Engineering News : Page 6 of 7

paperless design process. Networked CAD systems linked designers in Rochester and Poughkeepsie, NY, allowing computer-based design reviews with 3-D kinematic models. This approach let B&L achieve a full-scale working prototype in eight months.

Cleaner stainless steel improves process components

Reading, PA--Switching to higher grades of stainless steel solved a host of manufacturing and performance problems for SAES Parker UHP Components, San Luis Obispo, CA, a manufacturer of fluid-handling equipment for ultra-pure-process applications. That success has led to the materials' specification in several soon-to-be published standards for the semiconductor manufacturing industry.

Super-Clean Quality (SCQ) stainless steel in 304 and 316L grades from Carpenter Technology Corp., Reading, PA, results from electroslag-remelting (ESR) and vacuum-induction-melting/vacuum-arc-remelting (VIM-VAR) processes respectively. Both processes dramatically reduce the incidence of inclusions and voids in the materials' microstructure.

Ron Hendry, a manufacturing-engineering consultant for SAES Parker, explains that levels of sulfur, calcium, copper, and other compounds had risen in conventional stainless steels as the volume of those materials produced from scrap steel grew over the last decade. The inclusions resulted in increasing numbers of weld failures, micro-pitting, and poor electro-polishing results.

Several factors led to the choice of SCQ steels for the Ultra-High Purity line of valves. "SCQ saves us inspection time," says Hendry. "The materials cost more, but it's small compared to the cost of reworks and rejects."

End users get more uniform products that can improve their processes. "In pharmaceuticals, for example, if you've cleaned out sub-surface contaminants, there's less chance of interference with chemical reactions," says Hendry.

Recognizing the need for higher quality stainless steels, the Semiconductor Equipment and Materials Institute (SEMI) recently published standards for steel pipes along the lines of Carpenter's SCQ product. Similar standards for bar stock should be published this spring.

HP unveils under-$1K printer/fax/copier

Newton, MA--Hewlett-Packard has jumped into the fledgling "merged-function" market with a single device that will print, fax, and copy--all for under $1,000.

"It's a threshold product. This is going to establish the marketplace for multi-function products for the home office," says Barry Tepper, senior industry analyst at BIS Strategic Decisions, a research and consulting firm in Norwell, MA.

The HP OfficeJet started with the company's inkjet-printer technology, according to product manager Donna Ogilvey; then, engineers designed a fax machine and "convenience copier" on top. The device is a full-fledged Deskjet-type printer, producing three pages per minute.

The copier is designed for workers at home who don't want to run to an outside photocopy store if they only need a few pages reproduced for their files. Because the OfficeJet uses a scanner for copying, it is substantially slower than conventional copiers, taking about 50 seconds to scan and produce a page; subsequent copies of that same page are quicker.

Why a three-in-one machine? Proponents say such systems save valuable deskspace in the at-home office; as well as cost less than buying a printer, fax machine, and personal copier separately. List price is $959. While a couple of other companies have announced such products, Tepper believes that HP's industry clout will make the devices more popular.

BIS Strategic Decisions estimates that

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