Best by Design Awards

Jan. 1, 2011
** This competition has ended **

As part of a new contest called Best by Design, we hereby present innovative components highlighted throughout 2010.

This is where our dear readers — YOU — participate: Please review these inventions and rank your three favorites by voting at (or emailing us at [email protected]). Winners will be announced this spring.

Shaft collar can be tightened by hand

Quick-Clamping shaft collars have a clamping lever that can be opened by hand to allow positioning of the collar on a shaft. The lever also closes by hand, flush with the collar's outer surface.

What it means to you: Quick, easy, tools-free positioning for applications requiring rapid setup or frequent changeover.

Innovator: Ruland Mfg. Co. Inc.
(508) 485-1000

Encoder with hard plastic (not glass) disc

The HS35R vector-duty encoder has a hearty plastic disc that withstands 400 g shocks — plus larger bearings that resist runout. Improved seals protect against contamination. In addition, its ASIC phased-array sensing module is farther from the disc than those of typical encoders — for a more forgiving arrangement.

What it means to you: Reliability in tough applications.

Innovator: Dynapar Corp.
(800) 873-8731

Seals fling water and dirt away

DODGE E-Z KLEEN and ULTRA KLEEN bearings include triple-lip seals that keep out contaminants, while a rubberized flinger expels any debris that works its way into the component. A Maxlife ball cage retains lubrication and prevents washout.

What it means to you: Longer service life in dirty environments for more uptime; polymer or stainless housings.

Innovator: Baldor Electric Co. — Dodge
(864) 297-4800

Cable connector shows when it's locked

Han-Yellock connectors have two squeezable release buttons with red collars that show when they're not engaged. Internal connections are easily customized, and all-male contacts simplify installation.

What it means to you: Faster, safer connections withstand harsh environments and resist tampering; connector's female pin module can be easily replaced if wear develops.

Innovator: HARTING
North America
(847) 717-9316

Extra-long transducer withstands 150 g

Micropulse Generation 7 linear-position transducers have stroke lengths to 300 in., and shock ratings 50% better than those of previous versions. Other improvements are boosted EMI immunity and ingress protection to IP68, all in a backward-compatible design.

What it means to you: Consistently accurate position feedback, even at startup; mechanism requires no rehoming.

Innovator: Balluff Inc.
(800) 543-8390

Totally smooth conveyors collect no dust

DustPruf 2300 and 5300 Series conveyors have streamlined geometry that eliminates points where debris can collect — but with frame SmartSlots that still allow hardware mounting. Widths range from 2 in. to 3 ft wide, and lengths reach up to 83 ft long, in several versions; speeds reach 260 ft/min.

What it means to you: All the integration capabilities of T slots without their tendency to collect debris.

Innovator: Dorner Mfg. Corp.
(800) 397-8664

All-in-one robot joint

Robolink's bionic core consists of plastic joints that are controlled via cable pulls that transfer tensile forces — similar to how human tendons function — while cable sheaths hold steady. Data cables convey images, acoustics, and forces; magnetic sensors measure angular joint position.

What it means to you: All-in-one modular joint for use in humanoid robots and lightweight material handling.

Innovator: igus Inc.
(800) 521-2747

Torque limiter outperforms electronics

SL Series mechanical torque limiters are not bulky and heavy like other mechanical varieties. They also don't pose the same vulnerability as electronic current limitation, which can decelerate rotating masses at rates that risk torque overload through reflected inertia, and exceed a motor's peak torque rating.

What it means to you: The limiter disengages at 5 to 700 Nm, and reduces drive power consumption.

Innovator: R+W America
(888) 479-8728

Planetary gear unit eliminates oversizing

The PHQ planetary gear unit boosts torque up to 35% while extending life and maintaining up to 93% efficiency — for outputs to 88,500 in.-lb.

What it means to you: Compact gear unit allows for smaller and more efficient designs; it increases torsional rigidity up to 80% for fewer positioning errors. Ratios range from 18:1 to 600:1; peak input speed is up to 7,000 rpm.

Innovator: STOBER Drives Inc.
(606) 759-5090

Helical-bevel box in worm-gear envelope

IronMan E Series gear reducers put out up to 8.5 hp with 90% efficiency across all ratios — as there's none of the sliding friction that limits worm-drive efficiency to 45% to 85%. However, the reducers are designed with the same footprint as previous worm gear drives.

What it means to you: Higher efficiency and torque from a given footprint — for motor downsizing and reduced energy costs. Ratios are from 7.8:1 to 60:1; triple-reduction units are possible.

Innovator: Grove Gear
(262) 878-1221

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