July 02, 2024 Volume 20 Issue 25

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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.

New research shows why you don't need to be perfect to get some jobs done in the long run

When neuroscientists think about the strategy an animal might use to carry out a task -- like finding food, hunting prey, or navigating a maze -- they often propose a single model that lays out the best way for the animal to accomplish the job.

However, in the real world, animals -- and humans -- may not use the optimal way, which can be resource intensive. Instead, they use a strategy that's good enough to do the job but takes a lot less brain power.

In new research, scientists at Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Janelia Research Campus in Ashburn, VA, set out to better understand the possible ways an animal could successfully solve a problem, beyond just the best strategy.

The work shows there are a huge number of ways an animal can accomplish a simple foraging task. It also lays out a theoretical framework for understanding these different strategies, how they relate to each other, and how they solve the same problem differently.

Some of these less-than-perfect options for accomplishing a task work nearly as well as the optimal strategy but with a lot less effort, the researchers found, freeing up animals to use precious resources to handle multiple tasks.

"As soon as you release yourself from being perfect, you would be surprised just how many ways there are to solve a problem," says Tzuhsuan Ma, a postdoc in the Hermundstad Lab who led the research.

The new framework could help researchers start examining these "good enough" strategies, including why different individuals might adapt different strategies, how these strategies might work together, and how generalizable the strategies are to other tasks. That could help explain how the brain enables behavior in the real world.

"Many of these strategies are ones we would have never dreamed up as possible ways of solving this task, but they do work well, so it's entirely possible that animals could also be using them," says Janelia Group Leader Ann Hermundstad. "They give us a new vocabulary for understanding behavior."

Looking beyond perfection
The research began three years ago when Ma started wondering about the different strategies an animal could possibly use to accomplish a simple but common task: choosing between two options where the chance of being rewarded changes over time.

The researchers were interested in examining a group of strategies that fall between optimal and completely random solutions; they were "small programs" that are resource limited but still get the job done. Each program specifies a different algorithm for guiding an animal's actions based on past observations, allowing it to serve as a model of animal behavior.

It turns out, there are a lot of such programs -- about a quarter of a million. To make sense of these strategies, the researchers first looked at a handful of the top-performing ones. Surprisingly, they found they were essentially doing the same thing as the optimal strategy, despite using fewer resources.

"We were a little disappointed," Ma says. "We spent all this time searching for these small programs, and they all follow the same computation that the field already knew how to mathematically derive without all this effort."

The researchers were motivated, however, to keep looking -- they had a strong intuition that there had to be programs out there that were good but different from the optimal strategy. Once they looked beyond the very best programs, they found what they were looking for: about 4,000 programs that fall into this "good enough" category. More importantly, more than 90% of them did something new.

They could have stopped there, but a question from a fellow researcher spurred them on: How could they figure out which strategy an animal was using?

The question prompted the team to dive deep into the behavior of individual programs and develop a systematic approach to thinking about the entire collection of strategies. They first developed a mathematical way to describe the programs' relationships to each other through a network that connected the different programs. Next, they looked at the behavior described by the strategies, devising an algorithm to reveal how one of these "good enough" programs could evolve from another.

They found that small changes to the optimal program can lead to big changes in behavior while still preserving performance. If some of these new behaviors are also useful in other tasks, it suggests that the same program could be good enough for solving a range of different problems.

"If you are thinking about an animal not being a specialist who is optimized to solve just one problem, but rather a generalist who solves many problems, this really is a new way to study that," Ma says.

Where do the results go from here?
The new work provides a framework for researchers to start thinking beyond single, optimal programs for animal behavior. Now, the team is focused on examining how generalizable the small programs are to other tasks and designing new experiments to determine which program an animal might be using to carry out a task in real time. They are also working with other researchers at Janelia to test their theoretical framework.

"Ultimately, getting a strong grasp on an animal's behavior is an essential prerequisite to understanding how the brain solves different types of problems, including some that our best artificial systems only solve inefficiently, if at all," Hermundstad says. "The key challenge is that animals might be using very different strategies than we might initially assume, and this work is helping us uncover that space of possibilities."

Source: Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Published July 2024

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