May 23, 2023 Volume 19 Issue 20

Motion Control News & Products

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Servo motor for medium- to heavy-washdown applications

Kollmorgen has launched its IP69k-rated AKMA servo motor built specifically for durability, cleanability, and versatility. It employs a hardened anodized aluminum surface to offer machine designers a cost-effective, hygienic option to stainless steel in medium- to heavy-washdown applications. The lightweight design of the AKMA motor makes it easy to install and maintain, and its high torque density offers machine builders more performance in a smaller footprint. It is ideally suited for precision motion applications in food and beverage processing, and in pharmaceutical and medical packaging operations.
Learn more.

Designing electric actuators into food processing equipment

Stay one step ahead of regulators and food manufacturers -- who are requiring cleaner, safer machine designs from their OEM machine builders -- by using these five tips from Tolomatic for designing electric actuators into food processing equipment. Machine designers can meet manufacturer expectations and comply with food-safety standards by applying these key best practices.
Read the full Tolomatic article.

Universal Robots debuts world's first cobot spot welder

Universal Robots -- the maker of the most widely used collaborative robot arm in the manufacturing industry -- and its development partners will show off a host of exciting new cobot-related technologies at the Automate show in Detroit May 22-25, including the world's first cobot spot welder, designed and manufactured by Pro Spot International. Palletizers, case packers, process automation cells, and more will also be demonstrated. Lots of neat new tech here.
Read the full article.

New Elite Robots cobot handles 20-kg payload

Elite Robots will unveil the CS620, its new 20-kg payload model, at the EASTEC trade show, May 16-18 in West Springfield, MA. This unit is part of the company's next-gen CS series and stands out for its remarkable ease of use, safety, and expandability. The CS series is based on an advanced software infrastructure, with an intuitive and modular graphical user interface that supports the Python scripting language and self-developed plug-ins, offering a high level of customization for programmers. See what else sets Elite Robots cobots apart with over 10,000 units deployed worldwide.
Learn more.

New ROEQ cart system for automated mobile robot supports up to 287 lb

For customers looking to automate tasks such as quickly moving smaller, lighter cargo between work stations or shelves -- even in narrow spaces where larger carts are challenged -- ROEQ's new TMC130 top module and cart system for the OMRON LD-90x is an ideal solution. The new system will make its debut at Automate 2023. This type of cart tech is popular in automotive manufacturing but is gaining traction quickly in many other industries.
Read the full article.

Part finishing: New smart cobot solution sands, grinds, and more

Kane Robotics has launched its first collaborative robot (cobot) solution, the GRITâ„¢ cobot. Developed by aeronautics and composite experts, GRIT dramatically improves productivity, reduces health risks, and solves labor shortages for aerospace maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) companies and other types of manufacturers. This reconfigurable cobot comes in three sizes and works alongside humans to perform labor-intensive sanding, grinding, and polishing for materials removal within any size and type of manufacturer. Average ROI is 6 months.
Learn more.
Watch a video of how it works.

Food-grade, long-reach stainless steel delta robot

FANUC America's DR-3iB/6 STAINLESS delta robot sets a new benchmark for robotic food handling. Designed for picking and packing primary food products, it has a 1,200-mm reach and a powerful four-axis design that allows it to handle 6-kg payloads at high speeds. Rated IP69K, the robot meets USDA and FDA food safety standards. It is also very fast.
Learn more.

What motor torque constant to use for drive type: Theory and application

Calculating motor torque from available drive current can be confusing due to many different drive types and the multiple ways current is specified. This informative online paper from Celera Motion provides the key formulas for torque constant and motor current from the fundamental principles of three-phase motor theory. It also walks through the many ways torque can be calculated. This information applies to a brushless motor (BLAC or permanent magnet synchronous machines) configuration.
Read the full article.

OnRobot Palletizer: Complete, configurable, and easy-to-use modular solution

OnRobot has launched OnRobot Palletizer, a complete collaborative palletizing solution designed to take the physical and financial pain out of palletizing processes. It includes four new hardware and software products to make affordable collaborative automation available to companies of all sizes and technology skill levels.
Read the full article.

Great Applications: 50 ways to use a hexapod

Hexapods, six-legged parallel-kinematic machines, can solve many complex positioning and alignment tasks in fields including Optics, Photonics, Precision Automation, Automotive, and Medical Engineering. Features include a programmable pivot point, sub-micron precision, and load capacities from 2 to 2,000 kg.
Learn more from PI.

Ultra-small pancake-style gimbal motors

Orbex Group has introduced a line of ultra-compact, high-performance gimbal motors. Featuring a pancake-style form factor, these lightweight motors are wound to operate at low speeds typical for gimbals while exhibiting a high torque constant for fast response when needed. The new gimbal motors are available in two sizes (16 x 10 mm and 26 x 12 mm) and are engineered to minimize cogging torque, ensuring smooth rotation for stable imaging or pointing. Because these brushless motors are electronically commutated, they can change speeds quickly and offer exceptional reliability.
Learn more.

World's smallest servo drives introduced by Celera Motion

Celera Motion claims its newly launched Denali Series features the world's smallest servo drives. The compact and ultra-fast servo drives are perfect for a variety of service robots, surgical robots, industrial grippers, and lab automation applications.
Read the full article.

UR cobots control CNC machining cells at Go Fast Campers

Learn how Go Fast Campers (GFC) has integrated a line of four UR5 cobots from Universal Robots with their Haas CNC machines. GFC manufactures 174 unique parts -- from bolts to connectors to hinges -- for its customized pop-up truck campers. All parts start as raw pieces of aerospace-grade aluminum billet material. The company can run 20 to 25 jobs across the four machining centers each day, with changeovers taking only 10 to 15 minutes. Watch how the cobots' built-in I/Os allow GFC to control all auxiliary systems through the robot program, including part loading, flipping, and unloading with a special extra retractor arm.
View the video.

New Twin profile Rail Stage actuator improves accuracy in XYZ motion systems

The new Twin profile Rail Stage (TRS) actuator from Tolomatic improves accuracy and increases production uptime on XYZ linear motion systems with two- or three-axis configurations. Applications include machining centers, collaborative robot movement, drilling, cutting, pick-and-place, material handling, and more.
Read the full article.

Super cool and versatile palletizing gripper: OnRobot 2FGP20

Palletizing just got easier and more affordable with the 2FGP20 from OnRobot, an off-the-shelf electric gripper with a payload of up to 20kg and endless customization possibilities to fit any automation needs. The 2FGP20 is an ideal solution that can be deployed and redeployed for multiple processes and handling different parts.
Learn more about the 2FGP20.
Learn more about palletizing.

10-month voyage proves new solar cell material survives -- and thrives -- in space

An image of the perovskite samples inside the MISSE Platform installed on the exterior of the International Space Station. [Credit: NASA]



By Ellen Bausback, NASA's Glenn Research Center

Dr. Lyndsey McMillon-Brown was hoping to see anything but mustard yellow.

When the NASA research electrical engineer clicked open the photo of a small sample -- a swatch of film no bigger than a sticky note -- she let out a cheer. The film was still dark black after spending 10 months on the International Space Station, proving her team's innovative solar cell material is suitable for possible use on future space missions.

McMillon-Brown's space station-tested sample was part of the first spaceflight demonstration led by NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland to explore if this new material -- called perovskite -- is durable and can survive the harsh environment of space. The dark color she saw was an early indication the demonstration had been successful.

Dark black meant the perovskite film was in its most efficient form for absorbing light, while yellow would have meant the crystalline material had degraded into lead iodide, which isn't useful for solar cells.

"We didn't know when we sent it exactly what to expect," McMillon-Brown said. "It was kind of like opening a door and not knowing what is going to be on the other side."

If humanity is to establish a long-term presence on the Moon and Mars, astronauts will need reliable power sources to sustain their habitats and science instruments. NASA researchers think perovskite could be used in solar cells that are thinner, cheaper, lighter, and more flexible than those currently made of silicon or group III and V elements on the periodic table.

NASA Glenn's perovskite sample can be seen as it was integrated into the MISSE platform at Aegis in Houston, TX, prior to launch to the International Space Station. [Credit: NASA]





Although perovskites had been put through the experimental paces on Earth, flying in space meant the material could be pummeled by vacuum, extreme temperatures, radiation, and light stressors simultaneously.

"There is no ground analog, no machine that will do all of those crazy things to it at the same time quite like the International Space Station," McMillon-Brown said.

The 1-in. by 1-in. flight sample was created in a lab in early 2019. Once the thin film met strict safety requirements, it rocketed off to the space station in March 2020 as a part of the Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE). Astronauts performed a spacewalk to open the suitcase-like MISSE platform and attach it to the outside of the space station, exposing the perovskite and other experiments to the extreme conditions of space.

After hurtling around in orbit and plunging in and out of direct sunlight for nearly a year, the film returned to Earth in January 2021. The sample was analyzed by partners at the University of California Merced, led by Professor Sayantani Ghosh, where scientists studied what happened to it and compared it to a control sample that stayed on the ground. Partners at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory also contributed to the post-flight analysis.

Researchers had two key takeaways.

First, temperature swings during orbit constantly shrank and expanded the sample, putting stress on it and changing how it interacted with light. However, they discovered something surprising: When the space-traveling perovskite was bathed in light back on Earth, its built-up stress relaxed, and its sunlight-absorbing qualities were restored, unlike the control sample, which degraded when exposed to the same conditions.

This is a valuable quality, McMillon-Brown says, because it means perovskite solar cells could be used in space during long-duration missions.

"We don't know exactly what about the space environment gave our film this superpower," she said.

The other takeaway was that temperatures in space influenced how perovskite's crystals were arranged, changing how they absorbed light -- for the better.

"The fact that the one in space holds a favorable arrangement for longer and can work at much lower temperatures is also a strong benefit for this material," McMillon-Brown said.

Up next, McMillon-Brown and her team are isolating what specific parts of the space environment transformed the perovskite. They'll also be combing through results from complete perovskite solar cell experiments that have flown on the space station in the time since the first sample was returned.

"A lot of people doubted that these materials could ever be strong enough to deal with the harsh environment of space," McMillon-Brown said. "Not only do they survive, but in some ways, they thrived. I love thinking of the applications of our research and that we're going to be able to meet the power needs of missions that are not feasible with current solar technologies."

Published May 2023

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