As companies and entire countries strive to increase usage of renewable energy technologies, a plethora of green components has been introduced. Included here are some of the latest products for your next lean and green design project.

Connectors plug into solar applications

ETL-certified PST 40i1 connectors provide pluggable connections to most solar PV modules, and over extended cable runs. 40-Adc capability meets the demands of increased input on solar string inverters. Pre-assembled connectors feature mate compatibility with industry standard types; cut to length, over-molded cable assemblies are delivered ready to install. NEC code requiring a tool to disconnect the PV connection is satisfied with a clip inserted into mated connectors, which can be removed with a screwdriver.
Wieland Electric Inc.
(910) 259-5050
www.wielandinc.com

Magnetic conveyors suit recycling needs

Newly redesigned Magnetic Cross-Belt conveyors feature structural enhancements, an improved magnetic deep-reach circuit, and tramp metal deflector shields that increase belt protection. Recycling plastic, tires and rubber, woods, and metals can be abrasive on belts; particles can easily get under the belt and onto the face of the magnet, causing problems. The new design features UHMW wings that extend over the bottom side edges of the belt to protect it from tearing. The design also seals the belt edge and keeps tramp metal from snapping to the side of the conveyor frame or getting under the belt.
Bunting Magnetics Co.
(800) 835-2526
www.crossbeltconveyors.com

Cables meet wind turbine needs

Resilience Wind Turbine Tray Cables are designed to fit wind turbine nacelles for low-voltage control, data, communication, and exposed-run power applications. Cables are UL and Wind Turbine Tray Cable (WTTC) approved and NFPA 79 (12.2.2) rated for constant flex, and can be shipped in five days with no minimum order length or quantity. Cables feature a torsional and bend high-flex life and exceed cold-bend test temperatures as low as -40° C. Highly oil resistant (Oil Res I and II) and FT4 flame rated, 6 to 18 AWG cable is available in AWM 300, 600, and WTTC-rated 1,000 V standard configurations.
Northwire Inc.
(800) 468-1516
www.northwire.com/resilience

Shaft collars, couplings suit solar installations

Shaft collars and rigid couplings designed for harsh environments deliver long service in residential, commercial, and small-scale solar power generation facilities. To withstand environmental conditions such as salt spray, wind, and moisture, a variety of zinc-plated steel, aluminum, and stainless steel collars are available in 303 and 316 grades. Collars and couplings are also suited for tracking and positioning systems and structural supports.
Ruland Manufacturing Co.
(508) 485-1000
www.ruland.com

Coupling adds efficiency to servomotor applications

This new CD coupling features a strong yet lightweight aluminum design with its working part made of a composite material. The composite disc design withstands the stresses of a servomotor's high acceleration rates and high torque capacity better than other couplings — which reduces energy requirements on motors while ensuring uninterrupted system operation. Couplings are available in single and double flex models with or without keyways. Single flex models have a torque capacity from 40 to 1,436 Nm and beyond with speed ratings from 4,400 to 17,000 rpm.
Zero-Max Inc.
(800) 533-1731
www.zero-max.com

Designs inspired by nature enhance manufacturing

The natural world is often cited as a source of inspiration for some of the world's greatest innovations. One manufacturer, Festo Corp., Hauppauge, N.Y., takes this inspiration to the extreme with its Bionic Learning Network. At the 2010 Hannover Trade Fair, the company introduced several Bionic Future Concepts inspired by nature, including a handling system based on an elephant's trunk and another system modeled after a fish fin. Here we take a brief look at each design.

Biomechatronic handling system

For the Bionic Handling Assistant, engineers were inspired by the elephant's trunk because it's flexible, transmits large forces, and serves as a precise gripping tool. The Assistant consists of three basic elements for spatial movement, together with a hand axis with ball joint and a gripper with adaptive fingers; the basic elements each comprise three circularly arranged actuators tapering at 3° angles, and each actuator is supplied with compressed air at the interfaces of these elements. Their extension is measured by travel sensors, which control the system's spatial movement.

In the hand axis, three further actuators are arranged around a ball joint; their activation displaces the gripper by an angle of up to 30° degrees. Sensors register the travel and ensure precise alignment, while proportional travel valves are used for overall control.

Contact with operators is less hazardous: In the event of a collision with a human, the Assistant yields immediately and only resumes operation when safe to do so. Unlike heavy industrial robots, the new machine features an excellent mass-to-payload ratio, smooth operating motion, and efficient use of resources due to its lightweight design as well as its ability to be manufactured on a one-off basis using rapid manufacturing techniques.

Fin for gripping

For the other innovation, BionicTripod 2.0, Festo designed a tripod gripper modeled after a fish tail fin. The goal with the BionicTripod was maximum scope of operation with minimal weight. An integrated FinGripper serves as the interface between the actuator and objects being manipulated: It consists of a pneumatic actuator (in the form of a bellows), three gripping fingers, and a ball joint (based on the human wrist) to maximize flexibility for picking and placing objects. The resulting flexibility makes the FinGripper well suited for tasks in human-machine interaction, such as sorting fruit and vegetables. Thanks to its lightweight design, the design is also energy efficient in these operations.