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Articles from 2007 In August


SABIC Completes Deal for GE Plastics

SABIC Completes Deal for GE Plastics

A major new player in global engineering plastics was officially launched today following the purchase of GE Plastics by the Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC). The name for the new entity is SABIC Innovative Plastics, reflecting GE Plastics’ long-standing role in developing not only new plastics, such as polycarbonate, but whole new application categories, particularly in automotive. The only potential problem was the stiffening of credit markets, but SABIC has a solid credit foundation, reaffirmed by Fitch Ratings service two days ago. The official announcement contained no news or surprises. Brian Gladden, who had been general manager of the Lexan brand, takes over as CEO of the company.

 
SABIC Innovative Plastics employs 11,000 and is a leading manufacturer and compounder of polycarbonate, ABS, ASA, PPE, PC/ABS, PBT and PEI resins. A few issues had to be ironed out before the completion of the deal:

 

  • GE Plastics acquired the entire equity of MCI and Nagase in their Japanese joint venture.

 

  • GE Plastics also bought out the equity position of Bayer MaterialsScience in Exatec, which develops protective coatings for the polycarbonate automotive glazing market. BMS will continue to develop glazing applications independently.

 The two moves, completed this month, are an early sign that SABIC will be an investor in the plastics business. SABIC has already purchased the assets of DSM’s and Huntsman’s petrochemicals businesses in Europe. The GE Plastics move represents a major move into the engineering plastics area. Previously, its assets had been heavily focused on volume plastics, which are generally sold more on price than engineering features.

Novacel Releases Novaguard Protective Auto Covering

French surface protection company Novacel released its Novaguard adhesive automobile protective film. Novaguard is used for covering new vehicles after manufacturing to help protect them from the elements while being shipped.

Novaguard is a white, 60µm, water-based polyolefin material, which is a more ecologically viable option for production when compared to a solvent-based polyolefin material. Once used, Novaguard can be recycled or reclaimed by burning. As a company, Novacel is aiming to achieve iso 14001 within the next year, which, according to the company, will further display its commitment to reducing its environmental impact.

According to Novacel, this coated film will reach a maximum adhesive level immediately upon application and will not result in flag effect, so wind won’t be able to blow Novaguard off the vehicle. Novaguard comes in 200m rolls and has a width range of 30 mm to 2,800 mm. Pricing was not available for this product.

TB Woods Releases X5 Ultraflex AC Drive

TB Woods has released its new X5 UltraFlex AC Drive for ac motor control. The new X5 features overlapping standards from the X4 including option boards and a range in horse power of 5 to 200 hp.

Additional X5 features include a built-in real-time clock for timer settings, a new easy-to-read display and a USB port for additional data connectivity. The USB port is intended for future expansion but is also used for collecting data from the ac drive and for saving and cloning a particular configuration across multiple drives via a memory stick.

Applications are suitable for any sort of heavy duty ac motor, including fans and grinders. Price range varies by horse power, voltage and distributor, but falls between $1,500 and $10,000.

Plastic Fab Offers Low Volumes for Electronics Enclosures

Plastic Fab Offers Low Volumes for Electronics Enclosures

One cool way to make enclosures for short production runs (say less than 10,000) is plastics fabrication.  When most people hear about plastics fabrication they think of signage, or a fairly butchered kind of plastics carpentry. That’s not what I’m talking about.

 

There’s a relatively new technology that combines sophisticated use of CAD engineering with production techniques borrowed from the sheet metal and cabinet-making businesses. Plastic sheet, such as ABS alloy, is machined to create vents or recesses, and then pieces are cut from a large plastic sheet (as large as four feet by eight feet). Joint and edge detail is then performed on a routing machine. Pieces are then scored on a table saw for bending with heat in a custom machine and assembled with a solvent-bonding process. That’s a quick summary of the process used by one of the manufacturers, Toolless Plastics Solutions  in the Seattle.area

 

The technique goes back to 1985 when French engineer Jean Claude Antoine needed small numbers of housings for stage lighting. The tool-less supplier with the longest track record in the USA is a New Jersey company called Plastronic Enclosures, Inc. I had a conversation this morning with President Daniel L Cucchiara who says that PEI has some unique capabilities in software, shielding and other areas. For example, PEI has equipment that can cut shapes from four foot by eight foot sheet, which gives them advantages in time and economics. Cucchiara says he welcomes the competition because it has spurred interest in the process from design engineers.  CEO and Founder Patrick Oltmanns at ClickFold Plastics in Charlotte, NC, says demand is booming from OEMs who want low volumes of electronics enclosures for medical applications. ClickFold  offers an excellent FAQ section that explains process capabilities. New at Toolless Plastics Solutions is the ability to produce curved pieces, using a heated roller technology deeloped by its parent company in France, LTP.

Snaptron Inc. Releases New DT Series, IntelliTac Dome Switch

Snaptron Inc. has developed a new metal tactile dome switch that features dual switching properties. This patent-pending DT Series switch allows users to apply low-level force to engage one switch function and a greater force to engage the second. According to Snaptron, the switches, using IntelliTac technology, boast over 5 million cycles per piece.

The DT06180 is a 6-mm contact switch requiring 120g of force for the first connection and 180g for the second. The DT08400, an 8.5-mm contact switch, requires 280g of force for the first connection and 400g for the second. Snaptron Inc. recently added 10- and 12-mm pieces to the line.

Applications for these switches include still and video cameras, camcorders, camera phones, electro-medical devices and audio equipment. Price varies by size and quantity, but price based on a 10,000-piece order can range from $.12 – $.15 per piece.

Minneapolis I-35W Bridge Removal, Rebuild Plans Move Forward

Nearly a month after the collapse of the I-35W bridge into the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, MN, the final victim has been recovered from the water and removal has begun to move faster. The NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) is still on the scene and expects to remain there “at least until November,” says Terry Williams, media contact.

On site, the NTSB will sometimes ask contractors removing the debris to take it to a separate site for further investigation, according to Kevin Gutknecht, program team leader for the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT). Otherwise the process is moving along fairly quickly.

The NTSB is continuing to look into all potential factors that could have caused the bridge collapse, including the de-icing system installed on the bridge in 1997 and the potentially corrosive properties of the chemicals it uses, as well as the weight of the construction equipment on the bridge prior to the collapse. According to a release from the NTSB, “the combined weight of the loads and construction vehicles is about 575,000 pounds.”

MnDOT is now focusing on clearing the river for barge traffic. “The navigation channel isn’t quite clear, so that’s certainly a priority,” says Gutknecht.

Materials recovered during the removal process will be recycled. “Concrete will be taken someplace and pulverized into class 5 fill and the metal will all be taken by scrap dealers and recycled,” says Gutknecht.

With removal moving at a faster pace, Gutknecht expects the construction of the new bridge to begin in the middle of October. Contractor proposals from the four remaining companies applying for the project are due by mid-September. The new bridge is expected to span the river where the original bridge once stood.

Inspectors Find Structural Deficiencies within Infrastructure of Boston’s Longfellow Bridge

Inspectors Find Structural Deficiencies within Infrastructure of Boston’s Longfellow Bridge

A major bridge in Massachusetts is slated for immediate repair during the state’s 40-day inspection of all bridges following the I35W bridge collapse in Minnesota earlier this month.

 

Inspectors found two deteriorated support beams within the infrastructure of the Longfellow Bridge. These “jack beams” help support the deck system which holds up the actual roadway which spans 2,135 feet carrying approximately 28,000 motorists, 90,000 transit users and a significant number of pedestrians and cyclists each day.

 

In the past couple of weeks crews were working to remove several 200-lb loose decorative steel plates from the underside of the bridge. At the time officials said these pieces had no impact on the sustainability of the structure and that age was the primary cause.

 

This week’s discovery of the deteriorating support beams has crews working ongoing during the overnight hours to install supplemental support beams until the structure begins planned renovations. Inspections of every aspect of the bridge are also continuing.

 

Boston’s Longfellow bridge, which connects Boston to Cambridge via the Charles River was slated to go through a major rehabilitation and restoration project with the main goals to repair deteriorated parts of the structure and make improvements to its ramped approaches.

 

The primary objective of the rehabilitation project is to address the bridge’s current structural deficiencies, upgrade its structural capacity (where appropriate), and bring the bridge up to modern code. In particular, according to Mass Highway, the structural steel elements supporting the bridge deck have deteriorated and require upgrading, and the abutments will have to be modified slightly to allow the sidewalk approaches to meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility guidelines.

 

Preliminary design work was scheduled to be complete last December and a full-scale renovation of the entire project was expected to begin in 2008 with a completion time of 42 months, according to the Mass Highway website.

 

The Longfellow Bridge is among two dozen Massachusetts bridges similar in design to the Minneapolis bridge.

 

The existing bridge was built in 1908, extended in 1956 and rehabilitated in 1959. The bridge consists of 11 original open-spandrel steel arch spans plus two later steel later steel girder approach spans at the Cambridge end. It has an overall length of 2,135 feet and a deck width of 105 feet, including a 27-ft fenced median occupied by the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority’s Red Line. The bridge’s substructure is built of granite block masonry and consists of 10 hollow piers and two hollow abutments. The two central piers carry the signature pairs of neoclassically inspired dressed granite towers that have given the bridge its nickname - the Salt and Pepper Bridge.

Lamar Lighting Releases Ophelia Motion Sensor Series

Lighting manufacturer Lamar Lighting released its new Ophelia series of motion controlled lighting fixtures as an addition to the Occusmart line.

Available in either on/off or bi-level configurations, these fixtures offer energy savings and lighting solutions where constant lighting is required, like a stairwell, or where light is not required when an area is not in use, like a bathroom. The adjustable standby levels of the bi-level configuration are 5, 10, 20 or 30 percent to provide a certain level of constant light without draining energy.

The fixtures are constructed out of steel or stainless steel and are typically painted white with a white acrylic lens. The Ophelia series is available in lengths between 2 and 4 ft with either single or double lamps fitting either T5 or T8 lamp sizes.

Other features of the Ophelia series include a 100hr lamb conditioning circuit and an emergency back up that will run one lamp for 90 mins in a power outage. The motion sensors are custom made by Watt Stopper.

Boeing Performs Crash Test on 787 Dreamliner

Last Thursday, Aug. 23, Boeing performed a crash test on the new compositely constructed 787 Dreamliner in Mesa, AZ. In a closely monitored environment, Boeing dropped a cutaway section of the fuselage, without its top, onto a test platform.

Boeing conducted this test as the third of three physical drop tests for the 787 structure to validate the analytical tool that will be used to demonstrate compliance with the Special Condition published by the FAA (on the Federal Register) to cover the crashworthiness of Boeing’s composite structure, according to Adam Morgan, spokesperson for 787 communications.

The test is to appease the Special Condition in the Federal Register issued by the FAA in regard to the 787 being constructed mainly out of composites. Since this is a new feature in airplane design, Boeing has to prove the plane’s safety as compared to traditional planes, mainly constructed of aluminum.

“To account for the missing top structure (called the crown), additional braces, supports and ballast were added to simulate the mass of the airplane and match internal loads,” Morgan said about the test. “The half barrel and the platform were instrumented so we could measure the results.”

Morgan said he wasn’t able to comment on how the composites held up compared to aluminum, nor was he able to comment on the results of the test or how they tested.

“We're still analyzing our results, but initial indications show the test was successful and achieved many of the goals intended,” he says.

The integrity of the test set up was verified by the FAA.

Boeing is still on schedule to deliver the 787 Dreamliner to its first customer, All-Nippon Airways in May of 2008.

Welcome to the Gadget Freak Backyard BBQ!

August 29, 2007
Welcome to the Gadget Freak Backyard BBQ!
Dear Reader:
In honor of approaching long weekend barbecues, we at Design News pulled together some of our favorite backyard Gadget Freaks. Click on the inventions for more information on how to create your own Labor Day fun!
   
Oxygen-Propane Cannon Tests the Big Bang Theory
When Ed Nauman fires his oxygen-propane cannon, anybody within range of the shock wave will definitely see stars. It's been known to shatter windows 30 ft to the rear!
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Project Dragon Fish: Joe Takes Rocket Science to New Depths
Joe Peck's exploration of underwater model rocketry brings him to new heights ... and new depths. Watch the video!
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Ed Had A Fondness for Orange Crush
For the gadget freak who thinks he has everything, here's Ed Nauman's microprocessor-controlled, pneumatic-actuated can crusher. Great for parties, it consists of a pneumatic ram, precision bore crushing cylinder with aluminum crushing piston, two pneumatic rams to control the loading of cans and solenoid valves to control the rams.
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Jason Was An Honorary Member of the Captain Nemo Fan Club
Inspired by 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Jason built this underwater Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) so he could explore the depths of his bath tub, swimming pool and beyond. The ROV is controlled via Visual Basic commands sent over an RS232 serial port.
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William Played A Mean Game of Go Fish!
Take down the house with this gadget. William's handheld controller provides the display of a monitored process deviation — but after hours it doubles as a card counter. (In either case, the algorithm is identical.) It works by adding or subtracting manually entered "event" counts to a common 8-bit counter register.
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Evil Scientist or Rocket Science?
What could be cooler than launching model rockets? Launching a lot of them! To control multiple rocket launches relative to one another and put on an utterly amazing backyard air show, Joe designed a circuit consisting of two 555 timers configured for monostable operation and a high-current FET.
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Souriau: Harsh Environment Connectors

INDUSTRIAL CONNECTORS
• Sealed: IP68/IP69
• Mixed Power and Signal
• Reliable Bayonet Locking Click Here.

Oxygen-Propane Cannon Tests the Big Bang Theory
Project Dragon Fish: Joe Takes Rocket Science to New Depths
Ed Had A Fondness for Orange Crush
Jason Was An Honorary Member of the Captain Nemo Fan Club
William Played A Mean Game of Go Fish!
Evil Scientist or Rocket Science?
View All Gadgets
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