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November 20, 2012Volume 08 Issue 43

Designed by designers and engineered for engineers, our annual Proto Labs Cool Parts Calendar features the visions of product developers across the nation and around the world. It features monthly contests, part applications, industry tradeshow dates, and (of course) those elusive days of the week.

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In this issue of Designfax

  • Taking the edge off a pipe bomb, literally
  • Brain surgery uses additive manufacturing
  • Medical device powered by inner ear
  • Wheels (and wings): Optimizing a Boeing 777
  • Mike Likes: Crystals reveal electronic hot spots
  • Engineer's Toolbox: Scooter crankshaft fatigue testing
  • Heavy-duty torsion casters
  • Custom high-torque gear motors
  • General-purpose TPVs that can compete
  • Videos+: Technologies and inspiration in action
    • Motion controller for race car simulator
    • Hurricane-monitoring dropsonde
  • Most Popular Last Issue
    • Army refines airburst technology
    • Wheels (and wings): Jets chase FaINT sonic booms
    • Lean leadership: What your coach says
  • New Products
    • Electrical, Mechanical, Motion, Special: Materials
    Cover Image: Optimizing Boeing 777 fuel efficiency through wing design. [Image: U-M]


NASA's PhoneSat wins 2012 Popular Science Best Of What's New Award; uses cell phone for onboard computer

Recycling-equipment maker wins Swedish Steel Prize; first-ever winner from New Zealand

'It's like a floating Prius': Electric hybrid ship cuts millions from Navy's fuel bill

Biofuel breakthrough: Quick-cook method turns algae into oil

Image - Rogan Liquid Silicone Rubber Molding Capabilities
Rogan Liquid Silicone Rubber Molding Capabilities
Rogan Corporation, a full turnkey contract manufacturer of plastic components and assemblies, specializes in producing injection molded Liquid Silicone Rubber (LSR) components. The company is one of a few select manufacturers that also offers Bondable Liquid Silicone Rubber (Bondable LSR) overmolding that is injection molded directly to plastic or metal parts, creating a single integrated component. Utilizing LSR's heat/chemical/shock/vibration resistance and sound dampening, design opportunities include integral seals and gaskets for waterproofing complex geometries and electronic interconnects, integral membranes, diaphragms, valves, and switch covers.

A new state-of-the-art Class 100,000 clean room enables Rogan to meet the increasing demand for LSR molding, assembly, and full-service custom contract manufacturing.

Request a "Widget" illustrating Rogan's Bondable LSR.

Feature articles

Image - Taking the edge off a pipe bomb, literally
Taking the edge off a pipe bomb, literally
The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate's new low-cost device for dismantling dangerous pipe bombs may look like a tinkerer's project, but that's no accident. The Semi Autonomous Pipe Bomb End-cap Remover (SAPBER) is unassuming in appearance, but sophisticated enough to preserve the forensic evidence needed to track down the perpetrator.
Read the full article.
Additive manufacturing:
Yes, it is brain surgery, so precision is everything

Plastic laser sintering is used to produce one-off customized mechanical holding devices for neurosurgery.
Read the full article.

Image - Researchers make medical device powered by the inner ear itself
Researchers make medical device powered by the inner ear itself
For the first time, researchers power an implantable electronic device using an electrical potential -- a natural battery -- deep in the inner ear. Such devices could monitor biological activity in the ears of people with hearing or balance impairments. Eventually, they might even deliver therapies themselves.
Read the full article.
Wheels (and wings):
Computer-driven airplane optimization stretches its wings

A modified version of one of the U.S.'s most popular passenger jets, proposed by a computer program, could cut the plane's jet fuel burn for all its flights by an average of 8.8%. The software, developed by a University of Michigan professor, combines airplane structure and aerodynamics into a single optimization program that zeroes in on the most fuel-efficient and cost-effective airplane designs.
Read the full article.

Image - Mike Likes: <br>Surface crystals reveal hot spots in electronic devices
Mike Likes:
Surface crystals reveal hot spots in electronic devices

The TLC-100 Kit from Advanced Thermal Solutions features spray-on thermochromic liquid crystals that change color at different temperatures. By applying the crystals to electronic components or boards, engineers can identify hot-spot locations, perform heat transfer studies, and map heat fields and gradients. The crystals change color at a specified temperature starting at red, changing to green, and then blue. Thermochromic liquid crystals are available in a variety of temperature ranges from 12 degrees C to 120 degrees C. Each one has a particular bandwidth from 1 degree C to 20 degrees C. Pricey but cool and useful.
Click here to learn more or email Len Alter at

Image - Engineer's Toolbox: <br>Fatigue and durability performance evaluation of scooter crankshaft
Engineer's Toolbox:
Fatigue and durability performance evaluation of scooter crankshaft

A European scooter manufacturer uses LMS Virtual.Lab Durability to reproduce and analyze crankshaft subcomponent fatigue and durability performance, using the "hot-spot" feature to single out the "least safe point" of the system.
Read the full article.

Image - Heavy-duty torsion casters stabilize electric and hand pallet trucks
Heavy-duty torsion casters stabilize electric and hand pallet trucks
Today's palletized materials are on the move, increasingly transported by smaller and lighter hand-operated lift trucks made by a host of companies including Hyster, Crown, Yale, and Toyota. And keeping them rolling are some, until now, under-appreciated poly balance casters from Caster Concepts. Caster Concepts has acquired Canadian torsion caster manufacturer Larcaster, adding to its lineup of industrial casters and wheels and offering OEM and aftermarket manufacturers "Made in the USA" quality. By adding Larcaster, who pioneered torsion casters and has a large footprint in motion, Caster Concepts is leveraging its custom manufacturing experience, to the benefit of an emerging market sector. Check out all Caster Concepts has to offer.
Click here to learn more.

Image - Custom high-torque gear motors
Custom high-torque gear motors
Applimotion introduces custom gear motors for your high-torque, low-speed, and low-profile applications. The assemblies combine precision gearing and direct-drive frameless motor kits to form a new high-torque alternative to coupling a servo motor to a traditional gear box. Applimotion combines its ULT, UTH, and UTS low-profile frameless motors with the right gearing solution for your project. These assemblies include precision bearings and high-resolution encoders, and they can run with any traditional servo controller. Custom gear motor assemblies range in size from 25 mm to 800 mm diameter.
Click here to learn more.

Image - General-purpose TPVs that can compete
General-purpose TPVs that can compete
Viprene G from Alliance Polymers is a new, general-purpose TPV that combines the various mechanical performance properties of thermoset rubber with the processing ease of plastics. The material offers good flexibility at low temps as well as long-term resistance in harsh environments. Viprene G is formulated to compete with the leading grades of thermoplastic vulcanizates. It is offered in hardness ranges from 45 Shore A to 50 Shore D and has been developed for applications ranging from appliance and window seals to rollers, mechanical equipment, gaskets, electronic components (cable jacketing), marine products, and any products that need vibration dampening components.
Click here to learn more (look for release on right).

Most popular last issue

Image - Army refines airburst technology, calls XM25 'The Punisher'
Army refines airburst technology, calls XM25 'The Punisher'
The U.S. Army is preparing to conduct a second Forward Operational Assessment of its XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement airburst weapon system. The hand-held weapon fires a high-explosive airburst round capable of detonating at a specific, pre-determined point in space near an enemy target hidden or otherwise obscured by terrain or other obstacles.
Read the full article.
Wheels (and wings):
NASA Dryden jets chase FaINT sonic booms

NASA's Supersonics Project embarked on its latest effort to soften sonic booms recently when a NASA F/A-18 aircraft took to the air in a project called Farfield Investigation of No Boom Threshold, or FaINT.
Read the full article.

Image - Lean leadership: <br>Lean coach says, 'What do you think?'
Lean leadership:
Lean coach says, 'What do you think?'

You've reduced costs, improved profitability, satisfied your customers, and even made your employees happier. So what? By John Shook, chairman and CEO, Lean Enterprise Institute.
Read the full article.

Videos+: Technologies and inspiration in action
Galil's DMC-2143 motion controller used in Force Dynamics' 401CR simulator
For those dreaming of what it actually feels like to be a jet pilot or Indy race car driver, look no further than Force-Dynamics' Motion Simulator Systems (MSS). The experience is so realistic that you can actually feel the G-forces against your body during acceleration and bounce to every nook and bump on the road. The Galil DMC-2133 3-axis Ethernet motion controller is used in Force Dynamics' 301 3-axis platform, which provides +/- 30 degrees of roll, pitch, and heave motion. The DMC-2143 4-axis controller is used in the 401CR 4-axis model, which adds 360 degrees of unlimited yaw motion and a whole lot more fun.
View the video.

Video Image
What's inside a hurricane-monitoring dropsonde?
Inside a cylinder that is about the size of a roll of paper towels lives a circuit board filled with sensors. It's called a dropsonde, or "sonde" for short. It's a workhorse of hurricane forecasting, dropping out of "hurricane hunter" airplanes right into raging storms. As the sonde falls through the air, its sensors gather data about the atmosphere to help us better understand climate and other atmospheric conditions. The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) has been designing, building, and improving dropsonde technology for more than 30 years.
View the video.

Video Image

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