April 18, 2017 Volume 13 Issue 15

Motion Control News & Products

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Synchronous motors/drives don't need encoder

The SINOCHRON Motor design from ABM DRIVES offers advantages in continuous-duty applications like driving pumps and fans. The efficiency is also better in partially loaded duty cycles when compared to standard asynchronous motors. This motor can replace a stepper motor in some applications. Drive units are virtually loss-free in no-load operation. This motor design also offers advantages in powering conveying equipment, escalators, spooling machines, compressors, and traction drive units. By substituting existing line-powered three-phase drive units, energy savings of 20 to 35 percent can be expected.
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Mike Likes: TI doubles power density with motor control

Texas Instruments recently introduced two new device families that help reduce size and weight in motor drive applications. When used together, the brushless DC (BLDC) gate drivers and power blocks require half the board space of competing solutions. An 18-V compact BLDC motor reference design demonstrates how these components can drive 11 W/cm3 power and enable engineers to jump start their designs for smaller, lighter weight power tools, integrated motor modules, drones, and more.
Read the full article.


Stepper motor controller delivers 2,000x basic resolution

Precision positioning systems industry leader PI (Physik Instrumente) has released a higher performance model of its successful Mercury Stepper Motion controller. Stepper motors take up discrete positions in a revolution of a constant distance. Typical commercial models provide 200 to 1,000 full steps per revolution. Designed to deliver more than 2,000 times the basic motor resolution, the C-663.12 Mercury controller is the newest addition to PI’s suite of motion control solutions.
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Micro gripper for small, fragile part assembly

The MGR5 electric micro gripper from SMAC was designed for small, fragile part assembly. It features a light-force capability of 10 g or less and a soft-land capability for pick and place of delicate parts. Each jaw can be independently controlled in force, position, and velocity, with a 5-micron linear encoder standard (1 micron optional). Ideal for a wide range of positioning, measuring, and inspection applications, particularly where 100% verification is required.
See this new gripper in action.
Get more detailed info on this micro gripper.


Dual-feedback voice coil positioning stage

The VCS20-020-CR-01-MC-F3K voice coil positioning stage can operate under closed-loop position control with force monitoring or closed-loop force control with position monitoring. It uses H2W voice coil motor NCC20-18-020-1A to generate a continuous/peak force of 2 lb (8.9 N)/6 lb (26.7 N) with a total stroke length of 2 in. (50.8 mm). The 1-micron resolution encoder allows for precise positioning. The 3-kg rated force transducer allows for 0.01- to 3-kg of push/pull force feedback control. It comes supplied with a high-accuracy crossed roller bearing. The motor coil is the moving part of the assembly in order to reduce the moving mass of the system. Power is supplied to the motor via a high-flex, high-reliability flat ribbon cable.
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Thinnest moving coil linear motor in the world

At 6 mm wide, SMAC Moving Coil Actuators claims the LCA6 is the thinnest linear moving coil in the world. This unit is cross-roller guided, increasing accuracy. Flat coils are centered between cross rollers, so deflection load is reduced and rigidity is increased. In addition, the LCA6 is small and stackable, conserving space. The LCA6 is great for electronic pick-and-place, biomedical dispensing, and QC measurement. Specs include a linear stroke of 10 mm and peak force [N] = 3.5 @ 1.2 amps (24V).
Click here to learn more about this product line.


Program templates make automation even easier

Robotiq offers new tools to help collaborative-robot beginners save a lot of time programming Robotiq products and UR robots. Program templates are now available and ready to be downloaded from Robotiq’s online resource center. Every package includes a program file, step-by-step procedures, and a demonstration video. Four program templates are available: Stacking/Unstacking Using the Force Torque Sensors, Palletizing Using the Wrist Camera, Measuring Insertion Force, and Increasing the Wrist Camera’s Field of View. New programs are expected to come out every week.
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New industrial-grade optical encoder

Quantum Devices' Model QDH20 provides an improved feedback solution in demanding applications typically using a standard size 20 package. Outputs consist of a quadrature A & B with reference pulse Z as a standard feature. The output can be configured with either the industrial standard 5-V to 26-V OL7272 line driver or open collector outputs. The QDH20 features two heavy-duty bearing sets holding the output shaft and two more bearings along with an integral flexible spring mount to isolate the working pieces of the encoder from mechanical stresses. Features include 500-kHz fundamental frequency response, high-temp option (100 C), and high noise immunity.
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Cool Tools: New Fluke motor diagnostics tool incorporates machine learning

Fluke and Veros Systems have collaborated on asset performance and condition monitoring technologies to increase visibility into the efficiency and reliability of electric motor-driven machines. The Fluke 438-II Power Quality and Motor Analyzer is the first tool to result from that partnership. It analyzes three-phase power-quality measurements and uses an innovative method developed by Veros to calculate motor output torque, speed, horsepower, and efficiency. Using this information, engineers and technicians can evaluate system performance and detect overload conditions while the motor is operational, without the use of any mechanical sensing devices such as tachometers, strain gauges, or other intrusive sensors.
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Mini but mighty high-load linear actuator

Equipped with precision ground ball screws for higher speed and a longer service life, the L-239 high-force actuator from Physik Instrumente (PI) has a positioning range of 52 mm (2 in.), pushing force of 300 N (66 lb), and 50-mm/sec (2-in./sec) maximum velocity. The nonrotating tip enables uniform motion, preventing wobble, torque, and wear at the point of contact. Noncontact limit switches protect the mechanics, while a direction-sensing reference point switch speeds up the homing procedure and supports automation applications. Special versions available for vacuum applications.
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Motor Tech: UAV camera stabilization with brushless motors

Today, recon is dominated by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and drones due largely to concerns for pilots’ safety and costs. However, photos and videos obtained from UAVs are only useful if they are crisp and clear, which requires both precise focusing and extreme stabilization of the camera system. Compact and powerful FAULHABER brushless DC motors from MICROMO were selected to get the job done.
Read the full article.


Become a robot programmer in only 87 minutes!

Learning how to set up and program a collaborative robot -- or cobot -- no longer depends on real-life access to a robot or a training class. Now everybody with a desire to learn the concepts of cobots can log in to the Universal Robots Academy and get the introduction necessary to master basic programming skills. Become a master of the cobots! (That's a pretty sweet title.)
Click here to learn more.


Low-cost spring-applied brakes

Inertia Dynamics type FSB brakes are designed to decelerate or hold inertial loads when the voltage is turned off. These brakes can be mounted to a bulkhead or motor. The FSB brakes are rated up to 100 lb-in. static torque and fit motors up to 5.3 in. OD. Features include 12-V, 24-V, 90-VDC, or 120-VAC windings; bore sizes from 1/4 in. to 3/4 in.; low current consumption; and low cost. Metric bores and special voltages available.
Click here to learn more.


Are you using the Right Coupling for your motion control application?

Servometer® precision motion control couplings are available with both set screw and clamp style ends. Electro-deposited bellows technology offers seamless construction and the best combination of flexibility and strength among couplings technologies. These versatile, flexible nickel and stainless steel shaft couplings are capable of accommodating misalignments for parallel, angular and axial motion. Our recently released video showcases their unique characteristics, capabilities, design and various applications.
View video ...


Smart sensors provide health checks for motors

The ABB Ability Smart Sensor for motors uses compact sensors to pick up multiple data streams from low-voltage motors and provides information about motor health and performance via a smartphone or a dedicated web portal. By converting regular LV motors into intelligent, connected machines, the solution enables advanced maintenance planning that will help businesses cut costs and boost productivity. Predictive analytics based on data from the solution can reduce downtime up to 70%, extend motor lifetime by as much as 30%, and cut energy consumption up to 10%.
Click here to learn more.


NASA tests robotic ice tools to explore distant ocean worlds

By Andrew Good, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

A robotic claw, one of several innovative tools developed at JPL for exploring icy, ocean worlds like Europa. [Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech]

 

 

Want to go ice fishing on Jupiter's moon Europa? There's no promise you'll catch anything, but a new set of robotic prototypes could help.

Since 2015, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, has been developing new technologies for use on future missions to ocean worlds. That includes a subsurface probe that could burrow through miles of ice, taking samples along the way; robotic arms that unfold to reach faraway objects; and a projectile launcher for even more distant samples.

All these technologies were developed as part of the Ocean Worlds Mobility and Sensing study, a research project funded by NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate in Washington. Each prototype focuses on obtaining samples from the surface -- or below the surface -- of an icy moon.

"In the future, we want to answer the question of whether there's life on the moons of the outer planets -- on Europa, Enceladus, and Titan," said Tom Cwik, who leads JPL's Space Technology Program. "We're working with NASA Headquarters to identify the specific systems we need to build now, so that in 10 or 15 years, they could be ready for a spacecraft."


VIDEO: The search for life beyond Earth needs robots. But to explore distant ocean worlds like Europa, we'll need a new set of tools to drill through ice, reach faraway samples, and cross difficult terrain. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory recently finished a series of prototypes that might make that exploration a little easier.

Those systems would face a variety of challenging environments. Temperatures can reach hundreds of degrees below freezing. Rover wheels might cross ice that behaves like sand. On Europa, surfaces are bathed in radiation.

"Robotic systems would face cryogenic temperatures and rugged terrain and have to meet strict planetary protection requirements," said Hari Nayar, who leads the robotics group that oversaw the research. "One of the most exciting places we can go is deep into subsurface oceans -- but doing so requires new technologies that don't exist yet."

A hole in the ice
Brian Wilcox, an engineering fellow at JPL, designed a prototype inspired by so-called "melt probes" used here on Earth. Since the late 1960s, these probes have been used to melt through snow and ice to explore subsurface regions.

The problem is that they use heat inefficiently. Europa's crust could be 6.2 miles deep or it could be 12.4 miles deep (10 to 20 km); a probe that doesn't manage its energy would cool down until it stopped frozen in the ice.

Wilcox innovated a different idea: a capsule insulated by a vacuum, the same way a thermos bottle is insulated. Instead of radiating heat outwards, it would retain energy from a chunk of heat-source plutonium as the probe sinks into the ice.

A rotating sawblade on the bottom of the probe would slowly turn and cut through the ice. As it does so, it would throw ice chips back into the probe's body, where they would be melted by the plutonium and pumped out behind it.

Removing the ice chips would ensure the probe drills steadily through the ice without blockages. The ice water could also be sampled and sent through a spool of aluminum tubing to a lander on the surface. Once there, the water samples could be checked for biosignatures.

"We think there are glacier-like ice flows deep within Europa's frozen crust," Wilcox said. "Those flows churn up material from the ocean down below. As this probe tunnels into the crust, it could be sampling waters that may contain biosignatures, if any exist."

To ensure no Earth microbes hitched a ride, the probe would heat itself to over 900 degrees Fahrenheit (482 degrees Celsius) during its cruise on a spacecraft. That would kill any residual organisms and decompose complex organic molecules that could affect science results.

A longer reach
Researchers also looked at the use of robotic arms, which are essential for reaching samples from landers or rovers. On Mars, NASA's landers have never extended beyond 6.5 to 8 ft (2 to 2.5 m) from their base. For a longer reach, you need to build a longer arm.

A folding boom arm was one idea that bubbled up at JPL. Unfolded, the arm can extend almost 33 ft (10 m). Scientists don't know which samples will be enticing once a lander touches down, so a longer reach could give them more options.

For targets that are even farther away, a projectile launcher was developed that can fire a sampling mechanism up to 164 ft (50 m).

Both the arm and the launcher could be used in conjunction with an ice-gripping claw. This claw could someday have a coring drill attached to it; if scientists want pristine samples, they'll need to bore through up to 8 in. (about 20 cm) of Europa's surface ice, which is thought to shield complex molecules from Jupiter's radiation.

After deployment from a boom arm or a projectile launcher, the claw could anchor itself using heated prongs that melt into the ice and secure its grip. That ensures that a drill's bit is able to penetrate and collect a sample.

Wheels for a cryo-rover
In July, NASA will mark a 20-year legacy of rovers driving across Martian desert, harkening back to the July 4, 1997 landing of Mars Pathfinder, with its Sojourner rover.

But building a rover for an icy moon would require a rethink.

Places like Saturn's moon Enceladus have fissures that blow out jets of gas and icy material from below the surface. They'd be prime science targets, but the material around them is likely to be different than ice on Earth.

Instead, tests have found that granular ice in cryogenic and vacuum conditions behaves more like sand dunes, with loose grains that wheels can sink into. JPL researchers turned to designs first proposed for crawling across the moon's surface. They tested lightweight commercial wheels fixed to a rocker bogey suspension system that has been used on a number of JPL-led missions.

The next steps
Each of these prototypes and the experiments conducted with them were just starting points. With the ocean worlds study complete, researchers will now consider whether these inventions can be further refined. A second phase of development is being considered by NASA. Those efforts could eventually produce the technologies that might fly on future missions to the outer solar system.

This research was funded by NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate's Game Changing Development Program.

For more information on Ocean Worlds Europa Technologies, go to https://gameon.nasa.gov/projects-2/ocean-worlds-europa-technologies/

Published April 2017

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