February 06, 2024 Volume 20 Issue 05

Mechanical News & Products

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Key factors for ball screw applications

Learn the six key factors that should be considered when specifying ball screw assemblies in motion control applications. PCB Linear gathered a panel of experts in the field of linear motion to concentrate on this important topic -- particularly when it comes to the company's new miniature ball screw product line. Learn about precision and accuracy, orientation, speed and acceleration, duty cycle, linear motion travel, and load capacity. Podcast available too.
Read the PCB Linear blog.

3D printer uses pellet extrusion system instead of filament

The latest addition to 3D Systems' industry-leading portfolio of EXT Titan Pellet systems is the EXT 800 Titan Pellet. With a build volume of 800 x 600 x 800 mm, this thermoplastics 3D printer harnesses the speed, reliability, and efficiency of the company's large-format pellet systems in a more compact unit with lower upfront investment. Use this machine to fabricate more modestly sized functional prototypes, tooling, fixtures, sand casting patterns, thermoforming molds, and end-use parts. Markedly faster than competing FFF and FDM printers, and up to 10X reduced material costs compared to filaments.
Learn more.

Test your knowledge: High-temp adhesives

Put your knowledge to the test by trying to answer these key questions on how to choose the right high-temperature-resistant adhesive. The technical experts from Master Bond cover critical information necessary for the selection process, including questions on glass transition temperature and service temperature range. Some of the answers may surprise even the savviest of engineers.
Take the quiz.

World's first current-carrying fastening technology

PEM® eConnect™ current-carrying pins from Penn-Engineering provide superior electrical connections in applications that demand high performance from internal components, such as automotive electronics. This first-to-market tech provides repeatable, consistent electrical joints and superior installation unmatched by traditional fastening methods. Features include quick and secure automated installation, no hot spots or poor conductivity, and captivation options that include self-clinching and broaching styles.
Learn more about eConnect pins.

New flat quarter-turn clamping fastener

IMAO Fixtureworks has expanded its One-Touch Fastener lineup to include a new quarter-turn clamping fastener that features an innovative flat design and is ideal for clamping in limited spaces. The QCFC flat quarter-turn fastener features a recessed body that protrudes only 2 mm from the mounted surface, a knob that rests flush inside the body, visible ON and OFF markings for safety, and an audible click when fully turned to clamped or unclamped position.
Learn more.

Bellows and disc couplings with higher torque capacity

Ruland Manufacturing now offers bellows and double disc couplings with bore sizes up to 1-3/4 in. or 45 mm for use in systems with torque up to 1,400 in.-lb (158 Nm). High-torque applications in precision semiconductor, solar, conveyor, and factory automation applications often use these shaft sizes. Ruland disc and bellows couplings accommodate all forms of misalignment, are zero-backlash, and have a balanced design for reduced vibration at speeds up to 10,000 rpm.
Learn more.

Simplify your designs with slewing ring bearings

According to Kaydon Bearings, "A slewing ring bearing has rolling elements designed to create a reactive moment within the bearing's dimensions envelope to oppose applied (overturning) moment load," so you can use one bearing instead of two, reducing the height requirements, and even improve performance. Slewing ring bearings can also simplify a drive system by utilizing gear teeth on the inner or outer race. Learn all about slewing ring bearings in this informative article.
Read the Kaydon whitepaper.

Jet valve for ultra-small dispensing

DELO's DELO-DOT PN5 LV pneumatic jet valve is designed for micro-dispensing low-viscosity adhesives and other media in miniaturized applications. Thanks to its compact design, it also requires very little space to install in production systems. Interchangeable nozzles with different diameters and a flexible, adjustable plunger stroke ensure precise and reliable applications at different droplet sizes. Volumes of as low as 1 nl can be achieved, which corresponds to droplet diameters of 250 µm or less.
Learn more.

Stainless steel constant-torque flush-mount hinge

Southco has introduced a flush-mount version of its popular and durable E6 constant-torque hinge. Its low-profile, corrosion-resistant package makes it an ideal solution for maximizing security, longevity, and aesthetics. It offers high torque for demanding applications while maintaining its low profile. Lots of uses.
Learn more.

Claw vacuum pump for industrial applications

Vacuum expert Leybold has added a new model to its proven CLAWVAC dry claw vacuum pump series: the CLAWVAC CP B. This innovative, rough vacuum pump, designed for robust processes including food processing, material handling, and environmental industries, is powerful, energy efficient, and easy to clean. The intuitive handling of this unit is mainly due to its functional design, which features a pair of claws that rotate in the cylinder with no contact or wear. Its separate gearbox prevents oil contamination. The design ensures short downtimes and long service intervals: 20,000 hr between oil changes and up to 48,000 hr between general overhauls.
Learn more.

DualVee linear guides and tracks used in warehousing

See how Bishop-Wisecarver's DualVee® motion tech can add huge benefits to warehousing operations. This video highlights two applications: a manual storage and retrieval system and an automated storage and retrieval system of long aerospace-grade carbon fiber in sub-zero temps. Patented DualVee guides and tracks keep operations running smoothly.
View the video.

Build-to-order knobs and hand hardware

Rogan Corp.'s innovative use of two-shot plastic injection and insert molding has been providing customers with high-quality plastic clamping knobs, levers, and control knobs for almost 90 years. Rogan offers concurrent engineering, product design, and assistance in material selection to ensure customer satisfaction for standard or customized parts, with a focus on cost optimization and on-time delivery. Custom colors, markings, decorative inlays, or engineered materials to meet special requirements, such as adding extra strength or utilizing flame-retardant material, are all offered.
Learn more.

Slewing ring bearing made of wood and plastic

The PRT-02-30-WPC slewing ring bearing is another step forward by igus toward integrating renewable raw materials into industrial production. Made of 50% wood and 50% high-performance plastics, the cost-effective and lubrication-free slewing ring bearing balances strength and durability with a proven low CO2 footprint. The materials incorporate solid lubricants, making the new slewing ring bearing smooth running and maintenance-free.
Learn more.

Flex Locators for quick fixture changeover

Flex Locators from Fixtureworks are designed for quick changeover of small and large fixtures, automation components, and more. They are ideal for applications that require frequent disassembly, providing excellent repeatability for locating and clamping in a single operation. Manual and pneumatic versions are available. Just turn the handle, knob, or screw!
View the video.

Copper foam -- so many advantages

Copper foam from Goodfellow combines the outstanding thermal conductivity of copper with the structural benefits of a metal foam. These features are of particular interest to design engineers working in the fields of medical products and devices, defense systems and manned flight, power generation, and the manufacture of semiconductor devices. This product has a true skeletal structure with no voids, inclusions, or entrapments. A perennial favorite of Designfax readers.
Learn more.

Researchers convert CO2 from the atmosphere into valuable carbon nanofibers

A new process converts carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into valuable carbon nanofibers. Using tandem electrocatalytic (blue ring) and thermocatalytic (orange ring) reactions to convert the CO2 (teal and silver molecules) plus water (purple and teal) into "fixed" carbon nanofibers (silver), it makes hydrogen gas (H2, purple) as a beneficial byproduct. [Credit: Zhenhua Xie/Brookhaven National Lab and Columbia University; Erwei Huang/Brookhaven National Lab]





Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) and Columbia University have developed a way to convert carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas, into carbon nanofibers, materials with a wide range of unique properties and many potential long-term uses. Their strategy uses tandem electrochemical and thermochemical reactions run at relatively low temperatures and ambient pressure.

As the scientists describe in the journal Nature Catalysis, this approach could lock carbon away in a useful solid form successfully to offset or even achieve negative carbon emissions.

"You can put the carbon nanofibers into cement to strengthen the cement," said Jingguang Chen, a professor of chemical engineering at Columbia with a joint appointment at Brookhaven Lab who led the research. "That would lock the carbon away in concrete for at least 50 years, potentially longer. By then, the world should be shifted to primarily renewable energy sources that don't emit carbon."

As a bonus, the process also produces hydrogen gas (H2), a promising alternative fuel that, when used, creates zero emissions.

Capturing or converting carbon
The idea of capturing CO2 or converting it to other materials to combat climate change is not new, but simply storing CO2 gas can lead to leaks. Additionally, many CO2 conversions produce carbon-based chemicals or fuels that are used right away, which releases CO2 right back into the atmosphere.

"The novelty of this work is that we are trying to convert CO2 into something that is value-added but in a solid, useful form," Chen said.

Such solid carbon materials -- including carbon nanotubes and nanofibers with dimensions measuring billionths of a meter -- have many appealing properties, including strength and thermal and electrical conductivity. However, it's no simple matter to extract carbon from carbon dioxide and get it to assemble into these fine-scale structures. One direct, heat-driven process requires temperatures in excess of 1,000 C.

"It's very unrealistic for large-scale CO2 mitigation," Chen said. "In contrast, we found a process that can occur at about 400 degrees Celsius, which is a much more practical, industrially achievable temperature."

The electrocatalytic-thermocatalytic tandem strategy for CNF production circumvents thermodynamic constraints by combining the co-electrolysis of CO2 and water into syngas (CO and H2) with a subsequent thermochemical process under mild conditions (370 to 450 C, ambient pressure). This yields a high CNF production rate. [Credit: Zhenhua Xie/Brookhaven National Lab and Columbia University]





The tandem two-step
The trick was to break the reaction into stages and to use two different types of catalysts -- materials that make it easier for molecules to come together and react.

"If you decouple the reaction into several sub-reaction steps, you can consider using different kinds of energy input and catalysts to make each part of the reaction work," said Brookhaven Lab and Columbia research scientist Zhenhua Xie, lead author on the paper.

The scientists started by realizing that carbon monoxide (CO) is a much better starting material than CO2 for making carbon nanofibers (CNF). Then they backtracked to find the most efficient way to generate CO from CO2.

Earlier work from their group steered them to use a commercially available electrocatalyst made of palladium supported on carbon. Electrocatalysts drive chemical reactions using an electric current. In the presence of flowing electrons and protons, the catalyst splits both CO2 and water (H2O) into CO and H2.

For the second step, the scientists turned to a heat-activated thermocatalyst made of an iron-cobalt alloy. It operates at temperatures around 400 C, significantly milder than a direct CO2-to-CNF conversion would require. They also discovered that adding a bit of extra metallic cobalt greatly enhances the formation of the carbon nanofibers.

"By coupling electrocatalysis and thermocatalysis, we are using this tandem process to achieve things that cannot be achieved by either process alone," Chen said.

Recycle-ready, carbon-negative
"Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) analysis conducted at CFN revealed the morphologies, crystal structures, and elemental distributions within the carbon nanofibers both with and without catalysts," said CFN scientist and study co-author Sooyeon Hwang.

The images show that, as the carbon nanofibers grow, the catalyst gets pushed up and away from the surface. That makes it easy to recycle the catalytic metal, Chen said.

"We use acid to leach the metal out without destroying the carbon nanofiber, so we can concentrate the metals and recycle them to be used as a catalyst again," he said.

This ease of catalyst recycling, commercial availability of the catalysts, and relatively mild reaction conditions for the second reaction all contribute to a favorable assessment of the energy and other costs associated with the process, the researchers said.

If these processes are driven by renewable energy, the results would be truly carbon-negative, opening new opportunities for CO2 mitigation.

Source: Brookhaven National Laboratory

Published February 2024

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