Lasers and high-performance cuttingWritten by Carolyn Griffith
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Most cutting systems, Momany says, are driven by Hewlett Packard Graphical Language (HPGL), whose limitations render it unable to handle ULDB-sized projects. "With HPGL, you lose accuracy over long lengths of material…you run out of math; you run out of decimal points," he elaborates. EdgeWISE engineers have developed a new data processing technology that can achieve accuracy out to 16 or more decimal places. "And with HPGL, at 3,000 inches, system would just stop, and you’d have to re-send images—but it wouldn’t have any way of knowing where it had left off," Momany says, noting that 3,000 inches, or 250 feet, is less than one-half length of a ULDB gore. "Our system can just keep on going." As Momany explains SDC’s advantages for NASA application, he keeps bumping into his company’s own "cutting edge" issues: proprietary technologies, which he doesn’t dare explain in excessive detail. EdgeWISE is currently patenting SDC system, with between 15 and 20 individual processes listed as claims on application; this is one of four patent applications company has going, and Momany expects to initiate another two sometime this year. (The tiny company, by way, employs three full-time and two part-time workers, and uses five to seven contractors.) As it turned out, EdgeWISE’s SDC system was able to come darn close to original tolerance requirement, at +/- .3 inches; but, as NASA, Dimension Polyant and Raven Industries continue to tinker with composition of balloon fabric, new hurdles emerge. Simply cutting one lobe down middle of run of fabric results in 40 percent waste, so EdgeWISE designed system to cut half lobes down each straight edge, to be sewn together afterward, cutting waste down to only 14 percent. This means system must be able to detect fabric edge, which was no problem with earlier translucent material. The most recent version of fabric, however, is transparent, so edge detection becomes a bigger problem.
Performance and perforation Momany suggests that SDC system would be suitable for a variety of applications with simple cutting patterns requiring high volume throughput, such as automotive air bags. The RFL system is faster than a flatbed, and SDC is faster yet, able to handle 350 or more linear feet of material per minute. In addition to advantage of taking up much less floor space than flatbed systems, roll-feed SDC allows for faster throughput without increasing safety compliance issues or need for training. "We try to make every machine using a Class One laser beam—as safe as your laser printer," Momany notes. By definition, Class One beams are totally enclosed. If, for example, ULDB gores were to be cut with a laser moving over a flatbed, "to move 600 feet, it would have to be a Class Four beam—and everyone in room would have to be laser-trained and wearing goggles," he explains. Now, EdgeWISE is working on adapting laser cutting technology to perforation applications. "We can take 60-inch-wide material and perforate it with a quarter inch separating holes in a row, and a quarter inch separating rows, at 85 feet per minute—that’s a half-million holes a minute," Momany says, noting that one client, an aerospace company, uses resulting perforated material to filter resin evenly onto parts that must be glued together. "The limitation on most perforation operations is mechanical; it’s like they’re using a rotary pincushion, and needles break all time," Momany says. It’s not uncommon for needle breakage to occur several times a week, or even daily, resulting in four to eight hours of downtime each time. "The laser perforation could be used in manufacturing disposable diapers, band-aids, all kinds of geotextiles." While in Momany’s view it’s EdgeWISE’s small size and flexibility that enables it to take on these kinds of problem-solving challenges, he also admits that aerospace client was originally nervous about reliability of such a tiny supplier. The ULDB Project provided a needed dose of credibility. "When you say you’re working with NASA, that tends to get people’s attention," he concludes.
Reprinted with permission from Industrial Fabric Products Review April 2000. Copyright ® 2000 by Industrial Fabrics Association International. Industrial Fabric Products Review
Carolyn Griffith is a freelance writer based in St. Paul, Minn. She also authored the October 1999 article "Near-Space Balloons: NASA’s New Workhorses."
Understanding Regulated and Non-regulated Charges to Your Phone BillsWritten by Karen Thatcher
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Various price schedules and rates are applied to non-regulated offerings, in accordance with current business and competitive conditions. Keep in mind that all non-regulated charges are subject to rapid change and negotiation, although some are traditionally fixed for a year at a time.
Prices and rates for non-regulated items must be obtained from suppliers. The following services are unregulated in most states:
Terminal and switching equipment, and ancillary items. Pay telephones. Some service enhancements, such as wire maintenance and voice mail boxes Directory advertising, bold listings, street directories Sale of "foreign" directories. Many kinds of studies and some technical service matters, some corridor and other services.
In Part II, we will look at taxes - federal, state and local - that are imposed on both regulated, and non-regulated portions of your bills. Included will be three "rules-of-thumb" for taxes, along with specifics on what these taxes are and purpose for which they are paid, and, who is exempt from them.
Karen Thatcher is President of TelCon Associates, a 30 year old telecom consulting and management firm. TelCon Associates helps companies gain control and reduce telecom/IT spending through a guaranteed cost-reduction consulting process. To receive a free CD-ROM entitled, Telecom Tips and Strategies for Businesses, visit www.telconassociates.com