-- Transferring computer-aided design (CAD) files from one breed of CAD system to another, or to a factory's computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) system, can be a pain. Typically, the design's digital specs must first be converted into a so-called neutral format, such as IGES or STEP, and then into the software language of the destination system. This often produces errors that require manual correction. To end the hassle, Translation Technologies Inc. in Spokane, Wash., says it is developing automatic translators that speak most CAD and CAM languages fluently. Send a CAD file via the Net, and TTI's Acc-u-Trans system can spit out a conversion within 24 hours--and if desired, make it available on a secure Web site (

-- A new quality benchmark in drilling holes--only three defects per million holes--is claimed by a team of aerospace companies led by Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. The drilling system was developed for the Pentagon's new Joint Strike Fighter program, but the initial tests were so good that the equipment may also be installed in factories now turning out such warplanes as the F-16 and F-22.

-- Blame it on shutterbugs, dentists, and hospitals. They all help generate a vast stream of liquid toxic waste in the U.S.: 100 million gallons a year of chemical gook from developing photos and X-rays. Now, Itronics Inc. is cranking up a new plant in Stead, Nev., that can recycle up to 700,000 gallons of that glop. Using technologies that took a decade and $6 million to develop, the plant recovers the silver left from processing silver-halide film and turns the remainder into liquid fertilizer. The recovered silver is generally sold to industry.

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