Author: Rich Novicky

Digicom Electronics Receives AS9100:2016 (RevD) Aerospace and ISO 9001:2015 Certifications

OAKLAND, Calif.—The electronics manufacturing services (EMS) provider Digicom Electronics, Inc., recently announced that it has been certified by Intertek as conforming to the requirements of AS9100:2016 (RevD) and ISO 9001:2015. The certification of Digicom’s quality management system applies to the manufacture and test of printed circuit boards (PCBs) and electro-mechanical assemblies, as well as systems integration in accordance with customer specifications. AS9100:2016 (RevD) is the standard for organizations that design and manufacture products—including parts, components, and assemblies—for the aerospace industry. Prepared by the International Aerospace Quality Group (IAQG), with representatives from aviation, space, and defense companies in the Americas, Asia/Pacific, and Europe, AS9100:2016 (RevD) standardizes quality management system requirements. Requirements for AS9100:2016 (RevD) are specific to the context of the organization, leadership, planning, support, operation, performance evaluation, and improvement. Certification indicates that a company is dedicated to improved quality, cost, delivery, and performance. The standard includes ISO 9001:2015 quality management system requirements and specifies additional aviation, space, and defense industry requirements and definitions. “This certification doesn’t just indicate that Digicom has a quality management system. It involves so much more,” said Douglas Sutherland, president and CEO of NeXsys Group Inc., the professional services company that assisted Digicom in achieving AS9100 and ISO certifications, in a release announcing the certification. “It also involves top management’s commitment and leadership to define their strategic business vision as it is influenced by those applicable...

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C+K Plastics Achieves ISO 9001:2008 Certification

METUCHEN, N.J.—C+K Plastics, Inc., recently announced that its Conyers, Georgia location achieved certification to the ISO 9001:2008 standard. C+K Plastics is a manufacturer of thermoformed plastic products and assemblies for the aerospace, medical, agricultural equipment, refrigeration, and petroleum industries, among others. C+K’s Metuchen, New Jersey facility has long been certified to ISO 9001, the international standard that specifies Quality Management System (QMS) requirements. Organizations around the world rely on the ISO standard to consistently provide products and services that meet customer and regulatory requirements by organizing their quality management systems and pursuing continual improvement. Achieving certification for the Conyers operation is meant to ensure that the two facilities can deliver product excellence across the corporation. It is also expected to increase productivity, reduce unnecessary costs, and ensure quality of processes and products. “The ISO 2015 certification ensures more of the same for our customers,” said C+K President Bob Carrier, in a company release. “We committed to gaining ISO compliance for the Conyers operation when we expanded to Georgia, and now we have formalized the seamless integration of our two facilities. With standardized, duplicate equipment in Metuchen and Conyers, we can now meet customer production requirements and timelines with ease.” David Grice, C+K’s vice president sales and marketing, said that achieving ISO certification emphasizes the company’s quality-centric mindset. “Quality is the foundation on which C+K has built its reputation and...

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Spirit AeroSystems Creates New 5-axis Fabrication Center of Excellence

WICHITA, Kan.—Spirit AeroSystems (SPR) recently announced the creation of a new center of excellence to manufacture complex commercial and military aircraft parts. The new center, located on the company’s headquarters campus in Wichita, Kansas, will include new five-axis machines to manufacture complex aluminum and titanium parts. Spirit, already one of the world’s largest fabricators of aerospace parts, has invested more than $30 million in the new five-axis center of excellence in Wichita, which now includes 120 different machine tools. “We continue to invest in fabrication capabilities, and these expansions will help us better compete globally and remain leaders in the industry,” said Spirit Senior Vice President of Operations Ron Rabe, in a press release. “The new center of excellence offers significant capabilities to meet our current and future customer needs with better quality and improved turn time.” The new five-axis center of excellence will use the latest high-speed technology to specialize in large, complex parts for fuselage, pylon, and wing structures. The center is expected to be fully operational later this year. “We also have capacity and capability to support chemical processing and finishing of machined parts,” said Alan Young, Spirit’s vice president of fabrication, in the release. “We have developed significant capability over many decades, and now we can provide that expertise to customers around the world.” Chemical processing of component parts completes the manufacturing process and ensures...

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Norsk Titanium Announces 60 Percent Expansion in New York Production Capacity

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y.—Norsk Titanium AS has completed a definitive purchase agreement to bring 12 additional Rapid Plasma Deposition™ (RPD™) Merke-IV™ machines to its Plattsburgh, New York production facility, the company announced recently. Norsk, reported to be the first FAA approved supplier of aerospace-grade, additive manufactured, structural titanium components, finalized the agreement with Fort Schuyler Management Corporation and Empire State Development. The agreement is incremental to a 20-machine order announced last year. Machines from that order are currently being delivered throughout 2017. The new order will begin delivery in mid-2018 to Norsk Titanium’s Plattsburgh, New York production facilities. Each of the machines is capable of producing up to 20 tons of printed material per year with significantly less waste and machining energy, allowing for  cost savings of more than 30 percent over legacy forging and billet production techniques, the company reported. “Norsk Titanium’s new production and development facilities will bolster the North Country’s advanced manufacturing sector, and the increasing demand for their products is great news for the local economy,” said Empire State Development President, CEO, and Commissioner Howard Zemsky, in a press release. “Norsk continues to meet or exceed their commitments to the State and we look forward to their continued growth in Upstate New York.” Norsk Titanium’s choice to locate its first U.S. facility in the Plattsburgh region was due to its excellent transportation infrastructure, availability of a skilled...

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NanoGraphene Produces Its First Graphene In New York

NEW YORK—NanoGraphene Inc. (www.nanographene.net) announced in July that it has produced its first graphene from its plant at in Industry City, Brooklyn (industrycity.com), which is being developed as an innovation center. The graphene has been produced by NG’s proprietary environmentally clean closed loop technology (PECCLT), which utilizes only water, according to a release from NanoGraphene. “We are excited to have produced graphene in New York on time and on budget,” said Boris Goldstein and Sergey Alekseev, co-founders of NanoGraphene Inc., in a statement. Since moving to Industry City in Brooklyn, NanoGraphene reports that it has attracted growing interest from all over the world and, particularly, from globally recognized names that are placing orders for graphene with NG.  The variety of uses for NG’s graphene is said to be growing “by the day.” They include utilization in lithium ion batteries, which are powering the electric car revolution; inclusion in solar panels, cement, and printing ink; and use in oil, grease, and resin.  In addition to being used to harden paint, graphene is also being utilized in semi-conductors and water desalination and filtration. The industries approaching NanoGraphene are reported to vary from car manufacturers, battery manufacturers, and building companies.  They also include universities, research laboratories, and new cutting edge technology companies that see the growing use of graphene as an important part of the future development of their own projects. NanoGraphene...

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NanoSteel Launches 3D Printable Tool Steel

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — NanoSteel®, a company that designs nanostructured steel materials, recently launched its first product for the laser powder bed fusion additive manufacturing process. BLDRmetal™ L-40 is a case-hardening steel powder that provides high hardness and ductility: Its case hardness exceeds 70 HRC, and its core elongation tops10 percent. It also prints easily on standard commercial equipment. The alloy is reported to provide performance superior to that of M300 maraging steel and is an alternative to difficult-to-print tool steels, such as H13. BLDRmetal L-40 is said to expand the potential use of 3D printing in a wide variety of hard materials markets, and is designed to be used for tools, dies, bearings, and gears, among others. The capabilities of BLDRmetal L-40 were demonstrated by printing an 8-inch roll thread die set, which outperformed dies machined from D2 and M2 tool steels. “We tried nearly every combination of material and conventional CNC machining process to create our dual-thread die sets, none of which could cut or grind the complicated dual-thread geometry,” said Mark Doll, president and CEO of Perfect Lock Bolt America Inc., a manufacturer of dual-thread fasteners that are resistant to self-loosening, in a press release. “The NanoSteel solution delivers exactly what we are looking for, including excellent surface finish, flexibility, as well as strength and hardness for maximum die life. This is a welcomed technological innovation to...

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Citrine Informatics Wins 2017 World Materials Forum Start-up Challenge Award

REDWOOD CITY, Calif.—Citrine Informatics, an artificial intelligence (AI) platform for advanced materials and chemicals, was recently named the winner of the World Materials Forum Start-up Challenge Award. The Start-up Challenge recognizes innovative materials solutions from all over the world, and Citrine emerged the winner from a group of 12 semi-finalists for an AI platform aimed at accelerating the development of next generation products. Citrine (citrine.io) combines AI with a vast materials database to help Fortune 1000 companies bring high performance products to market faster. The AI is specifically optimized to take advantage of known relationships in chemistry and physics. “We are excited for this recognition from one of the most important organizations in the field of materials science,” said Greg Mulholland, CEO of Citrine, in a company release. “The selection of Citrine for this award validates the massive opportunity to use data and AI technology designed with an understanding of materials and chemicals theory to speed up the product development cycle.” Citrine’s unique algorithms unify decades of high-quality experimental data from companies’ own internal sources and from academic sources and journals. This enriched data then feeds powerful AI systems that can create new materials in record time, the company reported. Citrine’s predictive intelligence technology is said to have helped organizations hit overall R&D and manufacturing milestones in less than 50 percent of the time originally forecast. The World Materials...

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Pixelligent Technologies Named 2017 Manufacturer of the Year by Frost & Sullivan

BALTIMORE, Md.—Pixelligent Technologies, a manufacturer of high-index advanced materials (PixClear®) for displays, solid state lighting, and optical components, was recently named the 2017 Manufacturer of the Year by Frost & Sullivan. Pixelligent won the award, in the small/midsize company category for companies with revenues under $1 billion, for its PixClearProcess™. The winner for the large company 2017 Manufacturer of the Year was Dow Chemical. The Manufacturing Leadership Awards, now in their 13th year, honor manufacturing companies and individual manufacturing leaders that are shaping the future of global manufacturing. Frost & Sullivan works in collaboration with clients to leverage visionary innovation that addresses global challenges and related growth opportunities. Over the past five years, Pixelligent has invested more than $20 million in designing and building its advanced product development and manufacturing platform, the PixClearProcess. The proprietary platform is reported to have enabled Pixelligent to scale from a manufacturing capacity of grams-per-year, to “one of the most sophisticated and highly capital efficient manufacturing lines in the world, capable of mass production volumes in the tons,” according to a release from Frost & Sullivan. “We are deeply honored to be named the 2017 Manufacturer of the Year by Frost & Sullivan. It’s especially gratifying as we competed against some of the most respected high-tech manufacturers in the world. This award is also a great recognition of what we are most proud of,...

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Entegris Increases Manufacturing Capacity for Graphite Products, Specialty Coatings

BILLERICA, Mass.—Entegris, Inc., a provider of specialty chemicals and advanced materials for the microelectronics and other industries, recently announced that Poco Graphite, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Entegris, is expanding its capacity to produce graphite material and specialty coatings for semiconductor and high-performance industrial applications. Poco Graphite has secured the use of the former small diameter graphite electrode factory of Superior Graphite Co. in Russellville, Arkansas. As part of the agreement, Poco Graphite will have access to the assets of the facility, as well as the current workforce. “Hi-tech industries are increasingly reliant upon continued innovation in advanced materials to enable their growth,” stated Entegris Senior Vice President of Specialty Chemicals and Engineered Materials, Stuart Tison, in a company release.  “As a result, organizations are looking to high-purity/high-performance materials that are specifically engineered for their applications to gain a competitive advantage. We continue to invest in research, development, and production of high-performance materials, and we believe the facility in Russellville, owned by Superior Graphite, will help us to meet the growing demands of the high-performance materials market.” Edward Carney, president and CEO of Superior Graphite, said “We believe this agreement provides a bright future for employees and the City of Russellville. Superior Graphite has been active in Russellville for the past 32 years, and the employees and community have been very supportive of our efforts. We owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to the people there, and...

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Manufacturing Innovators Are Finding Value in Cloud ERP Software

From pepper mills to autonomous robot factories, companies are running Plex Systems TROY, Mich.—Innovators in discrete and process manufacturing are continuing to choose and deploy the Plex Manufacturing Cloud to run their business “from the shop floor to the top floor,” according to Plex Systems, a developer of cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP) software for manufacturers. The company recently announced that Plex is the choice of more than 550 customers—including recent customers API Heat Transfer, Olde Thompson, and Knightscope—that operate more than 1,800 facilities around the world. “Each member of the Plex team is honored to work with the hard-working innovators who choose our products to run their manufacturing operations every day,” said Plex Systems CEO Jason Blessing, in a release from the company. “Our mission at Plex is to help manufacturers turn ideas into products that change the world, and we look forward to helping our customers succeed for years to come.” API Heat Transfer designs and manufactures heat exchangers and heat transfer products for industry applications ranging from chemicals to transportation. The company supports some of the world’s most demanding customers through a global network of 12 manufacturing facilities and more than 1,400 highly trained professionals. Olde Thompson, reported to be the largest manufacturer of salt and pepper shakers in the world, sells products in more than 30 countries. Olde Thompson runs Plex to deliver herbs, spices,...

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3D Modeling Viewer Provides Web-based Access to CAD Files Anywhere

BROOMFIELD, Colo.—A new universal 3D modeling web viewer from Spatial Corp. uses the power of Spatial’s 3D InterOp suite to provide web-based access to CAD files “anytime, anywhere.” Through the viewer, users can access and view a wide range of industry-standard CAD formats on any browser-compatible device, according to Spatial, a provider of 3D software development toolkits (SDKs) for design, manufacturing, and engineering. The web-enabled 3D service ensures that designs and data can be used across CAD and PLM systems, allowing for controlled access to only a select set of information within a file, such as visual rendering. This controlled granularity protects data by sharing only the necessary information; it also reduces file sizes, ultimately increasing performance, according to a press release from Spatial. “Spatial has worked diligently to deliver a simple, easy-to-use interface for users to be able to load their 3D models and go,” said Brian Rohde, Spatial’s senior product manager responsible for online and visualization. “During the development of this viewer, we focused on best practices to ensure we delivered the best performance possible. As a result, large models can be viewed in a matter of seconds.” By utilizing WebGL for rendering 3D graphics, the Spatial web viewer is said to provide access to any device that supports modern web browsers, including capabilities such as shading and lighting, with excellent performance — even on mobile devices....

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Autonomous System Simulation Startup Metamoto Raises $2 Million

REDWOOD CITY, Calif.—Metamoto, Inc., a startup in scalable simulation for autonomous systems, recently raised $2 million in a seed funding round that will help fuel the company’s go-to-market plans. Metamoto’s investor group is headlined by Motus Ventures, which led the round, and UL, a strategic investor. As part of the deal, Motus Ventures will act as strategic advisor for Metamoto, and Robert Seidl, general manager of Motus Ventures, joins Metamoto’s board. “Autonomy has completely overhauled how vehicles are designed, developed, and, especially, tested,” said Chad Partridge, Metamoto’s CEO, in a press release. “Autonomous system software is overwhelmingly complex, not necessarily intuitive, and always evolving. Continuous on-demand simulation is mandatory to verify system integrity and safety via operation over millions of virtual miles, unique edge cases, and varied conditions, every time something changes. Simulation will not replace physical testing, but most problems are resolved in simulation before a vehicle goes out into the real world. Metamoto brings the best of continuous integration and regression testing to this new software driven world.” “The complexity, development pace, and maintenance cost of highly and fully automated vehicles outpaces current development and testing methodologies,” said Robert Seidl, in the release. “Large scale sensor simulation will play a key role in the functional and safety validation of autonomous systems. Sensor simulation can also generate the massive amount of training data required for deep learning systems...

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Plataine Launches Next Generation Material and Asset Tracker Software

WALTHAM, Mass.—Industrial IoT software firm Plataine recently launched the latest version of its Material and Asset Tracker software. The new industrial IoT software, MAT version 4.0, is reported to help advanced manufacturers gain full traceability of the digital thread while leveraging Plataine’s AI-based Digital Assistants to optimize production processes, increase material yield, throughput, and capacity, and dramatically reduce the cost-of-poor-quality (CoPQ). Plataine used customer feedback to design what it calls “a cutting-edge manufacturing optimization software” that is said to improve outcomes in material and tool utilization, productivity, throughput, and quality. MAT version 4.0 is said to provide complete visibility of the production floor, with real-time tracking of the location, condition, and status of critical assets, such as raw materials, tools, parts, and assemblies. Proprietary artificial intelligence algorithms analyze large data sets, providing production floor staff with real-time smart alerts, insights, and recommendations. “We are proud to launch our most advanced software to date. MAT 4.0 will radically improve the throughput, material utilization, productivity and quality control, allowing advanced manufacturers to step into the Digital Factory era,” said Avner Ben-Bassat, CEO and president of Plataine, in a company release. “With vast experience and successful IIoT deployments, Plataine has now further raised the bar for implementing Industrial IoT and Digital Manufacturing.” Version 4.0’s innovative micro services architecture structures the software as a suite of modular services, with each module supporting a...

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Mencom Introduces Modular Inserts for Multipole Rectangular Connectors

OAKWOOD, Ga.—Mencom Corporation has introduced a new series of modular inserts, dubbed MIXO, that are designed to allow different types of connections—ranging from small signal connectors with low amp and voltage, up to 200 amp connectors—housed in a single traditional rectangular enclosure. A vast number of combinations are possible because each insert is designed to fit and lock into a frame that ranges in size from 1 module to 12 modules in a single enclosure, the company said in a press release. Each enclosure can house signal, power, data, and pneumatics contacts for the conduction of compressed air with pressure values of up to 8 bars. The inserts are mounted side-by-side to form a single compact block that mounts and locks into a metallic frame with included locking tabs. The modular system is said to provide easy and quick access to a series of contacts installed in the frame without disassembling the entire connector. The MIXO modular inserts are reported to be extremely resistant to mechanical stresses, such as vibrations, shock, and cable loads, and to corrosion (gas-tight). They are UL 94-V0 approved and built in self-extinguishing thermoplastic material that is reinforced with glass fiber.  The MIXO series frames can be used in housings ranging from standard classic to aggressive environments, high temperature, IP68, and...

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Custom Aluminum Extruder Is Making Smaller Parts with Bigger Impact

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J.—Across many industries, the trend in recent years has been all about miniaturization: the manufacturing of ever-smaller mechanical, optical, medical, and electronic products and devices. In the electronics industry, for example, the size of microchips has grown smaller, and, as a result, the supply chain has adjusted to accommodate the new, compact size. Many companies are realizing benefits in efficiency, logistics, and material reductions, and many expect that miniaturization will continue to be a major driver in advanced manufacturing. Product miniaturization demands innovative manufacturing technologies and techniques. One company prepared to meet this demand is Minalex Corporation, a family-owned company that manufactures high-tolerance, small-profile custom aluminum extrusions. According to Minalex, the inherent properties of aluminum as a light, durable, rust proof material that that can be extruded to extremely tight tolerances make it an ideal solution as parts and products get smaller across many industries. Computers are a perfect example of the endless progress and possibilities of miniaturization. While parts have grown smaller, the advantages of miniature parts have increased: they’re lighter, occupy less space, consume less energy, and require less material to manufacture, yet offer more data storage and process at higher speeds. “Just because something gets smaller does not change the expectation of performance,” said Michael Casey, head of extrusion applications and design at Minalex, in a company release. “If anything, there’s a presumption of...

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Omron Electronic Components Adds New Switches to its Lineup

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill.—Omron Electronic Components recently announced that it has added two new switches to its SS and V lines. The SS-3FP/SS-5F Subminiature Basic Switch, an addition that features a 1mm contact gap, complies with the IEC standard for insulation distance required in secondary circuits of interlocks, the company said in a press release. This switch can be used in a variety of applications, such as door interlocks and secondary interlock systems for office equipment and security devices, among others. Omron’s other new switch, an addition to the V series, is the V-21-1C6 (IN) Miniature Basic Switch. It features the addition of a miniature basic switch for DC load applications. This model comes with indium contacts that are reported to have excellent heat characteristics to allow for DC load ratings. The switch can be used in various applications, such as home appliances, vending machines, small devices, or door interlock systems powered by DC batteries. Components manufactured by Omron Electronic Components include a variety of relays, switches, connectors, MEMS flow sensors, pressure sensors, and optical components. Omron Electronic Components is the Americas subsidiary of Omron Corporation, a $7 billion global supplier of electronics and control system components and...

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Carlisle Interconnect Technologies Launches Octax-Solo Ethernet Interconnect System

AUGUSTINE, Fla.—Carlisle Interconnect Technologies (CarlisleIT) recently announced the launch of its Octax®-Solo 10Gb Ethernet Interconnect System, designed to deliver high-speed data transmission in a compact, lightweight, and field-terminable connector. The interconnect system is best suited for use in rugged-environment applications, according to a release from the company. The Octax-Solo Interconnect System is compatible with CarlisleIT Gigabit series Ethernet cables, and is well-suited “for any high-speed Ethernet application,” the company said in the release. Octax-solo augments CarlisleIT’s existing line of Octax solutions by providing a RoHS-compliant, single-port connector series, with a nickel PTFE plating finish and a form factor smaller than 38999 shell size 9 (closer to a shell size 8). “Paired with CarlisleIT’s MX-10G family of Ethernet cables, the Octax-Solo connector reliably delivers the 10Gbps performance our customers require in their rugged applications,” said Brian Montgomery, director of product management, in the release. The interconnect system offers Gigabit and 10Gbps Ethernet data transfer speed, allowing for higher quantities of data to transfer at quicker speeds covering a variety of 1Gb applications and emerging 10Gb Ethernet data transfer speeds. Its small form factor makes it a space-saver for highly dense applications, and its anti-decoupling/self-locking mechanism, well-suited for rugged environments, is said to prevent the connector from disconnecting or uncoupling in a high vibration...

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Metal Key-Pad Dome Switches Are Built for Harsh Environments

ASTORIA, N.Y.—Keystone Electronics Corp. has introduced a line of snap action “Key-Pad” dome contacts that are specifically designed as a momentary contact for printed circuit boards, flex circuits, membrane switches, and discrete switches. The dome switches are equipped with a unique four-legged shape and are reported to offer “enhanced durability, reliability, and versatility while maintaining exceptional tactile feel for single- or double-sided printed circuit boards, flex circuits, and membrane switch panels. Manufactured from nickel-plated stainless steel, the domes are built for harsh environments, such as microwaves, vending machines, or any application requiring substantial tactile response along with extensive actuation life. They are offered in mini (0.331-inch diameter), compact (0.394-inch diameter), and maxi (0.480-inch diameter) styles, with trip forces from 7.8 ounces to 14.8 ounces. The domes are supplied on tape and reel, and are said to be well-suited for use with most vacuum and mechanical pick-and-place assembly systems. They are also supplied in convenient tubes for individual placement applications. Keystone Electronics (www.keyelco.com) offers a line of interconnect hardware and components, as well as stamping, machining, and assembly services. For modifications and special designs, Keystone also offers application-engineering assistance...

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One Hundred Parts Down to One: Antenna Maker Demonstrates Advantages of 3D Metal Printing

GRAPEVINE, Tex.—Optisys LLC, a provider of sophisticated, 3D-printed metal micro-antenna products for high-performance aerospace and defense applications, recently completed a project that documents the significant advantages of employing additive manufacturing (AM) to produce such systems. Optisys redesigned a large, multi-part antenna assembly into a palm-sized, lighter, one-piece, 3D-printed metal antenna. The component was manufactured with a Concept Laser machine to provide optimum radio frequency (RF) performance. Antennas are critical for conveying information—voice, video and/or data—across long distances. They are widely employed in commercial and military aircraft, spacecraft, satellite communications, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and by ground terminals and land-based troops. Yet the complex radio frequency (RF) components that make up an antenna system can be large and heavy—characteristics that can impact mobility and performance. “Companies in the commercial and military space are pressured for shorter lead-times, lighter weight, and smaller antennas,” said Optisys CEOO Clinton Cathey, in a company release. “By combining RF design simulation, mechanical engineering, and system optimization focused on AM, we provide metal 3D-printed antenna products at greatly reduced size, weight, lead-times, part count, and cost—with as-good or better RF performance than conventionally manufactured systems. We’re creating structures that were simply not possible to produce in the past.” The test-piece demonstrator project involved a complete redesign of a high-bandwidth, directional tracking antenna array for aircraft (known as a Ka-band 4×4 Monopulse Array). Optisys performed every aspect...

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‘Cool Idea!’ Award Grant Helps FarmBot Move to Larger Production Volumes

MAPLE PLAIN, Minn.—In this age of non-GMO, home-grown, and fully traceable produce, backyard food gardening is on the rise. FarmBot (farmbot.io) hopes to capitalize on this trend with a first-of-its-kind, open-source, and CNC small-scale farming machine. FarmBot gives individuals the power to create a digital garden using a desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone. Home gardeners then build (or buy) the actual hardware and machinery needed to manage the farm automatically. FarmBot founder Rory Aronson and his team crowdfunded support for FarmBot, first launched in June of 2016, and completed an initial production run to provide working units to crowd funders and early customers. While looking for a way to speed up production of FarmBot hardware parts for the company’s second run, Aronson ran across the Proto Labs Cool Idea! Award. He knew that being able to leverage funding for production of part molds and parts could have a significant impact on the company’s speed-to-market. “The reaction to FarmBot has been incredible, and we are excited to continue sharing this product with more customers around the world,” said Aronson in a press release. “The Cool Idea! Award came at the perfect time for us as we are transitioning from smaller quantities to larger production volumes.” With the Cool Idea! Award grant, Proto Labs will enable Aronson and his team to continue refining some of their machine components, adding more parts...

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Online Thermal Design Tool Offers Engineers New Approach to Electronics Cooling

PLEASANTON, Calif.—Thermal management is one of today’s most critical and complex product design elements, with performance requirements increasing daily and most design teams lacking dedicated thermal engineers. These pressures have led engineers to outsource thermal design or license expensive thermal modeling software, threatening design schedules, driving delays, and increasing development costs. To address these problems, Aavid, Boyd Corporation’s thermal product division, recently launched a new web application that allows engineers, including those with limited thermal management experience, to design effective, manufacturable heat sinks in minutes. The online design tool, Aavid Genie, is described by Aavid as “a virtual thermal engineer.” It enables users to build cooling solutions within specific requirements, run thermal simulations, and model heat sink performance within devices. According to a release from Aavid, users receive reports, drawings, and models on demand and can request production or prototype quotes directly from Aavid, all at a fraction of the current time and cost. Aavid engineers are available on demand for further design assessment and to recommend enhancements. Aavid Genie makes thermal simulation easily available to students, startups, and large corporations lacking hefty thermal design budgets. “Aavid Genie is the most effective, real-time thermal design tool released to the engineering community,” said Damian Wellesley-Winter, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Boyd. “After years of development, we’re excited to present a product design toolset that simplifies a highly...

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Strut-Truss Design, 3D Printing Reduce Mass of Satellite Structural Components

PALO ALTO, Calif.—Space Systems Loral (SSL), a provider of satellites and spacecraft systems, recently announced that it has successfully introduced next-generation design and manufacturing techniques for structural components into its SSL 1300 geostationary satellite platform. Its first antenna tower that was designed using these techniques, which include additive manufacturing (3D  printing), was launched last December on the JCSAT-15 satellite, the company said in a press release. The JCSAT-15 satellite was designed and built for SKY Perfect JSAT, a major satellite operator based in Japan. The satellite, renamed JCSAT-110A, has completed in-orbit testing and is performing according to plan, the company said. “SSL is an innovative company that continues to evolve its highly reliable satellite platform with advanced technologies,” said Dr. Matteo Genna, chief technology officer and vice president of product strategy and development at SSL, in a company release. “Our advanced antenna tower structures enable us to build high performance satellites that would not be possible without tools such as 3D printing.” The highly optimized strut-truss antenna tower used on JCSAT-110A consisted of 37 printed titanium nodes and more than 80 graphite struts. The strut-truss design methodology is now standard for SSL spacecraft, with 13 additional structures in various stages of design and manufacturing, and has resulted in SSL’s using hundreds of 3D printed titanium structural components per year, according to the company. “We would like to thank our...

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