Technology category

Carbon Introduces SpeedCell System & Bigger 3D Printers

Since 2013, the additive manufacturing startup Carbon had altered the 3D printing industry. Carbon produced its industry-changing M1 3D printer and CLIP 3D printing technology, bringing never-before-seen printing speed and end-use-quality polymer parts to the market.

Today Carbon is on a mission to help manufacturers and designers cut their costs, waste less energy and materials while speeding up the time it takes to get from concept to product on the market. The company released its ‘SpeedCell’ system, a new service aimed at contract manufacturers, and other high volume manufacturing businesses.

SpeedCell is a system of securely connected products designed to upend traditional methods of manufacturing. The first components of the SpeedCell include two new products that provide a powerful solution for additive manufacturing at scale: The M2 3D printer, and the Smart Part Washer.

The Carbon M2, with a build volume of 190 x 118 x 326 mm, is twice the size of the M1,  and it enables the printing of larger parts or more parts per build with the same 75 µm resolution and isotropic quality as Carbon’s pioneering M1 printer.

The Smart Part Washer is a novel machine that automatically cleans parts in a fast, repeatable, environmentally friendly and part-specific manner.

The SpeedCell was developed as a response to the needs of Carbon’s customers and strategic partners, including BMW Group and General Electric. Fast Radius, in partnership with UPS, are new Carbon customers and are among Carbon’s SpeedCell launch partners. Additional launch partners include Dinsmore and Associates, Sculpteo, Primary Manufacturing, and The Technology House.

SpeedCell is offered in two configurations:

  • Design SpeedCell: couples one M Series printer with a Smart Part Washer, allowing product designers and engineers to iterate on product concepts with the confidence that their product can be turned into real parts at any volume.
  • Production SpeedCell: specifically designed for industrial manufacturing applications, pairs multiple production floor compatible M2 printers with a Smart Part Washer.

For our customers, this means that their product development cycles no longer need to include the antiquated traditional manufacturing process steps of designing, prototyping, tooling, and then production. Instead, products can be designed and engineered on a platform that is also the means of production, eliminating prototyping and tooling steps. This dis-intermediation is at the core of Carbon’s role in accelerating the much-anticipated digital revolution in manufacturing.

~ Said Dr. Joseph DeSimone, co-founder and CEO of Carbon.

According to Carbon, the combination of CLIP technology and the SpeedCell system allows for the production of previously impossible designs, such as complex assemblies combined into a single part, or lattices that can’t be produced by milling or molding. It also minimizes the tooling and prototyping stages of the design process and enables manufacturers to go directly to end-stage production.

SpeedCell is being marketed with the same subscription model that Carbon used for the M1, with prices as following for 3 years minimum term:

  • M1: $40,000 per year
  • M2: $50,000 per year
  • Smart Part Washer: $10,000 per year
  • SpeedCell Bundle (available until the end of 2017): Includes a free Smart Part Washer with three or more M Series printers

Carbon displayedthe SpeedCell at the Additive Manufacturing Users Group (AMUG) conference that took place in Chicago from March 19 to 23.

For further information, visit the official blog of launching the SpeedCell. You can also view an interview with Dr. Joseph DeSimone, co-founder and CEO of Carbon, about the new system at 3dprint.com.

Send & Receive Radio With A Single Chip

Fitting transmit and receive capabilities of radio signals into one device may be impossible without using a significant filter, which is needed to isolate sent and received signals from each other.

The major obstacle to achieve that is the weakness of the received signal compared with the much stronger transmitted signal. However, researchers from Cornell University found their way to jump over this obstacle and created a two-way transceiver chip.

Alyosha Molnar, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering (ECE), and Alyssa Apsel, professor of ECE, had come up with a new solution to separate the signals. They made the transmitter consist of six sub-transmitters hooked into an artificial transmission line. Each one sends a weighted signal at regular intervals which combined with others such as a radio frequency signal in the forward direction, and at the same time they cancel each other in the opposite direction (towards to receiver).

The programmability of the individual outputs allows this simultaneous summation and cancellation to be tuned across a wide range of frequencies, and to adjust to signal strength at the antenna.

“You put the antenna at one end and the amplified signal goes out the antenna, and you put the receiver at the other end and that’s where the nulling happens,” Molnar said. “Your receiver sees the antenna through this wire, the transmission line, but it doesn’t see the transmit signal because it’s canceling itself out at that end.”

This research is based on a research reported six years ago by a group from Stanford University, which demonstrated a way for the transmitter to filter its own transmission, allowing the weaker incoming signal to be heard.

One of the sub-transmitter concept enhancements is that it will work over a range of frequencies, and instead of using a filter for every band, signal separation can be controlled digitally.

“You could have a single device that can be anything,” Apsel said. “You wouldn’t have to buy a new piece of equipment to have the newest version of it.”

You can find the full research at the IEEE Journal of Solid State Physics.

ReRAM, Process Data Where They Are Stored

Because data storage and processor are separated from each other, moving data between the storage and the computation unit became a main factor in computing.
Many techniques were developed to speed up this process, such as pipelining, caching, and look-ahead execution, but “ReRAM” appears as a new technique to solve the root of the problem by merging memory and processor together.

Resistive RAM, which known as RRAM or RERAM, is the new generation of memories. Its cells are simpler than classic transistor-based memory cells, they are non-volatile, switch fast and can run from low voltages. Researchers now have managed to make RERAM cells store more than just a ‘0’ or a ‘1’, enabling in-place computations.

The first small memory devices based on this technology is the MB85AS4MT, that was developed by Fujitsu Semiconductor with Panasonic Semiconductor Solutions. MB85AS4MT is a 4 Mbit ReRAM chip that operates with a supply voltage in the range from 1.65 to 3.6 V and has an SPI interface. One of the stand-out features of this technology is its low operating current, just 0.2 mA, at a maximum read speed of 5 MHz.

Using so-called RERAM crossbar arrays, researchers have demonstrated the in-memory execution of binary matrix computations frequently encountered in high-performance computing, algebraic cryptanalysis, combinatorics and finite geometry data, and in general large scale data analysis. Although we are only at the beginning of this technology, the results are already promising.

More mathematical details can be found in this paper.

Source: elektor.

Super Efficient Nano-LED

For the exponentially growing data traffic worldwide, the data connections within and between microchips are increasingly becoming a bottleneck. Optical connections are an obvious successor, but that requires an adequate nano-sized light source – and this has now been found. Researchers from the TU Eindhoven have succeeded in making a nano-LED with an efficiency 1000 times greater than its predecessors, and which can operate at a data rate of gigabits per second.


The data connections between microchips (the so-called interconnects) are responsible for the majority of the energy consumption of these chips – one of the reasons why there is a worldwide search for optical (photonic) interconnects. The problem here is the light source: it has to be small enough to fit in the microscopic structure of the microchips. The output power and efficiency also have to be high enough – and especially the latter was a challenge.

The LED that was developed at the TU Eindhoven has a size of only a few hundred nanometers and has a integrated light channel (wave guide) for transporting the light signal. The increase in the efficiency of this new LED was mostly due to the quality of the coupling of the LED to that light channel.

The research is described in the paper ‘Waveguide-coupled nanopillar metal-cavity light-emitting diodes on silicon’ that appeared in Nature Communications; it can be viewed here.
Source: Elektor

Accessible Microfluidics Devices With Ultimaker

Researchers at Cardiff University use 3D printing to create small devices that move small volumes of fluid and are used in various areas of research. 3D printing makes it possible to share the devices with other researchers, making the study of microfluidics more accessible to a wider audience. The 3D printed devices offer a cost-effective alternative to the traditional ones, which are expensive and require specialized skills and equipment. As technology advances and more materials become available, the application of 3D printing in microfluidics research continues to grow.

Microfluidics research

Microfluidic devices are small-scale circuits that are used to study the behavior of fluids in small volumes. The devices consist of small tubes that deliver small volumes of fluid to different sensors and other actuators in the circuit. Conceptually, they can be compared to plumbing systems that are reduced in size, onto a chip. The techniques used to create these microfluidic devices largely coincide with techniques used in the microelectronics industry to make the electronic chips in our computers and phones.

Microfluidic devices are used to make, for example, artificial cells for pharmaceuticals development, nuclear fusion targets for fusion energy production, and alginate capsules with neuronal stem cells inside to transplant into people with damaged spinal cords.

Traditionally, making these microfluidic devices was an expensive, lengthy and sophisticated process, requiring different types of expertise and using specialized equipment. The adoption of 3D printing significantly sped up this process, made it a lot cheaper, and allowed for the devices to be made on the spot in the research lab.

Microfluidics research studies the behavior of small volumes of fluid – Source: Ultimaker

3D printing microfluidic devices

Using their Ultimakers, researchers at Cardiff University now 3D print the microfluidic devices they use in their studies. The 3D printed devices are based on a modular system that consists of standard building blocks that are assembled together. Starting off with a number of standard components (tubings, junctions, etc.), the research team developed different types of microfluidic systems and used those designs to make a modular system that any other researcher can use to make their own microfluidic devices.

3D printing gives rise to significant cost savings over the traditional methods and allows for rapid iterations on the design of the microfluidic devices. Since the designs can easily be shared with researchers in different locations, microfluidics research becomes accessible to other researchers as well. As David Barrow, Research Professor at Cardiff University, explains:

The simple purchase of a 3D printer means that as long as one is able to draw out an object in a suitable file format, using a wide range of available software tools, it is a relatively easy thing to print the object, and indeed make many revisions, relatively rapidly.
Alex Morgan, Research Associate at Cardiff University, points out that other researchers previously discounted the use of 3D printing to create microfluidic devices as they were non-transparent and often leaked. By optimizing the print settings, however, Alex found that by printing in 50-micron layers and at a print speed of 30mm a minute, devices can be printed that are both transparent and water-tight. The research group’s recent publication explains how to do this.
After printing, the different parts of the microfluidic device are assembled – Source: Ultimaker

3D printing in research

3D printing makes it possible to share the designs of microfluidic devices with other researchers so that they can print them out in their own lab, perform their tests and report back the results. In this way, microfluidics becomes accessible for other researchers that otherwise may not be using it.

As the 3D printing industry evolves, applications of 3D printing in research continue to grow. As Oliver Castell, Group leader for Membrane Biophysics and Engineering explains, as the diversity of available materials increases and the precision of the machines improves, it becomes possible to incorporate not only microfluidics but also optical and electronic components in one device. This will yield multi-functional devices made from different materials.

The role of 3D printing in research is expanding with these technological advancements. Take a look at Ultimaker’s explore pages for more applications of 3D printing in research.

Source: Ultimaker

The New Light-responsive Nano LEDs

A team of researchers from the US and South Korea reported a unique type of NanoLEDs with unprecedented brightness levels, that excess 80,000 cd/m2, and also can operate both as light emitters and light detectors.

These new LEDs are about 50nm long and 6nm in diameter. As described in the paper, they included quantum dots of two different types, one of which can enhance radiative re-combinations (useful for LEDs) while the other type leads to efficient separation of photo-generated carriers.

Low- and high magnification scanning transmission electron microscopy images of DHNRs (right) magnified image of the region within the white dotted box on the left.

The research of this invention had been published in a paper titled “Double-heterojunction nanorod light-responsive LEDs for display applications“. The researchers consider the dual-mode LEDs will pave the way to new types of interactive displays.

As we head toward the “Internet of things” in which everything is integrated and connected, we need to develop the multi-functional technology that will make this happen. Oh et al. developed a quantum dot-based device that can harvest and generate light and process information. Their design is based on a double-hetero-junction nano-rod structure that, when appropriately biased, can function as a light-emitting diode or a photodetector. Such a dual-function device should contribute to the development of intelligent displays for networks of autonomous sensors.

The device can reach a maximum brightness in excess of 80,000 cd/m2 with a low turn-on voltage (around 1.7 V). It also exhibits low bias and high efficiencies at display-relevant brightness. The research team reports an external quantum efficiency of 8.0% at 1000 cd/m2 under 2.5 V bias.

Energy band diagram of DHNR-LED along with directions of charge flow for light emission (orange arrows) and detection (blue arrows) and a schematic of a DHNR.

One of the experiments was operating a 10×10 pixel DNHR-LED array under reverse bias as a live photodetectors, combined with a circuit board that supplied a forward bias to any pixel detecting incident light. And by alternating forward and reverse bias at a sub-millisecond time scale, light-detecting pixels could be “read out” as they illuminated the array.

Future applications of the DNHR LEDs include:

  • Translate any detected signal into brightness adjustments;
  • Automatic brightness adjustment in response to external light–intensity change;
  • Direct imaging or scanning at screen level;
  • Display-to-display data communication.
  • Displays can harvest or scavenge energy from ambient light sources without the need for integrating separate solar cells.

Sources: elektor, EETimes

Better current with spin electronics

by Clemens Valens @ elektormagazine.com

The ongoing miniaturisation of electronics is expected to reach its limits in the near future. One of the limitations is the size of electrons that are needed in electronic circuits to transport charge from one place to the other, what we usually call ‘current’. To work around this problem a team of scientists from Munich and Kyoto proposes a way to make current “better”, by using the electron’s spin instead of its charge. Enter spin electronics.

Better current with spin electronics – [Link]

Send Touch Over Distance With HEY Bracelet

HEY is an innovative bracelet that really makes you feel connected to a loved one. It uses a unique technology to send your touch as far as needed. It’s the first bracelet that mimics a real human touch, not by producing a mechanical vibration or buzzing sensation, but an actual gentle squeeze.

On Valentine’s Day the stylish piece of smart jewelry was launched on Kickstarter and within one hour it was already ‘trending’. Check the campaign video:

The bracelet incorporates advanced technology that communicates through Bluetooth with your smartphone. The ingenious design  ensures that a touch wouldn’t be sent accidentally. In order to send a message you should touch the bracelet in two places and it will be transferred directly to your phone and from there to the connected HEY bracelet anywhere in the world.

Via Bluetooth HEY is connected to an app on your smartphone. This app makes sure all your little squeezes reach the other bracelet directly. It also helps you pair the bracelets easily, fast and without any hassle. And last but not least it keeps track of your love stats. For instance the distance between you and your loved one or the last time you were together. If desired, these features can be turned off. In the future more features will be added to the app.

HEY is invented by Mark van Rossem. He looked at the current world of communication and saw that one thing was missing. And that thing was touch. People communicate through technology 24/7, but there is always a physical distance separating them. So Mark set himself the seemingly impossible goal to send touch at great distances and came up with the idea for HEY. Together with successful entrepreneur, David van Brakel, he gathered a team of creative and technical professionals that have all earned their credentials in their field of expertise. Together they want to build products that bring people closer.

“From a simple touch like squeezing someone’s hand, to hugging, social touch is important in the way we maintain healthy and happy social relationships with the people that we care about most.” – Gijs Huisman, who collaborated in developing bracelet, is an expert at the University of Twente in the field of Social Touch Technology and has been researching haptic technology (touch by tech) for five years now.

No need to worry a lot about the safety of the bracelet electronics since the design is weatherproof. With only 30 minutes of charging, you will be able to send touches for around 3 weeks!

HEY adds a completely new dimension to relationships and more haptic products will be developed in the near future. For more information and updates, check the official website and the Kickstarter campaign. 35 days are left to pre-order 2 HEY bracelets with the Kickstarter deal for €83 which is 30% of the retail price.

Low-Cost FPGA With Reconfigurable Electronics Feature

Iolinker is a cheap 64 FPGA board with a MachXO FPGA that functions as a dynamically configurable IO matrix. Its main functionality, besides IO extension, is to dynamically set up a matrix of GPIO connections, that allow direct pass-through of high-frequency signals. Circuits can thereby be configured and programmed on the fly. There are UART / SPI / I2C connections that allow for easy integration of up to 127 chips connected in parallel.

Thanks to the open source library, Iolinker allows developers to create reconfigurable, easy to self test electronics within minutes. It can be used to be an IO extender and can output PWM signals. In addition, its revolutionary “IO linking” feature allows to dynamically pass through high-speed signals between IOs, better than any microprocessor ever could.

Check this teaser about the new board:

Iolinker has the following specifications:

  • Reprogrammable FPGA board with Lattice LCMXO3L-4300E-5UWG81CTR50
  • Preprogrammed and usable out of the box as your IO interface of choice.
  • 49 GPIOs for PWM or IO extension usage, VCCIO is 3.3V.
  • Boards can be connected in parallel, to create endless IO extension.
  • IOs can be linked to each other, i.e. you tell the FPGA to connect them, and it forwards the input signal from one pin to another. (Read more about the iolinker chip function.)
  • UART, SPI or I2C interfaces are available.

In order to make the ultimate IO interface for users, the team are accepting feature requests at the contact page.

In short, the Iolinker board is easy to use and can reconfigure schematics on the fly, what makes it ideal to reduce prototyping time and jumper cable mess, and to maximize the ability of using IO extensions.

More technical details about Iolinker and its price will be announced soon at the Kickstarter campaign at Feb 14. Some special offers are for everyone who register in the website’s newsletter, so register now and stay tuned!

 

Puck.js - A JavaScript powered button

Puck.js – The Ground-Breaking Bluetooth Low Energy Beacon

Puck.js is a low energy smart device which can be programmed and debugged wirelessly with JavaScript. It is both multi-functional and easy to use.  This beacon uses a custom circuit board with the latest Nordic chip, Bluetooth LE, Infrared transmitter, NFC, magnetometer, temperature sensor, RGB LEDs, and much more. Unlike other beacons, Puck.js comes with the open source JavaScript interpreter Espruino pre-installed, which makes it incredibly easy to use. Anyone without any prior programming experience can get started in seconds.

Puck.js Has a Very Small Form Factor
Puck.js Has a Very Small Form Factor

Specifications:

  • Espruino JavaScript interpreter pre-installed
  • nRF52832 SoC – Cortex M4, 64kB RAM, 512kB Flash
  • 8 × 0.1″ GPIO (capable of PWM, SPI, I2C, UART, Analog Input)
  • 9 × SMD GPIO (capable of PWM, SPI, I2C, UART)
  • Compatible with Bluetooth 5.0 – giving Quadruple the range, and double the speed of Bluetooth 4.2
  • Built-in Near Field Communications (NFC)
  • 12 bit ADC, timers, SPI, I2C, and Serial
  • MAG3110 Magnetometer
  • IR Transmitter
  • Red, Green and Blue LEDs
  • Pin capable of capacitive sensing
  • Built-in temperature sensor, light sensor, and battery level sensor
  • ABS plastic rear case and silicone cover with tactile button
  • CR2032 210mAh battery

Features:

Puck.js has various sensors for different purposes and various kinds of output components. It can measure light, temperature, magnetic fields, and capacitance. This beacon also can control Infrared remote devices, produce any color light using RGB LED, and has a tactile switch that turns the Puck into one big button.

The Magnetometer on Puck.js is a digital compass. You can measure its orientation about the earth’s magnetic field in 3 dimensions. It can also detect a magnet nearby and measures the magnetic field.

Detailed View of Puck.js Bluetooth Beacon
Detailed View of Puck.js Bluetooth Beacon

Puck also has the Web Bluetooth feature that enables controlling it from a web page wirelessly. The website simply sends the JavaScript code directly to the Puck, and it’ll be executed. Another excellent feature of Puck.js is internet accessibility. Espruino contains TCP/IP and HTTP client and servers (including WebSockets). With a suitable Bluetooth LE to the Internet Gateway, you’ll be able to put your Puck on the web!

The story doesn’t end here. Compared to other smart beacons, Puck.js has much more features that make it unbeatable. Open Source hardware and software is one of them. Go here to get a complete list of all features.

Conclusion:

Puck is an outstanding product. It has tons of booming features in a small package, yet easy to program. Anyone can get started with this amazing device within seconds. You can get it at £28 from this Kickstarter link. Also watch this video from Kickstarter campaign or the below video by Adafruit.com for a better understanding.