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April 20, 2011

Traffic versus shoe control
The recent focus on napping flight controllers culminated this week in a non-serious redirection of First Lady Obama's flight into DC. Now, drowsy controllers are probably the exception to the rule ... but even so, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has declared a strict no-nap policy, even if rest is scheduled to refresh night shifters ... an allowance made for Japanese and German controllers, and recommended by NASA sleep research. After all, while slacking isn't fair, humans are humans ... and whether we like it or not, subject to physical limitations.

What can perform without break, if we only updated it? Air-traffic control technology. However, in recent years, aging hardware malfunctions have caused two regional waves of flight delays; software has been breached by cyberattacks; and some older towers don't give controllers full view of airports where expansions have occurred. Unfortunately, planned upgrades to a satellite-based NextGen system are delayed.

If that doesn't get your goad, consider this: The FAA budget is roughly $10 billion. The TSA budget is roughly $8 billion, give or take a few hundred million. Take off your shoes, folks — laptops and liquids out — and no napping.

As always, we welcome your comments.

Elisabeth Eitel


Controlling overload in high-torque drives
Jamming, crashing, and emergency braking involve torque values many times greater than what the machine requires for startup and operation, and what the driveline components have been designed to handle. For this reason, mechanical torque limiters have existed for many years, allowing for a safety breakaway at a torque value above the level required for standard operation, but below the value that would overload and damage equipment. This begs the question: How do engineers determine the torque that meets these contradictory requirements?


Lubricating miniature moving parts
Miniature components that slide, rotate, and reciprocate require lubrication for the same reasons that larger parts do — to reduce friction and allow consistent movement. However, because of their size, most can only be lubricated with dry films. The main challenge with films is similar to that of grease or oil: Applying the lubricant where it's needed, and avoiding areas where it may cause functional problems.


Servosystem algorithm tuning
It is useful for designers to understand why servosystems need tuning and how it’s done. It is also helpful to understand what happens when it’s not done well. Additionally, there is a role for autotuning, a technique once effective only for a narrow set of conditions: highly rigid mechanical loads and applications that didn’t demand top performance. Today, autotuning has improved and the best autotuners are better at tuning than are most people.

New Products

Hybrid linear bearing
The hybrid DryLin WJRM bearing reduces driving force, especially in applications involving the manual adjustment of machine-guard doors, partitions, and adjustable locks, or for light handling tasks.

• Self-lubricating plastic sliding-sleeve bearing ensures the system is dirt and moisture resistant, lightweight, and low cost
• Maintenance-free polymer roller offers ease of use in heavy-duty manual applications, where driving force is reduced by a factor of 4 to 5. Manufacturer: igus Inc.


Light curtains and switches
Two safety light curtains protect workers and machines when risks cannot be eliminated.

• YBB-14 Series: 14-mm resolution for finger-size protection; operating distance to 3.5 m; protective heights from 142 to 1,045 mm
• YBB-30 Series: 30-mm resolution for hand protection; operating distance to 12 m; protective heights from 279 to 1,827 mm. Manufacturer: AutomationDirect


News from MD

New white papers from HP and Intel:

Realistic User Productivity Comparisons for Upgrade Decision Making

AutoCAD® users can appreciate the rock-solid dependable performance they demand from HP and Intel® processor-based workstations. The Intel® Core™ and Xeon® processor-based workstation portfolio includes a wide range of machines that fit multiple user segments, from entry, mobile, essential, and digital workbench users.

Return on Innovation: Making Individuals More Productive

The value proposition for equipping technical and creative professionals has drastically changed. The unprecedented combination of economic pressure and technological advancement has rewritten the rules of how to do more with less. Teams may forego new hires or do the same work with fewer staff, yet they can avail themselves to new tools and techniques. The challenge then becomes how to equip these valuable and fewer number of professionals to be more productive and innovative.

Click here to register and download

The 2nd season has begun! Players from across the globe are still competing for fun, education, prizes and the ultimate bragging rights. Thanks to our sponsors for their support of the exciting online opportunity for engineers! Play Now!

Altech Corp.
Bimba Manufacturing Co.
Maxon Motor
R+W America
Smalley Steel Ring

Design-2-Part Show

May 3-4 — Design-2-Part Shows (D2P) and the Illinois Reshoring Initiative, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to create more business and jobs for Illinois manufacturing companies, are collaborating to promote American manufacturing at The Greater Chicago Design-2-Part Show. The show, the region's largest dedicated to contract manufacturing, will take place at the Schaumburg Convention Center in Schaumburg, Ill.
Harry Moser, founder of the national Reshoring Initiative will deliver the seminar, "Returning Manufacturing to America," from 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 4.
For more information or to register, visit or

Click Here for a list of archived Machine Design webcasts.

Sponsored Featured Links

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