Here you have it — the best products of 2010 as determined by you. Following are the winners of Motion System Design's inaugural Best by Design and Motion Medalist contests. A hearty thanks to all of you readers who voted, and sincere appreciation to our esteemed judging panel.

Victory lap: Best by Design

You — our readers — and the panel of judges profiled on page 38 selected the following innovative components as the best of the best among our Better by Design candidates for 2010. Comments are those made by our judges.

Best by Design — Readers' Choice Gold

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. Why use it: Longer service life in dirty environments for more uptime; polymer or stainless housings.

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

Best by Design — Readers' Choice Silver

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. Why use it: All-in-one modular joint for use in humanoid robots and lightweight material handling.

Innovator: igus Inc. • (800) 521-2747 • igus.com

Best by Design — Readers' Choice Bronze

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. Why use it: Consistently accurate position feedback, even at startup; mechanism requires no rehoming.

Innovator: Balluff Inc. • (800) 543-8390 • balluff.com

Best by Design — Judges' Choice Gold

Robolink all-in-one robot joint from igus Inc.

Best by Design — Judges' Choice Silver

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. Why use it: Reliability in tough applications.

Innovator: Dynapar Corp. • (800) 873-8731 • dynapar.com

Best by Design — Judges' Choice Bronze

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. Why use it: The limiter disengages at 5 to 700 Nm, and reduces drive power consumption.

Innovator: R+W America • (888) 479-8728 rw-america.com

Victory lap: Motion Medalist awards

The following Motion Medalist awards are tallied from readers' votes and were chosen from a group of innovative components having enduring elegance.

Motion Medalist — Readers' Choice Gold

Hoopster retaining rings fit into much shallower grooves than regular snap rings or retaining rings and are suitable for light to heavy loads. For thin-wall tubes; low profile, precision circularity, small radial size, high thrust capacity; will not twist or deform under load as with conventional retaining rings; carbon and 302 stainless steel in sizes from 3/8 to 3 in.

Innovator: Smalley Steel Ring • (847) 719-5900 • smalley.com

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Motion Medalist — Readers' Choice Silver

The Productivity3000 PAC is a modular, rack-based system of up to 116,000 I/O points with local, expansion, and remote I/O bases and a full line of discrete, analog, and specialty I/O modules. The P3-550 CPU features 50-Mb memory and seven ports that support USB, Ethernet, and serial devices. Two power supplies (ac and dc) provide isolated 24, 5, and 3.3 Vdc to PAC bases.

Innovator: AutomationDirect • (800) 633-0405 automationdirect.com

Motion Medalist — Readers' Choice Bronze

The YBK series of feed-through terminal blocks use a tension clamp connection style for fast wire termination and reliable connection. DIN-rail mountable and available in gray, blue, red, yellow, beige, and green. Accessories include end plates, end brackets, cross connectors, and marking tags.

Innovator: Omega Engineering Inc. • (203) 359-1660 • omega.com

Motion Medalist — Readers' Choice Bronze

Stainless-steel Prizm Model CK7206 is a seven-channel electro-optical slip ring assembly that runs to 60 rpm with less than 1 dB of variation. Single or multimode; no dead spots, bidirectional; attenuation less than 4 dB for any pass; gold alloy brush and ring surface contacts; Power Ring comes with 20 rings — rated for 5,000 V at 20 A; Single Ring versions available.

Innovator: Moog Components Group • (800) 510-6855 moog.com/components

(Two products tied for Motion Medalist Bronze.)

Honorable mentions

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.

Why use it: Higher efficiency and torque from a given footprint — for motor downsizing and reduced energy costs.

Innovator: Grove Gear (262) 878-1221 • grovegear.com

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.

Why use it: Quick, easy, tools-free positioning for applications requiring rapid setup or frequent changeover.

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

Meet the Judges

Joe T. Franklin, Jr.
President
American Gear Manufacturers Association (AGMA)

Joe Franklin Jr. joined AGMA in November 1991. Prior to that, he worked with the Electronic Industries Association (EIA), and from 1977 to 1989, for the Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT) — initially as an economist and statistical director, and then as V.P. of operations. Franklin has served two terms on the Board of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and has been active in the National Association of Manufacturers' Council of Manufacturing Associations for two decades, including as a member of the Board of Directors.

AGMA is an international trade association representing companies that manufacture gears or gearing products, companies who use gears or supply capital equipment, services, and supplies to the industry, as well as consultants and academics. Founded in 1916, AGMA's mission is to enhance the industry's global competitiveness and develop technical standards.

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Bill Allai
Motion control principal engineer
National Instruments

Bill Allai is a motion control principal engineer at National Instruments and chairperson for the Motion Control Association. He has spent more than a decade in the motion control industry in a variety of technical roles, including development of motion controllers, servo and stepper drives, as well as machine vision and data acquisition products. He currently provides product strategy and technical guidance for the motion control activities within National Instruments.

National Instruments is a leading provider of hardware and software products enabling engineers and scientists to design, prototype, and deploy systems for test, control, and embedded design applications based on the LabVIEW graphical programming language. The Motion Control Association is a global not-for-profit trade group dedicated to promoting the understanding and use of motion control technologies.

Mark Eisenhaur
Motion control specialist
Eastern Industrial Automation

A Bachelor of Science in engineering from Maine Maritime Academy lead Mark Eisenhaur to jobs as an engineering officer aboard merchant ships and a plant operator in the nuclear power industry. Eisenhaur later became a manufacturer representative for power transmission and motion control companies, a territory manager for a small motor manufacturer, and is now a motion control specialist.

Eastern Industrial Automation is a distributor of electrical and mechanical power transmission equipment for OEM and MRO organizations in the U.S. and internationally. Its headquarters are in Waltham, Mass., with branch offices in Shanghai, China.

Jim Williams
V.P. of corporate purchasing and supplier relations
Motion Industries

A mechanical engineer by degree, Jim Williams was as a technical specialist, field manager, and product manager prior to his current position. Williams has been with Motion Industries for 26 years.

With 2009 sales of $2.9 billion, Motion Industries is a leading industrial parts distributor of bearings, mechanical power transmission, electrical and industrial automation, hydraulic and industrial hose, hydraulic and pneumatic components, industrial products, and material handling. This subsidiary of Genuine Parts Company has 500 operations including seven distribution centers throughout North America and serves more than 150,000 customers across a variety of industries.

Patrick J. Frater
Manager
Power Transmission Division
French Gerleman

Patrick Frater is a 30-year veteran at applying electrical, motion, and power transmission products as a factory sales engineer, VP of an OEM equipment builder, and owner of an industrial distributor. He has served on manufacturers' distributor councils and is a past president of the Power Transmission Distributors Association (PTDA).

French Gerleman is a regional distributor with five locations and 240 employees in Missouri, Illinois, and Kansas. The company has four product divisions — Automation, Power Transmission, DataCom, and Electrical supply — serving industrial, commercial, and contractor customers.