Friday, October 29, 2010

Leep plastic composite compression springs from Lee Spring now offer up to 30 per cent improved strength and durability for medical apparatus, X-ray, food processing and electronics applications. The range was developed in response to customer requests for springs that combine the strength of metal with the attributes of high-performance, engineered thermoplastics. Plastic composite springs are said to present a unique set of performance characteristics compared with metal springs.

Strength-to-weight ratios are considerably different while mechanical and thermal stability are maintained at temperatures up to 170C (340F). Corrosion resistance is excellent, they are non-magnetic, offer dielectric insulation, low flammability and are recyclable as well as RoHS and Reach compliant. Manufactured in Ultem PEI resin, different formulations can be used to meet or exceed performance criteria. PEI (polyetherimide) was selected as the material of construction following years of engineering design and materials research by Lee Spring's US technical team.

Ultem resin is produced by Sabic Innovative Plastics. Leep plastic composite compression springs are presented in six colour-coded strengths: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet - the strongest. Standard sizes and custom design options are available to meet performance requirements. Target application areas include medical products and apparatus, imaging and X-ray equipment, food processing and packaging machinery as well as applications in the aerospace, marine, electronics, electrical, water purification, chemical, automotive, semi-conductor, instrumentation and communications sectors.

Stakrak has announced that its Stak Guard modular perimeter machine guarding mesh systems are fast and easy to install and protect workers from machinery such as robots and other automated systems. Protecting workers from machinery is an essential requirement for all manufacturing sites and businesses where areas of potential danger exist. As well as ensuring that employees benefit from a safe environment, the cost of accidents can be crippling in both downtime and financial terms.

The Stak Guard modular perimeter machine guarding mesh system is an ideal, cost-effective and Machine Guarding Directives (2006/42/EC) compliant solution. These directives, which came into force in December 2009, relate to captive fixings and the use of a tool being required to remove the guard. Two different modular systems are available in a multitude of panel widths and heights, ensuring the best solution for most machine-guarding applications.

A range of door types and locking systems is also available, from basic snap and catch devices to more sophisticated interlocks with switches. Standard colours are grey, black or yellow, depending on the system selected, but any RAL colour can be supplied.

Boge Compressors has extended its C series of screw compressors up to 22kW to provide a quiet, compact and efficient compressed-air solution for medium-sized compressed-air users. The C 15 to C 30 are claimed to set new industry standards in specific power and sound pressure levels - from 63-69dB(A) - making them very quiet in operation as well as offering increased compressed-air outputs. The extended Boge C series range has been developed to generate high free air deliveries in continuous operation and in an efficient manner.

For maximum operating dependability and efficiency all essential components have been integrated into the compact module; this serves to eliminate pipework and reduce flow losses. Boge said the new models are also energy efficient with the specific real demand for energy ranging from 7.08-7.16kW/m3/min (according to ISO1217AnexC/ PN2 CPT2). Due to its compact design, space requirements are kept to a minimum. An installation surface of less than 1m2 is sufficient. To enhance energy efficiency even further, a heat recovery system can be added to the new C series models as an option.

Up to 94 per cent of the input electrical energy is dissipated through the cooling medium (air or water) and can be recovered for space heating or pre-heating domestic water. The belt-driven C series models up to 22kW are efficient and quiet in operation, available in the standard pressure of eight, 10 and 13 bar. Output capacities range from 1.36-3.62m3/min and motor power 11-22kW. The range is also available with an integrated refrigerant dryer.

Brownell's breather desiccators provide protection against corrosion, dampness and contamination in electronic, electrical, optical, electro-optic, telecommunications, computer equipment, and so on. The desiccators incorporate a humidity indicator, which monitors saturation and indicates when desiccant change or cartridge replacement is required. They are blue when the desiccant is dry and turn pink when the maximum amount of moisture has been adsorbed.

An adsorbing agent (either silica gel or molecular sieves) reduces the existing or incoming moisture to acceptable levels. The use of molecular sieve desiccant is recommended when the equipment may be subject to immediate failure as a result of water vapour condensation. The molecular sieve desiccant maintains an ultra-low relative humidity for extremely sensitive applications. It is most suitable for applications where equipment or enclosures may be subject to operation at low temperatures and water vapour condensation must not occur.

Maxim Integrated Products introduces the MAX9530 - a four-channel analogue-to-digital front end for converting analogue video and audio signals to the digital format required for compression. An on-chip memory controller is integrated to support a variety of output formats, including the optimal format for direct connection to Maxim's range of H.264 processors. This eliminates the need for the costly FPGA or interface logic required by competitive solutions.

When used together with Maxim's MG3500 H.264 video processor, the MAX9530 is claimed to reduce system BOM cost by more than USD1 (GBP0.60) per channel while delivering excellent system video quality for compression. The MAX9530 will therefore enable a new generation of multi-camera security DVRs that demand superb video quality, competitive cost and the time-to-market advantages of an end-to-end single-source solution. In the video security market, large-scale deployments can involve hundreds of analogue CCTV video cameras and microphones, each requiring analogue-to-digital conversion for subsequent digital compression, recording and transport over IP networks.

To meet aggressive price targets in this market, system designers need a cost-effective solution for interfacing multiple video and audio channels to an H.264 video processor. Typically, designers require an FPGA to interface the video decoder with the H.264 video processor. Costing around five dollars apiece, the FPGA can increase total installation cost by several hundred dollars in large-scale deployments. The MAX9530 was designed to eliminate this interface requirement by directly connecting to Maxim's MG3500 and other H.264 video processors. It performs all digital conversions required for up to four channels of analogue video and audio input.

Paired with the MG3500, the MAX9530 provides a complete 'analogue-to-compressed-digital' video/audio signal path. This gives system designers a two-chip, end-to-end solution that simplifies design and reduces cost in security DVRs. Direct connection is made possible through the MAX9530's integrated memory controller, which assembles four channels into a single optimally formatted data stream for H.264 compression. Unlike other four-channel decoders that rely on the compression engine to reformat all four channels separately for compression, the MAX9530 performs this function automatically in advance to preserve critical video processor performance.

Analogue-to-digital conversion (video decoding and audio conversion) is the first step in the signal path for any system that accepts analogue video/audio inputs and incorporates digital processing. Video decoders and audio ADCs are therefore critical in determining the level of video and audio quality available downstream for compression and further processing. The MAX9530 features a 54MHz 10-bit ADC, differential inputs, video equaliser and interchannel crosstalk of greater than 60dB. The differential analogue inputs improve noise immunity on dense digital boards, easing system layout and design. Its four-channel digital EQ function restores high-frequency losses on each video input to maintain signal integrity in applications with long cables.

Tektronix has announced the DPO/DSA/MSO70000C Series of digital and mixed signal oscilloscopes to offer more accurate signal integrity measurements for high-speed serial standards. These devices now deliver 100GS/s sampling rate performance; enabling lower noise along with increased data points on 5x over-sampled 20GHz acquisitions. High-performance oscilloscopes with a bandwidth greater than 4GHz are used in a variety of high-speed serial, wideband radar, fast optical communications systems, high-end embedded systems and high-energy physics applications.

The DPO/DSA/MSO70000C Series can provide the performance and signal fidelity designers need to ensure that their latest components and systems meet design specifications. Along with a two-fold increase in sampling rate compared to the 'B' Series it replaces, the DPO/DSA/MSO70000C Series features a faster compute platform. This new platform offers faster processing for longer data records such as jitter, noise, BER (bit error rate) measurements and statistics. Boot and application start-up times are also much quicker.

In any digital oscilloscope, there is a strong correlation between sampling rate and internal noise - a high sampling rate results in less noise, which in turn leads to more margin for the user. As shown by comparison testing, the DPO/DSA/MSO70000C Series with 100GS/s operation delivers up to 20 per cent reduction in noise compared to the 50GS/s setting on the same instrument. Modern radar designs use frequency and phase modulation within the radar pulses to increase a radar's range resolution and target identification capabilities. Maintaining the same modulation characteristics from pulse to pulse is key to the system's operation.

Performance oscilloscopes are the tool of choice for radar pulse measurement, but must have a stable timebase able to stay on frequency for long captures. The DPO/DSA/MSO70000C Series meets this requirement with a new high-stability timebase that provides for lower long-term jitter, phase and frequency stability. When combined with the pulse and frequency settling measurement capabilities of SignalVu vector signal analysis software, the DPO/DSA/MSO70000C Series gives designers of frequency agile radios and radars the ability to accurately verify system performance.

The DPO/DSA/MSO70000C Series oscilloscopes provide the bandwidth and sampling rates needed to debug serial data signals up to 12Gb/s on all channels simultaneously - ideal for multi-lane applications including PCI Express 3, SATA 6Gb/s, Superspeed USB, HDMI, Displayport and 10Gb Ethernet. The Fastacq acquisition mode provides a capture rate greater than 300,000 waveforms per second - delivering both critical insight into signal behaviour and in-depth analysis.

Rogers Corporation's Poron Shockseal foams are engineered to meet the cushioning, sealing and protection requirements of large LCD displays. Poron Shockseal foam is available as thin as 0.5mm and conforms to some of the smallest and most intricate manufacturing designs. Poron materials help safeguard electronic devices and the Poron Shockseal series offers even greater impact protection for sensitive applications.

Poron Shockseal foam reduces impact force by more than four times that of competitive materials, according to Rogers. These foams have the same compression set resistance as other Poron materials and the same compressibility as the Poron 92 formulation. This allows them to maintain spring forces over time and effectively seal out dust and other harmful particles.

Aitech Defense Systems has introduced a 6U VPX SBC suitable for radar system boot computers, sonar processors, video and graphics engines and single-board process and machine control applications. The SBC offers the selection between PCI Express or Serial Rapid IO (SRIO) and a host of on-board I/O ports. Using an integrated dual-core PowerPC processor, the single-slot C110 combines low power performance with increased memory capabilities.

It is built to OpenVPX (VITA 65) and VPX (VITA 46.0) specifications and is fully compliant with legacy VME operations, such as VME64 per VITA 46.1, while supporting advanced VME protocols including 2eSST and 2eVME. Four ports, configurable to either Serial RapidIO (SRIO) or PCI Express (PCIe), make up the VPX core backplane fabric. Via the I2C bus, the VPX connectors also provide system level management monitoring of the board's status, including monitoring key rail voltages and temperatures.

The C110's on-board I/O resources include four Gigabit Ethernet, four USB 2.0 ports, two SATA 2.0 ports, six asynchronous serial ports and eight GPIO (general-purpose discrete I/O) channels. The board comes with two PMC/XMC slots and an optional Aitech I/O module (AIOM) slot for the installation of user-customised I/O interfaces. The MPC 8640D processor features dual e600 cores operating at 1.25GHz, each with 64kB of L1 and 1MB of L2 on-chip, high-speed cache. Additional memory includes a large, fast 2GB bank of dual-channel DDR2 SDRAM with ECC, 128MB of user Flash for firmware, user application and data storage functions as well as 8GB of high-density NAND Flash memory for mass storage.

Withstanding extreme military shock and vibration over an extended temperature range of -55C to +85C (Mil-Spec), the C110 remains reliable in extreme environmental conditions. The board's thermal management design enables optimal heat dissipation across the board and heat rejection from the card edges, regardless of whether the board is conduction or convection cooled. Real-time operating systems (RTOS) are available for the C110 include Wind River VXWorks, Green Hills Integrity and Linux.

BI Technologies offers a series of custom thin-film resistor networks in hermetically-sealed metal or HTCC (high-temperature cofired ceramic) packages. The Model 144 Series high-reliability resistor networks can be specified with custom schematics, non-standard resistance values and ultra-tight resistance and TCR tolerances to meet the requirements for military electronics systems, avionics and aerospace circuits.

According to Mike Torres, fixed-film product manager for BI Technologies Electronic Components Division, the Model 144 Series thin-film custom resistor networks provide tighter resistance tolerances and TCR tracking performance than other precision networks. 'We can produce custom networks with up to 25 resistors that mix and match resistor values based on the customer's requirements,' he said. 'And, through our processing and packaging, we can achieve ratio tolerances between individual resistors in the network to less than +/-0.01 per cent and TCR tracking tolerances to less than +/-1ppm/C,' he added.

The networks' construction and packaging is designed specifically for high-reliability applications where plastic packaged devices cannot be specified due to elevated temperatures or other harsh environmental conditions. Available in hermetically sealed through-hole DIP and surface-mount flat-pack packages with three to 28 pins, the Model 144 Series networks also features a passivation coating over the precision nichrome resistive elements to protect against humid environments, and the package cavity is filled with inert nitrogen.

The custom high-reliability resistor networks are suitable for a wide range of applications, including instrumentation amplifiers, precision voltage dividers, measurement bridge circuitry, ladder networks and other precision analogue circuits in aerospace and military electronic systems. The Model 144 Series custom resistor networks feature resistance values from 10ohms to 3Mohms, in tolerances down to +/-0.025 per cent (ratio tolerances to +/-0.01 per cent), in ratio values up to 1:1,000.

Typical TCRs are +/-25ppm/C, with tracking between resistors available to +/-1ppm/C. Operating temperature range is from -55C to +175C. Screening and testing to MIL-STD-883, MIL-STD-1835, MIL-PRF-38534, MIL-STD-38510 and MIL-STD-202 is available on request. The Model 144 Series networks can also be ordered in RoHS-compliant versions. Typical lead times for the Model 144 Series custom resistor networks are from 10 to 16 weeks, with no minimum order quantity required.

Schurter has introduced EMC filters for DIN-rail mounting especially suited for use on TS35 (EN60715) Din rails in industrial equipment and control systems. Products include series FMAB-RAIL and FMBB-RAIL for one-phase systems, FMAC-RAIL for three-phase systems and FMAD-RAIL for three-phase systems with neutral line.

The FMAB-RAIL and FMBB-RAIL one-phase filters are designed for use with one 250V AC installations and the FMAC-RAIL three-phase filters and the FMAD-RAIL three-phase filters with neutral line are designed for use with three 277/480V AC installations. The DIN-rail fixture and fitting concept facilitates simple snap-in of the Schurter FMAB, FMBB, FMAC and FMAD filters. The FMAB, FMBB, FMAC and FMAD RAIL series have UL and ENEC approvals.

In order to meet the needs for high current capability, high efficiency and smaller form factors, Fairchild Semiconductor has developed the Dual Cool packaging for Mosfets. Dual Cool is a top-side cooling PQFN device that incorporates new packaging technology to enable additional power dissipation through the top of the package. Dual Cool packaging features an exposed heat slug that delivers a reduction in thermal resistance from junction to top of case, resulting in more than 60 per cent higher power dissipation capability than standard PQFN packaging when a heat sink is mounted.

Additionally, Mosfets in the Dual Cool package are designed with Fairchild's Powertrench process technology, that enables lower RDS(ON) and higher load currents in smaller package sizes. These devices are currently available in both Power33 (3.3mm x 3.3mm) and Power56 (5mm x 6mm) Dual Cool packaging options. Maintaining the industry-standard PQFN footprint, the Dual Cool package allows power engineers to rapidly qualify Mosfets in Dual Cool packaging, gaining increased thermal efficiency without having to adjust for non-standard packages.

Devices currently available in the Dual Cool package include the FDMS2504SDC, FDMS2506SDC, FDMS2508SDC, FDMS2510SDC (5mm x 6mm footprint) and the FDMC7660DC (3.3mm x 3.3mm footprint). These devices are suitable as synchronous rectifying MOSFETs for DC-DC converters, telecom secondary side rectification and high-end server/workstation applications. Fairchild's Dual Cool packaged Mosfets' top-side cooling and an ultra-low junction temperature (Rthja) enable increased thermal efficiency. Mosfets in the Dual Cool package can be used with or without a heat sink.

The A4941 from Allegro Microsystems is a three-phase, sensorless, brushless DC motor driver IC designed for fan and blower applications in the white goods and office automation sectors. Key features of the device, which is housed in a small eTSSOP package, include sensorless commutation, a wide (5-16V) supply voltage range, 1.25A peak output current, -40 to +105C operating temperature range, lock detection with auto restart and soft switching for reduced audible noise.

The motor drive system in the A4941 consists of three half-bridge NMOS outputs, back EMF sensing circuitry, adaptive commutation control and a state sequencer. The sequencer determines which output devices are active, while the back EMF sensing circuits and adaptive commutation circuits determine when the state sequencer advances to the next state. The three half-bridge outputs are controlled by a state machine with six possible states. Motor back EMF is sensed at the tri-stated output for each state.

Back EMF sensing motor commutation relies on the accurate comparison of the voltage on the tri-stated output to the voltage at the centre tap of the motor. The back EMF zero crossing - the point where the tri-stated motor winding voltage crosses the centre tap voltage - is used as a positional reference. The zero crossing occurs roughly halfway through one commutation cycle. At start-up, commutation is provided by an onboard oscillator in order to step the motor to generate back EMF. When legitimate back EMF zero crossings are detected, normal back EMF sensing commutation is achieved.

Adaptive commutation circuitry and programmable timers automatically determine the optimal commutation points with only a minimal number of external components required. Output speed can be monitored with the output signal that occurs at the FG terminal when a back EMF zero crossing is detected. Duty cycle control of the pulse-width modulated (PWM) input is applied directly to the motor windings to control speed or torque. The PWM input is also used to disable motor operation and put the IC into a low-power sleep mode.

Protection features include thermal shutdown with hysteresis, under voltage lockout (UVLO), crossover current and locked rotor protection with auto restart. Key applications in the consumer white goods and office automation markets include fan controls in refrigerators and air purifiers. The A4941GLP-T is supplied in a small (5mm x 4.4mm) 16-lead TSSOP package with exposed power tab. The package is lead (Pb) free, with 100 per cent matt tin lead-frame plating.

Rolec has expanded its Starcase range of plastic enclosures, which can be used for heating and air conditioning controllers, monitoring systems, security equipment and test and measurement devices. The Starcase range has been designed for industrial electronics. Design features include two hinged trims on either end of the case that hide the case fixings screws and wall-mounting shafts.

As a result, no visible fixings can be seen once the unit is on the wall. The enclosures are moulded in flame-retardant ABS rated to UL 94 V-0. The standard colour is light grey, RAL 7035 and the cases have a fine-textured surface finish. The standard protection class is IP66 for indoor and outdoor use and the moulded gasket can be replaced during long-term maintenance. They are also fully insulated to VDE 0100. The latest enclosure in the range has dimensions of 140 x 110 x 60mm, adding to the existing five sizes from 120 x 90 x 50mm to 280 x 170 x 60mm. The cases are assembled by four corrosion-proof stainless-steel fixing screws positioned outside of the sealed interior.

An optional key lock can also be fitted for tamper-proof security. To aid installation and servicing, two plastic lid supports (simple hinges) are provided with each case and the wall fixing dimensions are moulded onto the underside. Internal screw pillars are moulded in the top and base parts for mounting PCBs, DIN-rails, displays and so on.

The latest Mini-ITX motherboard from BVM is said to be ideal for developing high-performance systems for industrial control and automation, retail, gaming, print imaging and digital signage. The LV-67F is based on the QM57 chipset and supports the 64-bit multi-core Intel mobile Core i7/i5/i3 processors in the rPGA988A socket. Two versions of the processor are available, the 32nm Core i7/i5/i3 with HD graphic function or the 45nm i7-8x0 and i7-7x0 without embedded graphic capability.

Intel Turbo boost technology and Intel Hyper-Threading technology maximises processor performance and reduces power requirements. Up to 8GB of DDR3 800/1,066MHz system memory are supported, and the Intel HD graphic function provides dynamic video memory technology with MPG2/WMV9/VC1/AVC hardware acceleration, advanced pixel adaptive de-interlacing and high-quality scaling. Additional display features include a 24-bit dual channel LVDS and an optional DVI interface. I/O capability includes two GigaLAN ports, 10 USB2.0 ports, one RS232C and one RS232/422/485 serial ports.

An integrated Realtek ALC888 Codec supports high-definition audio, providing high-performance 7.1+2 channel high-definition audio. The four eSATA 3GB/s interfaces support RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10, giving maximum storage performance for data-intensive applications. Extended interface capability includes PCIE x 16, one Mini-PCIe and one Mini-PCI sockets for add-on cards. A programmable 8-bit GPIO interface and a 256-level watchdog timer are also provided.

Murata Power is introducing 1W isolated DC-DC converters for industrial, test and measurement and process control applications. The series is suited to all applications where an isolated surface-mount DC-DC is needed. The latest design techniques and materials have been used to reduce the module's footprint while improving electrical performance characteristics. The MTU1 series has dimensions of 8.2 x 8.4 x 8.5mm, representing a footprint reduction of 50 per cent compared to the previous generation.

Power density is 1.71W/cm3 and the series features wide temperature performance at full 1W load, between -40 and 85C. The load regulation has been enhanced to 7.5 per cent, a change of 40 per cent. The DC-DC converter also features 56 per cent less power dissipation and lower running temperatures than its predecessor, improving overall efficiency by more than one-fifth, to 89 per cent.

The increase in efficiency and benefit of reduction in power dissipation enables an open-frame design. The improved efficiency of the MTU1 series also contributes to its lower energy consumption and greater reliability. Eight models are currently available in the MTU1 series, featuring a choice of 5V or 12V input voltage and 5, 9, 12 or 15V output voltage. The modules each have a single output isolated to 1kV DC. All are RoHS-compliant.

Prysmian will supply the Avrasya Metro Group (AMG) with Afumex fire-resistant power cables in the Kadikoy-Kartal metro line in Istanbul, Turkey. With 16 stations, 22km of double track and eight-car trains travelling in both directions every 1.5 minutes, the Kadikoy-Kartal metro line will cross the Anatolian side of Istanbul from Kadikoy to Kartal, connecting the European and Asian sides of the city with a link to the Marmaray rail tunnel under the Bosphorus strait.

The system will provide secure and fast transportation across the city, carrying up to 90,000 persons/hour in both directions for a total of one million passengers a day. Construction is expected to take 19 months and to be completed by the end of 2011, and will require Prysmian to supply 300km of medium-voltage wired armoured cables and more than 1,300km of low-voltage fire-resistant and low-fire-hazard (LS0H) Afumex cables.

The Afumex range of cables combines low flame spread and heat release with very low emission of smoke and dangerous gases, increasing the amount of time needed to escape and a less hazardous environment for rescue teams. Fire-resistant cables also assure continuous operation of the power supply and of signalling systems during a fire. 'Our Afumex cables can help prevent the propagation of a fire and produce the least opaque smoke and harmful emissions as possible, essential in infrastructure projects,' said Hans Hoegstedt, Prysmian Power Distribution - trade and installers director.

Prysmian has also installed its fire-resistant, low-fire-hazard cables in buildings such as the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the Colon Theatre in Buenos Aires, Hamburg Airport and the Wimbledon tennis stadium in the UK.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mykal has announced the renewal of certificates for its Desolvit high-performance degreaser (DSI 1000) as a surface cleaner oil dispersant by Scottish Marine and the Marine Management Organisation. High-performance degreaser (DSI 1000) is certified for the removal of oil that comes ashore from spills and must be cleaned from rocky shorelines.

It can also be used for the cleaning of boats, quaysides, equipment and clothing. High-performance degreaser (DSI 1000) has history of use for the clean-up of major oil spills on shorelines, including the Exxon Valdez in Alaska, the Sea Empress in Milford Haven, the shoreline of the Faro Islands and dry docks in Turkey.

High-performance degreaser (DSI 1000) is a citrus-based, non-flammable solvent cleaner for the removal of oils and greases from components, tools and equipment in manufacturing, engineering, maintenance, and assembly operations. It also carries approvals for use in critical degreasing applications within the defence, aerospace and automotive industries.

Cambridge Sensotec has expanded its Rapidox product range to provide multiple gas analysers to suit most applications in industry, research and education. Cambridge Sensotec can offer systems to analyse food packaging processes, for high temperature and vacuum oxygen measurements in inert gases, or to provide gas analytical data to assess the impact of environmental issues, as well as many other applications. The company uses two types of oxygen sensors in its Rapidox range of gas analysers: zirconia and electrochemical.

The majority of Cambridge Sensotec analysers use a zirconia-based sensor. There are several reasons this is preferred. A zirconia oxygen sensor is said to offer a very fast response time coupled with accurate readings at low oxygen levels. Zirconia sensors also work well in vacuum and with pressurised gas. They also have a lifespan of more than 35,000 hours.

In environments where the zirconia oxygen sensor may not be suited, Cambridge Sensotec offers Rapidox units with electrochemical sensors. These are more suited to applications where explosive gases are present, such as hydrocarbons, or in the presence of volatile organic gases compounds (VOCs). Electrochemical sensors can perform well in helium and hydrogen and are more suited to hazardous area use, as zirconia sensors operate at very high temperatures.

Marco has announced that Beacon Foods has placed a second order for the Trac-IT factory profitability system. Beacon Foods is a producer of roasted and char-grilled vegetables and fruit ranges, relishes, chutneys and compotes. The existing Trac-IT system was installed in 2007 and has brought important improvements to the Beacon manufacturing process. Integrating with its Sage management system, it integrates traceability with recipe and stock control, from goods-in through to final despatch.

This roll out of further Trac-IT modules will now control the complete process from the initial order and the amount of raw materials required, through to labelling, warehouse management, transport and invoicing. Sandra Thomas, IT controller at Beacon Foods, said: 'Extending the existing system to packing, despatch and transport in 2010 is going to benefit all departments. 'The enhanced production planning system will provide better management information to control waste and improve efficiency,' she added.

The Trac-IT system takes full advantage of the latest portable data acquisition and wireless technologies including PDAs and PDTs. Drivers will have portable handheld devices in their lorries to update delivery information and the system can also manage critical vehicle fleet attributes. Further stock control and warehouse management capabilities will bring additional process control advantages.

Wika Instruments has developed a double-diaphragm system for reliable pressure measurement in critical processes found in industries such as chemical, pharmaceutical, food and beverages.

The double diaphragm system can, in the event of a diaphragm break, reliably prevent products finding their way into the environment or system fill fluid contaminating the process. The diaphragm break monitoring for diaphragm seals can be implemented on a range of instrument variants throughout Wika's pressure instrument range.

Wika Instruments' T32.xS temperature transmitter, developed for a range of industrial applications, is now available with a variant certified for use in SIL2 and redundant SIL3 applications. Certified for use in protection systems under IEC61508 conformity, the T32.xS is said to be one of only two temperature transmitters worldwide which conform to this procedure.

Alongside comprehensive internal failure monitoring, the T32.xS offers dual sensor functionality with automatic redundancy changeover, integrated drift protection and compatibility with virtually all software and hardware platforms.

Hylec-APL has introduced the Teeplug cable connector, a weatherproof, quick-anchoring plug that allows secure fitting onto difficult installations such as lighting bollards and lampposts. The Teeplug is designed for mounting on flat or curved surfaces. The plug can be fitted and anchored without access to the rear of the panel and offers IP67 ingress protection. The quick-anchor, all-weather-approved Teeplug looks like a conventional plug and socket but can be inserted through a bulkhead or pole outer skin, installed and clamped without access to the back of the connector.

Terry Spriggs, product marketing manager for Hylec-APL, said: 'Having drilled the correct-sized hole, the panel-mount component of the connector can be inserted directly through the hole. 'The attached protective closure cap is then tightened up; as this is done the inner thread pulls a collar of tapered fingers towards it, effectively creating a raised fixing collar behind the mounting surface. 'The action is much like a mechanical version of a pop-rivet, but with the additional benefit that it can also be removed and repositioned if necessary.

'One the panel-mount end is tightened in place, the locking mechanism keeps it firmly mounted and the plug and socket terminals can then be wired as per normal and a simple and quick connection is made,' he added. The Teeplug can be used in a number of difficult areas including blind surfaces and applications with limited space. The quick anchoring reduces initial installation time and also allows for quick maintenance work or replacement.

A round section double gasket on the plug body ensures that the plug provides ingress protection of up to IP67 and a threaded locking nut guarantees safe locking between plug and socket. The Teeplug is constructed from PA66 V2 UL94 polyamide and is available in two- and three-pole versions. A protective closure cap is included with a black silicone belt attached to the socket to ensure that the wiring is not compromised when disconnected.

Mettler Toledo has revealed how the transport industry can cut costs and carbon emissions through the optimisation of space and dimensional weight pricing. Just as we were beginning to appreciate the importance of reducing our carbon footprint and taking action to prevent an environmental catastrophe, the financial crisis hit.
Many companies were forced to cut back and this presented a dilemma, as the green way is not always the cheapest way.

The transport industry has been hit hard by the economic crisis. Fuel prices continue to rise while the volume of packages being sent has decreased. At the same time, carrier companies find themselves in an environmental predicament. There is increasing pressure to find solutions that will help to offset their high level of emissions. The question is whether it is possible to be green and still save money. A straightforward way for transport companies to cut down emissions is to reduce the number of vehicles in the road or sky.

This can be achieved through optimisation of space. By knowing the exact dimensions of the parcels and pallets you transport, you are better able to fill a vehicle to its full capacity. What is more, by including the dimensions in the price, you will be paid according to the actual space an item occupies rather than just its weight, increasing your revenue. Typically a truck is designed to hold three pallets sideways. However, if one pallet is overloaded with boxes or if there are objects sticking out, there will not be enough room in the truck for the third pallet, and a second truck will be required.

Dimensional weight pricing allows carriers to charge for this waste of space. The customer will be invoiced based on the actual size his pallet takes up, compensating for unused space. By knowing the exact dimensions of each item, the carrier will know what type of objects can be used to fill up the extra space. A dimensional weight pricing structure means that customers of large, lightweight items are invoiced according to the relatively large amount of space their shipment requires. It is therefore in the interest of your customers to condense consignments as much as possible.

It is typical that deliveries arrive in boxes that are too big; fragile goods may be wrapped in excessive bubble wrap and frequently outer cartons are filled mostly with air. Being somewhat penalised for such items will encourage denser packing and reduced use of packaging materials. Carriers will not then be accused of 'moving air', which is not cost-effective and has a negative impact on the environment. Denser packing also means less movement of goods within the boxes, reducing the risk of damage during handling.

When taking both volume and weight into consideration for invoicing, a price-based on volumetric weight may be much higher than one calculated on weight alone. Imagine your customer is a shipper of popcorn. Un-popped popcorn kernels are heavier than popped popcorn. If you were to ship five kilos of un-popped popcorn and five kilos of popped popcorn, the two shipments would need very differently sized boxes. As you can see, the dimensional weight of the popped popcorn is much greater than its actual weight.

By charging for dimensional weight, you get paid for the space it takes up in your vehicle. Your customer may then be motivated to send the popcorn un-popped, reducing the volume of his shipment and freeing up space in your truck, or eliminating the need for an extra truck. We are constantly being asked to evaluate the environmental impact of our actions.

While the challenges faced by the transport industry in this regard do not end here, by switching to automatic dimensioning, you are increasing efficiency while doing your bit to reduce emissions. An automatic dimensioning solution is an investment you can make to increase revenue, while keeping your conscience clear. Mettler Toledo can offer advice on optimising space in the transport industry.

Scorpion Vision has launched the Scorpion 3D Stinger for robot vision, designed to solve the challenge of picking parts from a conveyor belt, a pallet or crate. The Scorpion 3D Stinger captures images, identifies and locates the product and sends the ID and 3D location to a picking robot. Today, parts are often picked and stacked manually. Manufacturers spend time and resources shifting or organising parts in the manufacturing process or feeding robots and machines with parts.

To pick unordered parts requires that the robot can recognise the parts from many angles and that it knows where in space to pick. Stinger is built on Scorpion Vision software, which makes it possible for a Scorpion 3D Stinger system to add inspection and quality control tasks when needed. Scorpion has built-in modules for communication with all industrial robots and is easily adapted to any motion control unit. The company is looking for suitable business partners for distribution of the Scorpion 3D Stinger.

Thermal imaging specialist Flir Systems sponsored the Infrared Symposium, an event to commemorate the centenary of the first published infrared photograph by Prof Robert Williams Wood. In October 1910, Wood made a presentation to the Royal Photographic Society entitled 'Photography by Invisible Rays'. The Infrared Symposium brought together leading experts in the fields of thermal imaging and thermography.

The first infrared scanning camera was introduced by Agema in 1965, a company that subsequently became Flir Systems. The state-of-the-art 1960s Thermovision thermal imaging camera weighed 60kg, not including the 220VAC generator that powered the unit. A 10-litre jar of liquid nitrogen was also required to cool the linear array detector. Data storage amounted to capturing the video display in a Polaroid image. In the 1980s, infrared focal plane array cameras were developed.

They remained cooled devices but had slimmed down to 10kg or less and offered a typical resolution of 10,000 pixels. However, these high-end products remained the sole preserve of the professional thermographer with a big budget as they were priced in the region of GBP32,000. Today, the technology has been thoroughly commercialised and Flir Systems continues to play a significant role in driving down costs and making infrared accessible to a wider industrial community. Infrared inspection to spot electrical and mechanical faults, building problems and energy loss is now standard practice, and the entry-level price makes the technology easily affordable.

The Flir i7 uncooled point-and-shoot IR camera, for example, produces 14,000 pixels, weighs around 340g, including the battery, and costs GBP1,330. There is now an extensive choice of Flir infrared cameras to service a range of qualitative and quantitative applications. Models feature comprehensive, built-in measurement tools and data storage as well as application-specific analysis and reporting software. At the top end of the scale, sophisticated imagers with cooled detectors are also available, typically for use in high-performance, high-speed monitoring in the fields of research and development, science and automation.

Thermal imaging and thermography continue to demonstrate huge potential. New applications are found daily for this highly flexible technology. Indeed, the closing summary from the first medical thermography conference held in New York in 1963 remains as valid today as was 47 years ago - 'All that has been revealed is nothing by comparison with what has yet to be discovered'. For infrared there is no doubt that the best is yet to come.

The laser is a key technology for many tried and tested high-efficiency concepts and has become an indispensable tool for thin-film photovoltaic module production, according to Rofin-Baasel. With most thin-film materials, the layer scribing steps required for monolithic integration cannot be performed with more flexibility and precision using any other process. This is why laser technology has been a key part of thin-film development for more than two decades.

Mechanical scribing replaced wet chemical etching because the wet chemical method was too slow and also environmentally unfriendly. The wear-free laser process is much more controllable and also reduces the risk of breakage in subsequent processing. The other laser application in thin-film manufacturing is edge deletion in advance of hermetic sealing of the module. Here, laser technology gradually replaced sand blasting, a dirty and environmentally questionable process, and now holds a market share of more than 50 per cent in new manufacturing facilities.

The materials processed include transparent conductive oxide (TCO) layers on glass or flexible substrates, active layers on thin-film modules such as amorphous silicon (a-Si), cadmium telluride (CdTe) and copper, indium, gallium selenide (CIGS) and the back contact layers such as aluminium, silver, molybdenum and combinations of these. High beam quality, which results in a large depth of focus, compensates for various material irregularities such as imperfections in flatness and thickness on large glass panels and maintains small scribe widths and constant depths.

This is the reason why q-switched, diode-pumped Nd:Vanadate lasers (1,064nm or 532nm wavelength) with short ns-pulse widths, such as Rofin's Powerline SL and Powerline L series, have become the standard laser type for both types of application. Whereas the scribing process requires pulse energies in the range of uJ, edge deletion needs mJ laser pulses to meet production requirements of a volume production plant. Fundamental wavelengths (1,064nm) and those with double frequency (532nm) are commonly used in the production of a-Si/u-Si, CIGS and CdS/CdTe solar cells.

In crystalline cell manufacturing, laser technology is only considered if it contributes to reducing cost per Watts produced (c/Wp). One way that it achieves this is by streamlining the production process; for example, replacing plasma etching for edge isolation or mechanical cutting and scribing steps. Another way is through improved photovoltaic efficiency. Extensive research has resulted in laser-assisted manufacturing concepts for enhanced solar cells, which have been evaluated on a lab production scale. However, the road to mass production is a long one - efficiency gains have to outmatch additional investment costs significantly.

But intensified competition with thin-film technology currently helps some of these concepts find their way into volume production. Current mass production crystalline cells suffer from a trade-off between the desired heavy doping of the n-type silicon layer underneath the metallised contact regions and light doping between the contact fingers. The solution is selective doping of emitters, which promises efficiency gains of about one percentage point, and most new selective emitter concepts for mass production scale rely on laser material processing.

One approach is selective doping through laser ablation of dielectrics. Prior to dopant diffusion, a dielectric masking layer is generated, which is then selectively opened by lasers in the required contact areas. Therefore, the subsequent diffusion step creates different dopant concentrations on masked and non-masked areas. Direct laser doping is also a promising concept for realising selective emitters. Through the PSG layer additional dopant phosphor atoms are driven into the silicon using a laser for precisely controlled, localised heat input.

Another well-explored concept for increased efficiency is backside contacted solar cells, which eliminates the otherwise necessary front-side strip lines, and in this way enhances the solar-active surface. Furthermore, the entire interconnection of solar cells into modules can be achieved without any connections from the front to the rear side. Packing density increases and costs drop. The Metal Wrap Through (MWT) method requires a few dozen vias in a grid pattern on one solar cell; Emitter-Wrap-Through (EWT) cells need about 10.000. For both techniques a q-switched disc laser such as Rofin's Stardisc, provides the necessary throughput rates.

The q-switched beam source provides both high power in TEM00 fundamental mode and ideal pulse widths for these applications, achieving extremely short processing times, in the range of only a few seconds, per solar cell. With selective emitters, a well-known approach (already tested in high-efficiency cells) finds a route to mass production. In addition, laser patterning and selective ablation of dielectric layers generally opens a broad field for new efficiency improvement approaches.

RP Support has introduced a range of laser sintering performance powders for a range of processing and rapid manufacturing applications. The materials, for exclusive distribution into the UK and Ireland, will be supplied through a newly formed partnership with Advanced Laser Materials (ALM). The high lifecycle of the products is said to reduce waste, while the high stability of the polymer blends ensures the consistent quality and properties required for rapid manufacturing.

PA 650 is an easy-to-process Nylon12, with optimised dry powder flow, which can be run as a drop-in replacement for other PA12 sintering powders, providing improved part detail and surface finish. PA 615-GS is a highly glass-sphere-filled material for higher dimensional stability, stiffness and temperature resistance compared with unfilled PA. Against comparable materials this powder is more recyclable and produces a better part surface finish. PA 601-CF is a carbon-fibre-filled Nylon12 powder with very low density, good dimensional stability, very high tensile modulus and heat deflection temperature.

FR 106 is a fire retarded Nylon11 material that meets the flammability requirements of BMS8-401, type 1, class A, grade 60 for parts requiring superior mechanical properties coupled with high levels of fire retardancy. PA 640-GSL is a newly developed, lightweight Nylon12 material that has superior strength-to-weight properties. It is ideal for lightweight applications requiring a combination of strength and aesthetics.

Other materials in the range include TPE 210-S, a flexible thermoplastic elastomer for rubber-like parts, PA D80-ST, a colour-stabilised Nylon11 that is also stabilised to prevent thermal degradation, and PA 250, a Nylon12 powder engineered for excellent mechanical properties, part definition and surface finish. It is also stabilised against thermal degradation, resulting in little or no scrap material, with typical virgin refresh rates from 15-25 per cent. All materials are delivered in 10kg or 15kg pack sizes and will be available from stock held within the UK from quarter four 2010.

Cross and Morse has announced that the Sealmaster series HF and HFT high-temperature bearings have been engineered to meet the requirements of industrial furnace/oven applications. The bearings are offered in both fixed and float arrangements. Bearings are standard with increased external clearances to allow for expansion. They incorporate specialised sealing arrangements and two types of steel end-caps: HEC and HFC.

All Cross and Morse high-temperature bearings are supplied with a high-quality, high-temperature synthetic lubricant to provide reliable operation up to 400F (200C). The units are equipped with two pipe plugs for lubrication. Typical applications include heat-treatment equipment, kilns, curing furnaces, food processing conveyors and bakeries.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ishida has revealed that contract packer Strategy Group has installed the flexible strip pack applicator (F-SPA) for hanging products in retail stores. The automatic clip strip solution, provided by Ishida's UK distributor Index, is said to provide effective merchandising for retail outlets while offering cost savings compared with hand-loaded alternatives. Index said hang-strips are a good format for impulse purchases and because they do not take up shelf space, provide an opportunity to gain a first retail listing.

They can also be used for special promotions or placed strategically next to complementary items in any part of the store, for example, snacks by the beer section. Such benefits, said Index, mean that a correctly merchandised strip can deliver up to 30 per cent increase in sales compared with shelf display. For Strategy, the F-SPA provided a cost-effective solution to maximise the benefits of hang-strips. Melanie Norcross, sales manager at Strategy, said: 'In the past, placing packs onto strips was a very labour-intensive operation.

'In addition, packs usually had to be adapted with the inclusion of a hole or euro slot to enable them to be placed on the strips and the strips themselves could be quite heavy and bulky. 'All this generated extra costs for the packing process, which could not be reflected in the selling price of the pack, making strip packs something of a loss leader. 'With the Ishida system, we have a cost-effective operation, which enables the strips to take on a far more proactive marketing role,' she added. The F-SPA loads 60 bags per minute onto the Ishida strip-tape, ready to hang at point-of-purchase locations.

The Ishida strip-tape design heat-seals the bags to the re-sealable strip-tape. The sealing process can be adjusted according to the requirements of each product to provide a secure attachment and ensure that packs can not accidentally drop off the strip during packing or handling. Equally, the tape allows bags to be re-attached to the strip-tape using the adhesive layer of the tape. Furthermore, as the bags do not require a hole or a euro-slot to be attached to the Ishida strip-tape, bag makers with those facilities are not required. The strip-tape is supplied on a reel, which is inserted into the F-SPA.

The tape can also be printed with individual product branding if required. The reel format provides flexibility as individual strips can be of different lengths to hold different numbers of packs (typically six, 10 or 12). The spacing of the packs on the strip can also be adjusted depending on pack design and bag size, to ensure that they can be presented to their best advantage in-store. In addition, an extended length of tape at the top of each strip can be created to allow for additional product brand promotion to be included in order to maximise in-store impact.

Settings for individual product requirements are stored in the Ishida F-SPA memory and called up at the touch of a button. For Strategy, an important benefit of the Ishida system is that packs can be brought into the factory, applied to the tape and then repacked in the same box, enabling manufacturers to keep the same SKU for simplified distribution. Because the weight of the Ishida strip is lighter than traditional plastic strips (3.8g as opposed to 17g), this reduces both transport costs and the amount of waste sent to landfill, helping to improve a pack's overall carbon footprint.

Further advantages of the F-SPA are its flexibility, which means it can be linked to bag makers and flow wrappers as well as manually fed. It can also be easily moved to different production lines or operated off-line as required. The F-SPA is suitable for bags made with heat-sealable OPP film. The amount of air fill in the bag and the sealing temperature of the bags to the tape can be adjusted for each product to ensure that the bags are held firmly in place while still being easy for consumers to remove without damaging pack integrity. In addition, the top of the bag is folded over before being affixed to the strip, aiding the customer to easily remove the bag.

Fibre Photonics has launched polycrystalline mid-infrared fibre optics designed to provide real-time reaction monitoring in chemical process research and development and the pharmaceutical industry. The polycrystalline mid-infrared fibre optics are flexible, durable and highly transmissive within the mid-infrared region (3300 and 550cm). As a fibre material of choice in robust ATR immersion probes, they provide the capability to accurately monitor and quantify the formation and reactive activity of key functional groups through their individual fundamental vibrations.

Fibre Photonics provides a range of ATR mid-infrared fibre-optic immersion probes as a real-time in situ reaction monitoring solution within a laboratory and production environment. Each probe can be coupled to an FTIR spectrometer by means of SMA connectors and has been designed to withstand the ever-changing requirements of a development laboratory, especially where high-throughput or scale-up reactions monitoring are required.

Several key functional groups can be investigated using the broad spectral range of one single mid-infrared immersion probe, including carbonyl, unsaturated hydrocarbon, amine and alkyl halide containing compounds. Each probe offers a real-time insight into common reactions used in the development of APIs, biofuels, fine and bulk chemicals including addition, substitution and condensation reactions as well as oxidation and reduction reactions. The close monitoring of the reactivity results in faster scale-up and reaction optimisation resulting in research and development time being saved in the laboratory.

Integra Biosciences has launched Vacusafe, a compact laboratory vacuum system that is said to offer simple, reliable and safe aspiration of waste liquids. The company said that, unlike many 'homemade' aspiration systems made from non-optimised parts, the Vacusafe is a dedicated product for the convenient and safe disposal of almost any liquid waste. Vacusafe has a range of important safety features including a dependable liquid waste level sensor to prevent overfilling of the bottle and two hydrophobic filters that block potentially dangerous aerosols from entering the laboratory workspace.

The self-sealing quick connectors prevent spills after disconnecting the tubing and a sturdy handle makes the carrying and emptying of the Vacusafe waste bottle effortless. With a range of Vacuboy adapters included, removal of liquids is possible from virtually any container format. For laboratories looking for an all-in-one vacuum aspiration system, the Vacusafe combines a low-noise pump, a shatterproof collection bottle with quick connectors and a versatile Vacuboy hand operator. Integra describes Vacusafe as the laboratory aspiration system of choice for the range of applications where quick and controlled vacuum removal of liquid waste is required.

For laboratories wishing to utilise an existing vacuum source, Integra offers a Vacusafe system without an integrated vacuum pump. Designed for use with the Vacusafe system, the Vacuboy hand operator is a convenient tool for controlled aspiration of liquids at the touch of a button. Connected to a Vacusafe system, the Vacuboy hand operator precisely regulates aspiration flow by a finger pressure activated valve and includes a variety of aspiration adapters to suit virtually any container or tube.

An online video from Agilent explains how its direct-drive robot (DDR), at the centre of a Biocel system, advances high-throughput screening for drug discovery research and genomic applications. The five-minute video, available to view on the Agilent Automation Solutions website, shows how the DDR is fast, precise and designed with safety in mind.

Direct-drive technology reduces the number of moving parts, resulting in a robotic arm that Agilent said has increased reliability and speed, moving smoothly with precision and accuracy. The one-person, one-touch design of the Agilent DDR is shown to enable fast and easy robotic configuration teaching, minimising set-up time and the need for dedicated personnel.

The A4941 from Allegro Microsystems is a three-phase, sensor-less, brushless DC motor driver IC designed for fan and blower applications in the white goods and office automation sectors. Features of the device, which is housed in a small eTSSOP package, include sensor-less commutation, a 5-16V supply voltage range, 1.25A peak output current, -40C to +105C operating temperature range, lock detection with auto restart, and soft switching for reduced audible noise.

The motor drive system in the A4941 consists of three half-bridge NMOS outputs, back EMF sensing circuitry, adaptive commutation control and a state sequencer. The sequencer determines which output devices are active, while the back EMF sensing circuits and adaptive commutation circuits determine when the state sequencer advances to the next state. The three half-bridge outputs are controlled by a state machine with six possible states. Motor back EMF is sensed at the tri-stated output for each state.

Back EMF sensing motor commutation relies on the accurate comparison of the voltage on the tri-stated output to the voltage at the centre tap of the motor. The back EMF zero crossing - the point where the tri-stated motor winding voltage crosses the centre tap voltage - is used as a positional reference. The zero crossing occurs roughly halfway through one commutation cycle. As start-up, commutation is provided by an onboard oscillator in order to step the motor to generate back EMF. When legitimate back EMF zero crossing are detected, normal back EMF sensing commutation is achieved.

Adaptive commutation circuitry and programmable timers automatically determine the optimal commutation points with only a minimal number of external components required. Output speed can be monitored with the output signal that occurs at the FG terminal when a back EMF zero crossing is detected. Duty cycle control of the pulse width modulated (PWM) input is applied directly to the motor windings to control speed or torque. The PWM input is also used to disable motor operation and put the IC into a low-power sleep mode.

Protection features include thermal shutdown with hysteresis, under-voltage lockout (UVLO), crossover current and locked rotor protection with auto restart. Applications in the consumer white goods and office automation markets include fan controls in refrigerators and air purifiers. The A4941GLP-T is supplied in a 5 x 4.4mm, 16-lead TSSOP package with exposed power tab. The package is lead (Pb) free, with 100 per cent matt tin lead-frame plating.

Parker Domnick Hunter has been presented with a Queen's Award for Enterprise in the International Trade category for its success in developing new export markets for its gas separation technologies. This is the company's ninth Queen's Award and was presented by Lord Lieutenant Nigel Sherlock OBE. The development of the Maxigas range of gas separation technologies has been vital to the company's success. In particular, the compact, modular and self-contained Maxigas system is said to represent a considerable advance in industrial-scale nitrogen generation.

It provides businesses with an economical and practical method of generating their own nitrogen on site, from a conventional supply of compressed air. This high-performance and energy-efficient system produces nitrogen on demand and eliminates the need for traditional gas bottles and bulk storage facilities, which are costly, present health and safety issues and typically involve frequent freight movements.

Parker said the Maxigas concept is now widely accepted by key growth sectors within the industrial gas market, where users demand high-specification nitrogen gas at a lower cost than alternative supplies. Geographically, this includes widespread adaption throughout all European Union countries, Asia, Russia, the Middle East, the Americas, Turkey, and India.

IFM Electonic has launched a safety relay that conforms to all the latest safety standards, including SIL3 to IEC 61508, PLe under ISO 13849-1 and EN 574 type IIIC. The G1502S from IFM fulfills many safety tasks without the need for different types of relay. This safety relay works with the whole range of fail-safe inductive sensors from IFM. It can be used in a variety of ways.

It performs monitoring tasks in safety applications using different types of electro-sensitive protective equipment (ESPE), so the user doesn't need a special type of relay for light curtains, e-stops or two-hand controls. The latter can be two-hand controls to EN 574 type IIIC employing electronic sensors or mechanical switches.

The time delay feature, adjustable between 0.25 and 10 seconds, can be applied to two safe outputs. The time delay cannot be tampered with, without tripping the relay. The safety relay has several multifunctional self-detecting and self-monitoring inputs and short-circuit proof outputs. The simultaneity monitoring of inputs, the functions 'monitored' or 'automatic start' and two delayed contacts can be selected.

Barden has introduced the X-Life range of super-precision ball bearings designed to enhance reliability, lengthen operating life and reduce noise levels in high-speed dental handpieces. In terms of bearing selection, it does not get much more challenging than choosing a bearing for a high-speed dental handpiece.As well as having to withstand the harsh operating environment in which the bearings are constantly bombarded with debris, the latest dental handpiece turbines typically have to operate at extremely high speeds of between 400,000 and 500,000rev/min.

The bearings also have to undergo repeated chemical or steam sterilisation cycles, which can strip away the bearing lubricant. In addition, the bearings much also remain cool enough to avoid injury or discomfort to the patient and the dental surgeon, while also offering the lowest possible noise and vibration levels in order to reduce patient anxiety and allow for a more relaxed, comfortable operating environment. Wear on a dental handpiece is often limited to the bearing itself, which is typically located at the tip of the handpiece turbine.

High-speed operation, repeated sterilisation and the effects of operating debris can cause the bearing to fail prematurely. However, due to a combination of features designed to retain lubricant and reduce contamination, Barden's X-Life range of dental bearings offer a number of technical advantages over conventional bearings. Barden's X-Life branded products are premium-quality bearings produced using manufacturing technologies that enable a more uniform surface over the whole contact surface between the rolling elements and raceway. As a result, under identical load, there is a reduction in the stress conditions present on the rolling elements and raceway.

This means reduced friction and lower bearing temperatures, less strain placed on the lubricant, higher basic dynamic load ratings, and an increased basic rating life. Robert Globe, sales and marketing manager at Barden, said that while Barden can provide suitable replacement bearings for any make or model of dental handpiece, very often there is a need for the company to customise the bearing in order to provide an optimised design for a particular application. The ability to custom engineer a bearing for an OEM is important, because OEMs are continually improving their handpiece designs, so the bearing has to be constantly improved too.

OEMs also need samples and prototypes of the bearing at short notice, which Barden is also able to provide. An important bearing feature is the use of ceramic balls rather than steel balls. Ceramic balls are harder, lighter and more wear-resistant than their steel counterparts. At speeds of around 450,000rev/min, this means the ceramic balls generate less centrifugal force, which reduces wear and internal loads on the bearing. Lubricant life is also extended, since ceramic balls produce fewer wear particles than steel balls. Barden, as a company, is in complete control of the quality, cost and delivery of the ceramic balls and has its own manufacturing facilities for producing them.

On the research and development side, Barden constantly develops and tests new cage designs and materials, as well as new coatings, surface treatments, seals and lubricants. Mark Pritchard, senior product engineer at Barden, said: 'We have developed new improved sealing designs in which the shield is incorporated into the outer ring. 'This reduces the critical gap between the integral shield and the bearing inner raceway by 60 per cent compared with conventional shield-and-circlip designs. 'This provides significant advantages such as minimising the risk of shield ejection, preventing contamination and retaining the lubricant more effectively, which in turn results in a bearing with much improved operational life,' he added.

A typical dental handpiece bearing and turbine assembly has not changed all that much over the last 50 years. Most dental turbine designs are based on a miniature Pelton wheel. The Borden rotor, which was introduced in 1957, was the prototype of the modern air turbine. Turbine bearings are extremely small, with most having a bore size of 3.175mm and an outside diameter of 6.35mm. Pritchard said: 'The machinery we have here in the UK enables us to produce bearings with a typical roundness of less than 0.5um. 'Special attention is also paid to ensure that the ring harmonic levels are kept low.

'Both the rate of change, the magnitude and the number of lobes are carefully controlled. 'All races are double-honed and super-finished, typically in the region of 0.01um Ra. 'Our dental bearings are supplied with the bore calibrated in either 2.5um or 1.0um steps, which provides a more accurate assembly,' he added. In dental turbines, cage breakage is responsible for 90 per cent of bearing-related failures. Turbine bearings do not fail due to fatigue, the cause of a cage breaking is normally due to cage wear and subsequent fracture.

Most cages for deep groove ball bearings are snap-type retainer cages. The opening for inserting the ball must be designed in such a way that the prongs do not break when pushing the balls in. To hold the balls in the pocket, a narrower width is desirable. This type of cage has been used for decades and is still being used today. Angular contact ball bearings have a 'halo' or window cage that is easier to manufacture and will not be ejected from the bearing when worn. This cage is stronger and less vulnerable to the effects of repeated sterilisation of the dental handpiece. Normally, for high-speed bearing applications, phenolic resin is the chosen cage material.

This offers modest but sufficient tensile strength, low friction and is less sensitive to poor lubrication. However, the material does degrade when exposed to heat, particularly at the temperatures required for sterilisation. Sterilising the dental handpiece after every patient requires a strong heat-resistant cage material and so more recent cage designs use graphite or PTFE fillers. Used predominantly in angular contact bearings, these materials are more sensitive to poor lubrication compared with phenolic. Dental bearings need to be protected against contamination from the outside and to keep lubricant inside.

Low noise and vibration are critical for good turbine operation. Not only does the air stream take the lubricant along with it, it also results in air noise. Also, when the turbine is stopped and no air is flowing, a vacuum is created within the turbine and so outside air that contains all kinds of contaminants will rush in if there is inadequate shielding. Normally, dental bearings use AISI440C stainless steel balls. These balls are between 1mm and 1.6mm diameter, depending on the type of bearing used. The ceramic ball first found use in dental bearings in the early 1990s due to drastic reductions in the cost of manufacturing ceramic balls and technological advancements.

The advantages of using ceramic balls are their lower density (3,200kg/m3) compared with steel balls (7,800kg/m3). This results in lower centrifugal forces and therefore improved kinematics (spin, roll and ball excursion), reduced build-up of heat, lower stress levels and reduced forces on the cage. In addition, ceramic balls are tribo-chemically inert, which reduces adhesive wear and improves the life of the lubricant. Also, unlike steel balls, there is no risk of ceramic balls cold welding to the rings. Assembly and cleanliness are also important in dental bearings. Pritchard said: 'All Barden dental bearings are assembled in Class 10,000 clean rooms in the UK. 'Actual assembly takes place in laminar flow clean air, Class 100 benches, with the number and size of airborne contaminants strictly controlled,' he added.

Barden dental bearings can be supplied with a number of different lubrication options. Bearings can be oiled, where the customer uses their own lubrication, or greased with Barden's own standard grease or with a type of grease agreed with the customer. Some dental bearings are supplied dry, when the bore is glued onto the rotor shaft. Lubricants must not contain toxic chemicals or carcinogens and must be safe for human contact. This means that there are only a small number of greases that are both safe and effective as a lubricant.

Softelec has released Version 11 of its VPHybridCAD software for editing and converting scanned technical drawings. VPHybridCAD V11 now supports all AutoCAD versions from 2004 to 2011. All VPHybridCAD products also support the 64-bit versions of AutoCAD 2010 and 2011 making use of expanded memory and performance. For stand-alone operation, VPHybridCAD V11 products can run on Windows 7, XP and Vista in full 64-bit mode.

With a number of new and redesigned functions and features VPHybridCAD V11 continues to provide access to scanned technical documents, either for detailed revisions with direct hybrid editing tools, or for complete automatic vector conversion. For all VPHybridCAD products, such as VPraster and VPstudio, PDF file import has been expanded. While most variations of PDF files with embedded raster images are supported, even PDF data containing vector data can now be loaded and handled. A PDF/A export format option for long-term file storage has also been added.

Aside from a variety of internal refinements, such as optional raster selection limited to element intersections, 'symbol search' recognition has been enhanced to work on legacy DXF or DWG drawings. The function automatically converts recurrent groups of entities into blocks with attributes for unified handling, administration or replacement. This is useful for legacy CAD drawings that are missing block structures such as electrical symbols, assembly components, windows, doors, furniture and so on.

Huntsman Advanced Materials has announced that it offers a wide range of material solutions for use in the production of solar energy components. Huntsman has worked in co-operation with industry partners to introduce a complete package of materials and processing technologies that are designed to enable actively temperature-controlled PV modules with increased efficiency. The liquid system, Araldite AY 4583/HY 4583, enables an energy-saving encapsulation process at low temperatures and eliminates the critical lamination process with EVA.

A range of heat-conductive, electrically insulating adhesives is said to enable a new module design and construction with improved heat transfer and efficiency, together with excellent strength and bonding properties. The company also offers thermally conductive adhesives to protect the flexibility of solar cells. Highly reflective, white solder mask Probimer 77 White contributes to the increased efficiency of the PV module through higher and multiple reflections, increasing the ratio of sunlight reaching the cells.

By using these new technologies there is potential to increase the efficiency of PV modules by more than 50 per cent, according to Huntsman. In addition, processing is simplified, costs are reduced and ageing stability is improved, claims the company. This package of materials is said to provide excellent bonding and heat-resistance features. It offers the ability to improve energy harvesting, reduce maintenance costs and prolong the lifespan of the PV module. Such materials would allow the installation of PV plants in adverse southern climates and deserts.

They could also be combined with solar-fuel generators where electrical energy is used to convert CO2 and H20 into natural gas. Another example of Huntsman's work in the solar energy market is Araldite 2015, which has TUV design and type approval for PV modules. Heat-transfer properties that are necessary for solar output efficiency are often achieved at the sacrifice of bonding features. However, Araldite 2015 allows a module design and construction with improved heat transfer and efficiency together with excellent strength and bonding properties, according to Huntsman.

Araldite 2015 properties of high shear and peel strength, combined with its resistance to water, chemicals and UV are not affected when used for improved energy-efficient solar panels in buildings. Tests are said to have shown that bonding of the aluminium extruded profiles onto the surface-treated polyvinyl fluoride back sheet of the solar module can withstand thermal cycling temperature cycles from -40C up to 85C without diminishing the strength of the bond.

Precision Micro has developed manufacturing technologies to increase the resolution and improve the aperture quality in the deposition masks used in the production of flat and flexible panel displays. The technologies are also designed for depositing gold and silver traces onto quartz crystals. Using its LEEP and LEEF process techniques, the company claims it can now produce cost-effective nickel, stainless steel and Invar masks that outperform traditional alternatives.

The techniques combine low preparation costs with high tolerances, delivering greater density designs with higher accuracy, added Precision Micro. Each individual mask can contain as many as several million apertures, each down to 10 microns in diameter but the number of apertures is not reflected in the cost of manufacture, as all the detail is chemically etched or electroformed simultaneously. Masks produced with LEEF or LEEP technology are burr free, stress free and completely flat, whereas masks produced by laser cutting, the alternative manufacturing method, are subjected to thermal excursions during the manufacturing process that can cause stress and distortion in the material.

In order to virtually eliminate photo shadow and optimise deposit definition, the masks should have the thinnest possible cross-section in the pattern area. Using honed, multi-level techniques, Precision Micro can produce masks down to 10 microns thick with substantial reinforcement in non-patterned areas to enhance durability. 'Pockets' can also be formed into the mask to hold components such as crystals in place during the deposition process. During the deposition the masks become coated with whatever material is being deposited, reducing aperture size and edge definition. Cleaning, to remove this residue, can wear or damage the mask over time.

Precision Micro uses stainless-steel or electroformed hard nickel for optimum resistance to the harsh chemicals used in this post-deposition cleaning, reducing mask wear to a minimum. The LEEP process is also suitable for producing masks from Invar, an alloy known for its low thermal coefficient of expansion that offers good dimensional stability during the deposition process. Both LEEP and LEEF processes are efficient and cost effective for development, prototypes, small, medium and large-scale production applications.

Boge has announced that it has extended its K series of oil-free air compressors with the compact K 15 model. Using the pushrod principle, the K series eliminates the complicated cross-head construction. The cylinder bore in which the special-compound-coated piston moves is made of a high-strength aluminium-silicon alloy. These sliding partners lead to friction and therefore loss-free generation of compressed air.

The K 3 to K 8 with 2.2 to 5.5kW drives offer air deliveries of 0.24 to 0.65m3/min for 10-bar and 15-bar operation. The K 8 is also available in a 40-bar version. The new K 15 extends this range and uses two opposing pushrod units. Using this four-cylinder system, the K 15 can generate up to 1.2m3/min of oil-free compressed air. The K 15 also integrates high-efficiency control.

The K series operates on a stop/start basis - controlled by either a pressure switch (as a standard), or with the Boge Basic electronic controller, which is said to ensure efficient use of energy. Low service costs are also assured thanks to the design, which requires little maintenance. The K series is available as a 10-, 15- or 40-bar compressor with air deliveries ranging from 244 to 1,296 litres/min; motor range is 2.2 to 11kW.

Eclipse Magnetics has added a self-contained filtration system for higher flow rate applications to its range. The Automag Skid system removes ferrous, para-magnetic and grinding wheel debris contamination from lubricants and coolants at flow rates of up to 900 litres per minute. Units for higher flow rates can be custom engineered and/or multiple systems can be used together. The system was recently launched at ITMS, Chicago, and AMB, Stuttgart.

A clear observation tank linked to the filter gave a clear demonstration of the effectiveness of magnetic filtration: liquid, heavily contaminated with sub-micron particles, was filtered from opaque black to transparent within 30 seconds. The system can be specified to be used inline or offline. The offline system is supplied with an integral pump. The system is free-standing, self-contained and can be located wherever it is required.

Multiple systems can be used together for higher flow rates. At the heart of the system is an Automag magnetic filter containing six or 12 (depending on model) powerful magnetic cores. These cores attract contamination from the fluid as it passes through. Cleaning is fully automated and programmable. When the cleaning process is started, the cores are removed from the fluid path releasing the contamination, which is carried by the fluid into the buffer tank. The cores are then moved back into the fluid path.

The cleaning cycle takes 10 seconds. The 'purge fluid' is fed from the buffer tank into a magnetic coolant roller where contamination and fluid are separated. Clean fluid is returned to the clean tank; contamination is ejected for collection. Magnetic filtration reduces the impact filters can have on the environment. It uses no filter core media and the removed contaminant can be recycled. Filtration down to sub-micron level means more contaminant is removed and fluids are effective for longer.

The magnetic cores will last the lifetime of the system. The Automag is the largest of the Eclipse Magnetics range of filters. The Micromag is a compact unit, suitable for single machine installation, from flow rates up to 150 litres per minute. The Filtramag is suitable for flow rates of up to 500 litres per minute and is particularly effective at carbide collection.

Eclipse Magnetics has supplied a Power Matrix Rail magnetic clamping system to UK switches, crossings and systems manufacturer, Corus Cogifer. The system provides touch-button permanent-magnet clamping for the machining of rails. Compared to the company's previous hydraulic clamping system, the Power Matrix Rail has reduced setup and production times. The Power Matrix Rail addressed several drawbacks of the previous system, including long set-up time, which was addressed by the touch-button clamping functionality.

Average set-up time has been reduced by 60 per cent. On the previous system, clamping was applied at 600mm intervals. With the Power Matrix Rail system, continuous clamping of the entire rail means that feed speeds were able to be increased by 15 per cent without affecting the machining tolerances.

Both head and foot of the rail had to be supported, so machining was only possible on one side of the head at each set-up; the rail had to be moved to the other side of the system and re-clamped for the other side of the head to be machined. The Power Matrix Rail holds the rail at the base and below the head so both sides can be machined in a single set up. As the rail does not need to be moved and re-clamped, and clamping is consistent along the rail, Corus Cogifer found that it no longer had to continually stop machining to check the profiles.

Measuring now only takes place on completion of the rail. The Power Matrix Rail is double sided, allowing two rails to be mounted simultaneously. Swarf and chips can be easily removed from collection plates in the centre of the system. Corus Cogifer has already extended the original system and is now machining rails up to 34m.

High-precision bar stock is now available to purchase from Ondrives, a power transmission components specialist. The bar stock is offered from 2.5mm pitch up to 10mm as standard. All are available in varying numbers of teeth and working lengths to suit virtually any application as the stock can be cut down to specific lengths by end users. Made-to-measure pulley bar is also available for applications where customers are unable to modify standard lengths.

Elite Thermal Engineering (ETE) introduces turnkey cooling systems for fibre-coupled laser diodes produced by Limo, Jenoptik, QPC and Nlight. The cooling systems can also be customised for fibre-coupled laser diodes manufactured by other suppliers such as Coherent, Spectra-Physics, IPG and so on. ETE offers two types of turnkey cooling systems: one for diodes without integral TECs and the other for those with integral TECs.

The first system is made up of OCP series thermoelectric cold plates and the corresponding MC-1000 series controllers. It includes CS-050, CS-110, CS-150 and CS-300. Each comes with thermoelectric cold plate, thermal interface pad, thermoelectric controller and all necessary sensors and cables. The three-digit number represents the cooling capacity of the systems and is consistent with the numbering system of the OCP series cold plates and the MC-1000 controller series.

The second range of systems is configured for the Itec series fibre-coupled laser diodes introduced by Jenoptik. The first offering in this range is CS-JOLD-45 for JOLD-45-CPXF-1L. The system consists of one customised heatsink module HS-004, custom configured thermoelectric controller MC-1000-CS-JOLD-45, thermal pad for laser mounting and all necessary hardware, sensor and cables.

Micro-Polyview is a 360deg, 3D, multi-image optics solution from Opto Engineering designed to measure and inspect small objects whose dimensions range from 1mm to 10mm, using a single lens. Traditionally, where a sample needed to be observed from a number of angles, different perspective views were typically achieved by deploying an array of cameras or by moving the imaging system around the component; both solutions being complex and expensive.

Opto Engineering's Micro-Polyview lens, however, is capable of observing and measuring an object from different angles by using an array of mirrors interfaced to a bi-telecentric lens. While keeping the top of the object directly imaged at the centre of the field of view, the lateral views feature exactly the same magnification and the images remain in perfect focus even when the object is displaced.

All views can be used to precisely measure the dimensions of components from different angles with only one camera and without moving anything. Micro-Polyview lenses are customisable and versions can be manufactured with: a different number of views; different mirror inclination angles; and asymmetric or special mirror arrays.

Piezo motor manufacturer PCBmotor has been named the winner of the Editor's Choice category at the 'EE Times' sixth Annual Creativity in Electronics awards. The company's product was selected as a winner due to its motor design enabling motors to be mounted directly onto a printed circuit board (PCB). This is said to reduce application cost and introduce new design opportunities. Traditional design methods use PCBs as motor controllers with connections to a physical motor located somewhere in the vicinity of the card.

In order to build smaller, cheaper and better applications, designers must think outside of the box. Using the new technology, PCBmotor said designers can: reduce application size by integrating the motor and all electronics into one PCB; reduce bill of materials - the company's direct drive eliminates gears; further eliminate cost by getting rid of screws, wires, connectors and manual assembly; and increase design options with the hollow and ultra-slim form factor of the PCBmotor.

The actuator components for the PCBmotor are SMD-mounted directly on the PCB. Technically speaking, the PCBmotor consists of two parts: the stator, milled out of the PCB itself, holds the piezos/actuators and electrical connecting circuit (the PCB can also hold the driver); and the rotor, pressed onto the surface of the stator, delivers the mechanical output. A travelling wave is generated over the stator surface, acting as a flexible ring to produce elliptical motion on the rotor interface.

The elliptical motion of the contact surface propels the rotor and the connected drive-shaft. 1 x 1mm piezo ceramic components are mounted on the PCB. Operation depends on friction between the moving rotor and stator as well as amplitude and quality of the wave travelling on the stator. The rotor can turn between 60 and 120rev/min with torque ranging from 1Nmm to more than 70Nmm, depending on the stator's diameter, number of piezo components and the rotor design and material.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Verder has announced the launch of the Verderair VA25 diaphragm pump series, designed for applications including drum fluid transfer, unloading fluids, chemical evacuation, sump evacuation and more. The pump series is based on the existing Verderair (VA) concept and offers lower pulsation, less air consumption and a higher fluid output. It has also been designed in a way that makes it easy to maintain.

Mike Heap, sales director at Verder, said customers using the Verderair 25 can benefit from 30 per cent better air efficiency, 20 per cent flow increase, and a lifetime that is five times longer than competing solutions. This means less downtime and easier maintenance, according to Verder.

As a result of the good material strength and more efficient, leak-free operation, the Verderair VA25 diaphragm pump can be used in application including ceramic glaze supply, dewatering, and repackaging of fluids from an original container to smaller receptacles. It is also easy to install with eight ports for maximum installation flexibility to suit any application, Heap said.

Michell Instruments has launched a multi-channel control unit (MCU) designed to simplify multi-channel moisture measurements. The Promet IS process moisture-in-gas analyser is now available in a multichannel format, with the MCU, which enables the control of up to four pressure-compensated moisture measurement channels within a single 19in sub-rack unit. Measurements of moisture in process gases and liquids can be easily combined in a single analyser system with the MCU as the Promet IS channels for moisture-in-gas can be combined together with a sister product for moisture-in-liquid measurement - the Liquidew IS.

Each channel of the MCU functions independently of the others so that maintenance can be carried out on one channel while the others continue to operate as normal - this is ideal in situations where redundancy is required for safety reasons. The MCU keeps the cost per channel to a minimum and is also simple to operate, according to Michell Instruments. Its bright alphanumeric LED display, with optional live pressure compensation, provides unit conversions from dew point to a wide range of alternative moisture content units to allow the user complete flexibility to select their preferred unit of measurement.

The Michell MCU contains all the IS components necessary to operate the Promet IS and Liquidew IS in a hazardous area and is easy to install into existing sampling and distribution systems with minimal wiring. To allow for further expansion, customers can order blank channels.

The front-panel interface enables the user to scroll through the set-up menus to easily configure the analyser to their own requirements. Four user-adjustable alarm points and two analogue 4-20mA outputs are provided as well as a digital RS485 RTU for connection to external devices. Based on Michell's ceramic moisture sensor, the Promet IS can measure dew points as low as -100C, and is calibrated and traceable to NPL and NIST.