June 09, 2020 Volume 16 Issue 22

Mechanical News & Products

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Round vs. square rails -- which are better for you?

Thomson invented the world's first anti-friction linear ball bushing bearings in 1946. For many years, these round-rail linear guides satisfied every linear motion control requirement. However, as machines required closer tolerances, the round rail didn't always fit the bill. Learn the pros and cons of each design type.
Read this informative Thomson blog.

New bearings reduce wear in heavy-duty applications

igus has introduced a new bearing with an improved iglide material, called TX2, that offers self-lubricating and maintenance-free properties for heavy-duty applications. TX2 increases wear resistance by a factor of 3.5 in load ranges with more than 100-MPa surface pressure. The material is ideal for components in machines that serve construction and agriculture, which can require more than 50 liters of lubricant annually. The material is also very resistant to temperature, chemicals, moisture, corrosion, and seawater, which opens up the applications base for its use substantially.
Learn more.

Aerospace fastener hole drilling and countersinking all in one step

Kennametal has introduced the HiPACS drilling and countersinking system for aerospace fastener holes. Designed to drill and chamfer holes in one operation, the high-precision tool meets the aerospace industry's stringent accuracy requirements while delivering increased tool life in machining composite, titanium, and aluminum aircraft skins. With an industry-standard interface, HiPACS can be utilized on any CNC machine. Three components eliminate the need for custom tooling: a reducer sleeve with a built-in high-precision pocket seat, a PCD countersinking insert, and two series of solid carbide drills.
Learn more.

Why precision metrology is critical for electric vehicle gearing

As the shift from internal combustion engines to electric motors in vehicles continues, the number of drivetrain components will dramatically lessen too. The remaining components will be even more critical to a vehicle's operation and longevity. One such area is the gear components necessary to convert the high-force torque from electric motors to the RPMs at the wheel.
By Michael Schmidt, Zygo Corporation
Read the full article.

Master CNC machining tolerances eBook

Need a refresher on the basics of applying tolerances to custom machined metal and plastic parts? In this ebook, Xometry provides some pointers on designing mating parts and parts for specific functions. Chapters include: general machining tolerances, clearance and interference fit, how to avoid over-tolerancing, CAD drawing prep and specs, and an inspection report cheat sheet.
Get this valuable resource from Xometry.

Specifying metal inserts for molded plastics

Teaming with insert manufacturers that offer engineering expertise throughout the design and manufacturing process can be worth its weight in gold. Learn how two OEMs overcame their metal insert challenges by using advice and products from Tri-Star Industries, including specialty stainless steel parts and modifying the knurling on some inserts.
Read the full article.

Posi-Lok keyless shaft bushings for secure shaft-to-hub connection

Zero-Max offers a variety of options within the Posi-Lok keyless shaft bushings (PSL) product line that allow users to rigidly and reliably secure shaft-mounted components into position for optimal operating results in their machines. Options include material choices, plating, and different mounting methods. Posi-Loks are a superior shaft-hub locking solution, eliminating the need for keyways that can weaken or cause excess wear to shaft components. All Posi-Lok models easily slide onto a shaft for mounting and provide reliable, zero-backlash performance.
Learn more.

Automation: ECONOmaster drilling units -- affordable, flexible, get the job done

Suhner's ECONO-master® is a low-cost, high-output automated drilling unit that puts holes in light metal, composite, thermoplastic, and even wood substrates at high speed with excellent accuracy. It features low power and air consumption. On a recent project for Mid-State Engineering, Suhner custom ECONOmaster drill units -- featuring selectable drill heads that can be used in combination or individually -- were used to automatically drill holes into fiberglass panels for truck trailer bodies.
Read the full article.

Great Resources: Ultimate Guide to Injection Molding

Xometry has put together a comprehensive resource for injection molding -- from the basic principles to applications, tooling, materials, design features, and more. Learn how to optimize your part designs and choose the right surface finishes, textures, and post-processing for your projects. A super-handy resource worth bookmarking.
Read the Xometry Ultimate Guide to Injection Molding.

Sealing fasteners may optimize your designs

Highly specialized sealing fasteners include sealing screws, sealing nuts, sealing bolts, and sealing washers. Unlike ordinary fasteners, sealing fasteners are configured with a rubber O-ring (or a rubber element) that, when squeezed, permanently seals out a wide range of contaminants from entering and damaging equipment while preventing leakage of toxins into the environment. ZAGO sealing fasteners are designed to withstand harsh weather and extreme temperatures and are vibration and pressure resistant.
Learn all about ZAGO's wide selection of sealing fasteners.

Spirit levels with adjustment and cross-measurement

They may seem like relics from the past, but spirit levels remain indispensable tools in everyday industrial operations. Two new types from JW Winco now offer even better and faster alignment. The cross spirit levels GN 2276 combine two perpendicular linear levels within a single, round aluminum housing to show the alignment in two planes at once, making installation and leveling easier and faster. The new screw-on spirit levels GN 2283 are used to check the horizontal position of jigs, machines, devices, appliances, and instruments. These are available in a directly mountable, flat version (AV) and as an adjustable version (JV) with an alignment cam.
Learn more.

New cast urethane materials and finishes

Xometry has added new urethane resins and finishes as options for quick and affordable low- to mid-volume production. Urethane casting is used to make end-use, highly durable parts with robust mechanical properties. It is considered a "soft-tooled" process, where a silicone mold is formed around a master pattern -- usually 3D printed. Xometry has materials in two main durometer classes, rigid (Shore D) and rubber-like (Shore A). Finishes include matte/frosted, semi-gloss, high-gloss, and custom.
Read this informative Xometry blog.
Get the Xometry Urethane Casting Design Guide.

New molded-in aluminum threaded inserts for plastics

SPIROL has introduced a new, high-performance series of Molded-In Inserts for plastics assemblies. The rugged design of the Series 63 Through Hole Inserts and Series 65 Blind End Inserts consists of multiple bands of helical knurls to maximize torque resistance, balanced with radial undercuts to achieve high pull-out (tensile) force. These Molded-In Inserts are designed to be placed in the mold cavity prior to plastic injection. They offer exceptional performance due to unrestricted plastic flow into the retention features on the outside diameter of the Inserts.
Learn more.

How to avoid premature linear screw actuator failure

At their core, electric linear screw actuators deploy mechanical technology such as ball bearings, ball screws, and roller screws that have a finite life. These components do not last forever -- even though that is the expectation of some customers. But how long will an actuator really last? Tolomatic engineers provide a way to calculate, estimate, and size the electric linear screw actuator to achieve the desired life for your applications.
Read this informative Tolomatic blog.

3D Printing: Desktop Metal qualifies 316L stainless steel for high-volume manufacturing -- thousands of parts per week

3D-printer machine maker Desktop Metal has qualified the use of 316L stainless steel for its additive manufacturing platform called the Production System, which provides some of the fastest build speeds in the market for mass production and can make thousands of parts per week. This article includes very useful cost-per-part and time-to-manufacture information using five different application examples.
Read the full article.

Can scientists make matter only using light? High-power laser simulations aim to help make it happen

A few minutes into the life of the universe, colliding emissions of light energy created the first particles of matter and antimatter. We are familiar with the reverse process -- matter generating energy -- which occurs in an atomic bomb, for example, but it has been difficult to recreate that critical transformation of light into matter.

Now, a new set of simulations by a research team led by UC San Diego's Alexey Arefiev points the way toward making matter from light. The process starts by aiming a high-power laser at a target to generate a magnetic field as strong as that of a neutron star. This field generates gamma ray emissions that collide to produce, for the very briefest instant, pairs of matter and antimatter particles.

A new study offers a recipe for researchers at the Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) high-power laser facility to follow to produce matter from light. Pictured is the L3-HAPLS advanced petawatt laser system at the ELI Beamlines Research Center. [Photo courtesy: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.]





The study published May 11 in Physical Review Applied offers a sort of recipe that experimentalists at the Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) high-power laser facilities in Eastern Europe could follow to produce real results in one to two years, said Arefiev, an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering.

"Our results put scientists in a position to probe, for the first time, one of the fundamental processes in the universe," he said.

Harnessing high power
Arefiev, Ph.D. student Tao Wang, and their colleagues at the Relativistic Laser-Plasma Simulation Group have been working for years on ways to create intense, directed beams of energy and radiation, work that is supported in part by the National Science Foundation and Air Force Office of Science Research. One way to accomplish this, they noted, would be to aim a high-power laser at a target to create a very strong magnetic field that would throw off intense energy emissions.

High-intensity, ultra-short laser pulses aimed at a dense target can render the target "relativistically transparent," as the electrons in the laser move at a velocity very close to the speed of light and effectively become heavier, Arefiev explained. This keeps the laser's electrons from moving to shield the target from the laser's light. As the laser pushes past these electrons, it generates a magnetic field as strong as the pull on the surface of a neutron star -- 100 million times stronger than Earth's magnetic field.

To say this all happens in the blink of an eye is a vast overstatement. The magnetic field exists for 100 femtoseconds (a femtosecond is 10-15 of a second, a quadrillionth of a second).

A high-power laser in this instance is one in the multi-petawatt range. A petawatt is a million billion watts. For comparison, the Sun delivers about 174 petawatts of solar radiation to the Earth's entire upper atmosphere. A laser pointer delivers about 0.005 watt to a Power Point slide.

Previous simulations suggested that the laser in question would have to be high powered and aimed at a tiny spot to produce the required intensity to create a strong enough magnetic field. The new simulations suggest that by increasing the size of the focal spot and boosting the laser power to around 4 petawatts, the laser's intensity could remain fixed and still create the strong magnetic field.

Under these conditions, the simulations show, the laser-accelerated electrons of the magnetic field spur the emission of high-energy gamma rays.

"We did not expect that we didn't need to go to a crazy intensity, that it's just sufficient to increase the power and you can get to very interesting things," said Arefiev.

Particle pairs
One of those interesting things is the production of electron-positron pairs -- paired particles of matter and antimatter. These particles can be produced by colliding two gamma-ray beams or colliding one gamma-ray beam with blackbody radiation, an object that absorbs all radiation falling on it. The method produces a lot of them -- tens to hundreds of thousands of pairs born out of one collision.

Scientists have performed the light-into-matter feat before, notably in one 1997 Stanford experiment, but that method required an extra stream of high-energy electrons, while the new method "is only light used to produce matter," said Arefiev. He also noted that the Stanford experiment "would produce one particle pair about every 100 shots."

An experiment that uses only light to create matter more closely mimics conditions during the first minutes of the universe, offering an improved model for researchers looking to learn more about this critical time period. The experiment could also provide more chances to study antimatter particles, which remain a mysterious part of the universe's composition. For instance, scientists are curious to learn more about why the universe appears to have more matter than antimatter, when the two should exist in equal amounts.

Arefiev and his colleagues were encouraged to do these simulations now because the laser facilities capable of carrying out the actual experiments are now available. "We specifically did the calculations for the lasers that have not been available until recently, but now should be available at these laser facilities," he said.

In an odd twist, the simulations proposed by the research team could also help the ELI scientists determine whether their lasers are as intense as they think they are. Firing a laser in the multi-petawatt range at a target only five microns in diameter "destroys everything," said Arefiev. "You shoot and it's gone, nothing is recoverable, and you can't actually measure the peak intensity that you produce."

But if the experiments produce gamma rays and particle pairs as predicted, "this will be a validation that the laser technology can reach such a high intensity," he added.

Last year, the UC San Diego researchers received a U.S. National Science Foundation grant that allows them to partner with ELI researchers to carry out these experiments. This partnership is critical, Arefiev said, because there are no facilities in the United States with powerful enough lasers, despite a 2018 report from the National Academies of Sciences warning that the U.S. has lost its edge in investing in intense ultra-fast laser technology.

Arefiev said the ELI laser facilities will be ready to test their simulations in a couple years. "This is the reason why we wrote this paper, because the laser is operational, so we are not that far away from actually doing this," he said. "With science, that is what attracts me. Seeing is believing."

Source: Jacobs School of Engineering, UC San Diego

Published June 2020

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