It’s easy to get caught up in the details of our hardware and software designs for electronic devices, but the task of new-product development extends beyond successful simulations, emulations, and working prototypes. Particularly in embedded systems design, mechanical and electromechanical elements can be central to real-world inter-faces and can often spell the difference between just a terrific idea and a compelling product. I was reminded of this notion recently by a number of products on display at an industry trade show, images of which follow… (images courtesy JAS Technical Media)
1. Not exactly simple springs
Conceptually, there’s hardly a mechanical device simpler than a spring, yet even here there’s been room for innovation. Known since at least the 1960s, a wave spring can provide as much as twice the k (spring constant) as an equivalent size coil spring. These examples from Smalley illustrate some of the variety of materials and shapes available for space-constrained applications.
2. Valves, valves, and…
Electronically controlled valves provide means of control-ling gas and fluid flows in a broad range of industrial processes.
3. More valves
This new electronically controlled valve from Koganei, believed to be currently the worlds smallest, is an example of how electromechanical devices traditionally deployed for industrial applications are being adapted for other purposes, such as medical and R&D.
4. Precision positioning with ball screws
Precision motion control is a critical capability in many manufacturing and analytics operating environments. This precision positioning table from IKO, powered by a ball-screw drive, provides positioning accuracy of 35 to 75 microns, depending on stroke length, which can range from 40 to 790 mm. Positioning repeatability is ±2 microns.
5. Test sockets for signal integrity
We might not think about sockets and adapters as particularly challenging electromechanical devices but, for IC packages sporting several hundred contacts and process-ing signals in the multi-GHz range, test sockets that maintain signal integrity result from careful mechanical, as well as electrical, engineering.
6. GHz-class sockets for a wide range of packages
This particular GHz-class test socket from Ironwood Electronics provides a contact force adjustment, which in-creases the range of packages it can accommodate.