January 11, 2022 Volume 18 Issue 02

Motion Control News & Products

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Pro Tip: What is the clearance/thrust relationship in induction motors?

A linear induction motor has a primary or coil assembly and a secondary or reaction plate. In this pro tip, engineers from H2W Technologies explain why machine and systems designers should pay particular attention to the clearance gap between these two components -- especially since an epoxy, varnish, or case enclosure may be involved.
Read the full article.

Stepping motor driver with resistorless current sensing

Toshiba Electronic Devices & Storage Corp. has added the TB67S539FTG to its lineup of stepping motor driver IC series that support constant current control for office automation, commercial, and industrial equipment. The driver incorporates Toshiba's latest DMOSFET device, which allows it to realize a motor output voltage rating of 40 V and a motor output current rating of 2.0 A. The use of a current detector for constant current motor control eliminates the need for an external current sense resistor.
Learn more.

Engineer's Toolbox: All about smart hybrid actuators

Hybrid drives present a practical solution when a position needs to be detected with high precision and moved repeatedly over long travel ranges, or when a target position needs to be reached with nanometer precision. PI gives in-depth illustrations of the different drive concepts in action using incredible motion tech being built into the world's largest terrestrial telescope on a 3,000-m-high mountain in Chile.
Read the full article.

Boost productivity with OnRobot's all-electric VGC10 vacuum gripper

OnRobot's versatile VGC10 vacuum gripper enabled Sydney, Australia-based injection molding experts Designed Mouldings to boost productivity and reduce cycle times through automation of key assembly processes. The low-cost, all-electric VGC10 easily completes 20,000 product runs in 24 hours -- three times faster than manual labor -- freeing workers to focus on higher-value tasks. And with no external air supply to worry about, the VGC10 supported easy deployment with excellent results.
Learn how.

Roller-type LM guide for ultra-heavy loads

THK's model HRX is the company's roller-type linear motion (LM) guide. It features ultra-high rigidity in addition to the ability to handle ultra-heavy loads. On the HRX, each row of rollers is arranged at an angle of 45 degrees. This ensures the LM block receives an equal load rating (high rigidity) in all directions. Made for the development of high-precision, energy-saving, high-speed machines with long service lives.
Learn more.

New GSL strain wave robotic gearboxes

GAM has released the new GSL series of strain wave gearboxes, which provide zero backlash and high torque in a small gearbox for robotic and motion control applications. The GSL gearbox uses harmonic gearing for a very compact design that easily integrates into applications requiring high ratios and high precision in a small form factor. The GSL series is available in frame sizes 14 to 40 and reduction ratios 50:1 to 160:1.
Learn more.

App Note: Mini linear actuator with Linfinity nut

When a customer was trying to fit a motorized linear actuator that needed to move a couple pounds into a small space that could not accommodate a conventional off-the-shelf-type solution, Lin Engineering's team got to work. The novel solution included an actuator system using a 106 motor, a lead screw, a self-lubricating LinFinity nut to remove backlash and provide maintenance-free performance, and a right-size encoder to provide the feedback the system needed.
Read the Lin Engineering application story.

New servo drive for high-power robotic applications

The mini-sized FE100-50-RM FlexPro RS485/RS232 servo drive from ADVANCED Motion Controls is capable of outputting 50 A continuous current rms and 100 A peak current, providing the torque necessary to drive motors in larger mobile robots. The servo drive has a wide input voltage range of 20-90 DC, allowing it to power mobile robots all day -- even as the battery levels drop. Despite the drive's small size, it can outperform larger-sized digital servo drives and still be integrated into tight spaces. While slightly larger than the micro-sized models, two mini-sized FlexPro drives can still fit on a standard business card.
Learn more.

Drop-in motor solutions for robotics, automation, medical

SDP/SI now offers the NH1-D Frameless Brushless Motor series for smaller machines that require precision and high efficiency. Rated for continuous operation, they are an ideal solution for many applications including the replacement of heavier, traditional motors by eliminating components, reducing torsional losses, decreasing weight, system inertia, and size envelope, while providing maximum speed control.
Learn more.

Cobots hit the classrooms with federal, state, industry recognition

Two major recognitions of Universal Robots' education programs from the U.S. federal Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute and the State of Ohio's Department of Education pave the way for schools and industry to further leverage cobots, offering employability in robotics careers while upskilling the existing workforce.
Read the full article.

SCHUNK ADHESO gripper wins New Product of the Year Award at 2021 ASSEMBLY Show

The ADHESO gripper from SCHUNK uses no external power supply to activate its grabbing force. It is not a traditional vacuum system and does not use magnets. It just "sticks" by pressing to the piece. What makes this gripper -- which has no "fingers" that users can see -- look like it's performing magic?
Read the full article.

Is this the world's most precise small six-axis robot?

Mecademic, a Canadian robotics manufacturer, says it builds the world's smallest, most precise, and easy-to-use industrial robotic arm -- the Meca500. This six-axis robot can handle payloads up to 500 g with an unmatched accuracy of 0.005 mm. It excels in the precise and repetitive manipulation of small parts and tools in a variety of industries. It's a plug-and-work automation component that integrates with any PC or PLC, doesn't require a proprietary language to learn, and is affordable and easy to use. Plus, it features a unique integrated controller in its base.
Learn more.

Autonomous mobile robots do heavier lifting

ROEQ has launched two new top modules and accompanying accessories designed to boost the payload and lifting capabilities of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) from industry leader Mobile Industrial Robots (MiR). Capable of handling total payloads of up to 1,500 kg (3,307 lb), the new ROEQ top module TMS-C1500 combined with the new S-Cart1500W shelf cart greatly increases the payload capabilities of MiR's MiR500, MiR600, MiR1000, and MiR1350 AMRs. Eliminating the need for a docking station, the TMS-C1500 can pick up and drop off the shelf cart in free space and with precision. The AMR is never left idling, and it can simply drop off the cart and immediately go and pick up a new one. ROEQ has also launched the top module TML200 with a stroke of 40 mm that can lift and transport crates, pallets, racks, and ROEQ shelf carts.
Learn more and see these units work.

Inductive vs. optical vs. magnetic encoders: How to choose

It makes sense that when there isn't a need to spend on a high-end optical encoder, the most common thought is to look directly to magnetic encoders. According to HEIDENHAIN, sometimes that's the right move, but when using an inductive encoder is an available option, your search shouldn't be limited to magnetic or optical. Confused? You won't be after reading this informative HEIDENHAIN blog.
Read the full article.

How to avoid premature linear screw actuator failure

At their core, electric linear screw actuators deploy mechanical technology such as ball bearings, ball screws, and roller screws that have a finite life. These components do not last forever -- even though that is the expectation of some customers. But how long will an actuator really last? Tolomatic engineers provide a way to calculate, estimate, and size the electric linear screw actuator to achieve the desired life for your application.
Read this informative Tolomatic blog.

Sikorsky-Boeing unveil updated advanced assault helicopter: DEFIANT X

A development partnership between Sikorsky and Boeing has released new details of its advanced helicopter for the U.S. Army's Future Long Range Assault Aircraft competition (FLRAA). Named DEFIANT X, the coaxial rotor aircraft aims to be the fastest, most maneuverable, and most survivable assault helicopter in history. DEFIANT X is an updated/modified version of the team's SB-1 Defiant, which had its first flight in March 2019.

All images are of DEFIANT X. [Images courtesy: Boeing/Sikorsky]



With its two coaxial main rotors and rear-mounted, all-electric pusher propulsor, the single-engine DEFIANT X is unlike production rotorcraft available today. It represents what its designers think is a leap forward in technology to achieve the U.S. government's desire for vast increases in speed and range, while improving maneuverability and survivability in a cost-effective way.

Boeing says, "DEFIANT X will fly low and fast through complex terrain, land quickly, deliver soldiers and equipment to the objective area (referred to as 'the X'), and get out."

"Defiant is designed to fly at nearly twice the speed and has twice the range of conventional helicopters while retaining the very best, if not better low-speed and hover performance of conventional helicopters," said Dan Spoor, vice president, Sikorsky Future Vertical Lift, back in June 2020 when the SB-1 Defiant was being put through extra testing. "This design provides for exceptional performance in the objective area, where potential enemy activity places a premium on maneuverability, survivability, and flexibility."

The U.S. Army has a stated goal to replace the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter in fiscal year 2030. The DEFIANT X is one of two designs being considered as replacements in the FLRAA program as part of the Army's Future Vertical Lift (FVL) initiative, the Army's No. 3 modernization priority area.

The winning design will be required to blend airplane-like speeds with helicopter-like maneuverability. The aircraft will need to maintain 100% maximum continuous power, medical evacuation capabilities, and (per guidelines) have the ability to perform a 500-ft-per-min. vertical rate of climb. It will have to soar at 6,000 ft in 95-degree heat, with up to 12 passengers and for roughly 1,725 nautical miles one way without refueling. The program's objective cruise speed is 280 knots, or roughly 320 mph.

Bell Textron's part-aircraft, part-helicopter design called the Bell V-280 Valor is the other contender. So far, Valor, which sports two transformational tiltrotors, has flown at speeds around 200 knots (230 mph) in testing. It includes a fly-by-wire flight control system.

On a flight test last year, the SB-1 Defiant demonstrator proved it was faster than the long-in-service Black Hawk by reaching 205 knots (236 mph).

The Sikorsky-Boeing DEFIANT X is counting on its X2 Technology (counter-rotating blade) design to make it the U.S. Army's top choice due to its scalability to a variety of military missions such as attack and assault, long-range transportation, infiltration, and resupply.

X2 was first developed on Sikorsky's two-seater XH-59A prototype, which made significant improvements in vibration reduction, weight reduction, and blade technology. It boasts improved hover performance, rapid maneuverability, and crisp control response due to the rigid rotor -- all while maintaining helicopter-like performance at low speeds.

The X2 Technology is also used in the smaller Sikorsky RAIDER X demonstrator, a high-speed scout and attack compound copter that has already proven a maximum cruise speed of 253 knots (291 mph). Sikorsky Chief Test Pilot Bill Fell said back in 2019 that the low- and high-speed maneuverability of an X2 Technology flyer -- which can fly at as much as 60-plus degrees of bank -- and the ability to hover in high altitudes and hot conditions "make a helicopter fly more like a tactical jet aircraft than a classic rotorcraft."

The DEFIANT X can hold a crew of four. It has fly-by-wire flight controls, manually foldable blades to reduce space requirements during parking, a composite fuselage, and retractable landing gear.

Jerry Drelling, a Boeing spokesperson, told Designfax exclusively that the DEFIANT X differs from the SB-1 Defiant in some important ways. One feature is a combat-ready weapon system designed to the Army's new mission set, including:

  • Enhancements to the design to reduce thermal signature and improve aerodynamic handling;
  • Tricycle-design landing gear, which improves stability and landing and taxiing in combat and austere environments;
  • Changes to the exhaust system, reducing thermal signature; and
  • An integrated mission systems package enabling joint all-domain operations (JADO) and, through modular open systems approach (MOSA), continued upgrades to combat an ever-changing/evolving threat and system to maintain relevance in the 2035 battlefield.

Drelling added that the aircraft also features enhanced maneuverability and survivability, which includes fly-by-wire flight controls integrated with an autonomy capability, which lead to safety and workload reduction for the crew and operations in complex and degraded visual environments.

Drelling also pointed out that the DEFIANT X is designed for growth. It's "the only FLRAA solution that can do external lift missions at an operationally relevant distance, which gives the Army increased capability and operational flexibility," he said. Also, "The aircraft can handle additional weight without having to grow the rotor diameter or the engine size. So, any additional equipment, survivability features, payload (including external lift) can be handled without a significant and costly redesign of key dynamic components."

According to a Jan. 25, 2021, Defense News article, "The 'enhancements to the [DEFIANT X] design' are born from roughly 1,500 hours running algorithms in a systems integration lab, 135 hours logged in the Propulsion Systems Test Bed, and 31 flights, adding up to 26 hours of flight time."

According to a Feb. 26, 2020, article on Business Insider by Matthew Cox of Military.com, "Test pilots on Defiant [SB-1] said they love the [electric] rear pusher prop, which is designed to provide revolutionary thrust, but are also comforted that it can take direct hits in combat without causing catastrophic failure to the aircraft."

The article also says, "The pusher prop can also be reversed very quickly to provide negative thrust for quick braking power, and then turned off for a quieter sound signature."

The U.S. Army has stated no official date for the downselect of the final, winning design, but fiscal year 2022 has been mentioned in several reports as the soft target. The technological readiness of both competing designs as well as evolving military budgets will influence the final selection timeline.

Sikorsky is a Lockheed Martin Company.

Learn more about DEFIANT X at boeing.com/defiantx.

Sources: Boeing/Sikorsky, Business Insider, Defense News

Published February 2021

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