Miniature motors for Mars -- what does it take?
When developing the high-resolution Panoramic Camera on the ExoMars Rover, engineers looked for motors that were extremely compact and could also deliver reliable and precise positioning for the camera-focusing mechanism. FAULHABER Stepper motors were selected for the job, as they precisely position objects with a resolution of 1,280 steps per revolution without the need for a separate feedback system, and are more rugged and sturdy than conventional servo motors.
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Tips for creating gantry and multi-axis systems
Gantry and multi-axis systems are used throughout manufacturing to lift, position, and move loads. They can be two-dimensional with a simple XY axis or three-dimensional with XYZ axis, and carry loads from a few pounds to a few thousand, slow or fast, once a day or many times a day. Andrew Zaske from Tolomatic runs through the basics of creating these multi-component systems, including sizing and selection, linear actuator types, and real-world application examples that demonstrate successful systems.
Read this informative Tolomatic blog.
Direct-drive linear motors reduce operating costs and increase productivity
Kollmorgen's new ICH family of Direct Drive Linear (DDL) servo motors improves overall equipment effectiveness by increasing productivity, reducing operating costs, and lowering maintenance costs through the reduction of mechanical components inherent in a direct-drive solution. When compared to conventional rotary systems, ICH linear servomotors increase throughput by up to 40% and enable the design of smaller, lighter machines with increased energy efficiency. The unique anti-cogging coil design provides smooth and quiet travel and delivers continuous forces ranging from 175N to 5341N and peak forces from 405N to 12,726N with voltage ratings up to 480 VAC.
New line of slotless BLDC motors
Lin Engineering high-performance slotless BLDC motors use independent, patented ironless windings. This special design enables high-speed, high-torque, and low-noise performance. The compact structure and low cogging allow these slotless BLDC motors to achieve smoother operation at both high and low speeds, more accurate control, higher efficiency, and higher power density. They feature a wide speed range up to 50,000 rpm. Other benefits include reliable long life, nearly silent operation, and a modular design for better customization.
How to increase accuracy in stepper motors
The motor experts at Lin Engineering have put together some very useful advice for design engineers interested in stepper motors. In this short but informative article, they review micro stepping for accuracy and its effects, including torque ripple, resonance, and noise. They also hit on inertia load sizes and controller choices. Very good info.
Read the full Lin Engineering article.
MathWorks introduces Motor Control Blockset for algorithm development
MathWorks has just released Motor Control Blockset, an add-on product for Simulink for designing and implementing motor control algorithms. Now, motor control engineers can use reference examples and Simulink blocks for developing field-oriented control algorithms to spin brushless motors. The blockset extends the set of Simulink products for motor control design, enabling engineers to test algorithms with each design change, generate fast and compact ANSI/ISO C code, and use simulation to validate software, which can reduce certification testing cycles.
The always-on magnetic encoder!
Novotechnik's RSM2800 Series measures up to 5,760° of rotation (16 turns) while measuring angles to less than 0.1° resolution. The RSM2800 continues to count turns and measure angle -- even when you lose power! There are no gears, optics, or batteries. Applications include robotics, material handling, forklifts, overhead doors, agricultural machines, and more.
New Service: Custom-designed motion controllers
Nippon Pulse is pleased to offer a new service to its OEM customers: custom-designed motion controller boards that utilize the Nippon Pulse Commander core for multi-axis applications. The boards can be designed to meet unique specifications, helping streamline the design process to bring a new product to market faster or reduce the manufacture/testing time on an existing product. Fewer cables are a benefit too.
Robots improve electric vehicle charging
While electric vehicle adoption continues to increase, some of the logistics of owning one remain less than ideal. Charging stations can be an eyesore along city streets, and bulky cables and plugs remain inconvenient for consumers' garages. While inductive charger pads help address some of the issues, they come with a hefty price tag and require extended, slower charging times. A technology prototype could be the new solution: a charging platform with an automatic robot arm, driven by FAULHABER DC motors.
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Linear rotary actuator for capping, screw driving, thread inspection, and more
The LBR40 is a slim, stackable linear rotary actuator that provides a long life cycle, high linear force, and high rotary torque. It includes an SMAC HT35 direct-drive brushless motor. Standard encoder resolution is 5 micrometers (with a 1-micrometer option) for application flexibility to optimize position control. Priced competitively, with the added benefit of real-time feedback of data required to ensure quality. IP67 protection is available, as well as a built-in controller with popular communication protocols. Available from Electromate.
Boost your ball screw knowledge with two new webinar recordings
Whether you're new to ball screws or a seasoned pro, it's always good to continue learning about linear components and how they can improve your designs. Recently, Thomson hosted and recorded a couple of webinars focused on ball screws that could benefit your projects. Give either or both a listen when you've got some time. We bet you'll learn a bunch.
1. Considerations and calculations for choosing the right ball screw.
2. Maximize load capacity, lifecycle, and compactness.
Why convert a tube-bending machine from hydraulic to electric?
Tube-bending machines have been driven by hydraulics for the past 80 years. Operators know how to get the best out of their machines, so why switch to electric cylinders? There are some disadvantages to going electric, but the fundamental reason to consider making the switch is simple: You can make better parts. By Brian Sondergeld
Read this informative Tolomatic blog.
New servo drive system simplifies motion control for machine builders
With its Sinamics S210 converter designed specifically for use with the newly developed Simotics S-1FK2 motors, Siemens is offering a new and innovative servo drive system in an initial offering from 50 to 750 W. The converters come with integrated safety functions and enable rapid engineering via motion technology objects in Simatic S7-1500 controllers. They are connected to higher-level controllers via Profinet and are quickly and easily programmed by automatic motor parameterization and one-button tuning. Typical uses for this new drive system include packaging machines; handling applications such as pick and place, wood, and plastics processing; as well as life sciences and digital printing.
Efficient, powerful, compact: Hypoid PMDC gearmotors
More efficient than comparable worm-gear models, Bodine's new hypoid gearmotors can deliver up to 1,535 lb-in. (173 Nm) torque while using 40% to 60% less energy than a same-size worm gearmotor. Side-by-side tests have shown that hypoid gearmotors can run as much as 15% cooler than worm-gear gearboxes, resulting in lower power consumption and longer lubricant life. The hollow-shaft design eliminates expensive shaft couplings and mounting hardware. Hardened steel gears ensure long life and maximum performance. The initial product launch includes 60 standard models with gear ratios from 5:1 to 240:1.
New flexible, food-grade soft gripper handles tricky pick-and-place jobs
Automation just got easier for food and beverage and other "clean" applications. The flexible, electric OnRobot Soft Gripper uses three interchangeable silicon-molded cups in star and four-finger configurations to pick up almost any small object under 2.2 kg with a delicate, precise touch. One great feature is that no external air supply is needed.
Read the full article and see how it works.
Miniature antenna enables robotic teaming in complex military environments
A new, miniature, low-frequency antenna with enhanced bandwidth will enable robust networking among compact, mobile robots in complex environments.
In a collaborative effort between the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command's (CCDC) Army Research Laboratory and the University of Michigan, researchers developed a novel design approach that improves upon limitations of conventional antennas operating at low frequencies -- demonstrating smaller antennas that maintain performance.
U.S. Army researchers have developed an active matching technique to equip robotic ground vehicles with powerful, miniature antennas. [Credit: U.S. Army photo]
Impedance matching is a key aspect of antenna design, ensuring that the radio transmits power through the antenna with minimal reflections while in transmit mode -- and that when the antenna is in receive mode, it captures power to efficiently couple to the radio over all frequencies within the operational bandwidth.
"Conventional impedance matching techniques with passive components -- such as resistors, inductors and capacitors -- have a fundamental limit, known as the Chu-Wheeler limit, which defines a boundary for the maximum achievable bandwidth-efficiency product for a given antenna size," said Army researcher Dr. Fikadu Dagefu. "In general, low-frequency antennas are physically large, or their miniaturized counterparts have very limited bandwidth and efficiency, resulting in higher power requirement."
With those challenges in mind, the researchers developed a novel approach that improves bandwidth and efficiency without increasing size or changing the topology of the antenna.
"The proposed impedance matching approach applies a modular active circuit to a highly miniaturized, efficient, lightweight antenna -- overcoming the aforementioned Chu-Wheeler performance limit," said Army postdoctoral researcher Dr. Jihun Choi. "This miniature, actively matched antenna enables the integration of power-efficient, low-frequency radio systems on compact mobile agents such as unmanned ground and aerial vehicles."
The researchers said this approach could create new opportunities for networking in the Army.
The ability to integrate low-frequency radio systems with low size, weight, and power (or SWAP) opens the door for the exploitation of this underutilized and underexplored frequency band as part of the heterogeneous autonomous networking paradigm. In this paradigm, agents equipped with complementary communications modalities must adapt their approaches based on challenges in the environment for that specific mission. Specifically, the lower frequencies are suitable for reliable communications in complex propagation environments and terrain due to their improved penetration and reduced multipath.
"We integrated the developed antenna on small, unmanned ground vehicles and demonstrated reliable, real-time digital video streaming between UGVs, which has not been done before with such compact low-frequency radio systems," Dagefu said. "By exploiting this technology, the robotic agents could coordinate and form teams, enabling unique capabilities such as distributed on-demand beamforming for directional and secure battlefield networking."
This prototype miniature antenna is integrated on an unmanned ground vehicle with a software-defined radio and other robotic sensors. The system streams video between the UGV and a second node. [Credit: U.S. Army photo]
With more than 80% of the world's population expected to live in dense urban environments by 2050, innovative Army networking capabilities are necessary to create and maintain transformational overmatch, the researchers said. Lack of fixed infrastructure coupled with the increasing need for a competitive advantage over near-peer adversaries imposes further challenges on Army networks, a top modernization priority for multi-domain operations.
While previous experimental studies demonstrated bandwidth enhancement with active matching applied to a small non-resonant antenna (e.g., a short metallic wire), no previous work simultaneously ensures bandwidth and radiation efficiency enhancement compared to small, resonant antennas with performance near the Chu-Wheeler limit.
The Army-led active matching design approach addresses these key challenges stemming from the tradeoff among bandwidth, efficiency, and stability. The researchers built a 15-cm prototype (2% of the operating wavelength) and demonstrated that the new design achieves more than threefold bandwidth enhancement compared to the same antenna without applying active matching, while also improving the transmission efficiency 10 times compared to the state-of-the-art actively matched antennas with the same size.
"In the design, a highly accurate model captures sharp impedance variation of the highly miniaturized resonant antenna" Choi said. "Based on the model, we develop an active matching circuit that enhances bandwidth and efficiency simultaneously while ensuring the circuit is fully stable."
The team published their research, "A Miniature Actively Matched Antenna for Power-Efficient and Bandwidth-Enhanced Operation at Low VHF," authored by Drs. Jihun Choi, Fikadu Dagefu, Brian Sadler, and Prof. Kamal Sarabandi, in the peer-reviewed journal Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Transactions on Antennas and Propagation.
"This technology is ripe for future development and transition to our various partners within the Army," Dagefu said. "We are optimistic that with the integration of aspects of our heterogeneous networking research, this technology will further develop and will be integrated into future Army communications systems."
Source: CCDC Army Research Laboratory
Published September 2020
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