Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Filtration Division of Parker Hannifin has introduced a range of hydraulic filter elements designed to eliminate the problems of equipment downtime and failure caused by fluid contamination. The Parfit elements are interchangeable with products from all other suppliers, giving end users the option of sourcing all filter elements from a single manufacturer.

This approach can reduce stock levels and, as the Parfit elements are manufactured to high standards, can extend operating life. Suitable for use in a wide range of applications including industrial and mobile plant, test rigs, aircraft ground support equipment, steel and paper mills, the Parfit elements have been developed to allow both system designers and end users to meet current and future environmental regulations.

In particular, the Parfit filter system uses a standard metal housing and replaceable element, which can be changed during routine maintenance, leaving the housing in place, and reducing both waste disposal and element replacement costs.

In addition, Parfit filter elements can be used as a direct replacement for competing products and are manufactured to stringent quality standards.

Every unit is produced to extremely tight tolerances with features including corrosion resistant end caps and fully bonded construction for maximum strength. The new Parfit elements conform to international ISO standards, governing collapse and burst resistance, fabrication integrity, material compatibility and flow fatigue characteristics, as well as to the internationally recognised multipass test.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Rotork has announced how it has supplied more than 80 ATEX-approved IQPro intelligent electric actuators with factory fitted Profibus cards for the Vopak Skarvik 1 project in Gothenburg. Skarvik 1 is a fully automated petroleum tank storage project 10 new tanks are being constructed and a PLC-controlled SCADA system installed to enable Class 1 hazardous products including petroleum to be pumped to and from any location on the site. Rotork's actuators will take on flow control duties throughout the site, operating gate valves on the tanks and on a new main manifold and pipe rack that will distribute the products around the plant.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Integrated Engineering Software has announced that the latest version of its Singula product for antenna analysis now handles highly lossy materials. Singula simulates the power loss that occurs as a result of the heat generation produced when lossy materials are exposed to electromagnetic waves The loss calculations can then be used by thermal analysis software to calculate the thermal distribution. Integrated's simulation software tools have been developed for engineers and scientists who design and model prototypes and need fast and reliable solutions.

Utilising computer simulation during the design process helps reduce the cost and risks associated with physical prototyping. Singula analyses all antennas including wire, surface and dielectric. RFID devices and bird cage coils for MRI applications are also modelled using this simulation tool. Other applications for Singula include scattering calculations, microwave circuits and shielding for Electromagnetic Compatibility and Interference (EMC-EMI).

Singula is a generalised hybrid method that combines the Method of Moments (MOM) with Physical Optics, and the Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) method to give engineers the option to choose the solver that best suits their needs. Engineers can select the MOM technique for midsize antennas, FFT for antennas requiring many wavelengths or, in special cases, such as reflector antennas, the combination of Physical Optics with MOM maybe preferable. Bruce Klimpke, technical director at Integrated, said: 'There are many applications that will benefit from the accurate handling of highly lossy materials, including stealth technology.

'In the military this technique is used with aircraft, ships and missiles to make them less visible to radar and other detection methods. 'In the biomedical field, an example would be an antenna radiating in the presence of highly lossy materials like biological matter, such as the antenna in a mobile phone.' Integrated's team of engineers and software professionals designed Singula to help solve a wide variety of high frequency electromagnetic field (EMF) problems.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

SMAC has launched its redesigned corporate website. The site, divided into seven major sections, has been designed to provide current and prospective customers access to the information they're looking for quickly and easily. The navigation scheme has been standardised across the site so visitors can get to almost any page on the site directly from any other page.

Particular attention was devoted to making sure most content could be accessed with a minimum number of clicks. Content on the site has been expanded, with more in-depth information about potential applications for SMAC's products, as well as case studies where moving coil actuators have helped solve engineering challenges. Streaming Flash video shows SMAC products in action and a new search function allows visitors to jump directly to any information they're looking for.

Technical drawings for SMAC's actuators, controllers and other products can be readily downloaded. Distributors of SMAC's products will benefit from a streamlined distributor listing tool, as well as the ability to access password-protected order status reports. In addition to the company's main English language site, existing SMAC websites in Japanese and Chinese will be converted to the new design. Versions in German, French, Dutch and Korean will also be deployed.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms has released Proficy Process Systems in a 250 I/O size, single-computer offering targeted at smaller applications and OEMs. Proficy Process Systems is a fully-integrated process control system that can provide customers with improved quality and reliability, increased throughput, performance and efficiency and reduced total cost of ownership.

The foundation of Proficy Process Systems is a contemporary hardware and software infrastructure that offers the benefits of traditional DCS and PLC/HMI systems, without many of the historic limitations of those approaches. Proficy Systems is also packed with control features including a comprehensive set of function blocks for advanced regulatory control.

In addition, user-defined function blocks can be created for the freedom and flexibility to define control algorithms as necessary, which system integrators can lock to protect their intellectual property. Proficy Process Systems supports Foundation Fieldbus, Profibus DP and PA, Hart and Ethernet.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Sound Dead Steel (SDS) was contacted by the Industrial Noise and Vibration Centre (INVC) to assist with a noise reduction programme for Scottish Power. The power station's main gas pipe work is 400mm diameter, with a reduction to 150mm at the metering section Close microphone measurements indicated noise levels as high as 100 to 110dB(A) with the dominant energy at frequencies >500Hz. SDS clad the pipeline with Sonphonon sound dead steel, fabricated and fitted split boxes to encase the valves.

After the final snagging was completed, the attached noise survey was carried out to determine the overall noise reduction for this project. The average noise reduction achieved within the GRF compound was approximately 8dB(A). The maximum reduction achieved was 16dB(A); this was adjacent the metering flow meter area. INVC noted that noise from adjacent cooling fans masked the full noise reduction benefits.

Noise reductions on plain pipeline measured 19dB(A), which clearly shows the effectiveness of the SDS cladding on standard pipe sections. Reductions of 7 to 8dB(A) were measured mid, up and downstream of the metering section using close microphone measurements. The reductions would have been greater, but pipe joint flanges have to be left open in case leakage occurs resulting in explosive conditions.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Emerson Process Management has a range of high-quality chambers that allows external mounting of level measurement and control instrumentation on process vessels. The 9901 chamber range, which has been adapted and extended from the existing range of Mobrey chambers, offers a standardised fully PED (Piping Equipment Directive) compliant design in accordance with ASME B31.3, allowing customers to buy an integrated bolt-on instrument solution from Emerson, or simply a chamber for use with existing instrumentation.

External mounting of level instrumentation is often preferred by users as it allows easy isolation of the instrument for routine maintenance or calibration, plus offers the additional benefit of acting as a stilling chamber for liquid surfaces prone to turbulence or fitting of instrumentation to vessels with internal structures such as tube bundles

Using only certified and traceable materials, the 9901 series is manufactured using full penetration welds, with welders and welding procedures qualified to both ASME and European standards. All chambers are hydro tested on completion, with a full range of NDT or customer inspection options available to order.

While the standard range is extensive and offers a cost-effective solution, a custom design and build service is available for instances where the chamber must fit existing vessels or replace old products. Standard chambers are available in carbon steel or stainless steel in sizes of 80mm or 100mm diameters with centres of up to 6m. A wide choice of process, drain and vent connections is offered to minimise fitting costs. Other materials, including exotic alloys, are available on request.

Monday, October 13, 2008

TURCK has developed the BL20 motor starter economy module, which uses Swire technology to provide a daisy-chain connection from a single I/O slice to each motor starter via a ribbon cable. 'Swire technology provides plug-and-play connection, eliminating the labour required to hardwire motor starters to digital output points and auxiliary contacts back to digital inputs. 'By using this connection technology, it is now possible to control up to 48 motor starters on a single fieldbus node,' said Nick Clute, product specialist with TURCK's network and interface division.

TURCK BL20 Motor Starter Module allows three-phase motor control to be connected to the same rack as standard I/O. In addition, with the Swire connection, motor starters can be mounted on separate DIN-rails within the same panel - pairing the flexibility of standard motor starters with the advantages of fieldbus control. 'When motor starters are on a fieldbus, the benefit is that they can be located close to the motor they are controlling,' Clute added.

The BL20 motor starter module is available in sizes ranging from .08 to 20hp, direct and reversing, for use on Devicenet, Profibus, CANopen, Ethernet/IP and Modbus TCP/IP networks with both standard and programmable gateways. Trip indication may also be added to any motor starter. The BL20 motor starter module complies with industrial switchgears standards IEC/EN 60947-4-1 and carries an IP20 environmental protection rating. It consists of a gateway, base modules and electronic modules.

I/O modules are configured independently from the Fieldbus protocol, and up to 72 I/O modules may be connected to a gateway, allowing systems including up to 1,152 digital I/O points or 288 analogue channels. All BL20 gateways are compatible with Turck's I/Oassistant software package, developed to perform initial configuration, parameter setup, documentation, commissioning and diagnostic functions for on/offline usage. I/Oassistant verifies that all power and size restrictions are met.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Syed Tauseef Ahmad, research analyst for industrial automation and process control, Frost & Sullivan, describes why lack of interoperability in wireless is a concern.
While there is potential for wireless deployment in factory automation, concerns about lack of operability plague this technology. People used to build their own systems or buy them from a single supplier. More plant automation has spurred the demand for wireless devices and systems for applications such as monitoring, alarm and telemetry.

They are often customised on proprietary protocols but not based on a common standard or architecture. As a result, these devices offered from multiple suppliers are often not compatible with one another. End users are wary of becoming locked into a proprietary system that may hinder their future advancement. They are also cautious of investing in wireless when they are not confident of the benefits. Given that the end users will not be keen to replace the existing fieldbus installation, suppliers should look to integrate wireless devices to existing wired fieldbus.

Currently, plant IT network assumes significance over automation network. The existence of several open and proprietary communication protocols results in confusion among the wireless devices end users, many of who would rather wait until a uniform standard is established. Around 83 per cent of the end users across process and factory automation rated interoperability as a medium to high concern. The refining and pharmaceutical industries expressed a greater concern over interoperability among end users.

They believe integration with the existing network is important and the presence of numerous controls, fieldbus and automation devices implies that the wireless devices need to integrate seamlessly into the existing network. In the oil and gas and the water and waste water industry, where one of the preferred application areas for wireless devices is telemetry, end users were convinced that the wireless devices must be compatible with each other to ensure a smooth data flow. True interoperability requires an open architecture such as software-based systems, in which various standards can be applied.

Software such as National Instrument Laboratory Virtual Instrumentation Engineering Workbench (NILabview is capable of communicating with both standards-based and proprietary wireless networks. End users also said the lack of universal standard is a concern. There is a need for a uniform standard and open architecture to enable the integration of wireless devices with existing plant infrastructure such as fieldbus or other control systems. End users must also be convinced about interoperability through product trials or demos, which should be offered by suppliers.

Although the end-user concern is expected to hamper the adoption of wireless in the near future, upcoming standards such as SP100.11a and wireless HART will address this issue. Numerous suppliers are supporting the initiatives that aim to establish a common standard. Success stories about smooth wireless integration and functioning are likely to reduce end-user conservatism and raise the level of adoption of wireless devices.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Verlinde has introduced a hollow profile for its range of handling rails in Eurosystem Alu aluminium. Intended for car manufacturing markets, this fourth profile, AL08, is intended for loads up to 500kg Eurosystem Alu is intended for setting up tailor-made handling systems for loads up to 2000kg. The AL08 profile will be the meeting point between the AL06 and the AL10 (which goes up to 2000kg).

The lightness of the hollow aluminium profiles makes them easy to assemble. They can all be moved and positioned manually without hoisting equipment. The elements are bolted to each other, as are the system and the load-bearing structures, and do not require special tools. This makes the external groves on the profiles compatible with the Item standardised attachment system. The profiles are then manufactured by extrusion which gives them substantial geometric homogeneity.

The profiles can be assembled without mechanical adjustment. The full handling system in hollow aluminium profiles is 50 per cent lighter than a traditional steel structure. In the case of new buildings, renovations or extensions, substantial savings can be achieved on the load-bearing structure, the dimensions of which could be calculated to the minimum according to this equipment.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Photonfocus, a manufacturer of CMOS industrial cameras, has brought out the Pixel Professor CMOS Smart camera, featuring on-camera image pre-processing. The pre-processing in the camera enables the design of machine vision systems with distributed intelligence. Performing pre-processing on the camera reduces the vision system computer CPU load, meaning the vision system can run faster or use more sophisticated algorithms in the same time period, producing better results. The technology is scalable and can be fitted to a customer's application.

The Pixel Professor supports common image pre-processing operations in pipelined processors, such as convolution and non-linear filters, histograms, erosion and dilation, adaptive thresholding, image buffers, image arithmetic, colour space conversion, look-up tables (LUT), triangulation and others. Setting up the pre-processing unit on the Pixel Professor is made easy with a simple graphical user interface (GUI).

It allows for control loops and multiple passes. Customised operators can be implemented alongside standard operators. Alternating frame capture setups can be realised with an embedded sequencer to achieve maximum frame rates.

In-built pre-processing hardware in the camera removes the reliance on specialised frame grabbers or other hardware accelerators. The Pixel Professor cameras output pre-processed images via USB 2.0 or Gige. No frame grabbers are required. The benefits of the Pixel Professor cameras include: reduction of pre-processing time, which increases frame rate; enhanced algorithms with same CPU-load compared to software image processing; and real-time processing of up to 640 Mega pixel per second (Mps).

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Our most technically advanced inverter drive continues AC Tech's tradition of innovative compact inverter design. The performance and flexibility make the SMVector an attractive solution for a broad range of AC Motor applications including:
  • Food Processing machinery

  • Packaging machinery

  • Material handling systems

  • Conveying Systems

  • HVAC systems
The SMVector Series can be used with 3-phase AC induction motors rated from 1/3 HP up to 30HP (0.25 - 22 kW) on voltages from 120V single-phase to 600 V three-phase. NEMA Type 1 (IP31) and type 4X (IP65) ¹ industrial enclosures allow mounting the drive close to the motor and the equipment operator. Filtered input versions of the SMV are available in NEMA 4X (IP65) models for compliance with the CE EMC directive.
Programmable digital and analog I/O allow the drive to be configured for many application specific tasks such as multiple preset speeds, electronic braking and motor jogging to name a few. Like all AC Tech sub-micro drives, the SMVector uses EPM memory technology for fast and efficient programming. Technical documentation for the SMVector Series Drive, and all AC Technology drives, is available in our Technical Library.
¹ type 4X enclosures are available in either ABS plastic, suitable for most indoor industrial environments or Polycarbonate plastic that offers UV protection and has higher impact strength at low temperatures

National Instruments has released an instrument driver that allows users of NI Labview to interface with environmental monitoring sensors that communicate via SDI-12. SDI-12 is a serial-based communication protocol optimised for battery-powered intelligent sensors NI Labview is a graphical system design platform. With NI Labview SDI-12 Application Programming Interface (API) software, researchers, engineers and scientists can easily acquire measurements such as turbidity, dissolved oxygen, tank level, soil pH, conductivity and other critical environmental sensor measurements.

The SDI-12 protocol makes it possible to communicate with a wide variety of sensors and recorders that are most commonly used in environmental data acquisition applications such as climate change tracking, water quality and testing, ecological research, soil monitoring, agriculture and weather analysis.

Using the Labview SDI-12 API, researchers, engineers and scientists can connect traditional environmental data with the wide variety of I/O that works with Labview, making it a comprehensive and flexible environmental data-logging solution.

The Labview SDI-12 API, combined with an RS232 to SDI-12 converter and any computer or NI programmable automation controller that includes a serial port, can be used to make environmental measurements in a laboratory setting or deploy stand-alone systems into remote locations.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The SO analyser is M+P International's real-time analyser for noise and vibration measurement, analysis and reporting in the field and in the lab. The latest SO analyser Rev 3.3 supports M+P's new portable, fan-less 4-/8-channel VibPilot front-end with 24-bit resolution and USB 2.0 interfacing. Full support comprises all native sample frequencies from 1024Hz to 102.4kHz, input modes including AC/DC floating or grounded and ICP user selectable on each channel.

Two tacho inputs with 32-bit high-speed up/down counters are included for measuring synchronous signals on rotating machines. A sound quality analysis module has been added to the new software revision. The basis of the SO analyser sound quality analysis is Zwicker loudness that provides standardised methods for this type of product refinement.

The implemented functions, which are available both as online and post-processed analysis, can be viewed as 2D, 3D, or as colour maps (spectrograms) for further analysis. The SO analyser Rev 3.3 introduces other capabilities including full operation under the Microsoft Windows Vista operating system, the least squares fit analysis tool, percentile calculations and amplitude distribution statistics.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Pepperl+Fuchs has introduced the CorrTran Corrosion Data Logging System. This Division 2/Zone 2 system complements the CorrTran MV online corrosion monitoring transmitter, allowing users to access real-time corrosion data via Ethernet, USB, SD card, or locally via videographic chart recorder. The corrosion data logging system is packaged in a portable, stainless steel enclosure weighing less than 20lbs
The transmitter outputs a 4-20mA HART signal that is used to scale the corrosion rate in a PLC or DCS system.

The rate of corrosion can now be evaluated with all other relevant process signals. The corrosion data logging system includes Pepperl+Fuchs' KFD2-HLC-EX1.D HART loop converter. This device receives HART data from the CorrTran MV corrosion monitor and delivers three distinct 4-20mA outputs that represent general corrosion, localised corrosion and conductance. These three variables can then be recorded and displayed on a paperless data recorder that features a full-colour touch-screen display, up to 16 analogue inputs, multiple types of media retrieval, and a Class I/Div 2, Zone 2 Ex-hazardous rating.

A Type 4X stainless steel enclosure allows for the most severe of installations. The lightweight construction also permits easy mobility for the system to be moved from one location to another, where a PLC/DCS might not be available.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Saft are to exhibit a range of energy solutions developed to meet the dynamic needs of the telecommunications industry. Saft's main focus for the exhibition is on power backup systems that ensure maximum reliability and optimum total cost of ownership for the wide variety of remote or outdoor plants now playing a vital role in decentralised telecom networks. Key technologies on show will include the Tel.X maintenance-free nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) battery together with the Intensium range of lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery systems.

Saft has developed Tel.X to offer advantages for demanding outdoor telecom applications in remote areas. It is compact, light and takes around 15 minutes to install a 48V battery. Tel.X offers a service life of more than 20 years in normal temperatures and more than 14 years at 40C. In many cases the battery can be expected to outlive the installation, meaning it will not need topping up with water. Tel.X offers volumic energy density of up to 100Wh/L. It is designed for use in standard 19in and 23in racks and cabinets. Tel.X offers performance over a temperature range of -20C to 40C and can withstand extremes from -50C to 70C.

Unlike valve regulated lead acid batteries often found in telecoms applications, the construction and engineered electrolyte used in Ni-Cd batteries mean they cannot not suffer from 'sudden death'. Tel.X is suited for backup power applications in outdoor installations, such as cabinets and end terminals in fibre-optic triple-play networks, as well as BTS (Base Transceiver Station) and BSC (Base Station Controller) installations in wireless networks. Intensium Li-ion batteries provide power and energy density in a compact, rack-mounted modular system.

The latest addition to the range is the second generation Intensium 1 Power Plus battery intended for short duration power backup, from 3 to 30 minutes. It is suited to smaller, decentralised outdoor plant installations, required to support telecoms networks such as micro and macro BTS. This Li-ion offers an anticipated 20-year life at 20C and a 10-year life at 40C. The new batteries offer 30 per cent more power, with the maximum power increased from 3kW to 4kW. As well as the standard 48V battery system, Intensium 1 Power Plus is now available in a 24V version.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Paul Holstein, COO of, offers expert tips on what makes a hand tool ergonomic, and how to choose the right one for your body and the job.
Drop into any hardware store or home improvement centre, and you're likely to find aisles full of tools labeled "ergonomic" But what exactly does that mean for consumers? Simply put, ergonomics is the science of designing and producing tools, furniture, and other work-related implements that improve a worker's efficiency while reducing discomfort, fatigue, and risk of injury.

Ergonomically enhanced tools can include helpful features like angled handles, padded handgrips and nonslip coatings. However, no matter how impressive a tool's design is, it's almost impossible for it to be universally ergonomic since human physiques and project applications vary greatly from one to the next. Whether you're shopping for ergonomic tools or just trying to select the right one for the job from an existing collection, the key things to consider are whether or not the tool fits your hand, how well it suits the job being done, and whether or not it eases your work and prevents you from straining in ways that could lead to injury.

To make the decision process a little easier, offers the following guidelines for choosing the right ergonomic hand tool for your body type - and the job at hand. Because finger size and placement differs from person to person, avoid using tools with handles that have built-in finger grooves. When fingers don't naturally align with grooves, excessive pressure from the raised groove edges can cause discomfort and injury. Choose tools with handles that are covered in a soft material, like foam or flexible plastic.

Cushioned handles are not only comfortable for long hours of use, but they provide a much firmer grip and cut down on slippage. Hard-handled tools can be quickly and inexpensively converted by just adding a sleeve. Ensure tool handles are free from sharp edges and seams that might irritate or cut the hands. When selecting double-handed gripping and cutting tools, opt for ones with spring-loaded handles that will automatically return to the open position. If you need to forcefully pinch or grip an object for an extended amount of time, prevent muscle strain by switching from standard pliers to a clamp or grip.

Only use tools that allow you to work with your wrist in a straight position. For tasks that require force, such as torquing screws and nuts, hammering, and heavy chiseling, choose single handle tools with handle diameters that range from 1.25 to 2in. Larger handles allow fingers to wrap comfortably around the tool in a power grip, which prevents slippage and reduces stress and impact on hands, fingers and wrists. For tasks that call for more precision and delicacy (like fine chiseling and driving miniature screws), opt for single-handle tools whose grips fall within the 0.25 to 0.5in range.

The smaller diameter handles make it easy to comfortably grip tools between the fingertips without overexerting fingers, knuckle joints, or hand muscles. Just as grip diameter affects work with single-handle tools, the grip span of pliers, snips, cable cutters and other double-handled tools can either make your job easier or cause you hand fatigue. For maximum comfort and efficiency for tasks that require more force (like gripping with large pliers, cutting wires, or snipping through sheet metal), choose tools with a maximum "open" grip span of 3.5in, and a "closed" grip span no less than 2in across.

Detailed jobs that involve grasping small parts and components with pincers, tweezers or tongs are best done with double-handle tools whose grip spans range from no less than 1in (closed) to no more than 3in (open). When a work space is tight but the task at hand requires a good deal of force, opt for "power grip" tools (with handle diameters from 1.25 to 2in), which are grasped with the entire hand instead of just pinched between the fingertips. This type of grip lets you finish the job in far less time, with far less physical stress. Tool length should also be matched to space constraints.

Excessively long tools can force you to assume awkward work postures and wrist positions when you're trying to reach components in cramped areas. Instead, choose short-handled tools that give you the freedom to meet the target work area directly, while keeping your wrist straight. The palms of your hands are full of pressure-sensitive nerves and blood vessels, and in order to avoid damaging these during high force tasks, it's important to make sure that the handles of your tools are long enough that their ends won't press into your palms.

To measure, hold your hand palm-up, with fingers together and thumb against the side of your hand. As long as the tool's handle is longer than the widest part of your hand (the span from the outer edge of your pinkie to the outer edge of your thumb), it's safe to use. offers a wide assortment of ergonomic hand tools, including: insulated pliers, insulated screwdrivers, Klein Tools insulated nut drivers, and ergonomic Ty-Rap cable tie guns.

Monday, August 18, 2008

BHR Group has completed development and installation of two intensified full size biodiesel reactor systems. Drawing on its chemical process design expertise in mixing systems, process intensification and scale up, BHR Group has completed development and installation of two intensified full size biodiesel reactor systems. Using its in-depth understanding of chemistry, chemical engineering, kinetics, mass transfer, mass and energy balances BHR Group has ensured these units consume some 70% less power than batch systems.

The subsidiary BHR Biofuels has successfully installed and demonstrated the process intensified reactors at a chemical plant producing biodiesel from waste and virgin oils. Both the esterifier and the transesterifier models were producing biodiesel (on specification) in-line with the EN14214 standards with all feed stocks. Dr Richard Jackson, BHR Biofuels Technical Director, explains: "The novel process intensification technology means that the Transesterifier reaction time is less than 1 minute to completion".

"In addition the continuous nature of these reactors means that capital and operating costs are kept to a minimum and as they have no moving parts within the reactor the maintenance costs are lower". "The overall objective of the project was to prove the technology at production scale which these site trials did very well, and because the system operates at steady state, the system was much less operator intensive than the original batch reactors, making work at the factory both quieter and safer".

Friday, August 15, 2008

Steering wheel torque sensor fits in place of a standard steering coupler to measure the driver-applied torque on the system. The Techmor SW-1 steering wheel torque sensor is designed to accurately measure driver-applied torque on the steering wheel. This allows driver "feel" to be correlated with an actual value.

A direct replacement for a standard steering coupler, this unit provides a millivolt output for torque applied in either direction. The SW-1 can easily be mated to the Techmor SG-1strain gauge amplifier for 0-5V output.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The UltraFlex hose is highly resistant to corrosion and offers outstanding working and burst pressures. PCL has launched a lightweight ultraflexible hose it reckons is the ideal companion for its range of handheld air tools Ideal for applications and environments where space is at a premium, yet complete freedom of movement is required, the UltraFlex air hose is a superb alternative to the traditional inflexible and heavy hose.

Manufactured in a quality three-ply construction, using highly flexible PVC and polyester yarn reinforcement, the UltraFlex hose is highly resistant to corrosion and offers outstanding working and burst pressures. UltraFlex also has a very good "memory", which enables bends and kinks to straighten out so that the hose can return to normal after use. Available with a blue cover and black inner tube in 30m coils, UltraFlex is a convenient and cost-effective piece of equipment designed to make life easier for the user.

The UltraFlex Air Hose complements PCL's extensive range of air tools, which includes everything from impact wrenches and ratchets, to sanders and grinding tools, all designed to meet the rigorous needs of a modern workshop. The portfolio has recently been extended with the addition of the Prestige range of high quality products, featuring low vibration, low noise, ergonomic grip and higher performance.

System includes precision aerospace pressure sensors, transmitters, receiver and all necessary mounting equipment in a carrying case. The Techmor TP-1 allows accurate measurement of tyre pressures while on the track or the road Outputting at 4Hz, the TP-1 provides a smooth datastream that makes subtle pressure variations on track visible. A transmitter mounted to each hub sends wireless messages to a single receiver mounted inside the car.

The pass-through titanium valve-stem sensor allows pressures to be checked and adjusted without removing hardware. Systems can be quickly installed on any standard Nascar hub and switched between wheel sets and cars with no extra equipment. Outputs are available in analogue, RS232 or CANbus. The system includes precision aerospace pressure sensors, transmitters, receiver and all necessary mounting equipment in a carrying case.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The TTxGP will provide an opportunity for innovators in racing and clean emission technologies to compete and prove to the world that being green does not mean being slow. The Institution Of Engineering & Technology (IET) is set to take part in a new chapter in racing history as it becomes the exclusive institutional partner involved in the world's first clean emissions Grand Prix The TTxGP, which will take place in June 2009 on the famous Isle of Man TT motorcycling circuit, will provide an exciting opportunity for leading global innovators in racing and clean emission technologies to compete and prove to the world that being green does not mean being slow.

According to Robin McGill, IET Chief Executive: "The Isle of Man TT race is famous across the world and we are delighted to be part of this new chapter of racing history". "The IET is a global organisation, representing 150,000 members in 127 countries across the world and through this partnership we can combine the greatest road racing circuit with state of the art alternative technologies".

"Alternative fuels are crucial to the future of motorsport and innovative events like the TTxGP will inspire our next generation of engineers, who will be responsible for developing and designing the green vehicles that many of us will be using in the future". "This partnership with the TTxGP puts the IET at the forefront of this work".

Simon Maddison, Fellow of the IET, and Technical Director of TTxGP, said: "The TTxGP is an enormously exciting prospect from an engineering perspective". "It comes at a time when we are reaching a tipping point in the search for and acceptance of alternative energy sources". "The TTxGP provides a fantastic way of promoting and popularising these new technologies, serving to inspire young engineering professionals to turn their skills to tackling the pressing energy issues of the modern world".

The world's first clean emissions Grand Prix was launched at a special event at the Science Museum on Tuesday 5th August. Speakers included John Shimmin, Minister of Local Government and the Environment, Isle of Man Government, Azhar Hussain, Founder, and Robin McGill, Chief Executive and Secretary, IET.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Sola/Hevi-Duty offers a broad range of transformers to meet many applications. These dry-type transformers are offered encapsulated, ventilated or non-ventilated, 600 Volt Class, isolation type, single and three phase, through 500 kVA. Indoor and outdoor models are available.

General Purpose Transformers can be located close to the load. No vaults are required for installation and no long, expensive feeder lines are needed. Common applications include inductive and resistive loads such as motors, lighting and heating. Hevi-Duty general purpose transformers are manufactured to meet applicable industry standards, are listed in accordance with UL 506 and UL 1561 specifications and are classified as isolation transformers. The family of transformers includes:
  • Distribution Transformers
    • General Purpose

    • Low Temperature Rise

    • K-Factor

    • Copper Wound
  • Automation Transformers

    • General Purpose

    • Hazardous Location

    • Buck-Boost

    • Drive Isolation

    • Industrial Control

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Design is capable of carrying heavy loads at high capacity, velocity and acceleration while still excelling in wear resistance. PBC Linear has a new line of cost-effective easy-to-specify linear guide systems. Integral V Technology systems feature a patent pending process that allows for tighter tolerances without additional cost. The design itself is capable of carrying heavy loads at high capacity, velocity and acceleration while still excelling in wear resistance.

IV-T also has a growing number of configurations and a wide range of uses with custom orders available. This versatile product is yet another in a long line of innovative products in PBC's history. With the 20 different configurations already available - and more being developed each week - the IV technology is truly versatile in its application. Products in IV technology include snap-in, bolt-on, integrated and compact configurations. All of which allow for easy installation, and what really sets this product and company apart from others is that Pacific Bearing is willing to work with companies to integrate the IV-technology into their extrusions.

PBC's engineering team is fully prepared to adapt or modify the customer's base design with the new Integral V technology to ensure a successful product. The hardened steel V-raceway allows for a high load capacity, rigidity and wear resistance. The rail is constructed of lightweight aluminium partnered with hardened steel V raceways that are mechanically inserted to create high contact loads and wear resistance; thereby lowering production and replacement costs.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Ricardo has received a contract from Gaz Group to upgrade the UMZ-4216 engine to Euro-4 emissions standards. Gaz Group, Russia's largest automotive manufacturer of light commercial vehicles, trucks, buses, cars, diesel engines, powertrain components and road construction equipment, has announced that it will award Ricardo the contract to upgrade the UMZ-4216 engine to Euro-4 emissions standards.

The contract win was secured in a competitive bidding process, and will see Ricardo co-operating with Gaz's OAO UMZ subsidiary. At present, UMZ-4216 engines manufactured by Ulyanovsk Motor Works are installed on Gazelle light commercial vehicles from Gaz Group. One of the engine's main advantages is its high torque at low speed, which gives the vehicle good acceleration and manoeuvrability in light commercial vehicle applications.

The first phase of the upgrade programme will involve a detailed analysis by Ricardo of the technical feasibility of upgrading the UMZ-4216 engine to Euro-4 emissions levels. This phase of work will be completed by the end of 2008. Commenting on this new contract with Gaz, Ricardo CEO, Dave Shemmans, said: "This contract win underscores our developing business relationship with Gaz Group, one of Russia's largest commercial vehicle and powertrain manufacturers".

"It also demonstrates the growing importance of the Russian market to Ricardo, as the country seeks to upgrade its automotive industry and technology to become a leading player on the world stage". "We are delighted to have secured this contract and look forward to working with Gaz on this exciting programme".

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

InnoCielo Publisher and its modules make it possible to automate the publishing process, triggered by predefined document lifecycle events or on an ad-hoc basis. BlueCielo ECM Solutions has released InnoCielo Publisher 2008, the latest version of the optional Publisher add-on for the InnoCielo Meridian Enterprise ECM solution. InnoCielo Meridian Enterprise automates the rendering and publishing of engineering content. In the publishing process, engineering documents are rendered into universally readable formats and stored in a target system such as a Windows folder, an FTP site, Microsoft SharePoint, Documentum or InnoCielo Meridian Enterprise itself.

InnoCielo Publisher and its modules make it possible to automate the publishing process, triggered by predefined document lifecycle events or on an ad-hoc basis. InnoCielo Publisher is used with InnoCielo Meridian Enterprise by companies such as Areva TandD Systems, Huntsman, Johnson Controls, Pfizer and Siemens in energy/utilities, manufacturing, oil and gas, petrochemical, pharmaceutical and other vertical markets. "InnoCielo Publisher is a useful extension to InnoCielo Meridian Enterprise which we currently use to manage about 280,000 technical documents".

"InnoCielo Publisher provides us with a standard approach to the high-volume printing of our project documentation and integrates with our system to produce neutral PDFs for easy distribution", said Alan Painter, Business Manager - Secondary Systems of Areva TandD Systems. "With InnoCielo Meridian Enterprise at the front end, InnoCielo Publisher operates invisibly in the background and sends our publishing requirements to our servers in a wholly automated process, cutting out the need for manual, time-consuming effort".

"InnoCielo Publisher and its additional modules make it much easier for organisations to distribute information to departments outside of Engineering in neutral, accessible file formats". "Approved documents are also available to collaboration partners at the right time through the right medium", adds Martijn Janmaat, BlueCielo's CEO. "With the entire information exchange process being automated, companies will experience benefits such as shorter turnaround times, greater efficiency and better protection of their intellectual property if external parties are involved".

InnoCielo Meridian Enterprise users can access the publishing queue from the PowerUser or OfficeUser desktop clients, allowing publishing jobs to be viewed, restarted and cancelled. The Generic PDF Rendering module can render documents in most popular CAD (AutoCAD, Autodesk Inventor, MicroStation, SolidWorks), Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Visio, TXT, HTML), image (JPG, PNG, RLC, BMP, TIF, PCX) and fax (CAL, GP4, MIL, RAS) formats into the standard Adobe PDF format.

InnoCielo Publisher can be run from all supported Windows operating system environments, including Windows Vista. Tracing, logging and error handling have been enhanced to greatly improve stability and traceability. The optional PDF Merge module allows multiple documents in different source formats and linked by references or properties to be consolidated into a single PDF rendering. This is particularly useful for documents such as assemblies and sets of project documentation.

The optional Developer module allows one to develop and use custom rendering and publishing options. This module, in combination, with the InnoCielo Publisher Standard Edition replaces the InnoCielo Publisher Framework. In addition to the new modules above, standard InnoCielo Publisher modules are available for native rendering from AutoCAD, Inventor and Microsoft Office and for publishing to InnoCielo Meridian Enterprise, the Windows file system and SmartZIP.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Jofra IPIs can be used as a calibration reference or in applications where high-accuracy pressure measurement is required, from safety valve checks to system pressure verification. Ametek Calibration Instruments' Jofra range of industrial pressure indicators (IPIs) is now ATEX and CSA-certified for use in potentially explosive environments in the field or in calibration laboratories. ATEX is the primary intrinsically safe standard in the European Union, while CSA refers to relevant Canadian and USA standards.

Accurate to +/- 0.05% FS, the IPI can be used as a calibration reference or in applications where high-accuracy pressure measurement is required, from safety valve checks to system pressure verification. This new certification will allow the IPI to be used in any industry where there is a risk of flammable gases. These include oil refineries, offshore platforms, chemical plants, gas production plants, oil and gas shipping.

Intrinsically safe Jofra IPI indicators are available in 10 different pressure ranges. They combine the simplicity of an analogue gauge with the accuracy and easy to read display of a digital calibrator to provide versatile and easy to use units with a fast and straightforward setup, intuitive functions, application flexibility and a long battery life. An RS232 interface is supplied as standard which can be used for configuration, calibration and to transfer measurement data from the gauge.

It enables the Jofra IPI to be used as a pressure reference with JofraCAL software, which in turn provides control of a complete calibration procedure, storage of results and a calibration audit trail through hard-copy certificates. Once the gauge is configured, settings can be locked and password protected to prevent unauthorised changes.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Software enables installers to print their own cable, patch panel and data jack labels using an office laser printer. Sharpmark's label printing software is now available free to download from the company's website. It enables electrical installers to organise and label their systems clearly and professionally. This allows maintenance and trouble-shooting to be completed quickly and efficiently with minimum downtime.

Sharpmark software enables installers to print their own cable, patch panel and data jack labels using an office laser printer. There is no need for custom printers to produce clear, professional-looking labels that are durable and easy to read. Using Sharpmark software is intuitive and requires no training. It is preloaded with all the Sharpmark label part numbers and standard templates to fit components from many manufacturers. Users can also create their own job from scratch, selecting the part number and layout of choice.

Sharpmark software has complex number-generating capabilities to cater for all types of numbering schemes using numeric and alpha sequences as well as fixed text. The user just enters the start point and end point of the sequence and the software completes the rest. Its versatility also enables many layout options for each label, importing data from spread sheets and word processors as well as graphics.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

LOTAR is working on long-term archiving of digital product data in the automobile and aerospace industry in order to save this data securely for years. Aerospace and Defence Industries Association of Europe - Standardisation (ASD-STAN) and ProSTEP iViP signed a co-operation agreement on 1st July, 2008. The two standardisation organisations aim to release standards faster on an international scale for the automobile and aerospace industry with the support of the Long-Term Archiving and Retrieval (LOTAR) group.

LOTAR is working on long-term archiving of digital product data in the automobile and aerospace industry in order to save this data securely for years. "Thus we are reaching a new quality in the area of standardisation ", said Gunter Lessmann, Director of ASD-STAN, which is based in Brussels.

"In doing so we make sure that the working results of the LOTAR project can be transferred into standards on a European as well as international level at the same time". LOTAR is developing a standard on long-term archiving of digital product data in the automobile and aerospace industry under the patronage of ASD-STAN and ProSTEP iViP. It is establishing methods, processes and models for the archiving of 3D geometric data and product structure information.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Moeller Electric T rotary switches and P switch disconnectors are suitable for use as main, maintenance and emergency-stop switches that can be locked in the off position with up to three padlocks. Moeller Electric T rotary switches and P switch disconnectors are available in ten different basic switch types with several mounting forms and both standard and customised contact configurations. This makes them a compact, convenient, dependable and cost-effective solution for virtually any application involving uninterrupted currents of up to 315A.

Both ranges are available in versions with 400/415V AC23A ratings from 6.5 to 132kW and with uninterrupted current ratings from 20 to 315A. They are suitable for use as main, maintenance and emergency-stop switches rated to IEC/EN 60204 and IEC/EN 60947 and can be locked in the off position with up to three padlocks. They are available in their own enclosures or for mounting in control cabinets, either on the door or rear of the panel with a cover interlock. The T range is also available as motor load switches for changeover, multispeed, reversing and star-delta switches.

T0 switches can be supplied with up to 22 contacts and 12 switching positions and are suitable for many different switching and control functions, such as on/off, hand/auto, changeover, step, coding and instrument selector. Compact TM switches are designed to save space but also to be particularly easy to install and wire. They have an AC23A rating of 3kW and an uninterrupted rating of 10A. Moeller Electric supplies a full range of enclosures for use with its rotary switches and switch-disconnectors.

These enclosures are available in insulated and stainless steel versions with ingress protection ratings up to IP65 and in sheet steel with ingress protection ratings up to IP55, making them suitable for use in the food industry. ATEX-compliant insulated enclosed versions of T rotary and P switch disconnectors are available up to 100A. All types and ratings are approved for use in dust areas, zone 22 and category 3 and all are approved for device group II.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Among the teams entering cars in the low-carbon fuel category are the University of Hertfordshire with a hydrogen-powered car and Oxford Brookes University with a parallel hybrid. Teams from across the world have entered the Formula Student competition, which is backed by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and takes place at Silverstone the weekend after the British Grand Prix This year, for the first time, there is a category for cars powered by low-carbon fuel.

Formula Student is aimed at building future engineering talent and there are five different classes that can be entered. Those taking part design and manufacture a single-seater racing car. Among the teams entering cars in the low-carbon fuel category are the University of Hertfordshire with a hydrogen-powered car and Oxford Brookes University with a parallel hybrid.

Robin McGill, Chief Executive of the IET, said: "Environmentally friendly fuels are the fuels of the future and it's for this very reason that the IET has pushed to have a low-carbon vehicle category in the competition". "We have been a partner in Formula Student for three years and recognise the vital role the competition plays in promoting careers and excellence in engineering".

With three weeks to go, both teams are gearing up for the challenge. It is the 11th car that the University of Hertfordshire has entered in the competition. The team of nine students, who are all final year MSc students, is looking to build on the previous years' results of 7th and 5th.

The Hertfordshire car is hydrogen powered with an adapted 250cm3 internal combustion engine. Leader of the Hertfordshire team, Professor Howard Ashe, said: "The students are keen to take part in the competition as they are only too aware that it provides them with hard to come by real world practical and business skills". "It helps them to gain valuable team working and individual skills". "It also gives them an appreciation of real world skills".

"Now that their exams are over, the team are working all day, every day, including working into the night, to ensure the car is fit for purpose for its launch on 3rd July". The Oxford Brookes team is entering an electricity-powered parallel hybrid car. The team is led by James Larminie and it's the seventh year that the university has taken part in the competition. Made up of undergraduate and postgraduate students, the team is currently busy putting the finishing touches to the car.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The PRTC210 pressure and temperature recorder is compact, portable and easy to use.
New from MadgeTech, the PRTC210 is a pressure and thermocouple based temperature recorder with a 0.125in NPT fitting. The external thermocouple channel allows for insertion into a pipeline with a compression fitting, and the 0.125in NPT can be connected to a female fitting.

This provides an instant temperature and pressure response of what is flowing through the pipeline. The PRTC210 accepts thermocouple types J, K, T, E, R, S, B and N and is available with pressure ranges of 0-2, 0-6.9, 0-21, 0-34.5, 0-69 and 0-345bar.

The device can measure and record 21,844 readings per channel and has a battery life of up to 2 years. The PRTC210 is compact, portable and easy to use. It can be started and stopped directly from a PC, and its small size allows it to fit almost anywhere. As with all MadgeTech products, the data are downloaded and viewed using the MadgeTech software. The PrTC210 is priced at US $649.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Simon Chipchase explains his company's pioneering methods for replicating threadforms for worms and worm gears. Worms and worm gears have been manufactured since ancient times In modern times the profile or tooth form of gearing has been standardised for most types of gears.

Helical or spur gear teeth can be defined in terms of pressure angle and NDP (or module for metric units). Worm gearing has evolved along a different path where pitch, profile or form and proportions of tooth size and height are somewhat arbitrary and determined by the manufacturer and/or the method of manufacture. When equipment is maintained and worm gears are replaced as matched sets then the threadform may not be an issue. But if owners or users of equipment need only one element or need interchangeable spare parts then there is a need to duplicate the original threadform.

The article discusses a method where a sample or artefact can be measured in order to quantify the tooth geometry. The worm, wormwheel or gear set can be duplicated so as to be identical to the original where either or both elements could be used. The tooth geometry of worm gears has many variations usually depending on manufacturer or intended use. In early times the worms were made to resemble a simple screw thread which could be chased on a lathe. If the worm was cut with a straight sided tool the form would resemble that of an acme screw, where the threads would have straight form in the axial plane.

If the tool were tilted to be normal to the thread helix then the form would be straight sided in the normal plane. Later developments included grinding the worm threads for superior finish and to improve distortions from hardening. The simplest method is to dress a conical grinding wheel which has a straight form, that wheel in turn generates some profile on the worm thread which varies somewhat based on the wheel diameter and also based on the helix angle or lead of the worm. Another form is the involute helicoid where the worm is essentially a helical pinion with only one or very few teeth.

Also there is a concave tooth form where the worm is similar to a ball screw. These threadforms are described by industry standards as type A for straight axial, type N for straight normal, type I for involute, type K for straight form on wheel or cutter, and type C for the concave form. In practice the manufacturer would determine whatever form to use usually based on the type of equipment or machine tools that were available. If the worms were to be ground a type K form may be easier to produce but would vary slightly as the diameter of the grinding wheel changes. Regardless of which profile was used there would be established tolerances with controls or measuring systems.

What typically happened was the cutter for the worm gear would be developed along with the first worm or a master worm. Often slight adjustments were made to the worm profile. Depending on the vintage or the culture of the manufacturer the worm profile may be altered or modified for a number of reasons. If the hob was less than perfect in terms of profile then the worm could be modified to make the tooth form conjugate. Or some profile modification could have been made proactively, such as tip relief or some variation from true theoretical form. Either way it is often the case that worm profile is slightly different than true theoretical.

So as worm gears were produced over time by different manufacturers there exists a variety of defined threadforms as well as some deviation from those theoretical definitions. It follows that there are worms being used all over the world which are difficult to quantify in terms of tooth profile. If an existing piece of machinery or an old worm gear reducer needs new gearing then there are several courses of action. The simplest is replace with OEM parts. For some wormgears the original manufacturer may be difficult to identify or no longer exists. Or an alternate source may be needed because of economics or logistics.

If worm gears are substituted as a matched pair then the flank form may not matter. But for a number of reasons it may be necessary to duplicate exactly the original flank form, where the need arises to quantify and duplicate the tooth geometry of an existing worm. The endeavour to duplicate can take several forms, depending on which flank form the worm has. Once identified it may be more or less difficult to match because it may or may not suit the capability or culture of the manufacturer who is trying to make the replacement part or parts.

Historically products have been purchased with the sole intention of dissection and analysis in order to determine how to make a better mousetrap. That works on large scale or high volume products and can be applied for limited or single unit applications, but it requires getting a sample sent to the lab for measurement and analysis. A worm shaft would be made available for an indefinite period of time and sent to the shop to be measured or mapped out in terms of tooth size and shape.

Once quantified it could be duplicated and used to check with a new mating worm gear as well. Of course this would mean the worm remains available for analysis. In many cases the end user cannot be without the sample worm for so long because it is still being used for its intended purpose. The following method can be used to quantify thread size and shape or form by performing a simple procedure in the field. Typically in manufacturing a worm has a finish grinding operation where the stroke of the grinder extends somewhat beyond the active contact zone.

For a used worm with considerable wear, there is an area just beyond the contact zone, either on approach or recess end, where there is a ground thread of original size and shape. So if a new spare worm is not available a used worm may be duplicated. A small fixture with two ground faces which function as a V-block is made. The subject worm which is to be duplicated is either removed from its housing or somehow there is access to the finished thread area. Simple measurement of the worm outside diameter, thread depth, and tooth size at some known depth are made and recorded.

Next the threads are cleaned and a casting is made of the tooth space using an epoxy material. The casting is moulded between the V-block fixture and two tooth flanks. The fixture rests against the worm outside diameter fixing the alignment of the casting in relation to the axis of the worm. The casting is a full size model of the tooth space. It could be thought of as analogous to the casting a dentist makes before building the post on a damaged tooth in order to duplicate it with a cap or crown. Once the casting has been made it is carried or sent by courier to Renold Gears' factory in Milnrow, UK.

The cast plug is mounted on the same or an identical V-block fixture. Next it is measured on a co-ordinate measuring machine using a specialised software package to map the precise geometry. From these measurements the geometry for the worm thread is established and the design and processing of a new worm and/or worm gear cutter can begin. The worm thread can be duplicated exactly or modified while at the same time the worm gear tooth can have profile modification and/or face crowning at the discretion of the manufacturer.

The duplication process may also require determination of additional parameters because either a detail drawing is not available or it does not have all the pertinent information. Typical measurements of diameters and lengths are made judiciously where the function as well as dimension is taken into consideration. For example a diameter could have ISO tolerance applied for a standard lip seal where the same diameter could have a different tolerance applied for bearing fit. The more difficult determination would be for a dimension which interfaces with a mating part which is not a commodity item.

An effort is made to determine the function and dimensions of the mating part so the proper fit is achieved. For the case where other tooth design parameter(s) must be determined there is a device which can be made for field measurement of lead and/or axial pitch. It consists of a ground V-block fitted with ball probes mounted on slide. The pitch measurement is more accurate if made over several threads and the dimension divided by the number of threads spanned. Quite often worms drive in one direction so the measurement may be made on the nondrive flank.

Alternatively the measurement can be made on one end if at least one pitch is not worn significantly. Also the measurement can be made from one end to the other, each point being out of the contact zone where wear is not an issue. Or several measurements can be made over one or more pitches within the contact zone and compared with determine if the wear is significant. Of course several measurements can be used to compare, average, and/or to determine if there is significant pitch variation or variation in the measurements themselves.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The ProgRes C7 is suitable for any illumination technique in light microscopy and excels with high light sensitivity and natural reproduction of colours. The new ProgRes C7 from Jenoptik, equipped with instantaneous SXGA live image, mechanical shutter and 7Mpixel CCD sensor, records even the tiniest specimen structures in a precise and detailed fashion. The ProgRes C7 is particularly suited to macro shots in addition to microscopy applications.

The instantaneous live image makes precise specimen positioning and focusing much easier. Thanks to the integrated shutter, it takes only a single shot to capture objects in motion and easily accommodates flash illumination techniques. Another advantage of the shutter is that it allows the camera to be triggered directly and precisely. Integration into automated process sequences or applications involving, for example, a motorised stage are made easy.

The ProgRes C7 is suitable for any illumination technique in light microscopy and excels with high light sensitivity and natural reproduction of colours. C-Mount and IEEE1394 FireWire provide standard interfaces for connection with all common types of microscopes and computers. Powerful easy-to-handle ProgRes CapturePro image acquisition software for Microsoft Windows and Apple Macintosh operating systems is included.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

YY, SY and CY flexible control cables are used as an interconnecting cable for measuring, controlling or regulation in control equipment for assembly and production lines. Anixter Components has added six new ranges of domestic mains and flexible control cables to its 2008/2009 product catalogue The range of mains cable includes industry standards such as 2192Y, 218Y and 318Y.

The 2192Y range is available in 0.5 and 0.75mm2 conductor sizes and the 218Y and 318Y are available from 0.5mm2 to 2.5mm2. These provide power for many domestic appliances including lightweight portable appliances, such as radios and table lamps, as well as those supporting heavier loads such as washing machines, spin dryers and refrigerators. For industrial applications, there is a range of YY, SY and CY flexible control cables.

These are used as an interconnecting cable for measuring, controlling or regulation in control equipment for assembly and production lines. The durable galvanised steel braiding on the SY types offers extra armouring for demanding applications such as machine tools, control gear and industrial conveyor installations.

Additionally, the CY types are enhanced by a copper screening, ensuring their suitability for installations where signal interference is a consideration. "It has always been our goal to offer our customers a one-stop-shop service for cable management products". said Andrew Fletcher, Technical Director, Anixter Components. "The introduction of wire and cable to our range is simply a natural progression".

Monday, June 09, 2008

In vacuum circuit breakers or vacuum contactors, current making and breaking is performed in the entirely sealed vacuum chamber. So, they poses various features such as (1) Excellent arc-extinguishing ability, (2) Less contact wear, and long life, (3) Safety, no fire or explosion hazard, (4) Less maintenance, (5) Compact and lightweight. Then the vacuum circuit breakers and vacuum contactors have been becoming major switching apparatus throughout the countries around the world.In 1965, Toshiba put the first vacuum switching devices in the market. Since then, various efforts have been made to increase their application fields. Regarding switching surge, analysis of generating mechanisms, measurement of the switching surge, development of the surge suppressors have been achieved. Based on those results this application guide was compiled.

Toshiba Low & Medium Voltage Vacuum Contactors are all "low surge type". As contactors are mainly applied for a motor switching, low surge characteristic is essentially required. So Toshiba developed a special contact material of the low chopping level, and employed for all vacuum contactors.

It was considered that as circuit breakers must interrupt a high current, low surge contact material can not be employed. However, Toshiba invented a "axial magnetic field type electrode" which can interrupt a remarkable high current. So by combining this type of electrodes and the low surge contact material, development of low surge type vacuum circuit breakers can be successfully achieved.

As the oil-immersed transformers have high lightning impulse withstand voltage, and insulation life is fairly long, surge protection is considered to be not required. However, in case of interrupting exciting inrush current, or switching dry type transformers or other equipment of which insulation level is considerably low, surge protection is advisable, such as to install surge arresters. However, the limiting voltage of the surge arrester shall be evaluated to be effectively lower than the insulation strength of the load equipment. If there is a possibility of encounter to lightning, the arrester must have enough capacity. Same caution should be taken for gapless surge absorbers using nonlinear resistors. When a vacuum circuit breaker switches a transformer, in which loads of low insulation levels (such as power electronics equipment) are connected to the secondary side, surge protection at primary and/or secondary side is advisable.

As stated above, surge protection is not required for the Toshiba vacuum contactors or the low surge type circuit breakers. However when starting inrush current is interrupted, installation of surge suppressor is recommended. Generally the impulse withstand voltage is not specified for motors, and insulation deterioration is not negligible. Therefore, it is a general rule to install surge suppressors, when the conventional vacuum circuit breakers are used for switching the motors. Toshiba recommends to use CR type surge suppressors in which a capacitor and a resistor are connected in series.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Each AquaJelly is able to sense various aspects of its environment and function autonomously, but also has communicative faculties that enable it to co-operate with other members of the group. Festo and Effekt-Technik have developed a bionic jellyfish, known as AquaJelly, to demonstrate swarming behaviour. Each AquaJelly is able to sense various aspects of its environment and to function completely autonomously, but is also endowed with communicative faculties that enable it to co-operate with other members of the group and thereby behave as a system with a higher order of development.

Festo has created the AquaJelly as part of its ongoing research programme into advanced automation. The company believes that by extending the principles of swarming behaviour to automation, many small autonomous or partly autonomous intelligent systems could work together to solve large-scale problems through strategic co-operation.

The AquaJelly also provide a visually arresting demonstration of animatronic technology. AquaJelly is an artificial autonomous jellyfish with an electric drive unit and an intelligent adaptive mechanism that emulates swarming behaviour. It consists of a translucent hemisphere, a central watertight body and eight tentacles for propulsion. The AquaJelly's translucent hemispherical dome houses an annular control board with integrated, pressure, tight and radio sensors. The orientation of the propulsion system is constantly monitored by a processor.

The control board also contains eight white and eight blue LEDs which, together with the sensors, allow communication between several AquaJellies. On the outside, AquaJelly has two concentric silver rings coated with conductive metal paint; connected to these is a charging control unit that supplies the jellyfish with energy. When AquaJelly approaches a charging station located above the water surface, it is drawn towards it and supplied with electricity. The charging station itself consists of a Festo vacuum generator with integrated contact points for transferral of the energy for charging.

The AquaJelly communicates with the charging station to ensure that each jellyfish is supplied with sufficient energy. The central component of AquaJelly is a watertight laser-sintered body that houses a central electric motor, the two lithium-ion polymer accumulator batteries, the charging control unit and the actuators for the swash plate. A full recharging procedure takes around three hours. Via two cranks, the electric motor powers drive plates attached to the top and the underside of the watertight body. The cranks are configured at a 60-degree angle.

Connected to the drive plates are eight rhombic joints which set the tentacles in a wavelike motion. The tentacles are designed as structures based on the FinRay effect, a construction derived from the functional anatomy of a fish's fin. The actual structure consists of two alternating tension and pressure flanks connected by ribs. lf a flank is put under tension, the geometrical structure automatically bends in the direction of the applied force.

The delayed activation of the eight tentacles via the rhombic joints gives rise to a regular wavelike motion, which generates propulsion. The tentacles together produce a peristaltic forward motion similar to that of their biological model. Festo is exploring using this principle for automation tasks including a very fast and efficient divert system and a novel gripper finger. Controlling AquaJelly's motion in three-dimensional space is effected by weight displacement.

For this purpose, two actuators integrated into the central watertight body control a swash plate, which in turn operates a four-armed pendulum that can be moved in four directions. When the pendulum moves in a particular direction, AquaJelly's centre of mass is displaced accordingly. The jellyfish then moves in the direction of the pendulum's displacement. By means of this peristaltic motion AquaJelly can move in any direction.

The jellyfish's sensor system comprises three components that use different media. A pressure sensor makes it possible to determine AquaJelly's depth in the tank to within a few millimetres. AquaJelly is thus aware of its precise position at all times and can position itself within a specific pressure zone. It also relies on the pressure sensor for recharging, since this is the only way it can strategically swim to the surface.

For communication at the water's surface AquaJelly uses the energy-saving ZigBee short-range radio system, which enables it to exchange data with the charging station and to signal to other AquaJellies at the surface that the station is occupied. The radio waves penetrate to a physically determined minimal depth and AquaJelly must decide within a narrowly defined range which charging station it will approach. Nevertheless, the principal communication medium under water is light. AquaJelly is fitted with eleven infra-red light-emitting diodes (LEDs) located on a ring inside its dome.

These LEDs have a 20 degree aperture angle and use pulsed infra-red signals. AquaJelly can communicate within an almost spherical surrounding space to a distance of about 800mm. When it receives a positional signal from another approaching jellyfish, for example, AquaJelly can thus take evasive action in good time. In addition to the sensors that monitor its surroundings, AquaJelly is also fitted with an internal sensor system that monitors its energy condition and a solenoid switch that enables it to register the orientation of the propulsion system.

Each jellyfish decides its actins autonomously on the basis of the prevailing conditions, including the charge condition, the propulsion system's orientation or the proximity of another AquaJelly. Although the overall behaviour of a swarm of AquaJellies is emergent (it arises without predetermined control) it results solely from a suitable choice of simple rules of behaviour for individual AquaJellies and represents a collective behaviour pattern that maximises the number of living jellyfish.

AquaJelly exists within a spatially bound scenario with only a limited number of charging stations. In order to survive, the various AquaJellies must thus strive for an ideal, evenly distributed utilisation of these stations, in order to maximise the number of living jellyfish in the swarm. To secure the existence of the swarm in the water tank it is crucial to make maximum use of the space available, avoiding collisions with other jellyfish and using the charging stations in a co-ordinated manner.

Monday, June 02, 2008

The Burkert 8201 pH measuring system's enamelled stainless steel finish provides nonstick performance for maximised hygiene while pH values are measured. The 'fit-and-forget' design of Burkert's 8201 pH measuring system enables the sensor to stay in process, even during CIP purification. This feature saves users both time and cost, by removing the requirement for sensor removal, cleaning and recalibration. The nonbreakable sensor also obviates the problems of fracturing with glass sensors.

Its enamelled stainless steel finish provides nonstick performance for maximised hygiene while pH values are measured. The hygienic design and robust, glass-free construction of the sensor mean that the unit is particularly suitable for use in high- end hygienic processes; for example, in the production of foods and active ingredients where the pH value of liquid mediums is measured. The 8201 provides long service life in these processes and high levels of accuracy with its ability to measure absolute pH values between pH 0 and pH 12, at medium temperatures up to 140C and process pressures up to 6bar.

The sensor is a highly integrated device, operating as a single-rod measuring cell, with the measuring electrode and reference electrode combined in one element. The sensor probe is a stainless steel tube, which also houses a Pt 1000 for temperature compensation. It is coated with an ion-sensitive enamel layer, providing an extremely smooth surface that prevents media from sticking during measurement, making the sensor very easy to clean.

During cleaning operations and CIP purification the sensor stays in the process. This saves time and money and means that expensive fittings can be dispensed with. Unlike many glass probes which have electrolytes that dry out in air, the 8201 sensor can be left dry for extended periods without any drying out or loss of performance.

The electrolyte itself is 3-molar KCI. This is stored in a separate electrolyte vessel and permanently connected to the electrode via a hose. The pressure of the electrolyte vessel is maintained slightly above process pressure by means of an attached pressure controller.

Burkert's 8285 modular process analysis system provides analysis of the measured values from the 8201 pH sensor. Designed to measure and process liquid analysis parameters, the 8285 is housed in a polished stainless steel enclosure, enabling its use in the field of biotechnology and the pharmaceutical and food processing industries. The 8285 sensor also suits the chemical industry, environmental engineering, water and waste-water treatment and power plants.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Etching is a controlled corrosive process and Inconel has been developed with a high nickel and chromium content, specifically to resist corrosion. The Inconel 617 nickel-chromium-cobalt-molybdenum superalloy offers excellent high-temperature strength and oxidation resistance It also exhibits excellent resistance to a wide range of corrosive environments, which to date have largely prevented the material being photo etched

Etching is a controlled corrosive process and Inconel has been developed with a high nickel and chromium content, specifically to resist corrosion.

Processing thin sheet Inconel by conventional means (punching and slitting) has always given cause for concern as parts tend to come out wavy and the material has a tendency to roll at the edges after processing. Now, thanks to this by the Precision Micro Technical Team, perfectly flat, precision parts can be produced from 0.006in Inconel sheet, economically and with outstanding repeatability.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The new additions to IFM Electronic's efector T series are probably the only all-stainless steel sensors with an operating temperature as high as 100C. FM Electronic has released inductive proximity sensors with housings made from stainless steel, including the sensing face. They suit the food industry, as they can be used in wet areas and survive aggressive cleaning and high temperatures

The new additions to IFM Electronic's efector T series are probably the only all-stainless steel sensors with an operating temperature as high as 100C. The IFM devices suit true flush-mounting and normal spacing between sensors.

Complemented by the IFM EVT range of M12 stainless steel food-grade connectors, these stainless steel sensors are available in M12, M18 and M30 versions with sensing ranges optimised on stainless steel targets of 3, 5 and 10mm respectively. These food-grade sensors carry IP ratings of both 68 and 69K.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The digital output from the SX8273 allows manufacturers of industrial pressure/temperature sensing equipment to provide a cost-effective and complete solution to their customers. Solid State Supplies has released an ultra-small sensor interface device that uses low-power ZoomingADC signal amplification circuitry to connect directly to a wide variety of pressure, temperature and magnetic sensors Enabling electronics to be co-located with the sensor, the digital output from the SX8273 sensor, whether it is magnetic, pressure or chemical, allows manufacturers of industrial pressure/temperature sensing equipment to provide a cost-effective and complete solution to their customers.

Capable of operating from a single Li-Ion battery without loss of its 16bit precision, even with a depleted battery, the device features ZoomingADC, a 10bit preamplifier with a programmable gain of between 0.1 and 1000 and a 16bit ADC.

The preamplifier delivers the highest possible gain, giving designers the freedom to achieve a given level of sensitivity using lower-cost sensors. Four digital GPIO lines enable the component to read most Wheatstone bridge sensors.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Cures to a tough, strong solid with excellent long term durability and chemical resistance even when exposed to adverse environmental conditions. Master Bond has developed a high-temperature-resistant epoxy-resin system called EP121CL for service up to 260C The two-component optically clear low-viscosity epoxy-resin system features high thermal stability, superior electrical insulation properties and outstanding dimensional stability for casting, sealing, potting, encapsulation and impregnation applications.

Especially noteworthy are its mechanical properties of 83MPa in tensile strength, 119MPa in compressive strength, and its exceptional electrical insulation properties including, a volume resistivity greater than 30Tohm-cm, a dissipation factor of 0.020 at 1MHz and a relative permittivity of 3.34 at 60Hz. EP121CL is an elevated temperature curing epoxy resin system that passes NASA's low-outgasing test.

It cures to a tough, strong solid with excellent long term durability and chemical resistance even when exposed to adverse environmental conditions. There is no cracking or separation of properly cured EP121CL resin from metal, glass etc, over a wide temperature range. Having excellent optical clarity it can be used in optical and fibre-optic applications. The two components are storage stable and after mixing have a working life of 2-3 days at ambient temperatures.

EP121CL is also available in one component and thermally conductive versions. It comes packaged in premixed bipacks and cartridge/gun applicators for convenient dispensing as well as in pint, quart, gallon and 5 gallon containers. Master Bond has developed various "low outgssing" epoxy resin based adhesive systems manufactured with exceptionally high quality standards.

Master Bond's speciality low-outgasing systems include those that are optically clear, cryogenically serviceable, electrically conductive, thermally conductive/electrically insulative and high temperature resistant. Some formulations have been tested by NASA authorised facilities, whereas others have been independently tested.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Dan Schimelman explains how innovative miniature solenoid valves and diaphragm pumps enable advances in portable medical devices. Medical therapies are being driven to reduce hospital costs by administering treatments at home or even on the go. This demand has launched new generations of portable devices. Since most of these systems incorporate modules consisting of miniature diaphragm pumps and solenoid valves, these fluidic components need to be tailored according to the system criteria that best achieve the market demand objectives.

Medical Device developers benefit from understanding how these components can be optimised to best meet their specific application requirements. Both employers and payers have exerted pressure to contain health care costs by shifting skyrocketing hospital care to less costly outpatient procedures. There is an increase of procedures that are being performed in an outpatient and ambulatory procedures that once were performed only on an inpatient basis.

Advancements in medical technology and the development of noninvasive and minimally invasive surgical procedures have contributed to growth in outpatient ambulatory care. In many cases, surgeries once requiring several days of postoperative observation and care have become same-day procedures. The trend for medical practitioners to have patients reduce hospital stays and continue treatments at home has required medical device companies to engineer systems to be more portable, quieter and cost effective. Several high technology diagnostic and therapeutic services now available in the home include transfusion therapy, dialysis, oxygen therapy, mechanical ventilation, compression therapy and wound therapy.

This changing healthcare landscape is driving the medical device field to experience explosive growth. The market will continue to accelerate as demographics and market drivers increase their pressure for new and innovative product offerings. To successfully support speed to market of new and innovative products, Hargraves Technology Corporation, a leading innovator of miniature, high efficient diaphragm pumps and solenoid valves, has been working closely and earlier in the development process with medical device companies to identify key system requirements. Miniature diaphragm pumps and solenoid valves have become popular with fluidic system engineers to provide the pressure and vacuum transport of air and gas in a cost efficient manner.

By understanding how key components such as these can be tailored for optimum system performance, medical device developers can speed their time to market by identifying earlier exactly what they need. The marketplace for portable medical devices is becoming more segmented and competitive with each having their own distinct requirements for success to meet specific end user demands. The first step in the development process should be to gain clear definition from the marketing team the criterion for a successful product release.
Then, it is important to prioritise these capabilities and select the components and their respective performance specifications needed to best meet the ranked criteria.

Since there are usually tradeoffs, this will help to ensure that major product objectives are met and that development timelines don't suffer from project scope creep. For portable medical device developers, the following criteria and how they are prioritised can make a significant difference on the specific components that should be selected. For medical devices to be truly portable, they need to be much more compact and lighter than their desk mounted predecessors. The maximum envelope that the fluidic module can fit into needs to be determined. This will have an impact on determining the maximum size of the pump and valves that will determine fluidic performance.

Should space be very limited, smaller pumps and fewer valves will be needed which either will limit performance or increase noise if smaller pumps are to run at maximum motor speeds to achieve similar performance of a larger pump that is run slower. The required flow at pressure/vacuum at the key operational points of the medical therapy and how they need to be controlled (analogue control, PWM control, PWM with tachometer output etc) should be determined for to set baselines for key components. Increasing the performance while shrinking the size of the miniature solenoid valves and diaphragm air pumps has posed several interesting challenges.

Advanced designs, materials, and motor technologies have launched new innovative pumps and valves that can achieve more performance in a smaller package. Medical therapies taking place next to a patient while sleeping or while they are in public will need to take noise into account.
Diaphragm pump manufacturers can minimise noise by reducing the stroke, optimising diaphragm shape and durometer, and lowering chamber efficiencies. Depending on the level of these actions, tradeoffs may impact pump efficiency and fluidic performance. Another tactic noted earlier is to use a larger capacity (for example a dual head pump versus a single head pump) running at lower speed.

The performance stays the same but the noise level drops significantly. The negative tradeoff, of course, is a larger pump envelope. If it is a battery powered device, what is the desired target operational life from the battery?. Would there be a market advantage to have the portable medical device run longer from a battery that its competition?. As will be discussed later, the proper selection of motor technology for the diaphragm pump will contribute greatly in the efficiency of the system. In addition, properly matching the orifice size of the solenoid valves will ensure that they are not acting as a restriction thus forcing the diaphragm pump or miniature compressor to work harder.

Will this device be disposable or requiring the fluidic components to run intermittently or will it be required to be having proven high reliability under demanding cyclic operation that can exceed 10,000 hours of operational life?. Operational life requirements are affected by selection of the motor technology, diaphragm elastomer, and fluidic loads and cycling in addition to the maximum temperature environment to which the components will be exposed. The priority that cost is placed on the decision criteria for fluidic components will greatly impact the ability to maximise the advantage of each of the preceding factors.

It should be noted that too strong an emphasis to cut costs of the diaphragm pumps and solenoid valves could actually increase overall costs and marketability of the device. For example, the selection of advanced, high efficiency and high reliability motor technology and solenoid valves will significantly decrease power consumption; sometimes in half. This can result in battery requirements being greatly reduced; giving development engineers the flexibility to design an even lighter and more compact device or elongating battery capacity.

The following are technology drivers greatly affecting the above decision criteria for miniature air diaphragm pumps and miniature solenoid valves. The motor of the miniature diaphragm vacuum pump or compressor is probably the biggest driver affecting the overall performance, efficiency, expected operational life and cost. Since the motor is the highest cost component of a diaphragm pump, it is a major cost driver impacting the overall cost of a fluidic module.
Two major motor technology designs, DC brush and DC brushless, can be configured on the pump with their respective advantages and disadvantages.

DC brush motors have been common with many diaphragm pressure and vacuum pump applications when low cost is critical but operational life is not important. Iron core brush motors typically use carbon brushes to conduct the electrical input from the lead wires to the motor's commutator. The constant rubbing of the brushes on the commutator causes the brushes to wear down like the lead in a pencil. Brush motors are designed to last from 500 hours to 5000 hours, depending on the quality of the motor and how it is used. The motor brushes experience an electrical arcing on each startup.

Frequent arcing will heat up the carbon brushes causing them to wear out more rapidly.
Therefore, brush motors that experience frequent on/off cycles per day wear out more quickly.
A top quality brush motor can be expected to last no more than 3000 hours with frequent on/off cycles. Brush motors used in high duty applications with more continuous operation can last longer. It must be stated that few applications allow a pump to run continuously.
Frequent starts and stops are the norm. Occasional cycling may lead to motor stall due to carbon dust build up between the brush base and commutator. Tapping the outer housing to clear these deposit from the brush tips can usually restart the motor.

In addition to limited life, brush motors can introduce unwanted electrical or RFI noise into a system's circuitry. Coreless motor technology differs from the standard brush motor in that the winding is wound onto itself on the rotor. The brushes are made from a highly conductive and efficient precious metal. No iron is on the rotor, making the lighter, coreless (or ironless core) rotor spin at a given performance level with less required input energy. These results in lower current draw required to power the respective diaphragm pump. Due to the precious metal brushes and the complexity to manufacture the wound rotor, coreless motors come with a price premium.

As a result, coreless motors are commonly used in portable, battery-operated systems requiring exceptional efficiencies to achieve longer battery operation. Brushless DC motors eliminate these problems. In a brushless motor, the magnets are on the rotor, and the windings are wrapped around poles on the stator. Instead of brushes and a commutator bar, the windings are switched on and off sequentially by solid-state electronics. Brushless motors require less maintenance and are smaller, lighter and more efficient than brush motors with comparable outputs. With motor designs that focus on performance, reliability and endurance, operational life can be expected to exceed 10,000 hours with a high precision bearing cage design to take out any play that causes bearing fretting.

This precision design also can produce a quieter motor as the mechanical noise common with brushless motors was significantly reduced. Brushless motors do have a limitation though since they incorporate slotted stators. The stator consists of slotted iron laminations that are fused to form a solid, uniform stack. The slots form rows that extend the length of the stack, and the windings are inserted into each row. As the rotor turns, the magnets are more attracted to the stator's teeth than the gaps between them. This uneven magnetic pull, called cogging, reduces the motor's efficiency and makes it difficult to produce smooth motion at low speeds.
With typical operating pressure and vacuum loads, current technology brushless motors today can see efficiencies in the 50-60% range.

Hargraves has introduced a new and innovative design variation the brushless motor that incorporates a slotless stator (one that has no slots to keep the windings in place). Instead, the windings are attached to the inside surface of the stator with adhesive. With no teeth to attract the magnets, cogging is eliminated, and the motor produces smooth, quiet rotation. The absence of teeth also provides room for larger magnets in the rotor and more wire in the windings, which means that slotless motors can generate more torque without a corresponding increase in size.
Additionally, the slotless design significantly reduces damping losses.

In both slotted and slotless motors, eddy currents are induced as the magnets pass the stator.
However, these currents are weaker in slotless motors, because the distance between the stack and the magnets is greater than in slotted motors. This makes slotless, brushless motors more efficient than slotted motors. Compared with slotted brushless motors, miniature diaphragm pressure and vacuum pumps can expect to see improved efficiencies up to 70% coupled with the exceptional life that the brushless design produces. The diaphragm in miniature diaphragm pumps and micro compressors are stretching and flexing under load and sometimes elevated temperature conditions.

Due to limitations of standard EPDM elastomers, many current technology miniature diaphragm pumps and compressors are only rated up to 40C and have limited elastic properties to endure the rigorous cyclic stretching required for higher output applications. Pumps configured with EPDM and operating at higher ambient environments typically will endure ripped diaphragms before they achieve 3000 hours. To extend diaphragm life past 10,000 hours under operating conditions that new generation portable medical devices require; innovative research by the Hargraves materials research team was conducted to develop an advanced performance elastomer that could withstand up to 70C with improved mechanical capabilities.

This research project resulted in the development of an advanced EPDM, or AEPDM, a proprietary elastomer material configuration that has been tested to last ten times longer than standard EPDM. Depending on the fluidic loads and ambient operating temperatures that the miniature diaphragm pump will be operating at, AEPDM diaphragms have been found to exceed 20,000 hours of operational life The shape of the diaphragm itself has been evaluated and optimised to improve vacuum, pressure and flow performance efficiencies. Typical flat diaphragms are performance limited by the amount that it can be stretched. High performance air and gas pumps require increased pump stroke beyond the stretch limits of the flat diaphragm.

Higher vacuum or higher flow performance requires that either a larger flat diaphragm be used (which would require a larger pump head design) or an increased diaphragm surface area by using a shaped diaphragm. Shaped diaphragms allow the pump stroke to increase by as much as 80%. By optimising the pump's diaphragm shape, significant increased performance output can be achieved in a much smaller, compact envelope size. Miniature solenoid valves are required to direct and control the flow in many portable medical devices that require miniature diaphragm pumps or micro compressors. To fit in these new generation enclosures, the valves typically cannot exceed a 10mm package size.

The new design trend has challenged component manufacturers to produce smaller, lighter components, specifically miniature solenoid valves, to fit these new products. With these smaller valves came smaller orifices and restricted throughput, effectively giving up higher performance for a smaller package. The typical 10mm solenoid valve has up to one-sixth the throughput area when compared with the pump output capacity. Due to the restrictions of these small, ineffective valve orifices, the pumps in a fluidic system have been required to overcome significantly large pressure differentials. A common practice of fluidic systems engineers to overcome this reduction in throughput has been to use a pump with up to 200% more capacity than necessary.
Even with the higher output pumps, minimal performance gains were achieved while adding unnecessary weight, increased power consumption, increased heat, noise and size.

Additionally, as portable medical devices designers develop smaller instruments with more functions, more solenoid valves are required compounding the increased heat, noise and power consumption problems. Recent advances in solenoid valve technology have focused the valve design to be small in overall size but having a much larger orifice. By using finite element analysis to analyse the fluid flow throughput and the flux efficiency of the magnetic field created by the solenoid, Hargraves was able to increase the flow up to two times the current capabilities with its Magnum series of solenoid valves. Due to much higher efficiency achieved in the solenoid design, power consumption and heat generation have been able to be significantly reduced.

In addition, advanced manufacturing processes can lock in exact, optimised orifices that will enable fluidic tailoring for application specific flow, resulting in a revolutionary advancement in solenoid valve technology. In addition, the new generation Magnum miniature solenoid valves can be mounted individually, on a manifold or soldered directly to a printed circuit board, giving fluidic module design engineers the most flexibility available. Typically, the weak link in a fluidic circuit has been the small valve with its small, restrictive orifice.

Instead of specifying larger, higher output pumps, fluidic designers are working with advanced fluidic solution providers to provide a tailored solution optimising the solenoid valve orifice to an optimised diaphragm pump to best meet their system criteria. Advantages are great including smaller, lighter pumps, less noise and greater pump life since the differential load pressures significantly decrease, and overall size and weight are also reduced. Portable medical devices that seek to achieve higher flow, longer battery operation and longer device life while in a smaller but cost effective fluidic module are benefiting from tailored configurations of advanced miniature diaphragm pumps and valves. Properly ranking the overall system criteria and the respective component requirements will help ensure the project success with quicker time to market.