Vote for Tech Briefs' 24th Annual Readers' Choice Awards

Each December, we ask our readers to cast their vote in the annual Tech Briefs’ Readers’ Choice Product of the Year Awards. Each month, our editors choose a Product of the Month that has exceptional technical merit and practical value for our design engineering readers.

You’re invited to cast your vote for the one product among those 12 Products of the Month listed below that you feel was the most important new product introduced to the engineering community in 2018.

All votes must be submitted by January 18, 2019.


The 2018 Nominees (vote for only one):

3D Systems (Rock Hill, SC) announced the Figure 4™ modular, scalable, fully integrated direct 3D production platform. The platform combines services, technology, materials, and software for 3D printing and incorporates high-speed digital molding for production of plastic parts, and production-grade materials. The flexible production system features models designed to meet the needs of various production environments, from standalone units to factory solutions. The Figure 4 Production model is completely automated and customizable, and provides the ability to scale the technology.
ACCES I/O Products (San Diego, CA) introduced the USB-AIO family of 12- and 16-bit USB analog I/O modules. The USB-AIO16-16F 16-bit, multifunction analog input/output board is suited for precision measurement, analysis, monitoring, and control in embedded applications. It can sample inputs at speeds up to 1 MHz for the board's 16 single-ended or eight differential analog input channels. Standard features in the USB-AIO line include up to four 16-bit analog outputs and 16 high-current digital I/O lines, two factory current input ranges (4-20 mA or 10-50 mA), 16 factory pseudo-differential inputs, a data sample buffer, and hardware real-time calibration capability.
Altair (Troy, MI) introduced the 2018 versions of electromagnetic (EM) simulation software FEKO®, WinProp®, Flux®, and FluxMotor® -- all part of the HyperWorks® design platform. FEKO computational electromagnetics (CEM) software enables the analysis of EM problems, including antennas, microstrip circuits, RF components, and biomedical systems, as well as the investigation of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). WinProp enables wave propagation modeling and radio network planning. Flux software for electromagnetic and thermal simulations helps generate optimized and high-performance products. FluxMotor is a standalone tool for pre-design of electric rotating machines.
COMSOL (Burlington, MA) introduced COMSOL Multiphysics® version 5.4 that features the new COMSOL Compiler™ for creating standalone simulation applications and digital twins for the Windows® and Linux® operating systems as well as macOS. Using COMSOL Compiler™, applications created with the Application Builder can be compiled and distributed as executable files for anyone to use without a COMSOL Multiphysics® or COMSOL Server™ license. Users can share knowledge and expertise in the form of modeling and simulation apps with anyone in the world. Also included in the new version is a Composite Materials Module that enables modeling of composite laminates.
Fluke Corp. (Everett, WA) introduced the Fluke 3560 FC Vibration Sensors and Fluke 3502 FC Gateway for equipment vibration analysis. The sensors enable remote capture of vibration data, and real-time alarms are sent through Fluke Connect Condition Monitoring software to a desktop or smartphone. The Gateway enables remote monitoring of equipment health when paired with Fluke Connect Cloud. The sensors enable measurement in tight or inaccessible locations, and identify potential equipment degradation or events by comparing sequential vibration measurements taken over time.
Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence (North Kingstown, RI) introduced a new release of HxGN SMART Quality software that combines connectivity, statistical evaluation, and resource management tools to help manufacturers utilize aggregated quality data to gain actionable intelligence and insight for process optimization. It collects and compares data from disparate systems across multiple locations. The latest version adds new capabilities to help manufacturers improve equipment effectiveness, assess manufacturing process capability, handle documents and workflows, and investigate anomalies on an individual piece of equipment in line and minimize risk of common operational errors.
Keysight Technologies (Santa Rosa, CA) introduced PathWave software platform that integrates design, test, measurement, and analysis to enable product development from concept to manufacturing. The platform integrates design and test tools, automation, and common measurements, eliminating the need to re-create individual measurements and test plans at each discrete stage of the process. The open, scalable, and predictive software platform integrates hardware and software at every stage in the product design workflow. It includes design software, instrument control software, application software, and productivity software.
Opto 22 (Temecula, CA) introduced the groov EPIC® system that incorporates into one unit everything needed to connect and control field and operational devices and data through on-premises IT databases, spreadsheets, and other software to cloud storage and services. The system combines I/O, control, data processing, and visualization into one secure, maintainable, edge-of-network industrial system. Combining intelligent I/O with an embedded Linux® real-time controller, gateway functions, and an integrated display, the system connects legacy systems, controlling processes, automating machines, subscribing to Web services, and acquiring and publishing data.
Pepperl+Fuchs (Twinsburg, OH) introduced the R200 and R201 photoelectric sensors in a design that is suitable for specific mounting situations. Standardized IO-Link connection via smart sensor profiles enables integration of the sensors. The sensors include DuraBeam laser technology and Multi Pixel Technology (MPT) for distance measurement. Standardized usability facilitates parameterization of the sensors during commissioning and when there is a change to the functional principle or to another series. The series offers thru-beam sensors, retroreflective sensors with a polarization filter or for clear object recognition, energetic diffuse mode sensors, sensors with background suppression and foreground suppression, measuring light barriers with two switch points, and distance sensors.
SEGGER Microcontroller Systems (Gardner, MA) introduced emPack, a complete operating system for IoT devices and embedded systems. It is delivered in source code for all 8-, 16-, and 32-bit microcontrollers and microprocessors, and is optimized for a small memory footprint. It fits onto typical microcontrollers without requiring external memory. Components are written in plain C and can be compiled by standard ANSI/ISO C compilers. All components work seamlessly together and are continuously tested on a variety of microcontrollers from different vendors. Switching to a different microcontroller, even with a different core, requires minimal changes.
Teledyne LeCroy (Chestnut Ridge, NY) introduced WaveSurfer 3000z oscilloscopes that feature a 10.1” capacitive touchscreen, a set of debug and analysis tools, multi-instrument capabilities, feature/option upgrades, and support for a wider probe range. It comes in five models with bandwidths from 100 MHz to 1 GHz, and sample rates up to 4 GS/s. The instruments combine a CPU engine, improved internal-communications bus, and up to 20 Mpoints of acquisition memory. The Power Analysis software package performs analysis of line power, control loops, and system/device power performance.
Yokogawa Corporation of America (Newnan, GA) introduced the WT5000 power analyzer that achieves accuracy of ±0.03% at 50/60 Hz, allowing precision evaluation of power consumption, loss, and efficiency of electrical and electronic devices. It uses an 18-bit converter with a sampling frequency of 10 MS/s to capture waveforms from high-speed inverter devices while producing a stable measurement. The device incorporates up to seven input channels. Plug-in modular input elements can be swapped directly by the user. The 30A and 5A elements can be switched for applications involving electric vehicles or fuel-cell vehicles.