On Earth, Mars Rover Rolls on Hamilton
Before the Mars Curiosity rover touched down 352 million miles away from Earth, it rolled on Hamilton casters at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Our Maxi-Duty casters with forged steel wheels supported the car-sized, $2.5 billion rover while it was being built. Each caster, rated up to 12,000 pounds each, was more than enough to handle the weights of the 1,980-pound rover, scientists and testing instruments.
Because of the top-secret nature of the space program, we didn’t know exactly what our casters were being used for until now. And we couldn’t be more excited to be part of NASA’s historical mission to discover if life ever existed on Mars.
Mission: Find Clues About Life and Prepare Humans for Exploration
Curiosity launched on November 26, 2011 and landed on Mars on August 6, 2012. Its goals are to find out if the red planet could have supported life, and prepare for future human exploration.
Here are some facts about the rover and its 23-month trek:
- It’s about the size of a Mini Cooper, and it’s four times heavier and two longer than previous rovers Spirit and Opportunity, which landed in 2004.
- It’s the first rover to transmit high-resolution, color images of Mars, like this stunning picture of Mount Sharp.
- Curiosity is loaded with 10 different instruments to examine rocks, soil and the Martian atmosphere, and hopefully uncover signs of microbial life.
- It’s equipped with six wheels, each with an independent drive monitor. The two front and two rear wheels have individual steering motors to allow Curiosity to make 360-degree turns in place on the planet’s rugged surface. Its wheels are also two times wider than those on Spirit and Opportunity, so it can roll over obstacles up to 2.5 feet tall.
- A nuclear battery constantly powers the craft, allowing it to operate year-round, including during the night and Martian winter, impossible with only solar power.
With each awe-inspiring image beamed back to Earth, we are reminded that we at Hamilton are part of a mission much greater than all of us. One that paves the way for humans to step foot on a planet millions of miles away.
And we couldn’t be more proud.
See how NASA built the Curiosity using our Maxi-Duty casters.
CNC Machine Dwarfs Football Fields
To mill industrial wind-turbine blades that span the width of a Boeing 747, a typical CNC machine won’t cut it. Literally. Meet the mega rig known as the HSM-Modal.
Unlike puny CNC machines we use to mill casters, this one is longer than a football field. Built by EEW Maschinenbau in Germany, it’s primarily used for cutting positive and negative molds massive objects like turbine blades, but it can be equipped with tools for sawing, drilling, grinding; and, for extra testosterone, jet, plasma and ultra-sonic cutting.
Its giant size doesn’t hold it back, either. The 495-foot-long machine can mill 1-to-1 scale molds that are more than 160 feet long, and it does so at a rate of nearly 500 feet per minute – faster than other large CNC machines.
And even though it requires a huge warehouse to operate, it doesn’t weigh as much as it looks. An 8-inch thick concrete floor is more than enough to handle the HSM-Modal, which operates using standard CAD and CAM programs.
For more details, check out the EEW website.
New Ultralast Wheels Outlast the Competition
Traditional polyurethane wheels have a problem. Even though they run quietly, outperform rubber and won’t damage floors, heat buildup from continuous, heavy loads can cause them to break down.
We’re not OK with that.
Introducing Ultralast™ wheels from Hamilton. Built to last under constant pressure. Our engineers incorporated new high-performance polyurethane material that minimizes heat buildup that causes other wheels to fail.
During testing, Ultralast outperformed the competition by 20 percent or more. Rebound tests also confirmed their superior rollability, scoring as much as 110 percent higher than competitive materials.
Ultralast: Built for 7,200 Pounds of Constant Abuse
We recommend Ultralast wheels for continuous duty, power-towed and higher-speed applications on smooth surfaces. The innovative, new polyurethane material allows them to roll smoothly and handle 7,200 pounds with ease. They’re ideal for heavy industry, including automotive, aerospace, food and beverage, and military sectors.
Available in Standard and Custom Designs
Ultralast wheels are available in two standard designs. Standard Ultralast has a 3/8th-inch thick tread that is chemically bonded to a heavy-duty, cast iron center. Super Ultralast wheels incorporate a 1-inch tread molded to a super heavy-duty forged steel center.
And as always, we can build custom wheel combinations for nearly any job. Give us a call. Our engineers are up for the challenge. 513.863.3300.
Get to Know a Caster Fanatic: Larry Latimer
Machine shop team leader. Plant maintenance coordinator. Director of shipping. These are a few titles Larry Latimer has held at Hamilton since 1977. Now a sales engineer, Larry brings 35 years experience from all aspects of the business to work with customers and find solutions to their problems.
Here’s more on Larry:
Favorite Part of the Job: When a customer needs a custom truck or caster on a tight deadline. We deliver. We treat every order like a priority. Even custom jobs.
Hobbies: Building computers, working on cars, woodworking (it’s a Hamilton thing) and playing basketball with my grandson.
Pets: One dog, a boxer.
Favorite Book or TV Show: "El Dorado" with John Wayne is my all-time favorite movie. On TV, I watch University of Kentucky basketball, and the Cincinnati Bengals and Reds during their respective seasons.
What Most People Don’t Know About Me: My brother works here, so he’s probably told everyone all there is to know about me!
Best Qualities of a Hamilton Sales Engineer: Listening. The ability to absorb every last detail to make a smooth order. Also, making complicated design concepts simple and easy to understand.
Want to learn more about Larry? Call him directly. 888.435.1487
Round About: Blast Through Antarctica
If you think industrial-sized drill bits are big (we’ve built trucks to carry them), wait till you see the 440-pound drill scientists will use to blast a two-mile hole in Antarctica.
The mission? To explore Lake Ellsworth, a massive body of water buried beneath frozen tundra and undisturbed by the outside world for 500,000 years.
The British team hopes to find and study microorganisms unlike any they’ve seen before, like creatures that live in total darkness. But the scientists have to get there first. That’s where the drill comes in.
The Largest Hot-Water Drill Ever Built
The hot-water drill nozzle is about 3.3 feet long and weighs 440 lbs. But it’s not the drill body that makes it the largest ever built. It’s the 2.2-mile long hose, according to Our Amazing Planet, that connects the drill to a series of tanks and boilers at the research station.
Unlike standard drills, this one uses heat and high pressure to carve out the ice. Water is heated up to 194 degrees Fahrenheit and blasted through the drill nozzle at 2,000 Psi.
The team hopes that five days of drilling in December is all they’ll need to reach Lake Ellsworth. Once inside, they’ll have just 24 hours to collect samples via a probe before the hole re-freezes.
For more, check out the BBC.
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