Ultra-Low Temperature Elastomer

Greene Tweed’s (Kulpsville, PA) Fusion™ FKM 665, a new generation, ultra-low-temperature and chemical-resistant elastomer, was specifically formulated to meet and exceed the requirements of Aerospace Material Specification (AMS) 7379 and AMS-P-83461. With a temperature range of -70°F to 450°F (-57°C to 232°C), Fusion™ 665 achieves outstanding low-temperature performance without compromising high-temperature performance.

Fusion™ 665 was developed to overcome existing limitations of comparable materials, such as NBR, FKM, or FVMQ (Fluorosilicone).”

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Drone Tracking System

Specialised Imaging (Pistone, UK) reports that its Lightweight Optical Motion Analysis (LOMA) system has been used to optically track an aircraft for several kilometers while simultaneously capturing the thermal signature of the aircraft over the same distance. The LOMA system accommodates large multiple camera payloads enabling high precision optical tracking of fast-moving aircraft, drones or projectiles even in environments subject to vibration, electromagnetic radiation or extremes in temperature and humidity.

Fitted with a Basler high-resolution optical camera with a 50mm Nikon lens and a FLIR X8500SC thermal imaging camera with 200mm lens, the LOMA system was used to track approximately 15 km of the plane flight. In poor weather or night time conditions the data from the thermal camera would be the preferred way to track the target.

Using independent motors, LOMA system users can control camera elevation (-20 to + 190°) and provide unlimited azimuth rotation using slip ring technology. Precision motor controls ensure smooth auto track functions to capture distant fast-moving objects with an angular accuracy of ± 0.002°.

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Metal Printing System

nScrypt Inc. (Orlando, FL) is now developing a metals printing solution. Using its advanced, high-precision Micro-Dispensing capabilities, and building on its 2011 work in 3D printing metal parts in silver, nScrypt has developed a proprietary method for 3D printing titanium (Ti-6Al-4V) parts. Initial tests show exceptional densities of titanium coupons, with strengths in line with wrought titanium.

nScrypt’s proprietary process can be easily expanded to other metals, including stainless steels, Inconel, and copper, to provide unique solutions to a diverse range of industries. Additionally, nScrypt’s Factory in a Tool (FiT) systems have an integrated precision milling head (nScrypt’s nMill™) to perform finishing or polishing routines on critical areas of the part, with extremely high tolerance features, down to 2 microns (.00008”).

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Aluminum Alloy F357 Powder

AP&C (Saint-Eustache, Canada), a GE Additive company, has announced that it will begin production of aluminum alloy F357 powder in Q1 2019 with customer deliveries expected from April 2019. Aluminum alloy F357 powder will be produced using AP&C’s proprietary Advanced Plasma Atomization (APA) at its recently expanded facility in Saint-Eustache, Canada. This new, automated plant offers a full production capacity of 1,000 tons.

Aluminum shares similar characteristics with titanium, and aluminum alloy F357 powder has the same quality signature as APA titanium powders, such as good processability, high flowability, high packing, low porosity and high purity, which are all required by the additive manufacturing industry to enhance performance and reliability of the aluminum printing process.

Aluminum F357 alloy is increasingly in demand from the aerospace and automotive sectors. It is known to have good weldability with high strength and toughness offering a good corrosion resistance and heat conductivity.

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Low-PIM Coaxial Cables

Fairview Microwave Inc., (Irvine, CA) an Infinite Electronics brand, has released a new series of low-PIM coaxial cable assemblies in standard and custom lengths that are suitable for distributed antenna systems (DAS). The over 100+ standard configurations that make up Fairview Microwave’s new line of low-PIM coaxial cable assemblies deliver PIM levels of less than -160 dBc. These high-quality cables provide excellent VSWR and low insertion loss. They are 100% PIM and RF tested with the PIM results marked on the cables. These cables are constructed of flexible, lightweight UL910 plenum-rated SPP-250-LLPL RF coaxial cable which can operate in temperatures from -55°C to +125°C. They are offered with 4.3-10, 7/16 DIN, 4.1/9.5 mini-DIN, Type-N, SMA and QMA, many with right-angle connector options.

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Custom-Engineered Linear Motion Platforms

Machine components such as bearings, encoders, and drive mechanisms are engineered and assembled directly on the granite base and bridge structures in an Integrated Granite Motion (IGM) system. Therefore, IGM systems are distinct from traditional stage-on-granite systems where discrete positioning stages and components are used in the system design.

Aerotech (Pittsburgh, PA) has an extensive history of designing, engineering, and manufacturing customized IGM systems. IGM systems can be designed with mechanical or air bearings, ball-screw or linear-motor drives, and a variety of feedback elements ranging from encoders to laser interferometers. Additional axes of motion, such as rotary, lift, or piezo stages, or even galvanometer scanners, can be integrated onto the IGM axes, all of which can be controlled from Aerotech’s A3200 unified control platform.

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3D Inspection Software

Saki Corporation (Fremont, CA) introduced Saki Self-Programming Software, the first self-programming software for solder paste inspection (SPI) and automated optical inspection (AOI) equipment. Saki Self-Programming (SSP) software, installed on Saki's 3D SPI and 3D AOI systems, makes programming fast, easy, and doesn't require any special programming skill or training. All you need is the Gerber and centroid CAD data. The software does the rest.

Saki Self-Programming is a seamless system that doesn't require DFM software. It combines technology that captures complete height and XY data and images while simultaneously scanning multiple fields of view. The ability to select from over 300,000 components from Saki's Golden Library offers unlimited possibilities. In a matter of minutes, with just a few clicks, SPI/AOI inspection data can be programmed automatically, using a defined set of standards and criteria, such as naming, orientation, and parameters, as those recognized by IPC standards for AOI and SPI systems. This removes the programming discrepancies and variations that arise when programming is done by different programmers.

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LVDS XMC Module with Optical I/O

Pentek, Inc. (Upper Saddle River, NJ) has introduced the newest member of the Jade™ family of data converter XMC modules. The Model 71813 is based on the Xilinx Kintex Ultrascale FPGA and features 28 pairs of LVDS digital I/O to meet the requirements of emerging standards from The Open Group Sensor Open Systems Architecture™ (SOSA™) Consortium. The Model 71813 is also the industry’s first such XMC to implement an optional front panel optical interface supporting four 12 Gbps lanes to the FPGA.

The Model 71813 routes 28 pairs of LVDS connections from the FPGA to the XMC P16 connector for custom I/O. When mounted on a compatible single board computer, the Model 71813 provides a customizable I/O signal status and control interface. In the case of a VPX implementation, the I/O is routed to the backplane where it can handle control and command signals to the chassis being defined in the evolving SOSA initiative.

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4-Axis Mill/Turn Centers

Quicktech i-42 ROBO and i-60 ROBO 4-axis mill/turn centers feature integrated 6-axis Mitsubishi robots for fast, automated loading and unloading of medium-diameter (i42: 42mm/1.68”, i60: 60mm/2.36”) bar stock. In addition to carrying out highly productive turning, the machines can perform complex milling with standard live tools. An optional 360° B-axis further extends milling capabilities. Quicktech machines are distributed in North America exclusively by Absolute Machine Tools, Inc. (Lorain, OH).

The i-42 ROBO and i-60 ROBO machines operate in 4 axes (5 with the optional B-axis), with a 15-hp high-torque turning spindle that features C-axis capability, a 2-hp live tool milling spindle, and capacity for 17 tools (23 with B-axis). A standard DIN-173-42B collet chuck provides capacity for 42 mm bar, while an optional with a 60 mm collet or 6”, 3-jaw chuck offers 60 mm bar capacity. The Mitsubishi S-series 6-axis high-speed robot automatically loads, unloads, or turns over parts weighing up to 13 lbs. An optional multi-tray 4 pallet stacker handling system enables extended untended operation.

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FMC Module

Abaco (Huntsville, AL) has announced the FMC172 Wideband Low Latency FMC Module. The FMC172 is based on the latest high-performance ADC device from Texas Instruments and DAC devices from E2V. It is the fastest ADC Abaco offers with LVDS interfaces, delivering up to 6.4 GSPS ADC on a single channel (or two channels @ 3.2 GSPS) and up to 6.0 GSPS DAC. The combination of the FMC172’s >6.0 GHz bandwidth, its high sample rate and low latency makes it suitable for advanced Digital RF Memory (DRFM) systems.

The FMC172 is based on the latest high-performance ADC device from Analog Devices and DAC devices from E2V. It is the fastest ADC Abaco offers with LVDS interfaces, delivering up to 6.4GSPS ADC (or 2x 3.2GSPS ADC) and up to 6GSPS DAC, making it among the most powerful available on the market. The FMC172’s level of analog I/O performance is key to advanced multi-channel receivers.

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Low-Power Single Board Computers

Aitech Defense Systems Inc. (Chatsworth, CA) has integrated the ultra-low power T4xx1 processor family from NXP into four of its high-performing SBCs. Aitech has implemented NXP’s new, low-power T4241, T4161 and T4081 PowerPC variants (collectively, the T4xx1 Series) on the company’s QorIQ-based SBCs. The low-power series is available on the C912 3U VPX SBC, which offers up to twelve e6500 PowerPC cores, as well as on the C111 6U VME and C112 6U VPX SBCs, all of which have NXP’s Trust Architecture 2.0.

For those looking for an integrated HW/SW bundled platform that offers exceptional graphics computing, the CB912 VideoPaC also comes with the option of using a processor from the low-power T4xx1 Series. The CB912 combines a 3U VPX single-slot SBC with a video/graphics XMC mezzanine using AMD’s E8860 Radeon GPU to create new dimensions of imaging, high-end graphics and data processing.

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Sensor and Actuator Cable Assemblies

TE Connectivity (TE) (Darmstadt, Germany) now offers M8M12 cable assemblies for applications such as sensors, robotics and production equipment, where extreme temperatures and harsh environments are likely to be encountered. The new M8M12 cable assemblies have a protection rating of IP67, which means they are dustproof as well as waterproof down to 1m.

Customers can choose from single-ended or double-ended cable assemblies, including M8M12 versions. M12 configurations are available with 2, 3, 4, 5 and 8 poles, while M8 configurations have 3 or 4 poles. Options include straight or angled connectors and shielded and non-shielded variants. Cable sheathing is either PVC or PUR. Standard cable lengths are 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, 3, 5, 7.0 and 10.0 meters, while customized assemblies can also be produced with more specific cable lengths and physical properties.

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6U OpenVPX Backplanes

Pixus Technologies (Waterloo, Ontario) has released new OpenVPX backplanes for 6U applications. The designs include a 9-slot, 6-slot power and ground, 5-slot, and a 1-slot development backplane.

The 5-slot 6U OpenVPX backplane from Pixus has a BKP6-CEN05-11.2.5 profile. It features PCIe Gen3 speed performance. For development applications, Pixus now offers power and ground only backplanes. This allows signals to pass through to the rear transition modules (RTMs) for easy prototyping and debugging. These backplanes come in 1-slot and 6-slot versions. The one slot version also features an interface for a VITA 62 power supply. The Pixus roadmap includes a 6U, 16-slot Open-VPX backplane utilizing a fully loaded system.

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CAD Software

CoreTechnologie (CT) (Southfield, MI) has developed a new voxel-based function for the 3D_Evolution Simplifier software tool. The new software tool selects the desired items through a so-called balloon stretching out from a user defined starting point. There is practically no limit to the size of the data. The selection process takes place within the shortest space of time by using multiprocessor calculation. The automatically selected models, which represent either the interior or exterior, can be converted to all common 3D formats.

The software offers direct interfaces for major systems such as Catia V5 and V6, NX, Solidworks, Creo, Inventor, as well as standard formats such as STEP, JT, FBX, DWG and DGN. A clever side effect of the balloon calculation is that the contact body consisting of voxels is representing the interior volume minus all bodies contained therein and thus represents the volume of air or liquid inside. Thus, the automatically created model is a closed volume that can also be used for further simulation purposes.

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Ka-Band Microwave Rotary Joint

Link Microtek (Hampshire, UK) has produced a spaceflight-qualified microwave rotary joint and associated waveguide components as part of a Kaband antenna pointing mechanism (APM). Destined for use on low-Earth-orbit satellites, the Kaband APM will enable the maximum amount of high-data-rate information, such as high-resolution images or video, to be transmitted to a ground station as the satellite traverses the sky. Within the APM, the rotary joint performs the critical function of feeding the RF carrier signal from the static side of the antenna to the rotating side.

Each rotary joint is of single-channel, non-contacting design covering the frequency band 25.5 to 27.0 GHz. Also made from aluminium, the rotary joints feature a WR34 waveguide interface on both ends and a bespoke flange design. The measured RF performance is impressive, with a very low maximum insertion loss of 0.29dB, a maximum insertion loss WOW of 0.12, maximum VSWR of 1.28:1 and maximum VSWR WOW of 0.13.

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Additive Manufacturing Materials

PEEK polymer pioneer Victrex (Thornton Cleveleys, UK) is preparing newly developed materials for additive manufacturing (AM). The first of these is a high strength material for laser sintering (LS) which attains lower refresh rates, resulting in improved recycling for unsintered powder. The second is a filament with better Z-strength than existing polyaryletherketone (PAEK) materials and better printability for filament fusion (FF).

The PAEK incumbent materials on the market today, although used in some AM applications, were designed for conventional manufacturing methods, such as machining and injection molding. Because of this, they have features that aren’t optimal for additive manufacturing processes. A first generation of PAEK material for laser sintering can only be recycled in a very low extent and required nearly full refresh of the printing bed with new powder, and PEEK filaments available for FF have poor interlayer bonding, leading to a loss in Z-strength. The new polymer grades developed by Victrex have shown encouragingly low refresh rates (improves recycle for unsintered powder) with similar mechanical properties in LS, and in FF good mechanical properties and printability.

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75-Ton Hot Forming Press

Beckwood Press Company (St. Louis, MO) a manufacturer of custom hydraulic presses, automation systems, and the Triform line of precision forming equipment, has partnered with aerospace parts supplier Cutting Dynamics to design and manufacture a 75-ton hydraulic press used to hot form titanium structural components. Capable of temperatures up to 1600°F, the custom press uses electric cartridge heaters to provide even temperature distribution throughout the forming process, increasing the malleability of titanium and reducing springback.

Utilizing nine zones of heat control in each platen, operators can maintain a constant platen temperature to within +/-5°F throughout the cycle. Additionally, automatic insulated door systems increase heat efficiency and maintain the desired temperature set points while facilitating easy part and tool loading. This press also has capabilities for superplastic forming (SPF). Using a die infused with high-temperature argon gas, SPF presses are able to form high-strength materials into complex geometric shapes in a single operation.

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Linear Motion Drive

The Precision Motion Drive System from Amacoil/Uhing (Aston, PA) is a Uhing Model RG rolling ring linear drive integrated with a motion controller for precision linear motion applications. The Precision Motion Drive is fully programmable and meets application requirements for precision winding/spooling, pick-and-place machines, X-Y coordinate tool movement, metrology equipment and other machinery providing fast, accurate positioning and reciprocating linear motion. Depending on the size of the RG drive nut in the system, the Precision Motion Drive System provides from 7 to 800 pounds of axial thrust.

A stepper motor controlled by a Siemens S7 PLC is included in the package. Fast, simple operation is enhanced with intuitive prompts displayed on a touch screen control panel. The shaft on which the Precision Motion Drive runs is smooth case hardened steel. There are no threads, which makes the system useful in applications where particulate contaminants could fall into threads causing jams or clogs. The shaft rotates in one direction only making it unnecessary to purchase a reversible motor. Drive nut travel direction, linear pitch and other motion parameters are controlled by the angle of the rolling ring bearings inside the drive unit, which in turn is controlled by user programming.

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Aerospace & Defense Technology Magazine

This article first appeared in the May, 2019 issue of Aerospace & Defense Technology Magazine.

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