Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Q&A with the Bishop-Wisecarver Engineering Interns

Hi everyone, Eleanor here! I'm already hard at work in my role as the new marketing intern and have been commissioned with the fun task of interviewing Bishop-Wisecarver’s first-ever engineering interns, Naasik Akkas and Shail Shah. Both attend UC Berkeley College of Engineering, both are in their junior year and both said they're very excited to work here for the summer. Even in the first couple weeks with us, the pair has put their engineering knowledge to the test by working hands-on with our LoPro linear actuators and learning about mechatronics in the process. I sat down with them for a bit to get to know more about their backgrounds and interests [ read past Q&A blog posts ].

Got some questions of your own? Feel free to ask them in the comment section!

Why did you want to study engineering?

N: I was good at math and physics in high school.
S: I liked taking things apart when I was young.

Who was your biggest influence in becoming an engineering student?

N: My dad. He was a mechanical engineer and I wanted to learn more about what he did and what mechanical engineering involved.
S: My dad as well. He encouraged me to study math and science in depth.

What kind of job experience did you have before joining the Bishop-Wisecarver team? What prompted you to apply to Bishop-Wisecarver specifically?

N: I worked as a student instructor at a community college, where I taught physics and math. I also had an internship in Bangladesh at Greenfield Automation Technologies, at which I specialized in industrial automation. I heard about BWC from my professor at Berkeley.
S: Last summer I interned at Boeing at its headquarters in Seattle. In my role there, I did a lot of materials testing and worked in labs. I heard about the BWC internship directly from Ali, BWC's VP of Engineering, who came to speak at UC Berkeley this spring.

Which areas of engineering interest you most?

N: Robotics and control.
S: Controls and green technologies.

What do you enjoy most about being an engineering student?

N: I enjoy being able to apply what I learn at university to everyday life.
S: Knowing how things around me work.

What extracurricular activities do you enjoy doing?

N: Flying RC Planes.
S: Soccer and running. I also volunteer at Richmond High school, where I help kids make electric bicycles.

What would be your dream engineering project?

N: Making a fully autonomous humanoid robot.
S: Making remote control toys and squirt guns.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Meet Eleanor, Our New Marketing Intern!

FRESH FACES This has been a year of fresh new fun for us — newly hired VPs, exciting news announcements and the launch of our first-ever engineering and marketing internship program! Today, we welcomed our new marketing intern, Eleanor Huddart, to the team. She'll stay with us through July, learning the ins and outs of social media and marketing in the industrial B2B space. After taking a quick tour of the Bishop-Wisecarver plant, the machine shop and the rest of our Bay Area headquarters, she sat down to write a little intro for you all. Take a second to leave her a comment — help us welcome her into the new role! Thanks for working with us, Eleanor! It's going to be a great summer!

IN HER OWN WORDS "Hi! My name is Eleanor and today is my first day as a marketing intern at BWC. I have just finished my third year at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, where I am doing a double major in International Relations and Management. I am really happy to be back in California and under the sun, since it was snowing in Scotland right before I left!

I have taken marketing classes at St. Andrews and I am really looking forward to putting what I have learned in them into practice at an engineering company! I haven’t been exposed to engineering much, so this internship is such a great opportunity for me to not only learn more about engineering, but about marketing the wide range of products that BWC manufactures.

I was just given a tour of the building and it is really impressive! All of the machinery looks really high tech and I am really hopeful that by the end of this internship I will know how all of the machines work and can brag to my friends about how much I know about linear guide systems and engineering in general!"

Application Featurette: Driven Linear System Optimizes Mandrel Reeling

REELING IT IN Think about winding up a garden hose. When it fails to guide evenly, it builds up on one side of the reel, coils too loosely, tangles, jams or kinks. Super frustrating. That's exactly the type of problem Bell Plastics — a mandrel manufacturer — had to deal with in its original guidance mechanism.

"It simply wasn't providing adequate control and this presented us with a number of problems," Bell Plastics Production Engineer Sean Noonan told Process and Control Today in a March article. "The mandrel tended to stack in one place as it wound, rather than being layered evenly — often these stacks would build up and then collapse, leaving tangled loose coils on the drum."

THE CHALLENGE That type of jamming could damage the mandrel, Noonan explained. And once it's damaged, it has to get scrapped. Plus, the rewind process dramatically slows production because the operator has to untangle the mandrel by hand.

"This meant a job that should take maybe three hours could day days," Noonan said. "Also, the snatching and snagging as the tangles jammed during rewind would often mark the mandrel. Indeed, sometimes the mandrel would be so badly tangled, it would have to be cut from the winder and scrapped."

Basically, the whole process needed a motion control makeover.

THE SOLUTION Enter, the PDU2M HepcoMotion Profile Driven Unit. Bell Plastics designed a PDU2M to the front of each winder to carry the guides that the mandrel passes through. Since every one of the system's mandrels are extruded, the PDU2M moves back and forth to evenly guide the mandrel onto the winder drums and make sure it's coiled evenly across the width of it.

Hoses are usually made up of several layers, typically of rubber or plastic sheets, textile or alloy reinforcement. The manufacturer makes the host by layering one of those materials onto a mandrel to give the hose its shape. The mandrel basically creates the hole down the middle that runs the length of the hose. Then, the composite gets vulcanized, which helps melds the layers together. Then, it's unwound from the mandrel to make way for the next hose.

ROOM TO FLEX Bell Plastics specializes in flexible mandrels, according to Process and Control Today. Manufacturers used to use super rigid mandrels like steel rods, but one of the downsides was the length limitations on the end product. These days, most hose-makers use flexible mandrels made up of a variety of materials and in super long lengths — some up to several miles. In the end, it gets packed in tighter, easy-to-handle coils.

Bell Plastics was among the first in its industry to switch to flexible mandrels like that. It developed a unique way to make them free from holes and and air pockets, which could make the mandrel collapse during hose manufacturing.

IMPROVING THE PROCESS The HepcoMotion PDU2M helped Bell Plastics improve the whole process because the actuators automatically adjusted the travel pace based on the the mandrel size and line speed. The operator uses a touch screen to adjust the settings for every production run.

"There is provision in the control unit for future integration with an automated control system, so that selecting the parameters for a particular product on the extruder will automatically set up the PDU2M control," said Noonan, quoted in Process and Control Today. "We have also taken the opportunity to improve the way the mandrel is guided along the whole of the production line, reducing the risk of scrap generation."

What Bell Plastics wanted most out of the linear motion system was that it would be able to guide all the mandrels and adjust to shifting forces. Hepco's profile driven unit worked well for this application because its external carriage guides are built into the unit, Noonan explained. Plus, the unit would tolerate mounting on one of the existing system's stock bright steel plates, he added.

A competitor's product, for example, would have had the carriages run on another guide rail mounted onto a machined surface that would have to be exactly aligned with the guide — that means extra cash for extra build costs, Noonan said.

Linear Actuator - Profile Driven Unit

The PDU2M doubled the moment load capacity and increased the uplift in moment load stiffness by 1,000 percent. Direct load capacity upped by 50 percent. The stability and consistency of the PDU2M automated system gave Bell Plastics the ability to run lights-out production without fear of any problems resulting from having to manually winding the mandrels.

LEARN MORE That's a lot to take in, isn't it?! But really, if you want the lowdown on the mentioned profile drive unit in this blog, [ check out this product page. ] It's got all the specs, pics and other need-to-know info about this type of actuated linear guides.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Top 10 Twitter Posts — Week 22: A Tiny Life-Saving Heart, Sunset on Mars and a Robot President

You ready for a nice, restful Memorial Day weekend? Before you pack up, check out some of the highlights of our week on Twitter — from the informative to the silly, the entertaining to the educational. We love hearing what you have to say, and sharing right back with you the things that capture our flighty attention spans. Read for more? Follow us at @BWCnews!

Credit: RSA Animate
1. The Power of Networks via YouTube: The latest upload on one of our favorite YouTube channels, RSA Animate, discusses the power of of visualizing your network to help navigate our increasingly interconnected modern world. Watch it. See why we rave so much about this channel.

2. Vote Us a Leader in Engineering on Design World: The 2012 Leadership in Engineering Awards are underway — an annual contest organized by our friends at Design World that gives people a chance to rate their peers in a variety of engineering categories. Click through to cast your vote. We appreciate your support!

3. Tiny Artificial Heart Saves Baby's Life on Yahoo! News: Absolutely amazing. Just the other day, an Italian surgeon implanted a tiny titanium heart into a baby's chest. Incredible, the progress we've made since the first-ever heart transplant in 1967, when the patient survived but died later from complications.

4. Get Ready for the First Robot President on NPR: No, they're not talking about an actual robotic Commander-in-Chief. The reference is more to the point that the next United States president will usher in an era of unprecedented growth in the robotics industry. What do you think? Maybe we WILL elect an actual robot president ...

5. Sunset on Mars is Out of This World on The Sun: NASA just released breathtaking photos the Mars rover "Opportunity" snapped about a month ago. Better late than never to appreciate this otherworldly view. Awesome.

Credit: PR&D
6. The Golden Gate Bridge — Still an Amazing Engineering Feat 75 Years Later via Product Design & Development Magazine: We didn't realize until seeing news of it in PD&D that the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge construction is this year. The bridge, which lies a hop, skip and a jump away from the Bishop-Wisecarver headquarters, remains one of the most remarkably engineered suspension bridges in the world. We're proud it's part of our Bay Area home.

7. Did You Know We're Hiring? on Yup, another job ad posted! This time, we're looking for a SQL/Database Admin/Developer to add to our IT department. Amazing how quick we're growing!

8. Laser-Cut Animatronics Robot Comes to Maker Faire on We attended the Bay Area Maker Faire last weekend to see with our own eyes all the brilliant inventions West Coast DIY'ers had to offer. This robots stands as a good example of the kinds of things that held out attention at the massive event last weekend. Maker Faires, by the way, happen all over the world. Check their website to see when the next one's scheduled in your area!

9. FIRST Championship Video Recap on We uploaded a video recap of our trip to see the FRC, FTC, FLL and FLL Jr. Champion ship in St. Louis, Missouri to our other video channel on Vimeo. Good to look back and see the excitement of the event. Great memories.

10. Six Ways to Lure Talented Engineers to Your Start-Up on Looking for new talent on your engineering team? Don't recruit from bigger competitors. That's the first bit of advice from this columnist, a CEO of a tech company, who's writing about the best ways to attract new talent to your operation. Good advice here. How do you recruit new engineers?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Yay — We Reached 200,000 Views on YouTube!

We did it! We reached a social media achievement two years in the making! Our YouTube channel surpassed 200,000 video views today, and we're celebrating by decorating the Bishop-Wisecarver headquarters with red balloons. Woo hoo!

[ Visit our channel at ]

Since creating the account in December of 2009, we've covered many events such as the 2012 FIRST championship, posted how-to videos, product demos, interviews and application spotlights. We've fielded comments from all over the globe, shared clips on various publications and learned so much about the best ways our linear slides and rotary guides are used.

CHEERS TO THAT Time to go cut a few more videos. We've got 300,000 views to reach!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Vote Us a Leader in Engineering — We Need Your Help!

CAST YOUR VOTE Every year, the good folks at Design World magazine organize the Leadership in Engineering Awards, a contest where readers like you vote for innovators in a variety of engineering-related niche industries. We're happy to announce that Bishop-Wisecarver was nominated in the Motion Control category. Nearly 50 companies are listed in that section, so we're counting on you — our readers, customers and supporters — to cast your vote to help put us in the lead! We hope you believe in this linear guide wheel manufacturer like we think you do!

A NOTE ON LEADERSHIP The design and engineering publication listed a litany of attributes to consider in the company you choose to nominate. What defines engineering, they ask? "Is it skill, talent, comprehensive knowledge, a desire to improve, an ability to build a committed team, or another quality?" Leadership could entail all those things, they say.

We agree. And that's why we encourage you to support us in this. As innovators in guided motion technology and engineering solutions that streamline manufacturing all over the world, we have always maintained the importance of hiring skilled workers, talented innovators and knowledgeable leaders that prizes quality and innovation. Our founder, Bud Wisecarver, set the tone for our company to re-examine the way things are the come up with solutions that streamline operations, save time, money and energy and create products that make life easier for our customers.

WHAT THEY SAY Here's a little excerpt from Design World about why they created this award:
We at Design World wish to acknowledge those who demonstrate leadership in engineering. Too often, your dedication and relentless pursuit of excellence go unnoticed. That's why Design World created our Leadership in Engineering Recognition Award. We believe passionate, successful designers and engineers deserve recognition for their efforts. That recognition should come from your peers; engineers who understand the challenges that inspire and compel you to find solutions to seemingly intractable problems. 
The magazine will announce the winners in each category come December this year. Thanks in advance for your support, everyone! Let's do this!

Design World :: Leadership In Engineering 2012

Monday, May 21, 2012

PD&D EXCLUSIVE: How Mentor Eric Reed Discovered His Academic Self Through FIRST Robotics

MENTOR SPOTLIGHT We met high school math teacher Eric Reed a couple years ago when we first sponsored his students to compete in the FIRST Robotics Challenge. We have great memories from last year when our Project Engineer Brian Burke stopped by the classroom to assist students with their linear actuator build. Since then, we've developed close ties with him, his students and Middle College High School where he teaches. So when Product Design & Development Magazine approached us about profiling a FIRST mentor, Reed quickly came to mind.

We spent an afternoon catching up with the teacher and robotics mentor, asking him about why he chose to become an educator in the first place. His answer surprised us — he actually didn't discover his calling until later in life after working for years in fashion retail, buying and selling hoisery. His varied work history struck us as interesting, but more so his academic life. He wasn't the greatest student growing up, he told us, that's why he has such a heart for kids who are late-bloomers academically, kids who just need to find something that piques their interest to keep them on campus and in school.

'OMG ROBOTS' It didn't take long after he became a teacher to bring the FIRST robotics program to the schools where he taught. Those years of dedication to his students, to giving them an opportunity to discover the world of engineering and technology in a very hands-on, practical way led us to nominate him for this profile piece. [ Read the article — and leave a comment! We'd love to hear your thoughts! ]

MOTION MONDAY CHALLENGE You got all that? OK, let's test how much you even remember. And let's see how much the promise of a prize will motivate you into sending us the answers to this week's challenge. And hey, no shame if you need a cheat sheet! Just email your request to Good luck! [ Click here to download this week's challenge ]

Friday, May 18, 2012

Top 10 Twitter Posts — Week 20: Job Postings, Thought-Powered Robots and a Free MIT Class

Credit: Technology Review
1. Moving Robotic Arms With Just Your Thoughts on Technology Review: There now exists a technology that allows quadriplegics to control robotic arms with just their thoughts. The article says this is the first study that uses a brain chip to allow paralyzed people to accomplish simple tasks, like lifting a coffee thermos from a table, to their lips. Sounds like this could go a long way in improving the quality of life for a lot of people.

2. Discovering the Academic Self Through FIRST Robotics on Produce Design and Development: Yay! We got an exclusive piece about a FIRST robotics mentor published in PD&D. Read about the guy who heads up one of the FIRST teams we sponsored this year. Super cool!

3. YouTube Video Countdown on You guys, we're super close to reaching the big 200,000 views mark on our YouTube channel! Can you believe it?! We've come a long way in the few years since we created it. Check it out to peruse the archives of video we've posted since 2009. We've got lots of big thing in store for the rest of the year, too. So keep checking back every now and again!

3. Did You Know We're Hiring? on That's right — as our company continues to grow, we need to add some sales staff and an engineer. Want to delve into the world of linear slides, guides and rotary motion technologies? Check our our job listings for the latest openings. Can't wait to read your applications — send 'em on in!

Credit: Global Talent Strategy
4. Can the Manufacturing Sector Appeal to Generation Y? on Globalization, the exponential advancement of technology and shifting demographics, among other things, has dramatically changed modern manufacturing and created a significant talent shortage that could jeopardize the future of the industry. So how do we make the manufacturing sector more attractive to the current generation of young students? Here's an interesting look at the issue. What do you think?

5. Wallets Made From 70-Year-Old Baseball Gloves on So Father's Day is just around the corner ... and this nifty little number may make a good gift. Well, if you can afford to shell out $350, that is. Neat nonetheless.

6. Free Online MIT Course on Circuits and Electronics via MITx: We've mentioned before that a lot of top colleges and universities offer free online versions of the same courses other students pay tens of thousands of dollars to attend in person, right? Well, one of the more recent free online offerings through the Massachusetts Institutes of Technology is a class on circuits and electronics. You can drop in anytime. Way to be, MIT!

Credit: NASA
7. The Shake, Rattle and Roar of the J-2X Engine via It lasted just seven seconds, byt the "shake, rattle and roar" of the J-2X engine test in south Mississippi brought the nation a step closer to a return to outer space, according to the agency. Awesome photo of the launch here!

8. In Eight Years, Facebook Changed All We Do Online via Fast Company: When you have something to share, do you email your friends or just post it on a social network? Odd are, you just update your Facebook status. And that's just one way the social networking giant changed the whole culture of online information-sharing. Interesting read.

9. A Forklift Ballet via YouTube: Who knew two forklifts could be so elegant? 'Nuff said. Just watch this one!

10. Biometrics App Raises Privacy Concerns on The Bay Citizen: Another example of technology outpacing the ethics to manage it. A company recently released an app that allows the user to scan faces in a bar crowd to mine for info online about them. Creepy, right? So better think twice if the stranger you just met on your night out wants to take a picture of you and your friends. It could be a chance to cyberstalk you. Yipes!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Is That a Bishop-Wisecarver Coffee Mug? YES!

How cool is that? So we totally geeked out when we saw our Twitter friend Kirk Edwards, from EXAIR Corporation, tweet us a picture of him enjoying one of our BWC coffee mugs. Thanks for the share, Kirk, and for keeping in touch!

How did he score that awesome ceramic cup? Every Monday we post a puzzle here on the blog — sometimes a jigsaw, sometimes a word search — that we call our #MotionMonday Challenge. Quite a few of our readers solve these bit-sized bits of fun on a weekly basis, and we've immensely enjoyed the back and forth banter. People email us constantly with their completed puzzle for a chance to win one of the prizes we offer like t-shirts, mugs, other Bishop-Wisecarver swag. Check out this week's post!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Motion Monday: The 2012 Bay Area Maker Faire

It's that time of the week! Monday is here and we hope your brain is already in motion. In case you need an extra jolt, check out today's jigsaw puzzle. In honor of the upcoming Bay Area Maker Faire this weekend in San Mateo (May 19th and 20th), we put together a collage of photographs we took at last year's event. Part of the Bishop-Wisecarver team will be there, so look for us!

We will be taking pictures again this year and will post to our Flickr gallery. Check it out here. How fast can you solve the puzzle? Post your time below in the comments section!

Instructions: Just use your mouse to pick up and move all pieces.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Top 10 Twitter Posts — Week 19: DualVee, Push Bikes and the Science of Coffee Spills

Can you believe the year's nearly HALF over? Crazy that it's already summertime, when a lot of you all are probably gearing up for your tropical vacations. Well don't leave just yet! We got some must-read material for you right here and, of course, more all week at @BWCnews!

Credit: Bishop-Wisecarver
1. Read All About the DualVee on Our signature wheel got featured online, which was a pleasant surprise for us! The folks over at Onexia did a good job spelling out several reasons our DualVee Guide Wheel Technology stands out from the pack. Thanks for the shout-out! Totally made our day!

2. Why Weird is Wonderful (And Bankable) via Forbes Magazine: There's a refreshing thought — that all those things that make you quirky and unique can actually get you ahead in your career. Just learn how to play up your strengths, market all the things that make you different and keep blazing your own (weird) trail. It can actually pay off, personally and professionally. Has that held true in your own lives, you weirdos?

3. That Book You Judge Might Have a Badge Under Its Cover in the Contra Costa Times: We spotted this piece in the local paper the other day. It's another life lesson, this time about thinking twice before you pass judgment on someone. The columnist uses as an example a friend of his who's an undercover cop, under the cover of a homeless-looking disguise. He says that rugged appearance often changes the way people treat him. It's a good reminder to give people the benefit of the doubt.

Credit: Scout Mob
4. Car Chase Scene Filmed in San Francisco via San Francisco has a history of Hollywood-staged car chases. The chase scene in Bullitt was filmed on the winding, hilly streets of the City by the Bay, which is only a hop, skip and a jump away from the Bishop-Wisecarver headquarters, by the way. Well, another chase scene got filmed here just recently, according to this blog, which got us all geekin' out about it! Way cool!

5. Behold! The 'Fahrradi FFX' Push Bike on Speaking of cars, let's talk about fake ones ... take a look at this thing, the fanciest push bike ever! Imagine driving this around on Bike to Work Day (which incidentally happened on Thursday this past week). Crazy cool!

6. Just How Important Is Manufacturing? in the Harvard Business Review: There's a huge case to be made for how manufacturing will give the United States an edge in the global economy. The author here talks a lot about exactly how it will and why it's important to foster its growth. "Having a strong domestic manufacturing base is vital to the United States maintaining its world leadership in innovation," Will C. Shih writes. "That is because advanced manufacturing provides an important institutional foundation for learning and developing process skills and capabilities that are increasingly intertwined with core R&D in some of the industries most important to the country's economic future. These include advanced and specialty materials, biologics, nanotechnology and precision mechanical devices." Click through to read the rest of the article.

7. Bay Area Maker Faire Coming Up via We've anticipated this event all year after having a blast at the 2011 event! A bunch of us here at the office plan to make a day out of the annual gathering of inventors to peruse their crazy, fantastic, creative and brilliant creations. If you've never been, you should definitely check it out!

Credit: Buzzfeed
8. Thirty-Three Animals Who Are Extremely Disappointed in You via Buzzfeed: This is really just a pointless little entry we're including to add a dose of cuteness to this week's blog post. Cute little animals with cute little sad faces? Awwwww ....

9. The Science of Spilling Your Coffee on the Science Channel: Apparently, there's a science to your klutziness. Turns out the average human gait holds just the right frequency to jostle your bitter brew. The more you know ...

10. DC Retro Posters on We know the Marvel superheroes have been all the rage lately, but let's take a sec to appreciate the retro charm of these DC superhero posters: Wonder Woman, Batman, The Green Lantern. Awesomeness!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Q&A with Vice President of Sales Mike McVeigh

Get to Know Vice President of Sales Mike McVeigh
Mike McVeigh joined Bishop-Wisecarver in 2006, just before the economy tanked and businesses all over the world had to rethink their business strategies. McVeigh's leadership and vision helped our company grow during the recession, and this forward-thinking attitude and strong work ethic earned him a promotion to Vice President of Sales in 2010. He currently manages both domestic and global sales for our linear and curvilinear motion technologies. We sat down with him recently to get the low-down on what makes him tick, what he likes about his job and what he's up to in his downtime when he's not focused on linear slides and ring guides. Got a few more questions for him? Email them to

Question: Tell us a about your background, your education, how long you’ve been with Bishop-Wisecarver and what you like most about being on the BWC team?
Answer: After graduating from the University of New York at Buffalo, I started my career as a bearing salesman calling on OEMs (original equipment manufacturer) and distributors. As my career progressed in the bearing industry, I became a Key Account Manager and eventually a District Sales Manager. Eventually, I found the world of linear motion and was a national sales manager and director of sales. Having joined BWC more than five years ago, my current position is VP of sales. The BWC team is intelligent, aggressive and extremely customer focused. We challenge each other which makes for a fantastic group dynamic.

Question: What do you like about sales?
Answer: I get to see all kinds of application types and meet some really brilliant people in design and manufacturing all over the United States.

Question: What do you enjoy most about working with engineers?
Answer: Engineers are truly creative people who can get you thinking outside the box.

Question: What challenges arise from selling a product based on features and benefits?
Answer: Developing a delivery style and method where the audience can see value in the features and benefits, and is not perceived as just another sales pitch. You've got to have passion for what it is you sell.

Question: What makes for a good selling relationship with a customer?
Answer: Honesty and timeliness. Do what you say you are going to do in the timeframe you said you were going to do it.

Question: If sales were a team sport, what would it be and why?
Answer: Football. It takes a number of team members to be successful. The team has a difficult time making an impact if all the players aren’t all working toward the same goal.

Question: Speaking of sports, what’s your favorite team or teams?
Answer: Living in Minnesota, where hockey is king, I root for the NHL’s Minnesota Wild but ...

Question: What do you like to do outside work?
Answer: I like to travel. I also like to read history books and biographies.

Question: What’s your favorite coffee beverage? Cream, no cream, sugar, no sugar?
Answer: Black coffee.

Question:  Favorite quote?
Answer: "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.”  ― John Lennon

Monday, May 7, 2012

Supersize Me: FIRST Robotics [ INFOGRAPHIC ] Edition

SUPERSIZE ME This is exactly what we had in mind when we started making our infographics for engineers back in January of this year — that others on the web would find value in our informative graphics, worthy of a share! So, when we logged into our Facebook account this morning, we were thrilled to see a photo posted online by the Los Angeles FIRST Robotics of our recent infographic blown up into a supersized poster. We're honored it was blown up so big!

LA FIRST Robotics

When we designed this poster, we made it with students and educators in mind. We wanted it to visually lay out some of the key reasons the FIRST program is so important — how many students the program affects, how many go on to pursue a higher education, and even a glimpse into the organization's future impact.

When we found out that the LA FIRST Robotics — the body that organizes all LA-area FIRST event — shared our infographic at a Los Angeles Unified School District Family Summit over the weekend, we were thrilled! They told us that more than 4,000 students attended the event held at the University of Southern California, which aimed to get students interested in careers that focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Sounds like a cool event!

"The FIRST booth was definitely a show stopper," a LA FIRST rep told us via email. "Three FIRST Robotics Challenge students were there to share their FIRST experience ... a fantastic day for sure."

MOTION MONDAY CHALLENGE Of course, given the day, we have to turn this post into what we call our #MotionMonday challenge — a start-of-the-work week game designed to get you ready and mentally engaged in the week ahead. So [ download our word search ] and have a crack at our next challenge. If you get it right, email us the results to win a prize. If you need some help, email us for an answer key. All the best and happy #MotionMonday, friends!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Top 10 Twitter Posts — Week 18: FIRST Robotics, Personal Challenges and a Sped-Up Look at BMW Production

Cheers, all! The California sun's out in full force and the lovely spring weather's got us all excited for a nice relaxing weekend. But before you go, enjoy our weekly list of our favorite tweets, from the informative to the entertaining. Don't miss the slew of "twit-chat" in the days ahead — follow us during the week at @BWCnews. Happy Friday!

Credit: Fast Company
1. The Challenge: Do Something Emotionally Difficult Every Day on Fast Company: This challenge caught our eye because it seems like something that could not only make your workplace better, but your life in general. Do one thing that's positive, but out of your comfort zone. And repeat that every day. The author makes a good case for it here.

2. [ INFOGRAPHIC ] Brief Look at the 2012 FIRST Robotics Competition via Our latest in a series of infographics for engineers has us all riled up in a good way. It's about our pet community project, FIRST robotics. We took some stats from the organization to give you all a retrospective of the program in 2012. Cool stuff!

3. Top 10 Reasons Why I love Supporting FIRST on BWC President Pamela Kan, still buzzing off the energy from that national FIRST championships last month, took a few minutes to mention some of the things she loves about Dean Kamen's robotics program. There's a reason she stands behind the organization every year ... ten reasons to count!

4. [ VIDEO ] 2012 FIRST Championship in St. Louis via Youtube: Our first BWC TV newscast — heck yeah! So we recently got back from the national FIRST robotics championship, where we blogged, tweeted and photo-documented all the action. But we also put together this reel of video highlights. Re-live the excitement with us!

5. [ INFOGRAPHIC ] A Look at LEAN Manufacturing via Another infographic we made popped up in our Twitter feed this week — this one about lean manufacturing. It's a good visual rundown of how to prevent waste and make the most of what you got. It applies to every business, really, not just the ones that manufacture linear motion technologies or curvilinear motion products.

Credit: Hashtags4Heroes
6. Support Wounded Warriors with Twitter Characters on Use the right characters and hashtags on Twitter this month and you could help raise awareness about our wounded veterans. Click through to learn more about this awesome use of social media to promote social justice!

7. In Pursuit of Guinness Records, Indian Man Knows No Limits in the LA Times: Maybe you're obsessed with something to the point that it becomes your guilty pleasure, but we doubt you're as obsessive as this guy who made the news for trying to break as many world records as possible. Crazy, but true, story. Another example of motion without limits!

8. Manufacturing Companies Show Promise in Tough Economy on CBS Minnesota: According to this article, the sound of economic recovery sounds like the din of a machine shop. Well that's encouraging!

9. One Man's Quest to be Penniless on Yahoo! News: A Utah man set out to live life without money — to be broke on purpose, if you will. He survives on roadkill, native plants and insects and lives in a cave. Sounds like a tough life, but this guy says he's happy as a clam out there. Read more about what motivated him to live more than a decade on the fringe of civilization.

10. [ VIDEO ] Unique On-Board Look at Entire BMW 3-Series Production on YouTube: Ooh! We had fun watching this sped-up look at this luxury car production. See for yourself — but buckle up, it might make you dizzy!

Product Spotlight: Pick and Place Unit Using Linear Guides

Linear Slides and Linear Guides / XYZ Unit

Just feels like an application example type of Friday, doesn't it? A little brief on motion systems we get excited about. Pick and place automation is a popular way to utilize linear guides and linear slides. In this product spotlight, we shed light on the very popular PDU2 and PSD80 product offerings used to create a cool pick and place unit.

X-Y-Z MULTI-AXIS SYSTEM The HepcoMotion® PDU2 family of products can connect together to make multi-axis systems in a large range of configurations. The example shown has a PDU2 X-axis, a PDU2M Y-axis and PSD80 Z-axis. It is typical of lightweight pick and place units.

Each axis has differing requirements for load capacity, stiffness and gearing, and each of the units is perfectly suited for this duty. Bishop-Wisecarver, HepcoMotion's exclusive North and Central American partner and distributor, will supply complete mechanical systems as shown including all axes, connectors and brackets, cable chains and trays, motor connections, drive shafts and frame elements. On application, motors, drives, cables, electrical connectors and a turnkey service can be supplied.

How do Architects Use Linear Slides and Rotary Guides?

When you think of architectural design, it probably brings to mind thoughts of stability and permanence — solid, impressive structures built to last for generations to come. But a building is more than just static brick and mortar these days. Architectural engineers want to put motion into their grand designs by adding movable windows, doors, cabinets and large-scale displays. Interior designers also add motion to rooms by hiding LCD monitors behind moving mirrors. These days, it's about putting that imaginative architecture in motion using linear and curvilinear motion technologies that provide quality and longevity for the end user.

An architect faces the challenge of designing massive doors and windows that move manually. The application challenge required a durable linear guide solution that moves smoothly and quietly. The linear slides also needed to be capable of bearing heavy loads for many years to come. [ DualVee Motion Technology ] fit the bill for this busy architectural team. Why? Because the linear guide wheels and complementary 90-degree vee edge track  provided smooth motion, long life, durability and low maintenance. No matter the weather or debris, the homeowner would enjoy these moving doors and windows for life without giving it a second thought.

Linear guides aren't the only motion technologies used by door and window makers and architects. Rotary guides make for many more options. Think about large wooden panels on wheel plates traveling on a curved track system. Or a heavy museum display that moves around a custom shaped rotary guide track. The possibilities are endless — and many of them still unrealized!

Educational centers and museums are a couple other places where you'll see linear and curvilinear motion technologies integrated into the architecture. Look for these guides the next time you see a movable installation at your local historical center or even art gallery.

NOTABLE SOLUTIONS [ MinVee miniature linear guides ] can function in smaller windows and displays for lighter loads and small installations. [ UtiliTrak compact linear slides ] works in larger versions of doors, windows, cabinets, displays and walls, and can be paired with crowned rollers to compensate for any misalignment or lack of parallelism. [ LoPro actuated linear actuators ] give architectural designers a sleek, low-profile solution with actuation options so part can be moved with motors via belt, chain, lead screw or ball screw. [ PRT2 precision ring and track ] provides the ability to make custom curves and bends by using curved segments and straight slides. You can also add a scroll drive with linked wheel plates for actuation.

Need some help? Give our applications engineers a call, or fill out this easy-to-use "Ask Us" online form.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Motion Monday: Back on Track with Precision Ring and Track

THROWN FOR A CURVE? It's Tuesday instead of Monday but that's not holding us up. So... When it comes to heavy duty rotary motion — what are your options? Though your choices are limited, there are countless ways to customize and apply these few solutions. We grabbed a coffee with our Senior Project Engineer Ariel Oriel to get the scoop on our very own product line of precision ring and track.

PRECISION RING AND TRACK When manufacturers want to save money, time and space, they group production stations closer together. But it also means things have to move around on serpentine paths. Enter the [ PRT2 by HepcoMotion, their latest generation of steel ring and track systems ]

This guide wheel-based curvilinear product line was designed to accommodate industrial loads, making the most of a space. Rotary guide or actuator setups are more complex to assemble, but worth the effort because of how much they improve efficiency and and simplify handling, according to our design engineers.

You can find track these systems types in simple pick-and-place units, bottle cap indexers, MRI scanners and a lot of packing and filling lines.

[ PRT2 ]
 is available in stainless steel as standard, and includes a wide range of sizes with lower and higher load capacities. This low-friction, debris-tolerant system also includes several new options which comprise of increased bearing and lubricator sizes, floating bearings, fixed center carriages with clamping brake, continuous bleed lubrication to reduce downtime, and the availability of pinions.

THE CHALLENGE OK, you got all that? Now [ download our word search challenge ] to turn this new-found knowledge into a chance to win some free BWC swag! Good luck, and let us know if you'd like the answer key (email with a completed word search to win).

BONUS MUST-SEE CLIP OF THE WEEK We posted this PRT2 video a while ago on our YouTube channel and we think it's worth another view!