• New R&D Centre will advance transport

    Plans have been announced to construct a new transport technology R&D centre on the MIRA site in Warwickshire

    Each of the test circuits of the innovITS-ADVANCE centre will be instrumented with telecommunications networks including: 2G, 3G, GPRS, WiFi, roadside beacons and monitoring systems such as inductive loops, and accurate position monitoring technologies including differential GPS, and in the future, Galileo systems.
    The first phase will involve the construction of a ‘city’ circuit including roads, traffic islands, roundabouts and controlled intersections, within the existing envelope of the MIRA site. The circuit is due to open in the late summer of 2009.
    The centre is the result of a collaboration between innovITS, set up by the the UK government’s Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform in 2005 to advance Intelligent Transport Systems, MIRA and TRL. The project is to involve the investment of some 30 million euros over five phases, of which the city circuit is only phase one. Possible projects that might be carried out could include: collision avoidance and mitigation, driver behaviour studies, intersection safety, vulnerable road user detection, telematics robustness in poor reception areas, road sign detection, traffic management, advance driver assistance systems, time and distance based road charging and autonomous vehicles.

    From eurekamagazine Thursday, April 3, 2008
  • Advantech Corporation: Automation Control Panels with Communication and Field-bus Capabilities

    The 6.5-in. TPC-671H, 10.4-in. TPC-1071H, 12.1-in. TPC-1271H and 15-in. TPC-1571H Touch Automation Control Panels use a fanless low power consuming Intel Atom 1.8 GHz processor with 4 GB RAM, making them suitable for a range of machine and factory automation applications. The panels feature a PCI-e and Mini PCIe expansion slot that supports four control protocols (Profibus, PROFINET, EtherCAT, and Powerlink). This enables users to connect with PLCs for further control and monitoring ease as well as supporting the WSN (Wireless Sensing Network). In addition, all the panels except the 6-in. version are integrated with eight isolated DI/DO ports which help to connect with sensor devices for alarm function/event trigger at industrial environments. The units also feature RTC battery backup for real-time data management in case of accidental power failure. Combining an external antenna and communication modules, such as Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth improves their wireless performance. Each supports Microsoft Windows 7/XP/WES and WEC.

    >> For more information on this product click here.

    From automationworld Friday, June 1, 2012
  • Proximity Sensors Explained

    Download File

    From automationworld Friday, April 25, 2014
  • Gary Erickson’s 3D Printed Faux Stained Glass Will Amaze You

    stainedfeaturedI remember as a child, visiting my uncle’s house and greatly admiring the stained glass windows that filled his living room and kitchen. There was something about these colorful pieces of glass, put together in a way that formed beautiful landscapes, scenery, and more that kept me mesmerized for hours. Unfortunately stained glass is rarely found in homes any longer, at least in homes built within the past half-century.

    Apparently I’m not the only one who still has an affinity for stained glass. A man named Gary Erickson does as well. In fact, Erickson has previously made his own stained glass, but found it too difficult to do so on a regular basis. Thanks to 3D printing though, he has been able to create the next best thing — 3D printed faux stained glass.

    stained1In order to do so, Erickson uses several types of free design software. He uses “” in order to edit pictures that he downloads from the internet, after searching for “stained glass patterns.” He then uses BMP2IGES to create an STL file from the modified picture, and then Netfabb Studio Free to cut out the frame/glass from the background and also correct any errors included in the STL file. It is then off to Repetier to re-size the model to fit onto Erickson’s Solidoodle 3D printer’s print bed.

    “The frame itself is fairly easy to create — just cut out and save,” Erickson explains to “The glass pieces are a little more complicated as I have to invert the original image, then re-make the stl in reverse. This allows Netfabb Studio to cut out the pieces. I then mirror the glass pieces so that they print upside down. This is done so the glass can be flipped over after printing, and fit into the recesses left in the frame.”

    The obvious question that arises is how the “glass” remains in the frame, without falling through. Erickson tells us that this is his “main secret” — a secret which Erickson may just take to the grave with him. His solution involves blurring the picture in before he creates the final image for printing.


    “I won’t reveal the blur used, because it took me some time to figure out how to do this procedure, but there are only a few, and if you look closely, you can figure it out,” Erickson tells us. “This blur leaves the base of the frame larger than the top, allowing the glass to fit inside without falling through. This also applies to the glass, which is also blurred at the same time as the frame. The glass is printed upside down to allow the blurred side to fit into the recess in the frame.”

    stained3Erickson first started out using a Solidoodle 3 to print his glass, but has since moved to a Solidoodle Press. As you can see in the photos provided, his faux stained glass really looks quite amazing. Whether or not it looks like the real thing is up to the person admiring it.

    “I think it does a good job of imitating real stained glass, or light catchers,” he explains. “I am retired and clearly have too much time on my hands.”

    Perhaps he should consider coming out of retirement and making a profession out of his newly found skill. I certainly wouldn’t mind having some of his works sitting in the windows of my home. Erickson has made several of his stained glass creations available for free download on Thingiverse.

    What do you think about Erickson’s 3D printed creations? Discuss in the 3D printed faux stained glass forum thread on



    From 3dprint Thursday, May 14, 2015
  • What’s Next For China’s Zero-Gravity 3D Printer? Slowly, More Details Emerge

    2016042007520262839Piece by piece, more details are being revealed about China’s progress toward 3D printing in space. Last week we reported that the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) recently ran several tests on a microgravity 3D printer that they had developed at the Research Center for Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing) Technology of Chongqing Institute of Green and Intelligent Technology (CIGIT). The printer underwent a total of 93 parabolic test flights, which showed that not only can the printer operate in zero gravity, but it can successfully print with five different materials and two different printing technologies.

    Now, CIGIT has released a few more details about what was printed and where they intend to go with the printer from here. CIGIT, which operates under CAS, was established in 2011, and its additive manufacturing research center has been responsible for some interesting developments in emerging fields such as nanoprinting. The zero-gravity 3D printer, however, is undoubtedly the center’s most significant accomplishment thus far.

    “(The printer) has many unique functions such as the ability to upload under a variety of gravity environments, increased speed and vibration,” said Duan Xuanming, director of the Research Center for Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing) Technology. “We have made China’s first true 3D printing under microgravity a reality.”


    Image taken from video inside one of the microgravity printer’s recent test flights. Yes, that is a stuffed monkey floating above the printer.

    This is obviously huge news for China’s space program – particularly since China has been barred from the International Space Station since 2011. Since then, the country has been working on the construction of their own space station – an understandable response, as anyone who’s ever been excluded will agree. The development of the zero-g 3D printer is a major step forward, as it means that parts for the space station can be 3D printed both on Earth and in space, likely hastening the construction of the modular station as well as enabling its maintenance once it’s established. China’s main motivation for the building of the space printer is the same as NASA’s – to reduce their space station’s dependency on Earth for tools and supplies.


    Tilting? No problem.

    CIGIT was happy to point out that their printer is 20% larger than the most recent one launched by NASA, as well as being able to print in more materials. (Hey, if I was officially barred from the International Space Station, I’d be all “anything you can do I can do better” too.) There’s still a lot of work to be done, however, according to Yuan Jiahu, president of CIGIT:

    “Especially the printing of complicated shapes with high precision and multiple materials. Only when we make breakthroughs in these areas can the printer be fully used for high-end applications in space.”

    The tests showed that the 3D printer is capable of printing many of the tools and parts required to build a space station, however – the literal nuts and bolts, plus wrenches and other tools that, while they can be easily obtained on Earth, contribute to the weight and therefore cost of payloads sent into space. More critically, it’s capable of printing those tools without error while crazily tilting in zero gravity. China’s goal is for their space station to be completed in 2020, and the success of their 3D printer is an important step forward. This is amazing technology all round. What are your thoughts? Discuss in the Zero Gravity 3D Printer forum over at


    [Source / Images: Xinhua Net / Xinhua/Liu Chan]

    From 3dprint Wednesday, April 20, 2016