent air temperatures over 1,600F, and vacuum temperatures up to 2,400F. Applications include those where conditions are demanding, and where specifications call for dry lubricant coating that will perform where other dry lubricants fail.
General Magnaplate , 1331 Rte. 1, Linden, NJ 07036, FAX (908) 862-6110.


Ultramid B3GM35 natural and B3GM35 black are glass/mineral reinforced nylon resins designed for applications where optimum surface appearance is required. Parts molded of the two easy-flow grades have dramatically improved surface appearance. Ultramid B3GM35 natural is for parts to be painted. Ultramid B3GM35 UV black 23220 is for unpainted exterior applications which must have a deep-black appearance, excellent surface gloss and long-term resistance to discoloration.
BASF Plastic Materials, 3000 Continental Dr. N., Mount Olive, NJ 07828, FAX (201) 426-3912.

Laser-markable film

Pomalux(R) LM laser-markable rod and sheet made from Celcon(R) acetal copolymer resin produce parts which can be inscribed with clear, consistent, and precise laser marking. Already used for surgical lens identification, Pomalux LM is for use in safety, photographic, clean-room, and laboratory equipment or any application requiring clear, indelible images. Pomalux LM is available in a base color of black. Print colors include crisp white, green, blue, maroon, and brown.
Westlake Plastics Co., Box 127, W. Lenni Rd., Lenni, PA 19052, FAX (610) 459-1084.

Blown film

Stevens Urethane blown film provides design engineers with a very tough, thin membrane for a variety of applications, including laminations, bladders, and bandages. Available as thin as 0.001 inch and in widths up to 80 inches, the film also offers strong tensile and tear strength, abrasion and puncture resistance, easy fabricability, and resistance to fuels, oils, solvents, and other chemicals. Blown film can be used for products such as bladders and cushions, as an adhesive for emblems, or as a laminate to fabric or other substrates for applications ranging from conveyor belts to medical products.
JPS Elastomerics Corp., 9 Sullivan Rd., Holyoke, MA 01040, FAX (413) 552-1199.

Semiconductor material

A new material specifically for the semiconductor industry is available--Xytrex(R) 574 HP. This polymide material is an alternative to Vespel for parts used in semiconductor processing equipment, with high physical properties. Xytrex 574 HP resists temperatures up to 550F in a wide range of applications.
EGC Corp., 11718 McGallion, Houston, TX 77076, FAX (281) 774-6201.

Computer productivity tools

Computer productivity tools


Version 6.2 of task-specific STRIM professional solution package for reverse engineering and rapid prototyping is available. This latest version is an integrated solution for digitized points editing, surface reconstruction, direct machining on points, and stereolithography file generation. Applications include those in the automotive, defense, consumer products, and electromechanical industries. Powerful registration routines are available for aligning multiple clouds of points--particularly useful for certain types of objects that require multiple scans. Version 6.2 also contains improved functions for recognition of characteristic lines, such as fillets and sharp edges.
Matra Datavision Inc., 1 Tech Dr., Andover, MA 01810, FAX (860) 667-2323.


A power desktop line, Octane, features high-performance graphics, symmetric multiprocessing, and a pure 64-bit computing environment wrapped in an innovative high-performance system architecture that manages the demands of future applications. The system processes multiple data types including audio, video, imagery, and 3-D geometry.
Silicon Graphics Inc., 2011 N. Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View, CA 94043.


The evolution MOUSE-TRAK mouse offers a streamlined ergonomic design, comfortable molded contours, and ease-of-use. Because it takes up very little of the user's valuable desktop space, it is always conveniently at hand for point-and-click activities. The keys are pre-programmed to perform the most common functions of conventional three-button mice, including primary click, primary double-click, primary drag, auxiliary click, and right click.
ITAC Systems Inc., 3113 Benton St., Garland, TX 75042, FAX (972) 494-4159.


The IntelliStation M Pro workstations feature Pentium II processors and are for commercial users running mechanical CAD, electronic CAD, digital media content creation, and software development applications. The units offer maximum uni-processor performance in addition to providing high-end graphics, integrated advanced asset management, security, and data-protection technology. The workstations come standard with either 64 or 128 Mbytes of EDO error checking and correcting memory which helps to ensure data integrity. These new systems also provide Flash ROM technology allowing users to electronically upgrade the system BIOs. Two versions, 266 and 300 MHz, of the Pentium II microprocessor with MMX technology are offered providing maximum speed and expendability for software applications such as Internet, intranet, multimedia, and communications. Both models come standard with 512 Kbytes integrated cache.
IBM Personal Computer Co., Rt. 100, Somers, NY 10589.

Internet security

SignaSURE ESS Enterprise Security Suite can provide business and government entities a secure, reliable, and accurate means to use public networks for sensitive company information. It assures that no unauthorized changes may be made to those documents, and it leaves no question as to exactly who authored those documents. The ESS product uses a personal cryptographic token--a smart card or smart key--to contain all the codes and algorithms necessary to insure confidentiality of the information.
Datakey Inc., 407 W. Travelers Trail, Burnsville, MN 55337.


Version 3.5 of Solid Edge pushes the usability envelope with sheet metal and advanced rendering capabilities that boost modeling kernel, an IGES translator, and new functionality and performance enhancements in the part modeling and drafting environments. This version also provides a design environment tailored for sheet-metal components. Combining the ease-of-use of feature-based solid modeling with the unique requirements of sheet-metal design, Solid Edge speaks the language of sheet-metal intuitive commands for modeling tabs, flanges, bends, bend relief, corner breaks, cutouts, and flat patterns.
Intergraph Corp., Huntsville, AL 35894.

Rapid prototyping

The FDM8000 system can create large prototypes, as well as tooling patterns and masters for casting, RTV molds, and spray-metal tooling applications. Using ABS modeling material, the FDM8000 creates tooling patterns and masters as well as functional prototypes for testing. Its large build envelope allows users to generate parts up to 457 x 457 x 609 mm. The unit operates unattended in an office environment--useful for 24-hour operation.
Stratasys Inc., 14950 Martin Dr., Eden Prairie, MN 55344, FAX (612) 937-0070.


DesignLink is a bi-directional link between the graphic power of Pro/ENGINEER and the AutoCAD Mechanical Desktop, to TK Solver the mathematical modeling and rule-based engine. This combination offers a comprehensive solution to a wide range of design and engineering problems: 3-D graphics, mathematical modeling, design analysis, design rule checking, optimization, statistical analysis, and cost analysis. A complete mathematical model can be set up in TK Solver, then the numeric values generated by the model are sent to Pro/ENGINEER or the AutoCAD Mechanical Desktop program.
Universal Technical Systems, 1220 Rock St., Rockford, IL 61101, FAX (815) 963-8884.

UCA starter kit

The UCA starter kit, a turnkey system, enables users to shorten the time required to change their systems over to Utility Communications Architecture (UCA) technology. UCA technology allows open communications systems to become the norm in today's utility industry. Interoperability, plug-and-play, and data accessibility are the principles of UCA, principles that lead to lower costs of product development and deployment for both utilities and vendors. The starter kit provides a systematic and practical approach to implementing UCA technology.
Sisco Inc., 6605 Mile Rd., Sterling Heights, MI 48314, FAX (810) 254-0053.

Internet support

MocKingbird WEB is an electronic performance support system that helps improve workplace productivity and safety by delivering job-critical operating information and training to front-line workers via Internet, corporate intranets, or satellite-based access services. MocKingbird WEB modules include computer-based training authoring tools, training courses, document control, information change notification, and record keeping. Another feature: hyperlinking all plant operating documents to an interactive training module that delivers information and tests understanding of the information prior to use.
Warren-Forthought Inc., 1212 N. Velasco, Angleton, TX 77515, FAX (409) 849-1278.


SolidTools, a graphical 3-D application, allows companies to leverage critical 3-D engineering data throughout their organizations. With this application users can exchange solids-based 3-D models from and to popular production CAD systems. Users can create animation effects and perform easy conceptual modeling to readily communicate ideas and details to anyone in the organization. They can also apply advanced rendering techniques to generate photorealistic images for presentations or collateral. Other features include graphical editing of 3-D key-frame animation paths, Windows-compliant user interface with toolbars and comprehensive on-line tutorials, and support of OLE document automation to create reports in common desktop applications.
Visionary Design Systems, 2790 Walsh Ave., Santa Clara, CA 95051, FAX (603) 888-7657.


An embedded computer module for OEMs and systems integrators, the EM-C061 workstation, includes a 13.8-inch active matrix TFT color LCD display, supporting 4,096 colors with 1,024 x 768 resolution. The unit provides a turnkey solution for a compact and fully integrated operator interface and is for harsh factory conditions and heavy user interface. All components are specified and assembled for rugged use in areas where shock and vibration, high EMI, and wide variations in temperature may occur. The system's single-board computer accepts Pentium P54T-class CPUs including 100-, 133-, and 166-Mhz processor speeds, and accepts 256K L2 pipeline burst mode cache SRAM, up to 64 Mbytes of fast EDO SIMM memory, and has a PC/104 solid-state disk option.
Lucas Control Systems Products, Deeco Systems, DC0526, 31047 Genstar Rd., Hayward, CA 94544, FAX (510) 489-3500.


3-D Studio VIZ is a visualization solution based on 3-D Studio modeling and animation software for PCs. A 32-bit, object-oriented Microsoft Windows NT application, the software also can be run under Windows 95.VIZ's modeless working environment eliminates the need to switch in and out of different modes to view the result of a change or operation. The software's interactive renderer allows multiple texture, form, and lighting approaches to be explored quickly and adjusted in real time.
Kinetix, 624 Harrison St., San Francisco, CA 94107, FAX (415) 547-2222.

Software viewer

Myriad 3.2, a viewer for electronic document management and product data management, offers a variety of tools and features that enhance information delivery and presentation for engineering and manufacturing. With the use of watermarking, users can imprint their documents with the watermark of their choice. Other features include ISO 9000 bannering enhancements allowing users to change the bannering on the fly. A special feature lets the administrator determine who has permission to make such changes. The viewing of block attributes in AutoCAD files without the need for an integration application is allowed.
Informative Graphics Corp., 706 E. Bell Rd., Suite 207, Phoenix, AZ 85022, FAX (602) 971-1714.

Video mixers

The FlexiVision video mixers offer a totally digital implementation, which eliminates artifacts and provides unique capabilities when processing data from a wide range of video sources. For critical military surveillance applications, the units not only provide a digital radar input capability, but also a transparency feature. For missions requiring night vision capability, the FlexiVision products offer a selection of video inputs including FLIR monochrome sources.
BARCO Inc., Chromatics, 2558 Mountain Industrial Blvd., Tucker, GA 30084, FAX (770) 492-5111.