Dascor's Got Your Back
Having a bad back is no fun, and the corrective measures can be just as unpleasant. So Disc Dynamics, Devicix, and MTS Sensors Div. got together to devise a minimally invasive way to treat degenerative disc disease. The result is the Dascor Disc Arthroplasty System, in which the nucleus of a spinal disc is removed and replaced with an artificial nucleus that restores the correct gap height between the vertebrae.
Initial versions of the surgical tool used to install the artificial nucleus delivered the two-part polymer to the site pneumatically, and proved to have control issues that made it difficult to ensure the desired amount of polymer was injected.
Disc Dynamics (www.discdyn.com) and Devicix (www.devicix.com) integrated the procedural requirements into a surgical tool that could be easily operated by physicians and trained technicians. Devicix integrated software, electrical, and mechanical disciplines into a microprocessor-based tool that allows closed-loop control of polymer injection via feedback from linear position and pressure sensors. Instead of pneumatics, the Dascor System now uses a motor driving a ball screw monitored by a Temposonics MTS C-Series magnetostrictive linear position sensor to deliver an accurately measured quantity of the polymer.
The challenge: Devise an easier way to treat spinal disc disease
The sensor head measures 36 mm dia.; the 4 mm dia. sensor shaft, 18 mm dead zone, and 21 mm null zone improve the overall length-to-active zone ratio. Forward and rearward travel limits are calibrated from the C-Series position feedback, eliminating the need for limit switches. The sensor's absolute output also obviates the need for encoders. The required volume of polymer as determined from a CT scan is compared with filling volume in the artificial nucleus and then calculated from the sensor's feedback to ensure the correct final size.
Who wants to buy a beverage in a chipped bottle or cereal in a box with crushed corners? Sensor Wireless Inc. (www.sensorwireless.com) set about developing a specialized technology to prevent such uglies. Their wireless sensors transmit data on handling and environmental parameters and show the results in real time.
The challenge: Stop rough handling on the production line
Sensor Wireless, on behalf of certain beverage and cereal makers, approached Tekscan about developing a force sensor for integration into a wireless system that would accurately and effectively determine forces applied to bottles and boxes by production line rails, robotic grippers, and adjacent bottles/boxes during production. Tekscan's system instruments a model of a bottle with force sensors, then sends it through the manufacturing process to monitor and report force data. The sensors' output allows the manufacturers to pinpoint the location of high and low forces, and respond by either slowing down or accelerating the line. The benefit is major cost savings from increased production yields and reduced loss associated with damaged goods.
Don't Swipe the Shrimp
It's okay to poach eggs but definitely not okay not to poach shrimp—they're the livelihood of honest shrimpers. Poachers, operating after dark, have had the advantage over law enforcement officials trying to nab them. The EMX MidWatch thermal imaging camera, with its Thermal-Eye 3620AS amorphous silicon core, rides on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission craft, Guardian. When the ship finds a vessel in waters where shrimping is banned, the imager evaluates the temperature of any nets on board. If a net is cold, or close to water temperature, it's a pretty sure bet that net was recently used. Busted!
The challenge: Catch the shrimp poachers