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Latest Insights in the Evolving Digital World

Activating Electric Switches in Life and Death Situations

When I rolled out of bed this morning, one of the first things I did was turn on the overhead light. With the flip of a switch, my room transformed from a dark, quiet, peaceful sleeping chamber to a harsh, fully-lit, squint-inducing wake-up call in a tenth of a second. If you think about it, that technology, an on-off toggle switch, is pretty convenient, but no big deal since people have been using them for around 100 years. These handy devices aren’t just designed to turn lights on and off. Electric switches actually have some pretty important applications-life and death, in fact, and are found in heavy machinery, space crafts, trains, high-speed vehicles and military aircrafts.

Electric Hoists Relieve Airport Headaches

In factories and manufacturing warehouses, electric hoists are all over the place. Anything too heavy to be lifted, lowered or pulled manually is usually transported by a hoist generated by an electrical motor. For those of us that don’t often find ourselves in an industrial setting, seeing or using electric hoists may seem like a rare occasion. However, these hoists are seen daily by millions of regular non-factory working people in every part of the world. If you’ve ever been to a major international airport, chances are you’ve run across an electric hoist or two. Sometimes I get the impression that every airport I’ve ever visited was under some sort of construction. It seems they are infinitely expanding, building and adding on to terminals. These projects can create confusion, crowding and all sorts of traveling complications, causing travelers major headaches and missed flights. But not to worry-more and more airports are choosing to employ electric hoists in their construction jobs, which speed up the process and take up less space. These hoists contribute to reduced transit time between terminals, and may help travelers catch their layovers.

What’s the Difference Between North American & European Cord Sets?

Last winter I was visiting family in Germany. The first morning of my vacation, I woke up, showered and unpacked my hair dryer. But when I went to plug it in, something odd happened. My hair dryer’s electrical plug did not fit into my Aunt’s outlet because there was a different amount of prong holes, which were round instead of flat. This is a problem that international travelers often encounter. There are many differences in the construction and type and strength of the current that electrical outlets are made to manage in cords and outlets in North America and most of Europe. The type of current differs between countries. North America uses an alternating current, which reverses direction in electric circuit at regular intervals. Europeans use a direct current, which has an unidirectional flow of electric charge. This factor necessitates a difference in the way electrical outlets, cords and plugs are constructed, which created the problem at my Aunt’s house. American cord sets generally have 2 prongs, or 3 for products with higher voltage. One prong is generally larger than the other, and they are both flat. Overseas, the amount and arrangement of prongs varies quite a bit among countries. Generally, they are all rounded and about the same size. This makes American electrical products’ cord sets incompatible with European outlets, and vice versa.

4 Useful Static Eliminators to Keep your Equipment from Catastrophic Disaster

Everyone has had plenty of experiences dealing with electrostatic discharge-reaching out a hand to open the car door on a dry winter day and hesitating, because you know that zap is coming. Annoying isn’t it? Unfortunately, ESD can be a lot more harmful than that. Without proper prevention, it could damage a computer to the point of no return. The zap you felt when you opened the door was at least 2,500 volts of ESD, caused by the transfer of electrons from one surface (the door handle) to another (your hand). Charges as weak as 200 volts can severely damage your computer, and since they are below the threshold of human feeling, you might have no idea it’s happening. Catastrophic failure, damage to your computer that cannot be undone, is commonly due to ESD, and it can be direct or latent. Direct isn’t really a problem to anyone but manufacturers, since it is usually detected in initial testing. Latent catastrophic failure is what you should worry about. Low-voltage static charges may be slowly causing damage to your computer system, and may not show symptoms for weeks or even months. Then, suddenly, out of nowhere, you’ve got a computer that won’t turn on and can’t be fixed.

Advantages of AC-DC ‘Brick’ Power Modules

Compact DC-DC converters have made their way into millions of electronic products and systems. The vast majority of these depend upon an AC-DC power supply (metal box or chassis-mount) to convert the AC into a DC voltage from which the converters can operate. In addition, regulations have mandated that these power supplies include Power Factor & Harmonic Correction (PFHC) to maximize the available power from the power grid. Add to this the need to be as small as possible and to operate with in harsh ambient temperatures and the designer is faced with a problem that is not easily solved.

Advanced Ceramic (AlN) Heaters For Semiconductor Backend Packaging Applications

As electronic devices become increasingly smaller, lighter, thinner and more powerful, the demand for more precise and faster packaging technology has increased. Despite the difference in various packages available in the industry, the technology of packaging processes share common steps. In general, these steps include: die preparation, die attach, wire bonding and encapsulation. Among these steps, die attach is one of the most challenging processes, as it involves material compatibility, placement and dispensing accuracy, precision process temperature profile and a short cycle time…

Safety Comes First When Using Electric Heaters

We rely on electric heaters to warm our homes, offices, water and food, and manufacturers depend on electric heating for numerous industrial processes, such as plastic and rubber injection molding, packaging heat sealing and die casting. All electric heater appliances contain some form of heating element that acts as a resistor to convert the energy of an electrical current into heat. The heater can be as simple as the resistor welded or brazed into a metal flange or plug that contains an electrical terminal, or a number of resistors could be bundled together inside a larger unit. Due to the obvious hazards of bodily burns and fire damage, proper precautions need to be taken when using any kind of electric heater…

Rapid Cooling of Aluminum Nitride Heaters

Single Iteration, a division of Watlow, has conducted preliminary concept generation and evaluation for several alternative solutions for providing rapid cooling of AlN based heaters. Cost/benefit analysis of the various alternatives indicated that forced air cooling would be preferred for many applications of the latest AlN heating technology…