February 10, 2014

“Of all the virtues we can learn, no trait is more useful, more essential for survival and more likely to improve the quality of life than the ability to transform adversity into an enjoyable challenge”.   Those words were spoken by Mihalyi Csikszentmihaly.

Csikszentmihalyi is noted for his work in the study of happiness and creativity, but is best known as the architect of the notion of flow and for his years of research and writing on the topic.  He is the author of many books and over 120 articles or book chapters.  Martin Seligman, former president of the American Psychological Association, described Csikszentmihalyi as the world’s leading researcher on positive psychology.  Csikszentmihalyi once said:  “Repression is not the way to virtue. When people restrain themselves out of fear, their lives are by necessity diminished.  Only through freely chosen discipline can life be enjoyed and still kept within the bounds of reason.”  His works are influential and are widely cited.   Csikszentmihalyi received his B.A. in 1960 and his PhD in 1965, both from the University of Chicago.

In his seminal work, “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience”, Csíkszentmihályi outlines his theory that people are happiest when they are in a state of flow— a state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity at hand and the situation. It is a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter.  The idea of flow is identical to the feeling of being in the zone or in the groove. The flow state is an optimal state of intrinsic motivation, where the person is fully immersed in what he is doing. This is a feeling everyone has at times, characterized by a feeling of great absorption, engagement, fulfillment, and skill—and during which temporal concerns (time, food, ego-self, etc.) are typically ignored.

Personally, I really don’t think this is a theory but an actual fact.  Have you ever been so absorbed in a project or endeavor you lost track of time?   I think we all have.  I can remember one incident where I continued to work long after “the bell rang”.  Friday evening, eight o’clock and I was still working.  My wife called me to ask “are you coming home tonight”?  It was a difficult project needing complete concentration on my part and I simply lost track of time.  Dr. Csikszentmihalyi indicates this “zoned-out” feeling is one means to survival and can have a great influence on improving our quality of life.  It is one way to “turn lemons into lemonade”.   According to psychologists dealing with cognitive issues, there is a wide array of responses to adversity, but the one that can be most debilitating is catastrophizing.   People catastrophize when they turn everyday inconveniences into major setbacks and those setbacks into disasters.  Catastrophizing often involves destructive rumination over bad events.  These ruminations represent the most damaging connections you can make.  Catastrophizing is a definite, remarkable barrier to flow.  There is no “zone” if you are in a panic or bent double with worry or doubt.

One extraordinary book discussing adversity is “Adversity Quotient” by Dr. Paul G. Stoltz.  I can definitely recommend this book to you.  It’s a marvelous “read” where questions are asked and results given to determine your AQ.  In your brain, Catastrophizing is like any other response to adversity.  You are merely following a subconscious neurological groove, a pathway made more efficient and discernible from repeated use.  To halt this pattern, you must interrupt or stop it dead in its path.  You may create the neurological interrupt by using any of the following eight (8) techniques.


  • Slam you palm on a very hard surface, shout “stop”.  This sounds a little sophomoric but it has been proven to work.  The very act trains your system to interrupt the “gloom and doom” scenario and get back to reality.
  • Focus intently on an unrelated object.  A bit quieter and less dramatic, thus better in public situations.
  • Place a rubber band on your wrist and snap out of it.  This is a very physical reaction producing a very slight pain but that just might snap you back into reality.
  • Distract yourself with an unrelated activity.
  • Alter your state with exercise.  Of course, this is somewhat impractical in some (maybe most) situations.  You can’t drop and start doing pushups when your mind wonders to the adversity at hand.


Reframers are devices to put the adversity into perspective.  Your focus becomes intense and inward.

  • Refocus on your purpose. “Why am I doing this?” This reminds you of the reason you were originally involved.  It can provide the “big picture” and allows you to focus.  Why did you choose this job, this project, this company, this location, etc.
  • Get small.  Getting small involves consciously putting yourself in a situation where you are dwarfed by what surrounds you.
  • Help someone else.  Without a doubt, one of the most powerful tools to manage adversity is putting your problems into perspective by helping someone else with bigger problems than your own.

I read a fascinating article in “Psychology Today “regarding personality types that call every negative event a catastrophe.  To my great surprise, these are for the most partType “A” personalities.  The movers, the shakers, people needing to get on with it.  Those of us who make a mountain out of a molehill.  I suppose I should have expected this.  At any rate, there are methods to lessen the effects regarding the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.”

I certainly hope you enjoyed this post.  It’s different than what I normally write about but fascinating at any rate.


January 25, 2014

Information for this posting is derived from the following sources:  Design News Daily: Ms. Ann Thryft and NASA-Ames Research Center.

It is no secret that missions sponsored by the United States using manned space craft have been eliminated from the federal budget.  After Apollo the “wise men” in our federal government decided there was no need to continue the effort. “We can always hitch a ride with the Russians”.   Hitching a ride has turned out to be extremely expensive, not to mention giving up our hard-won position of technological dominance in that field of endeavor.   One day we will wake up to discover the Chinese have landed a man on the Moon and have declared that body to be their real estate.   Abdication of our position in manned space does not mean NASA is not working and shifting their focus to other areas of research.  One absolutely fascinating area is described as TENSEGRITY.  Tensegrity uses Super Ball Bots, which look like spheres, but constructed quite differently. They’re being designed to go to Jupiter’s moon Titan.

Like the robotic droplets, Super Balls Bots’ main mission is gathering scientific data. The larger version, with a mass of 75 kg, will carry all three scientific instrumentation packages: Atmospheric and Meteorology, Analytical Chemistry, and Imaging. The smaller version, with a mass of 40 kg, will carry only the Atmospheric and Meteorology and Imaging packages. These are described in some detail in a presentation given last spring by the main researchers at NASA Ames Research Center.  What’s different about them is they’re constructed according to the principles of “tensegrity,” a term coined by Buckminster Fuller, known for popularizing the geodesic dome. The term combines “tension” and “structural integrity.” It works on principles of how force is distributed through a structure that are different from those of rigid structures.  Tensegrity’s global distribution of force gives maximum strength to a structure without adding a lot of weight, and minimizes the number of points of local weakness. Many natural forms are constructed this way, such as microtubes and microfilaments within cells. The human skeleton is an example of biotensegrity.

A description of the missions is given by NASA as follows:

Small, light-weight and low-cost missions will become increasingly important to NASA’s exploration goals. Ideally teams of small, collapsible robots, weighing only a few kilograms apiece, will be conveniently packed during launch and would reliably separate and unpack at their destination. Such robots will allow rapid, reliable in-situ exploration of hazardous destination such as Titan, where imprecise terrain knowledge and unstable precipitation cycles make single-robot exploration problematic. Unfortunately landing lightweight conventional robots is difficult with current technology. Current robot designs are delicate, requiring a complex combination of devices such as parachutes, retrorockets and impact balloons to minimize impact forces and to place a robot in a proper orientation. Instead, we are developing a radically different robot based on a “tensegrity” built purely upon tensile and compression elements. Such robots can be both a landing and a mobility platform allowing for a dramatically simpler mission profile and reduced costs. These multi-purpose robots can be light-weight, absorb strong impacts, are redundant against single-point failures, can recover from different landing orientations and are easy to collapse and uncollapse. These properties allow for unique mission profiles that can be carried out with low cost and high reliability. We believe tensegrity robot technology can play a critical role in future planetary exploration.

The phases for this effort are as follows:

Achieving Objective 1:
Our Phase II study will build a prototype tensegrity landing and mobility platform in hardware. The primary focus will be on demonstrating mobility, and formal evaluation of payload protection in hardware.

Achieving Objective 2:
n Phase II we will attempt to show that control is robust and practical. In Phase II we propose to evaluate closed-loop control methods that allow the tensegrity to sense and navigate to a desired location. In addition we will evaluate control for larger tensegrity designs, robustness in difficult environments, and extend control to low-gravity environments.

Achieving Objective 3:
Tensegrity robots have the potential to revolutionize many different mission destinations. We will extend our Phase I trade-study for a Titan mission to include the critically important thermal and energy analysis, large-scale tensegrities that are capable of offering more payload protection and improved mobility, as well as low-gravity landing and mobility analysis unique to small asteroids.

Significance to NIAC:
Completing Objective 1 will give insights into costs, performance, risks, development time and technologies that will be needed to make a viable platform. In addition it will dramatically improve confidence that tensegrity structures are a good platform for landing and mobility. Completing Objective 2 will validate that a tensegrity robot is a viable mobility platform that could dramatically reduce cost and increase reliability of missions that need mobility. Completing Objective 3 will allow us to evaluate the costs, risks and benefits for using tensegrities for a wide range of missions.

Significance to NASA in General:
Success in in this study could dramatically reduce costs and increase reliability for all NASA missions that use robotics, or need a landing platform.

The NASA program undertaken by Ames is fascinating.  Let’s take a look.  The mission itself is given with the following two slides:



The following slide indicates how the ball-bots are deployed.





You can see from the JPG above the structure is composed of interlinking rods and tubes capable of supporting scientific instrumentations while surviving a “hard” landing on a rigid surface.   The basic concepts are given below.



Three structural types were considered.



To me, the most remarkable feature is how the bots are collapsed for storage and travel.


An actual device is as follows:



There were multiple schools involved with the research and development of these devices.  In the NIAC project report, there are twenty-six (26 ) students involved; five (5) schools “state-side” and three (3) schools from various parts of the world.  Marvelous collaboration on this one project WITH published papers spreading the information.  In my opinion, this is the way we “kick the can down the road”.  I definitely applaud the work of NASA and the institutions involved with this project.

I definitely welcome your comments.


November 30, 2013

I wrote the following document for some months ago to demonstrate the possible uses of light cure adhesives.  This is a fascinating technology and one gaining importance as differing materials become commercialized.  Hope you enjoy it and please send me your comments as you see fit. 

At the present time, adhesive manufacturers offer products classified as Cyanoacrylates, Epoxies, Hot Melts, Silicones, Urethanes, Acrylics (one-part and two-part) and Light-cures.  These classifications provide products from manufacturers with specific characteristics that allow for bonding, gasketing, potting and encapsulating, retaining, thread-locking and thread-sealing.

Light-cure adhesive technology offers a new approach to bonding similar or dissimilar substrates by using either ultraviolet light (UV) or light within the visible spectrum.  Extremely rapid cure times, superior depth of cure, (up to four inches) and easy dispensability are only three of the benefits when using these adhesives combined with the appropriate processes.   The newer visible light-cure materials can offer adhesion comparable to most commercially available UV adhesives, with particularly high adhesion on polycarbonate and polyvinylchloride (PVC) materials.  All equate to lower cost of assembly, more freedom when designing components and products and the saving of valuable production time.  This method of adhesion is extremely valuable when bonding thin films, needing heightened safety relative to skin and eyes and when bonding heat sensitive materials.  This process can lessen, or eliminate, the need for costly and harmful chemicals from the workplace and can be solvent-free and non-hazardous.  The use of light-cure adhesives will result in a very clean and “friendly” worker environment with no significant material disposal costs.  There is no need to mix, prime or rush to apply the adhesive due to minimal time to dispense.  We will discuss other benefits and some disadvantages later on in our course.


Let us list now the relative advantages and disadvantages of using UV and V light-curing adhesives.


1.)     Reduced labor costs

2.)    Simplified automation when automation is used

3.)    Easier alignment of parts before cure

4.)    Improved in-line inspection

5.)    Reduced work in-process

6.)    Shorter cycle times due to rapid curing of components

7.)    Shorter lead times to customer possibly leading to reduced inventories

8.)    Fewer assembly stations required due to rapid cure times

9.)    No racking during cure

10.) No mixing generally required

11.) No pot life issues meaning generally much less waste of materials

12.) Reduced dispensing costs

13.) No hazardous waste due to purging or poor mixing

14.) No static mixers

15.) Easier to operate and maintain dispensing systems

16.) Better work acceptance

17.) No explosion proof equipment required

18.) Reduced health issues

19.) Reduced regulatory costs; i.e. reduced restrictions on volatile organic compounds

20.) Reduced disposal costs

21.)  Very fast cure times

22.)  Ideal for heat sensitive films and thin components

23.) Lower energy consumption required during processing of adhesive systems

24.) Visible light-cure adhesives cure through colored or tinted substrates

25.) Allows for miniaturization of component parts needing bonding or potting

26.) Improved manufacturing yield, quality and reliability

27.) Low odor

28.) RoHS compliant

29.) UL recognized materials available

30.) Low entrainment of moisture due to rapid cure times

31.) Solvent free

32.) Reduced material and process costs


As with any process or adhesive material, there are several disadvantages. These are as follows:

1.)    Expenditure for curing equipment is necessary

2.)    Shielding when UV light is used may be necessary

3.)    UV blocking eye protection may be necessary depending upon the processing equipment

4.)    A radiometer may be necessary to measure the intensity of the UV light

5.)    When using UV light, the light source MUST reach the bond line if complete cure is to be had.  This means that transmission of light through at least one substrate is crucial.  Some substrates have UV inhibitors to lessen or eliminate degradation of the component.  These inhibitors will inhibit the penetration and lessen adhesion necessitating another method of bonding.  (This is by far the biggest disadvantage for UV curing.)  A graphic depiction is given below that illustrates the principal.

6.)    The mechanical properties may not meet specified requirements for tensile strength, shear strength, peel strength, etc.

7.)    In some cases when potting depth is a factor, materials may not cure through.

8.)    Rapid cure may be too fast allowing no repositioning of mating components

9.)    Engineering specifications must be exact and specific denoting brand, part number and method of application relative to adhesive.

10.) Educating workers applying light-cure adhesives is a MUST.


When we discuss applications, we find they generally fall into one of several basic categories; i.e. 1.) Bonding, 2.) Sealing, 3.) Cured-In-Place Gaskets, 4.) Potting and 5.) Coating.  With this in mind, we can see the following product applications now using the light-cure technology:

1.)    Musical instruments

2.) Toys

3.) Sporting equipment

4.) Jewelry

5.) Optics (eye glasses)

6.) Needles

7.) Syringes

8.) Lighting

9.) Electronic Asms.

10.) Appliance assembly (refrigeration, laundry, etc.)

11.) Strain relief for wires and cord sets

12.) Conformal coating for PC boards

13.) Parts tacking

14.) Coil terminating

15.) Tamper-proofing

The development of light-curing adhesives has been enhanced by the latest generation of curing equipment.  This equipment includes both flood and point source configurations using bulb or lamp based systems.  In addition, equipment utilizing LED technology is now available for use with these adhesives.  The benefit here is that LEDs generate focused wavelengths that create appreciably tighter output range relative to regular visible lamp technologies.   Furthermore, because superfluous light and heat are not emitted, LED technology has proven to be both highly efficient and highly cost effective.  As might be expected, as a result of their small size, LED curing systems provide an LED light source that is perfect for curing tiny component parts.

As you can see, many industries use this technology and as materials improve, more and more will continue to do so.  FASCINATING TECHNOLOGY.


November 16, 2013

Rapid prototyping is definitely a technology that has, and is, changing the way companies and commercial entities do business.   We can certainly say this “emerging technology” has gained tremendous momentum over the past decade.  The applications and uses represent a “best practice” for manufacturers and producers in general.

Being able to obtain prototype parts quickly allows a company to test for component form, fit and function and can help launch a product much faster than its competition.   This can allow for adjustments in design, materials, size, shape, assembly, color and manufacturability of individual components and subassemblies.   Rapid prototyping is one methodology that allows this to happen.   It also is an extremely valuable tool for sales and marketing evaluation at the earliest stages of any program.   Generally, an engineering scope study is initially performed in which all elements of the development program are evaluated.  Having the ability to obtain parts “up front” provides a valuable advantage and definitely complements the decision making process.   Several rapid prototyping processes are available for today’s product design teams while other prototyping processes utilize traditional manufacturing methods, such as 1.)  CNC Machining, 2.)  Laser Cutting, 3.)  Water Jet Cutting, 4.) EDN Machining, etc.   Rapid prototyping technologies emerged in the ‘80s and have improved considerably over a relatively short period of time.   When I started my career as a young engineer, the only process available for obtaining and producing prototype components was as follows:

  • Produce an orthogonal drawing of the component. This drawing was a two-dimensional rendition, including auxiliary views, and generally did NOT use geometrical dimensioning and tolerancing methodologies, which opened the way for various interpretations relative to the part itself.  Solid modeling did not exist at that time.
  • Take that drawing or drawings to the model shop so initial prototypes could be made.     Generally, one prototype would be made for immediate examination.   Any remaining parts would be scheduled depending upon approval of the design engineer or engineering manager. We were after “basic intent”—that came first.  When the first prototype was approved, the model shop made the others required.
  • Wait one, two, three, four, etc weeks for your parts so the initial evaluation process could occur.  From these initial prototypes we would examine form, fit and function.
  •  Apply the component to the assembly or subassembly for initial trials.
  • Alter the drawing(s) to reflect needed changes.
  • Resubmit the revised drawing(s) to the model shop for the first iteration of the design.  (NOTE:  This creates a REV 1 drawing which continues the “paper trail” and hopefully insures proper documentation.)
  • Again, apply the component for evaluation.
  • Repeat the process until engineering, engineering management, quality control and manufacturing management, etc signs off on the components.

The entire process could take weeks or sometimes months to complete.   Things have changed considerably.  The advent of three dimensional modeling; i.e. solid modeling, has given the engineer a tremendous tool for evaluating designs and providing iterations before the very first “hard” prototype has been produced.  As we shall see later on, solid modeling of the component, using CAE and CAD techniques, is the first prerequisite for rapid prototyping.   There are several options available when deciding upon the best approach and means by which RP&M technology is used.   As prototyping processes continue to evolve, product designers will need to determine what technology is best for a specific application.


As you might expect, there are many disciplines and industries willing to take advantage of new, cost-saving, fast methods of producing component parts.  RP&M has become the “best practice” and the acceptable approach to “one-off” parts.  Progressive companies must look past the prototyping stereotypes and develop manufacturing strategies utilizing additive manufacturing equipment, processes and materials for high volume production. The pie-chart below will indicate several of those industries now taking advantage of the technology and the approximate percentage of use.

Institutions Using RP&M


One of the statistics surprising to me is the percentage of use by the medical profession.   I’m not too surprised by the seventeen percent from automotive because the development of stereolithography was actually co-sponsored by Chrysler Automotive.    Consumer electronics is another field at eighteen percent (18.4%) that has adopted the process and another industry benefiting from fast prototyping methodologies. When getting there first is the name of the game, being able to obtain components parts in two to three days is a remarkable advantage.    Many times these products have a “lifetime” of about eighteen month, at best, so time is of the essence.

The bar chart below will give a comparison between sales for RP&M services provided by vendors and companies providing RP&M machines to companies and independent providers.  As you can see, the trends are definitely upward.  Rapid prototyping has found a very real place with progressive companies and progressive institutions in this country and the world over.

Average Uses in Dollars



There are several viable options available today that take advantage of rapid prototyping technologies.   All of the methods shown below are considered to be rapid prototyping and manufacturing technologies.

Stereolithography was the first approach to rapid prototyping and all of the other methods represent “offshoots” or variations of this one basic technology.   The processes given above are termed “additative manufacturing” processes because material is “added to” the part, ultimately producing the final form detailed by the 3-D model and companion specifications.  This course will address the existing technology for all of these processes and give comparisons between them so intelligent decisions may be made as to which process is the most viable for any one given part to be prototyped.

As a result of the prototyping options given above, there are many materials available to facilitate assembly and trial after completion of the model.   We are going to discuss processes vs. materials vs. post-forming and secondary operations later in this course.   The variety of materials available today is remarkable and to a great extent, the material selection is dependent upon the process selected.   We will certainly discuss this facet of the technology.


As you might expect, there is a definite methodology for creating actual parts, and the processes do not vary greatly from method to method.    We are going to detail the sequential steps in the process.  This detail will form the “backbone” for later discussions involving the mechanical and electronic operation of the equipment itself.  These steps apply to all of the RP&M processes.

  • Create a 3-D model of the component using a computer aided design (CAD) program.  There are various CAD modeling programs available today, but the “additative manufacturing” process MUST begin by developing a three-dimensional representation of the part to be produced.  It is important to note that an experienced CAD engineer/designer is an indispensable component for success.  As you can see, RP&M processes were required to wait on three-dimensional modeling before the technology came to fruition.
  • Generally, the CAD file must go through a CAD to RP&M translator.  This step assures the CAD data is input to the modeling machine in the “tessellated” STL format.  This format has become the standard for RP&M processes.  With this operation, the boundary surfaces of the object are represented as numerous tiny triangles.  (VERY INDENSABLE TO THE PROCESS!)
  • The next step involves generating supports in a separate CAD file.  CAD designers/engineers may accomplish this task directly, or with special software.  One such software is “Bridgeworks”.  Supports are needed and used for the following three reasons:
  1. To ensure that the re-coater blade will not strike the platform upon which the part is being built.
  2. To ensure that any small distortions of the platform will not lead to problems during part building.
  3. To provide a simple means of removing the part from the platform upon completion.
    1. Leveling—Typical resins undergo about five percent (5%) to seven percent (7%) total volumetric shrinkage.  Of this amount, roughly fifty percent (50%) to seventy percent (70%) occurs in the vat as a result of laser-induced polymerization.  With this being the case, a level compensation module is built into the RP&M software program.  Upon completion of laser drawing, on each layer, a sensor checks the resin level.  In the event the sensor detects a resin level that is not within the tolerance band, a plunger is activated by means of a computer-controlled precision stepper motor and the resin level is corrected to within the needed tolerance.
    2. Deep Dip—Under computer control, the “Z”-stage motor moves the platform down a prescribed amount to insure those parts with large flat areas can be properly recoated.  When the platform is lowered, a substantial depression is generated on the resin surface.  The time required to close the surface depression has been determined from both viscous fluid dynamic analysis and experimental test results.
    3. Elevate—Under the influence of gravity, the resin fills the depression created during the previous step.  The “Z” stage, again under computer control, now elevates the uppermost part layer above the free resin surface.  This is done so that during the next step, only the excess resin beyond the desired layer thickness need be moved.  If this were not the case, additional resin would be disturbed.
    4. Sweep—The re-coater blade traverses the vat from front to back and sweeps the excess resin from the part.  As soon as the re-coater blade has completed its motion, the system is ready for the next step.
    5. Platform Drops–The platform then drops down a fraction of a MM.    The process is then repeated.  This is done layer by layer until the entire model is produced.  As you can see, the thinner the layer, the finer and more detailed the resulting part.
    6. Draining–Part completion and draining.
    7. Removal–The part is then removed from the supporting platform and readied for any post-processing operations. .
  • Next step— the appropriate software will “chop” the CAD model into thin layers—typically 5 to 10 layers per millimeter (MM).  Software has improved greatly over the past years, and these improvements allow for much better surface finishes and much better detail in part description.  The part and supports must be sliced or mathematically sectioned by the computer into a series of parallel and horizontal planes like the floors of a very tall building.  Also during this process, the layer thickness, as discussed above, the intended building style, the cure depth, the desired hatch spacing, the line width compensation values and the shrinkage compensation factor(s) are selected and assigned.
  • Merging is the next step where the supports, the part and any additional supports and parts have their computer representations combined.  This is crucial and allows for the production of multiple parts connected by a “web” which can be broken after the parts are molded.
  • Next, certain operational parameters are selected, such as the number or re-coater blade sweeps per layer, the sweep period, and the desired “Z”-wait.  All of these parameters must be selected by the programmer. “Z”-wait is the time, in seconds, the system is instructed to pause after recoating.  The purpose of this intentional pause is to allow any resin surface non-uniformities to undergo fluid dynamic relaxation.  The output of this step is the selection of the relevant parameters.
  • Now, we “build the model”.  The 3-D printer “paints” one layer exposing the material in the tank and hardening it.    The resin polymerization process begins at this time, and the physical three-dimensional object is created.  The process consists of the following steps:
  • Next, heat treating and firing may occur for further hardening.  This phase is termed the post-cure operation.
  • After heat treating and firing, the part may be machined, sanded, painted, etc until the final product meets initial specifications.  As mentioned earlier, there have been considerable developments in the materials used for the process, and it is entirely possible that the part may be applied to an assembly or subassembly so that the designed function may be observed.  No longer is the component necessarily for “show and tell” only.

The entire procedure may take as long as 72 hours, depending upon size and complexity of the part, but the results are remarkably usable and applications are abundant.


The applications for RP&M technology are as numerous as your imagination.  With the present state of the art, extremely accurate, detailed and refined prototypes may be produced.  Components and structures that were impossible or extremely difficult to model are made possible today with existing methods and equipment.  We will now take a look at figures representing very “real” components fabricated with rapid modeling techniques.   Some of the applications are as follows:

  • Dental Prototypes
  • Orthopedic Prototypes
  • Sculpture prototypes
  • Prototypes for manufactured components
  • Items used to decorate sets for plays, operas, etc
  • Forensic investigations
  • Surgical procedure planning
  • Molds for investment castings
  • Architectural models
  • Scaled models
  • Complex trays for fiber optics
  • Light pipes for electronic devices

In addition to speed, very fine and intricate surface finishes may be had depending upon the material and process used to create the part.    We have taken a look at those industries using RP&M, Figure 1, so let us now consider the various uses for the technology itself.  Looking at Figure 3 below, we find the following major uses for the technology:

  • Visual aids for engineering           16.5 %
  • Functional models                           16.1%
  • Fit and assembly                              15.6%
  • Patterns for prototype tooling   13.4%
  • Patterns for cast metal                  9.2%

Over seventy percent (70%) of the total uses are given by the five categories above.  This in no way negates or lessens the importance of the other uses, but obviously, visual aids, functional models and models to prove form, fit and function top the list.


Everyone says a “picture is worth a thousand words” so let’s take a very quick pictorial look at some of the many applications noted by the text and the figures above.  The following JPEGs should give you an idea as to what uses of RP&M technologies exist.  These digital photographs are from actual models created for very specific purposes.  Let’s take a look at parts actually produced by “additative” manufacturing.

Components Made by RP&M

Prototype Engine Block


Turbine Rotor


These are just a few of the possibilities.  Great detail–with remarkable surface finish.  Just as the technology is improving, the materials are improving also with greater choices for the design engineer.  I definitely hope you will use this post to investigate further this remarkable technology


October 27, 2013

If you have read any my previous postings you know that most of my work is dedicated to subjects involving the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) professions.  I do follow engineering education and renewable energy quite closely.  Recently I read about a company called Pavegen Systems.  This company “invented” a remarkable and innovative system of providing energy by turning the pressure generated by footsteps into voltage that can be stored and used for various purposes.  The basis for the technology involves Pavegen tiles.   The JPEG shown below will give some idea as to how the system operates.  The first JPEG shows the disk embed representing the heart of the system.



West Hamm


Pavegen tiles are embedded into flooring just as any tiles would be.   The pressure exerted by a 150 pound man, 112 pound woman, etc is used to charge batteries which drive mobile devices, lighting, power Wi-Fi systems, etc.   A proprietary system is used to convert kinetic energy into voltage which is stored providing for a multitude of uses.

Generating Energy


Every time someone walks over a Pavegen tile, renewable energy is harvested from the footsteps. Pavegen is an innovation company head quartered in London.   This company develops and manufactures flooring technology that converts the wasted kinetic energy from human footfall into renewable electricity. This clean tech energy source can power applications such as lighting, signage and communications networks in both indoor and outdoor environments of industries.   The graphic below will indicate the possibilities for use.



The top surface of the flooring unit is made from 100% recycled rubber while the base of the slab is constructed from 80% recycled materials. The system can be simply retrofitted in place of existing flooring systems as well as specified for new developments. The tiles are designed to withstand harsh outdoor locations with high footfall with each slab being waterproof to allow operation efficiently in both internal and external environments.

The concept of Pavegen was developed in 2009 by Laurence Kemball-Cook, while researching kinetic-off grid energy solutions at Loughborough University.  Since the company’s inception, Pavegen has independently embarked on a journey to become the market leader in the footfall energy harvesting sector, generating substantial global press coverage and public interest, with a series of commercial installations underway.   Several of these existing installations are 1.)   Simon Langdon School, 2.) Rednock School, 3.) West Hamm  London Olympics and 4.) Several installations in offices in central London.  The technology is proven and energy is harvested on a continuing basis.

The best thing about this technology is addressing alternative sources of energy which would otherwise be wasted.  In other words, one company is demonstrating that commonplace actions can be used to harness energy for the greater good.  They are “thinking outside the box”.  (I hate that phrase but in this case it does apply.)


The following post was taken from a great book entitled Adversity Quotient by Dr. Paul G. Stoltz, published by John Wiley & Sons, copyright 1997.

Do you ever wonder why some organizations thrive on competition and others are crushed?   Why one entrepreneur beats unfathomable odds, while others completely give up?  Why do some parents raise children who are good citizens in neighborhoods riddled with violence and drugs?  Why does an individual beat the odds, overcoming an abusive childhood when others, maybe most, do not?    Why does an inner-city teacher positively impact student lives, while the rest of the faculty barely gets by?  Why do so many gifted or high IQ individuals fall far short of their potential?    It appears those who really excel and accomplish their goals do so because they have a great work ethic, they persevere—never give up, and  they apply their talents and FOCUS relative to the work at hand.  In short, they know how to overcome adversity when adversity occurs.

There are several, (twenty-two to be exact,) areas that can completely stifle creativity on an individual or company basis.  Things that really throw a monkey-wrench in the works and derail efforts; sometimes so much that eventual failure occurs.  If you own a company, if you are a CEO or manage a department within a company, you can really inhibit the productivity of your workforce by doing the following:  Let’s take a look.

  • Always promise more than you can deliver
  • Be consistently inconsistent
  • Remember—there is always a downside to everything
  • Model victimhood
  • Give lip service to accountability and responsibility
  • Ignore any potential contribution to the teams’ success
  •   Help your team see setbacks for what they are—major failures
  • Frame success as a freak accident
  •  Torpedo humor at all costs
  • Sap their strength
  • Crush creativity
  • Punish all attempts at independence, swiftly and severely
  • Dismantle any hope or optimism
  • Surround yourself with quitters instead of doers
  • Set your team up for failure
  • Reward them for playing by the rules
  • Construct a rigid, stark, colorless environment
  • Uproot enthusiasm before it can grow
  • Press everyone to create a mission and vision, then forget about it
  • Provide responsibility without authority
  • Use “empowerment” as a weapon  to get them to do more with less

Let’s be honest, on an individual basis, we all at times, talk ourselves into some of the road blocks given above. It’s really human nature to bring about doubts when jobs and problems seem insurmountable.   One of my favorite sayings was uttered by George Bernard Shaw in his play “Back to Methuselah.  “You see things; and you say, ‘Why?‘    But I dream things that never were; and I say, “Why not?”  I think the bottom line is:


 I think we all have a little Geek in us, oh yes everyone!   I know people in their 90s who bang away at the computer night and day staying in touch with their kids, grandkids, friends, penpals, etc etc.  You name it, we all like to stay in touch and the Internet gives us a marvelous method for doing just that.   To some extent, we all speak GEEK.  Let’s take a look.

Geeks are getting even cooler!

•Both self-professed geeks and non-geeks alike rated “geeks” to be extremely intelligent (54 percent in 2012 v. 45 percent in 2011) and the go-to people for technology advice (71 percent v. 56 percent). More than half of Americans (51 percent) define geeks as professionally successful, a significant jump from 2011’s 31 percent.

•Majority of respondents defined a “geek” as someone who is addicted to technology (68 percent), or spends more time online than offline (66 percent).

•When given a list of items and asked which they would have a very difficult time living without, old fashioned pen and paper topped the list of items geeks admitted would be the most difficult to live without (71 percent), over technological devices such as computer (58 percent), smartphone (41 percent), or MP3 player (25 percent). Even non-geeks didn’t rank pen and paper first, instead going with car as the No. 1 item they would have a very difficult time living without (61 percent).

Lose your hard drive data or go through a relationship breakup? Geeks say break up, of course!

•More than 60 percent of geeks said they would be very stressed out by losing the files on their computer’s hard drive, such as photos, music files, or documents. In comparison only 49 percent of them would feel the same about going through a relationship break up and only 28 percent of geeks would consider getting the flu to be stressful.

•Losing Internet connection seems to be a universal stressor. People who don’t even consider themselves a geek would be almost as stressed by losing their Internet connection (17 percent) as self-identified geeks (19 percent).

Geeks AND non-geeks attached to their tech

•70 percent of Americans (geeks and non-geeks alike) said they would have a difficult time living without at least one tech accessory for a day (when selecting from a list of eight technological devices such as a smartphone, computer or MP3 player).

•Two-thirds (67 percent) of those who do not even consider themselves a geek would have a difficult time living without at least one technological device for a day.

•Almost three in five (57 percent) Americans – again, geek and non-geek alike – have been told that they use a specific technological device too often, with TV being the biggest culprit (34 percent).

•Perhaps not all that surprising, men are more likely than women to be told that they use the following technological devices too often:

•Desktop (17 percent v. 9 percent)

•Portable music player (10 percent v. 5 percent)

•Gaming console (16 percent v. 2 percent)

Technology creeping into socially inappropriate places

•Many Americans (not only the geeks!) are using technology in inappropriate places / at inappropriate times (66 percent of geeks and non-geeks).

•5 percent of people – both geeks and non-geeks combined – confessed to having used a device like their smartphone during a funeral.

•9 percent admitted to having used a device during a religious service.

•Almost one-fifth of people have used a device during a date (19 percent).

•18 percent of people have used a device during a business meeting.

•And despite state laws prohibiting it for safety reasons, one-third (32 percent) of people admit to using their personal devices while driving a car. Geeks are the biggest culprits on this one with a full 45 percent of geeks admitting to using their device while driving, compared to 30 percent of non-geeks.

•Men are more likely than women to use a personal technology device at the dinner table (36 percent v. 27 percent).

Prepare to be judged – tech savvy millennials are watching

•Nearly one in five Americans (17 percent) judge others on which types of technology they choose to use, such as their computer operating system, cell phone, or gaming console.

•Millennials are quickest to judge. Americans age 18-34 (34 percent) are more likely than their older counterparts to be judgmental about personal technology choices.

•Not surprisingly, the youngest adult Americans, geeks and non-geeks alike, are more attached to their mobile device than others. Americans age 18-34 (40 percent) would have a more difficult time than their older counterparts living without their smartphone for one day.

•35-44 – 25 percent

•45-54 – 27 percent

•55-64 – 14 percent

•65+ – 8 percent

Jacob Beningo – May 21, 2013

NOTE:  Jacob Beningo is a lecturer and consultant on embedded system design. He works with companies to develop quality and robust products and overcome their embedded design challenges.

The following article was written by Mr. Jacob Beningo for EDN Network Today.  Even though this is a “reblog” I certainly feel it is worth posting through Cielotech and Word Press.  The information is extremely valuable, not only for engineering graduates, but should have application for individuals seeking employment in other professions.   I have modified Mr. Beningo’s post to some degree adding my comments as I feel necessary.

It’s that time of the year again where spring is in full force, the sun is shining, birds are chirping and this year’s college graduates are spreading their wings and sending out resumes. Despite at least four years of schooling and tens of thousands of dollars spent on tuition, it’s unfortunate that their curriculum doesn’t include a resume 101 course or at least require students to attend a seminar on resume writing. Awkwardly crafted and abysmal resumes aren’t constrained to recent graduates but also reach into the general engineering population. This leaves the perfect opportunity to review some basic tips for handling resumes and establishing an online presence, after all, resumes are no longer limited to simple paper versions.

Tip #1 – Ignore the one page rule
For some reason, since the beginning of time there has been this notion that a resume should only be one page. It should be short and simple and provide very basic information. This is great if the plan is to be a professional job seeker. A single page, in a readable font, provides enough space to put a name, a few companies and education before there is no more room left on the page. It doesn’t provide enough space to really sell or distinguish the applicant from anyone else. Single page resumes are often looked at and quickly discarded because there is nothing on them that really catches attention. Don’t allow this outdated rule to dictate the length of a resume.   I don’t think droning on and on is advisable to telling your story is important—very important.

Tip #2 – Explicitly show experience
A potential employer is not going to take the time to read between the lines as to whether an individual has a certain type of experience or skill. Experience needs to be explicitly declared and not implied. This can be done by listing each project that was performed at a company and then providing details as to what was involved. Demonstration of problem identification and the ability to come up with a solution is critical.   I would show this experience as well as the company and dates worked by the employee.

Tip #3 – Use bullet points to improve readability
Instead of writing paragraphs about the work performed at a company or on a project, the use of bullet points is highly recommended because they can drastically improve the readability of a resume. Bullet points are a quick way to break down skills and efforts that were put into a project. They allow the potential employer to quickly skim through and catch the highlights or experience.  You do this with other presentations so why not with resume writing?
Save to My Library
Follow Comments
Follow Author

Tip #4 – List professional experience first
College degrees always hold a special place in everyone’s heart especially after paying the enormous tuition rates that have become known to students in modern times. Unfortunately, on a resume they hold less weight than professional experience. This means that while having a degree may be necessary, they should be listed after professional experience. It seems unfair but the fact of the matter is that the first few years of one’s career are spent learning what should have been taught in higher educational institutions. Please note that professional experience was noted earlier in the paragraph. This means that coffee shops and a stint at McDonalds are not going to be of interest to your next engineering employer, so it can be removed from the experience list.

Tip #5 – If project experience is lacking, use a DIY project
Sometimes inexplicable things happen and a college student never has an internship, or an experienced engineer finds themselves on the unemployment list for a while. This can result in an employer having a hard time justifying even taking the time to talk with the candidate. This is why these gaps should be filled with learning experiences from do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. Create something and go through the design process of gathering requirements, block diagramming and prototyping and put that experience and maybe even some lessons learned on the resume! This will show the prospective employer that the individual is self-motivated, passionate and a number of other things. The best part is that when they call for an interview, the candidate can bring what was designed and talk about the process, the hardware design, the software etc. It might just give that edge needed to even beat out the competition.

Tip #6 – List useful skills
Forcing an employer to read between the lines is a dangerous game. Listing project details is one thing but an employer also wants to know in general the types of skills the candidate has. Having a technical expertise section that lists various items such as hardware, software and programming language and provide a quick overview summary of what an individual brings to the table can be very beneficial.

Tip #7 – Identify industry buzz words and use a few
At different times there are certain buzz words that take an industry by storm. They may indicate a certain type of design paradigm such as model driven design or event driven design or perhaps a new field of device such as internet-of-things or machine-to-machine. The whole point is that while the resume is being dusted off and updated, spending a little bit of time learning the current buzz words can do a lot to increase the likely hood of the resume being discovered. Of course if the buzz word doesn’t apply it should be over-looked but there will most likely be buzz words that do apply and that greatly raise the resumes visibility.

Tip #8 – Use action words
Companies like to have leaders on their teams or up and coming leaders. Leaders are action driven and employers like to look for candidates that take initiative and are on their way to becoming leaders. For this reason it is always nice to include action words that grab extra attention. Mention leading the team or managed the team or were conducting investigations to list a few. While investigating resume action words, a website with “100 Great Resume Words” popped up and after a quick review there was little argument about it.     I highly recommended you take a look.
Tip #9 – Use social media to enhance your resume
Paper is out, electronic is in. The resume in general hasn’t changed a whole lot but with social media outlets such as Linkedin and Twitter, the opportunity to enhance a resume is astounding. Linkedin can be used as an enhanced resume by duplicating the information on a resume and then filling in the extras that Linkedin allows. In today’s society there seems to be more chance of being found on a social media website first and then only after connecting with someone does a request for a resume occur. This means that social media profiles need to be just as good at attracting attention as a resume but that is an entirely different article for another day.

A few examples of some enhancements that can be made through social media are getting colleagues to verify your skills, getting recommendations and then also cross linking colleagues on projects. This provides employers with the ability to cross reference what they are being told and verify that the material is in fact real.

There has been some buzz about something called Klout that is supposed to analyze social media interactions and then rank a user based on those interactions. A value of 1 to 99 is then assigned to them. Despite all the authors’ interactions on social media sites, posting baby pictures on Facebook seems to raise the score the most. This leads the author to believe that Klout is an interesting sidebar that will most likely not be taken seriously by employers in the near future.

Be very careful when using Social Medial and make sure what you show is what you want a prospective employer to see.  Pictures of your latest binge drinking episode just might not get you the interview or the job.

Tip #10 – Review and update quarterly
The worst time to update a resume is when an individual is looking for a job. Going for long periods of time without updates usually results in gaps of information or misrepresentation from just forgetting what was done. That is why it is useful to set a periodic time, whether it is every quarter or twice a year to sit down and update the resume with new projects, skills, etc. Sometimes employers will include employee resumes in proposals in order to show a potential client that their team has the skills necessary to get the job done. If a resume isn’t kept up to date then the team could quickly look like they are not up-to-date with the latest and greatest techniques and cause the employer to lose business.  In my opinion, this is a big one.  DO THIS.

I am sure there are other recommendations that could be added but telling YOUR story is what this is about.  The jury is out relative to references.  I would indicate they are available upon request.  Also, MAKE SURE YOUR RESUME HAS UPDATED INFORMATION FOR ADDRESS, TELEPHONE NUMBERS and E-MAIL ADDRESS.


December 26, 2012

Portions of this post are taken from a Design News article written by Mr. Charles Murray.  Charles is a Senior Technical Editor for Electronics and Test.

As we all know, the cost of gasoline has and will fluctuate from time to time and possibly in a very wild fashion.  Some parts of our country have already experienced $4.00 + per gallon, and with this being the case, alternative methods of propulsion and cost savings are being considered right now by automotive manufacturers.  Several methods to save gas mileage now in the design process are as follows:

  • Using light-weight composite materials to replace steel and aluminum where possible.
  • Producing a more “aerodynamic” structure to reduce air friction and drag.
  • “Re-thinking” engine design to produce better combustion efficiencies.
  • Redesign of drive train mechanisms to reduce friction.
  • All-electric vehicles.
  • Hybrid vehicles.

We will be discussing the BMW “offerings” that will appear in dealerships as early as 2013.  Please note, the photographs presented are “concept” and may not be completely representative of what BMW provides on a production basis.

BMW AG took another step in the direction of electrification at the recent Los Angeles Auto Show by rolling out a concept version of an electric, three-door and five-door coupe.

i- 3 BMW--Five Door

The five-door version of the i3, introduced as a concept in 2011, will reach production in 2013.
(Source: BMW)


The i3 Concept Coupe is the third electrified car BMW has announced in the past 18 months. It joins the racy i8 hybrid and a five-door vehicle (also called the i3) that is slated to reach production at the end of 2013. Like the five-door car, the coupe will be designed from the ground up as an electric vehicle.


BMW did not offer a production schedule for the coupe, but it did call the vehicle yet another sign the luxury automaker is earnest in its plan to bring electric powertrains to the premium car segment. “We’re very serious about getting real sales volumes from this,” Matthew Russell, a spokesman for BMW, told us. “It’s a car that will have an appeal to a huge number of mega-city residents, business people, and electric car aficionados. We’re expecting a real demand for this car.”

Famile Members BMW All-Electric

Family members: The i3 Concept Coupe joins two other vehicles in BMW’s i sub-brand. The i8 plug-in hybrid (right) will reach production in 2014, and the five-door all-electric i3 EV will come out in 2013.
(Source: BMW)


The i3 Concept Coupe is the third vehicle to be proposed for the BMW i sub-brand. All three vehicles will use a body-on-frame approach consisting of two functional units — a drive module and a life module. The drive module, made from aluminum, incorporates the suspension, battery, drive system, and structural components. The life module, which sits atop the drive module, is a high-strength passenger cell made from carbon fiber-reinforced plastic. The plastic is said to offer a huge weight reduction, which is why the i3 Concept Coupe checks in at just 2,756 pounds.


The coupe will be propelled by a 170 hp electric motor developed by BMW that offers 184  ft-lbs of torque and works in conjunction with a single-speed transmission. A liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery (of unknown capacity as yet) will provide approximately 100 miles of all-electric range. BMW has said the i3 will offer an optional range extender — an on board generator coupled with a small gas tank. “It’s kind of an emergency-only feature,” Russell said. “It’s for people who have some range anxiety and are transitioning into an electric vehicle. It helps them relax by roughly doubling the range.”


Battery charging for the coupe takes about three hours. However, an optional, DC fast-charge setup (available only at public charging stations) can charge the battery in less than an hour.

i-8 BMW

The i8, also introduced as a concept car in 2011, will reach production in 2014.
(Source: BMW)


Unlike two other electric vehicles unveiled at the L.A. Auto Show (the Chevy Spark and the Fiat 500e), the BMW i3 vehicles will not be built atop another vehicle’s platform, Russell said. “It’s not based on anything. The aerodynamics, architecture, propulsion, battery, motors, wheels, tires — all of it’s brand new.”


Though BMW did not reveal a price for the concept car, Russell did say it would be positioned at the premium end of the electric car market segment. “We believe we are more in the category of the Tesla Model S,” whose base price was recently boosted to $59,900. “Like the Model S, it’s a unique vehicle. We see it as a key part of the future of mobility.”


I think one issue, maybe real issue, is the price of the i-3 cars IF priced above the $55K range.  Beautiful cars but, in the United States, we like to get our money’s worth and I’m not too sure the ROI will generate enough interest to make the car an “instant” seller.  Only time will tell.







September 18, 2012

  It’s amazing the people we meet and the stories we hear over a lifetime.  People absolutely fascinate me.  Their background, ethnicity, culture, religion, languages, where they went to school—in other words, their life experiences.   I am absolutely convinced that engaging life can provide a remarkably fulfilling “value-added”, every-day experience.  Also, it can be a remarkable learning experience.  I am sure you are aware of the fact that most of history is unrecorded.  Long before people learned to read and write, their stories were verbalized.  Passed down from generation to generation.  Carefully transmitted, leaving no minuet detail untold.    Some details were lost in translation but the basic stories remain intact.  Much of the folklore we read comes to us via this mechanism.

One sad thing about our culture today is the accelerating loss of face-to-face engagement.  We simply don’t communicate with each other enough to hear those stories that frame our lives, define who we are and educate those coming after us.  We rip off a quick e-mail, camp on Facebook, buy and sell on eBay with no personal interaction whatsoever.  Our ability to think and write suffer with digital communication.    The stories we miss because we are simply too busy to listen are a very sad reality.

At the tender age of seventy, I have decided to tell some of the stories I’ve heard over a lifetime.  Please keep in mind I will continue to write and publish through Word Press/ Cielo subject matter relative to education, engineering, technology, STEM, university ranking, engineering salary reviews, etc.  These subjects, as you have noticed in the past, will reveal sources used in preparation for writing the material (blog).    Good hard facts and data backed up by reliable sources.  That’s what we do.  Periodically, I would like to tell one of my stories, interlacing events that might seem off-the-wall to some.  These stories, told to me directly, range from believable to “where on earth did you get that one”.  I will let you decide fact or fiction.  I would love to hear from you as to how you enjoy the experience.  Again,  I will continue with posting that are absolutely fact-driven but now and then, infuse blogs that might seem just a little unusual.

Many thanks and do let me know.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 89 other followers