April 18, 2017 Volume 13 Issue 15

Motion Control News & Products

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Mobility Tech Ideas: Scissor lift for UTVs

The UTX Scissor lift from Innovative Equipment is designed to be easily fitted and removed from almost any utility vehicle (UTV) in approximately 3 minutes without any heavy lifting. It provides the user with a working height of 18 to 19 ft on nearly any terrain. It can be leveled on slopes up to 12 deg. It has a lifting capacity of 500 to 600 lb and enables users to take a scissor lift "where no scissor lift has gone before." Stability has been tested to five times the ANSI requirements. It also has safety features that will not allow it to be used in unsafe conditions.
See it in action.


Become a robot programmer in 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.


Multi-axis robotic controller

Aerotech’s HEX RC is a 6-axis motion controller ideal for controlling robotic systems like hexapods. It is 4U rack-mountable and compatible with the Automation 3200 (A3200) motion platform. A high-performance processor provides the intense computing power needed to run up to 32 axes, perform complex, synchronized motion trajectories, manipulate I/O, and collect data at high speeds. This unit features 6 axes of drives capable of controlling any combination of brush, brushless, or stepper motors (both current loop and servo loop closures). An optional 6-axis jog pendant permits easy, manual control of the positioning system.
Click here to learn more.


Single-rail positioning stage (H-gantry)

H2W Technologies’ latest single-rail positioning stage design is an open-frame XY positioning system. It has two bottom parallel axes with one cross axis connecting the two (H-gantry). Each linear axis uses H2W’s brushless linear motors (BLDM-B04). Each has a total stroke length of 25.67 in. (652 mm) and can generate 6.2 lb (27.8 N) of continuous force and 18.7 lb (83.3 N) of peak force, or a combined 12.4 lb (55.6 N) continuous force and 37.4 lb (166.6 N) peak force on the bottom axis. The non-contact 1-micron resolution encoders allow for precise positioning. The moving tables are guided by a precision recirculating linear ball bearing system. Additional options include a home positioning sensor, end-of-travel-sensors, and custom mounting holes.
Click here to learn more.
Watch this stage in action.


Getting a grip on precision: Mechatronics vs. pneumatics

A gripping system for small parts that is both quick and powerful -- until now, that was often only possible with pneumatics. However, recently the leading expert for gripper systems and technology has developed a mechatronics-based EGP 40 gripper that easily achieves the same performance of its pneumatic counterparts. The drive that makes this impressive performance possible is FAULHABER small brushless DC servo motors from MICROMO.
Read the full article.


Mini linear motor stage with magnetic direct drive

Motion and nanoposi-tioning industry leader PI expands its PIMag series of high-dynamics linear motor stages with a new compact positioner for automation tasks. The V-408 stage is equipped with an incremental linear encoder for direct position measurement and a high-force 3-phase linear motor drive. The V-408 features high load-capacity precision crossed roller elements with anti-creep cage assist and a zero-wear, non-contact linear motor -- ideal prerequisites for long lifetime in high duty-cycle industrial applications. The high-force linear motor achieves velocities up to 1.5m/sec. An integrated optical linear encoder provides 10-nm resolution. Two models are offered with 25-mm and 50-mm travel range.


Advanced pneumatic standard cylinders with Adaptive Cushioning System

IMI Norgren’s ISOLine is a true fit-and-forget ISO cylinder. Inside lies the new Adaptive Cushioning System (ACS), which automatically adjusts the cylinder cushioning for changing loads, so manual cushion screw setting is not required. This makes the ISOLine much simpler to install. Other benefits include lower breakaway pressure, lower minimum speed, reduced leakage, polyurethane seals that ensure efficient low-friction operation, and reduced weight (20% lighter than previous versions). All sizes supplied with magnetic piston rod as standard.
Click here to learn more.


Easily automate a simple axis of motion

The Tolomatic ACSI integrated servo/motor/ controller is now available with PROFINET Industrial Ethernet protocol, allowing engineers to design easy-to-use and cost-effective electric actuator solutions for single-axis applications. The integrated package is ideal for replacing pneumatic cylinders and automating any simple axis of motion with Siemens or other PROFINET-enabled PLCs. With built-in configurations for Tolomatic electric actuators, the ACSI integrated controller automatically configures the motor, actuator, safety limits, and other key settings inside the controller for quick and seamless integration.
Click here to learn more.


Direct drive linear motor with integrated encoder

The new SDLM-019-070-01-01 direct drive linear motor is the latest addition to the series of zero-backlash, zero-cogging, high-acceleration, high-speed, high-resolution, long-life linear servo motors from Moticont. Also known as an electric cylinder, this compact direct drive linear motor is just 0.75 in. (19.1 mm) in diameter and 2.75 in (69.9 mm) long. Protected inside the motor housing, the linear optical quadrature encoder is directly connected to the shaft for the greatest possible accuracy. This unit has a stroke length of 0.500 in. (12.7 mm), a continuous force rating of 9.7 oz. (2.7 N), and peak force of 30.7 oz (8.5 N).
Click here for more information on this product series.


ABB's general-purpose motors combine quality, cost efficiency, and industry experience with short lead times

ABB has launched its N-series general-purpose motors to provide a high level of energy efficiency, reliability, and safety in applications where a highly customized motor in the 50- to 8,000-kW power range is not needed. The motors use cost-effective pre-packaged designs to meet the same high quality standards as all ABB motors but with lead times that are several weeks shorter. An easy-to-use online selection tool called "MachSize" simplifies motor configuration. Another tool called "DocStage" is a web-based system for sharing and managing documentation.
Click here to learn more.


New nanopositioning solutions catalog debuted at LASER 2017

Motion and precision positioning systems expert PI (Physik Instrumente) issued a catalog on newly introduced precision motion solutions for photonics, robotics, microscopy, and highly accurate industrial automation applications at LASER World of PHOTONICS held in Munich, Germany, in June. The 80-page catalog covers products and custom-engineered systems, including automated photonics alignment engines, linear motor stages, piezo actuators, air bearings, hexapod Stewart platforms, and high-performance motion controllers.
Get your nanopositioning systems catalog today.


Get 'V8 power' and nanometer precision positioning with PI's new piezo linear motor

Motion control and piezo systems expert PI (Physik Instrumente) introduces a new robust OEM walking motor drive, the N-331, with its configuration rooted in existing patented piezo actuator technology and a patented piezo stepping motion principle design. Unlike traditional electromagnetic motors, piezo motors do not create magnetic fields, nor are they influenced by magnetic or electric fields. The new design is ideal for use in high-end applications that require extreme precision and durability. High push/pull and holding forces qualify this non-magnetic drive as the fastest and strongest of its size class.
Click here to see it in action.
See the specs, datasheet, and more information.


Mike Likes: Small brushless motor with big performance

The new 3274 BP4 brushless DC motor series from FAULHABER is overload‐resistant and operates without wear‐prone mechanical commutation, giving the 3274 BP4 longer operational life than conventional micro DC motors. Weighing just under 320 grams, the 3274 BP4 brushless servo motor packs massive continuous torque of 165 mNm, making it ideal for applications where high power and dynamic start/stop operation with the lowest possible weight are crucial.
Click here to learn more.


Rotate an object to a precise angular position

Goniometer stages can measure angles of objects such as crystals or move an object to a precise angular position along an arc in relation to a fixed point in space. Two goniometer stages mounted in an alpha-beta configuration (stacked) can rotate an object around a fixed point in space on a spherical surface. Optimal Engineering Systems (OES) offers stacked, precision-aligned goniometer stages like the compact AK110-15-10 with a rotation center 50 mm above the upper stage. Goniometers are used for identifying crystals, examining cutting edges of medical instruments, estimating hyperspectral bidirectional reflectance, gloss measurements, measurements of radiation patterns of LEDs, directing lasers, aligning mirrors, and manufacturing quartz oscillator plates using quartz cutting X-rays.
Click here to learn more.


Compact hexapod for industrial alignment applications

PI has added a higher performance model to its range of compact hexapods. The new H-811.i2 provides twice the velocity along with sensor resolution up to eight times higher compared to the current H-811.D2 miniature hexapod. The compact size, robust design with low-friction ballscrews, brushless motors, and powerful controller with multi-axis alignment capabilities make the new hexapod an ideal tool for high duty-cycle alignment applications in optics, automotive, and photonics applications.
Specifications, datasheets, more information >
Read technical articles and applications of PI hexapods >


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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