board of directors of the National Fluid Power Association and executive vice president of Trinova Corp., Maumee, OH. "Now, you'll have one valve that controls everything, so it simplifies your hydraulic circuit."
Electronics aren't the only area of innovation on tap for '95. Environmental concerns are driving component manufacturers to design systems for less noise and leakage. By employing finite element software to analyze pressure ripples, manufacturers are creating a new generation of quieter pumps. Improved sealing techniques and better machining of valve interfaces also will continue to reduce hydraulic-oil leakage. In addition, an increasing emphasis on the use of synthetic oils will help the industry combat contamination.
All three areas of concentration--control, noise, and leakage--apply to hydraulics and pneumatics alike, says McKee. Even leakage, a malady normally associated with hydraulics, is a concern for pneumatics manufacturers. Some new designs will exhaust environmentally friendly "dry air," rather than a conventional oil mist.
Experts say that the 1995 innovations may only be the tip of the iceberg. "There's an ongoing focus on technological improvement," notes McKee. "You can expect to see more improvements in '96, '97, and '98."
Fasteners: Focus on flexibility
Andrea L. Baker, Associate Editor
As fastener manufacturers look to 1995, they face a philosophical decision: To standardize or not to standardize their product lines?
Some manufacturers, such as Southco Inc., Concordville, PA, and Penn Engineering, Danboro, PA, have built a reputation for custom designs, as well as off-the-shelf fasteners. Others, like Spirol International, Danielson, CT, focus exclusively on standard product lines. "Standardization eliminates tooling charges and is ideal for saving money in low-volume applications," says Spirol President James Shaw.
Pressure to simplify manufacturing will intensify efforts at parts consolidation--often reducing the number of fasteners used in an assembly. But the trend toward design for serviceability means that the fasteners an engineer selects often must meet added performance requirements. For example, a new rivet from Avdel Corp., Parsippany, NJ, permits easier access for disassembly. Avdel engineers predict that removable and reusable fasteners will gain popularity in '95.
In the race to market, automated fastening systems prove valuable tools. "Today's manufacturing machinery is better, and wire quality is better," says Dick Schofield, managing director of the Industrial Fasteners Institute. He forecasts further improvements in equipment and raw-material quality that will allow fastener manufacturers to improve the final product. "The war cry is 'make it right the first time,'" Schofield adds. "With automatic gang-setting, the customer needs zero defects."
Many fastening engineers also predict that 1995 will witness an increased use of plastic in component design. As resins find their way into new applications, engineers will rely more on threaded inserts and compression limiters. A variety of products allow strong, removable fasteners to be used without distorting or splitting the host plastic.
Materials: Cornucopia on tap
Gary Chamberlain, Senior Editor
"There is excitement in the industry this year, driven by economic growth," proclaims Peter Davies, business operations manager for polyurethanes at Dow Plastics. "Business has rebounded substantially beyond people's expectations." And Davies' comments could be echoed by many other industry leaders in the