Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Rise of Smart Wearables

The wearable technology market is one of the fastest growing global industries. Intelligent watches allow you to read emails without checking a mobile phone display, while fitness monitoring bands keep track of the steps walked and the calories burned, seamlessly connecting with a smartphone app.

Smart wearables are not just an extension of smart devices. They are marketed as an invaluable extension of oneself in ways that a smartphone alone cannot do. 

Smart wearables are a key component of the rapidly expanding web that is the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT is hyped for its ability to improve our health, lifestyle, finances, and many other areas. 

The Healthcare Sector: 

The healthcare sector has identified the potential of using smart wearables to take pre-emptive action. The cost of healthcare in the US is mounting every day and, but it is predicted that mass use of wearable technology can mitigate these increases. Wearable watches can allow people to monitor their key health metrics and give healthcare providers remote access to health data, leading to reduced doctor and emergency room visits and better health outcomes. 

Smart wearables geared towards the healthcare sector are set to grow at an annualized rate of 13.6%. Venture capitalists are betting their money on this hot niche, pouring in $2.1 billion over the last three years. 

From parameters like heartbeat and breathing rate to ECG, EEG, EMG, blood pressure and blood glucose monitoring, a great deal is possible, leading to more accurate and timely diagnosis. 

Mark 10’s Contribution to Smart Wearables: 

Smart wearables, like mobile phones, are designed with relatively simple interfaces and ease of use, masking the massive amount of engineering required to develop them. From the materials sourced for the housing and strap, to the torsion- and impact-resistance of the case, to the touchscreen itself, proper testing by device manufacturers is essential in ensuring a successful product.  

Mark-10 equipment can characterize the quality of the strap by measuring tensile and elongation properties, measure the force required to activate the touchscreen, and measure how much force is required to shatter the glass. With a legacy that spans almost 40 years, turn to Mark-10 for testing solutions in the packaging, food and beverage, healthcare, electronics, springs, aerospace, and many other industries. Contact us for more information.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

GOES-R Weather Satellites and the Challenges In Reaching Orbit

In today’s world, technology is improving at a rapid pace.  Many opportunities are available to take advantage of all the information that is available with this new technology. The new generation of the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R Series (GOES-R) is headed into orbit in 2016.  While these new satellites will be useful once in orbit, it is important that force and torque testing is done to make sure these satellites can handle the launch process, and will be able to operate in the space environment.

What is the GOES-R?

The GOES-R is the latest in a long line of Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). For over 40 years, the GOES have provided imagery and data of atmospheric conditions and space weather, covering the Western hemisphere. Unfortunately, that means that the GOES are also operating with outdated technology – in fact, there hasn’t been a major advancement since 1994. The GOES-R changes all that, utilizing a new imager that provides more information, more coverage, and improved resolution, with images as frequently as every 30 seconds for major weather events.

How Will GOES-R Data Help Us?

GOES-R will allow us to collect and analyze data for frequently and accurately, and allow for better evaluation and prediction of weather. This can include:

  • Short-term weather forecasts and sever storm warnings and watches
  • Maritime weather forecasts
  • Drought outlooks
  • Improved hurricane, tornado, and thunderstorm tracking in order to provide advanced lead times for warnings.
  • Collecting data for long-term climate variability studies

This can lead to everything from improving flight routes to avoid weather-related delays, to helping warmers evaluate crops and production, up to saving lives by providing extra time to find safety during major weather events.

What Challenges Do the Satellites Have to Overcome?

Sending a satellite into space isn’t easy.  The challenges in getting an object out of the earth’s atmosphere and through its orbit are numerous. Going back to the earliest days of NASA, the complex array of materials, components, and assembly methods made the difference between a successful launch and a failure. In particular, force and torque measurement are frequently employed to gauge the performance of materials, components, and manufactured assemblies, such as bearings, cables, fasteners, and more. Proper testing is critical; once a satellite is launched, it cannot be brought back to Earth for maintenance.

At Mark-10 we have a long history of providing force and torque measurement solutions to the aerospace industry.  Our products have been used in many applications, including some interesting case studies such as measuring mass in a weightless environment.  Proper testing before lift-off can ensure that these GOES-R satellites will perform well, now and into the future.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Responsive Packaging to Reduce Food Waste

Food shortage and food waste is a sensitive problem. Over the past few years, the US has wasted close to 31% of all the food it produces, and typically consumers in the U.S. throw away about 80 billion pounds of food each year. Improper or poor food packaging can be the cause of this waste in many situations as the food inside can spoil or discolor if it is not sealed and packaged properly. In an effort to cut back on the amount of food wasted and disposed, intelligent food packaging solutions are being developed which will change the way food is packaged and transported.

How Responsive and Intelligent Packaging Can be a Game Changer:

While still in the research and development stage, the basic concept driving responsive packaging is the ability of the containers in which units of consumables are stored and transported to react to external stimuli.

Food might be affected by five kinds of chemical reactions – oxidation, moisture seeps, enzymatic browning, non-enzymatic browning and microbial activity. Responsive packages are specially created to:

  • Change color if any of these reactions trigger so that the “sniff” test is replaced by real and accurate indicators 
  • Release counter chemicals that inhibit these reactions (like the release of BHT/BHA to act as preservative) to extend shelf life 
  • Give visual indicators for items that must be consumed immediately on opening to remind buyers of the time gone by 

Ideally responsive packaging will increase food safety by using preservatives only, and the goal is to cut back on food waste by meeting all FDA guidelines.

Mark-10 Complements Responsive Packaging:

Mark-10’s force and torque measurement products can assist the responsive packaging industry in multiple ways:
peel testing
90° peel testing of foil seal

  • Our products can help test the ability of the packaging to withstand the pressure of containers that might be stacked in transit to ensure that bursting at the seams and squashing do not damage the edible items inside.
  • Our products can be used by the manufacturers of responsive packaging to develop products that maintain integrity yet can be easily opened by consumers so that the intelligent properties of the cartons, packets and bottles are not accidentally compromised because of ripping and tugging. 

At Mark-10 we have been designing and manufacturing force and torque measurement products for over 35 years. Our products help new and innovative technologies go through the testing process to make sure they are ready for release. To learn more about how our products can help the packaging and many other industries contact us.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Benefits of the Medical Device Tax Suspension

In 2013 the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was enacted. Part of the legislation called for a 2.3% tax on sales of medical devices in the US, by both domestic manufacturers and importers.  Since the implementation of the tax, it has not produced the expected revenue.

Originally it was expected that $30 billion would be raised from the tax due to increasing number of Americans covered by health insurance and, therefore, receiving medical treatment. However, that number came up short. During its first year it only raised 60% of those estimated taxes.

The tax ended up being costly to small businesses, resulting in layoffs, cutting of research and development projects, and ultimately delaying some expansion plans. The additional tax disproportionately affected small and medium sized business, who already struggled under the growing industry regulatory structure.

Realizing the strain this tax was causing on small medical device manufacturers, on December 18, 2015, the Consolidated Appropriations Act was signed. This act began a two year moratorium on the medical device tax, starting January 1, 2016 and expiring December 31, 2017. Researchers have noted that the suspension of the tax will positively impact the medical device market in the US. The money that would have been spent taxes can now be invested in human resources, research and development, manufacturing expansion, and other areas.  This positive reaction from industry leaders and government officials may lead to a permanent repeal of the tax once the suspension period ends. 

Regardless of the political environment, at Mark-10 we are committed to offering measurement solutions to the medical device and many other industries, such as force and torque gauges, and tension and compression testing systems. Our products help to ensure that manufactured medical devices meet performance and quality standards, with the ultimate goal of maximizing patient safety and outcomes.  Mark-10 will continue to work with medical device manufacturers to develop solutions that best meet manufacturing and quality control objectives. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

National Safety Month and Ergonomics Testing Kits

Each year in June, the National Safety Council  promotes National Safety Month.  This is an annual event to educate and influence behaviors around the leading causes of preventable injuries and deaths in workplaces, on the road, or in homes and communities.  

Many injuries in the workplace occur due to repeated tasks that involve lifting heavy items, bending, reaching overhead, pushing and pulling heavy loads and working in awkward body positions and postures.  Injuries from these tasks can lead to musculoskeletal disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, muscle strains, rotator cuff injuries and lower back injuries. In an effort to reduce and prevent such injuries, the science of ergonomics has proven invaluable.  Ergonomics studies help recommend appropriate designs and arrangements for repetitious tasks so that they are efficient and safe. The goal is to fit an appropriate job to a particular employee, with the goal of lessening muscle fatigue and increasing productivity.

At Mark-10, we offer Ergonomics Testing Kits which make job task analysis and ergonomic testing analysis simple and accurate.  Our kits include a force gauge with data output, MESUR™ Lite data collection software, and a USB cable. Task-specific implements such as padded compression plates and hooks are included. MESUR™ Lite software can capture a continuous curve of force vs. time or single point data, directly from the gauge.  We offer both basic and advanced kits, each of which is available in capacities of 100 lbF (500 N), 200 lbF (1,000 N), and 500 lbF (2,500 N).  By using one of our kits, Management can help ensure the safety of their employees in the workplace by assigning physical tasks and roles that they will be capable of handling.

At Mark-10 we understand the importance of safety, and offer many products that are used to improve safety.  Our extensive product line of force and torque gauges, pull testers and test stands are used by manufacturers in a variety of industries to test materials, components, and assemblies to ensure they are fit and safe for their intended purposes.  For more information about or products and services, contact us here.

Friday, May 20, 2016

A Recap of Common Force and Torque Measurement Applications

Force and torque measurement systems are used to assess and ensure product quality in almost every industry.  At Mark-10 we engineer and manufacture a variety of force and torque measurement products that are used for a range of applications in these industries. We’re focused on engineering and innovation, and keep a pulse on the market, designing products that fit the needs of these industries.

Below are some examples of the applications our products are used for:
Series TT01 Cap Torque Tester
Series TT01 Cap Torque Tester
  • Aerospace: Applications from bearing torque testing to bend strength of materials to seatbelt release force are important in quantifying the performance of these components and materials. When the ultimate goal is a safe aircraft, the important of such testing cannot be understated. Our force and torque measurement systems produce the measurements aircraft manufacturers and their suppliers use to be confident in the performance of their products.
  • Automotive:  In the automotive industry, vehicle components must work together in harmony, with the ultimate goal of driver and passenger safety. Our Spring Testers can measure force, torque, and deflection to address the numerous types of springs employed in automobiles. Other important applications include ignition switch torque measurement, rotary dial torque, and many others.
  • Food and Beverage: Freshness is very important in the food and beverage industry.  Containers must be sealed well enough to keep the food or liquid product inside fresh, but easy enough to open by the user.  Torque testers such as our Series TT01 Cap Torque Testers determine the removal torque necessary for threaded bottle caps, helping packaging lines ensure a balance between ease of opening and preservation of contents.   
  • Medical Device and Pharmaceutical:  In an industry where force and torque data can have an impact on the wellbeing of a patient, it’s important to take testing very seriously. From measuring tablet crush force to syringe plunger force, the measurements from force and torque testing can be instrumental in determining whether the medical device is suitable for use.  An example is our ISO 7886-1 Syringe Compression Fixture, which helps ensure that the plunger produces an appropriate amount of resistance during use. 

At Mark-10 we’ve been serving the above industries and many others with our range of products since 1979.  We are continually developing new solutions to meet our customers’ exacting standards. Contact us to learn more about the products we offer to meet your specific force and torque measurement needs.  

Monday, April 4, 2016

Mark-10 Makes a Difference on Earth Day

In the more than 40 years that we have celebrated Earth Day, a lot of progress has been made around the globe in limiting pollution, waste, and reducing energy consumption. Government and industry cooperation has led to technical breakthroughs that improve our quality of life and reduce our environmental footprint, with the ultimate goal of making the best possible use of natural and renewable resources. While much work remains to be done, we can point to some tangible progress.

For example, the solar energy industry has offered homeowners an alternative to dirtier sources of energy while contributing to the power grid. The automotive industry has also continually pushed the technological envelope by producing more fuel efficient vehicles, including electric and hybrid options.

In developing these new technologies, manufacturers of materials, components, and final assemblies must consider a great deal of testing. For example, in increasing vehicle fuel efficiency, auto manufacturers have reduced weight where possible. Materials have been thinned and mechanical assemblies modified. Physical testing of new components, including force and torque measurement, comes into play. For the solar industry, peel, tensile, bend, and many other tests are important in guaranteeing the performance of solar panels and related equipment.

As far as our products are concerned, “green” has been a natural outcome of our efficient designs. While some other instruments guzzle energy via large battery packs and power-hungry electronic designs, Mark-10 products sip energy. In recent years, we’ve stopped printing user’s manuals and reduced the printing of catalogs. We’ve invested heavily in making our website as chock-full of information as possible, so that anyone can access information with reduced impact to our forests.

The values represented by Earth Day should be recognized not just one day a year, but each and every day. With a focus on efficient engineering and the ability to satisfy many testing applications in green industries, Mark-10 is doing its small part in contributing to a cleaner, more sustainable planet.