The new P-630 X-axis nano-positioning stage from PI (Physik Instrumente), with a large clear 30-mm diameter aperture, 0.1-nm resolution, and a small footprint and low profile, will ensure high accuracy and long life with travel ranges to 80 µm. Equipped with an internal capacitive sensor that allows for precise, extremely stable motion, the stiff flexure design enables exceptional responsiveness and accuracy. Vacuum version is available. PI piezo actuators are being utilized in research and industry microstructuring and scanning applications, precision positioning of optical elements, and micromachining. Click here to learn more.
Custom-molded lead screws, linear motion components
Haydon Kerk Motion Solutions recently added SolidWorks Plastic Professional mold flow analysis software to help with the design of custom-molded lead screw and linear motion components. Haydon Kerk’s experience using over 60 molded materials, including the Kerkite composites, PEEK, and PPS base materials, combined with the capabilities of this new software, allows engineers to reduce the time required for the design and build process for custom molds. The combination of on-site tooling and molding machines also reduces the time to production for custom parts for existing Haydon Kerk polymers or customer-specified materials. Click here to learn more.
Bosch Rexroth Resource Kits
Bosch Rexroth Corporation recently achieved a major milestone distributing 5,000 Resource Kits to U.S. engineers. Launched in 2013, the Resource Kits now cover six different topics: Lean Production and Automation Insights, Linear Motion & Mechatronics @ Work, Advancing Factory Automation, Hydraulics Performance, Mobile Hydraulics Solutions and Packaging & Printing Results. Resource Kits include handbook excerpts, case studies, technical papers, videos, and online tools. Get your resource kits today.
Compact linear positioning stage driven by ultrasonic piezo linear motor
Ultrasonic piezomotors from Physik Instrumente are small and provide motion with high resolution, as well as an extremely wide dynamic range from microns/second to hundreds of millimeters/second. A significant advantage over magnetic drive technologies (such as voice coils, brushless, and 3-phase motors) is the self-locking principle: Once the motor reaches a target position, it acts like a ceramic brake and locks the platform into place, providing extreme long-term stability at zero driving current and heat generation. Click here to learn more.
Mike Likes Robotics: Tiny powerhouse of a robot
The small-but-mighty KUKA KR 3 AGILUS is aimed at production applications where very short cycle times and maximum output are required, such as assembling small components and performing handling tasks, screw fastening, brazing, adhesive bonding, packaging, testing, inspecting, and more. Payload capacity is 3 kg; reach is 540 mm. This 600 mm x 600 mm (2 ft x 2 ft) little workhorse is characterized by impressive speed and precision. Click here to learn more.
Aerospace: Custom modular cooling pumps
A new family of cooling pumps from Parker Aerospace shares a common core of basic motor and pump components. The pumps are compatible with a variety of dielectric fluids including PAO, fuel, Galden, and turbine engine oils and are available in fixed- or variable-speed configurations to accommodate a variety of flow rates. Both AC and DC motor configurations are available as 115 VAC at 400 Hz, 28 VDC, or 270 VDC. The wet-motor design allows the fluid to extract heat from the electronics or the sensor suite, while also removing heat from the pump motor itself. Click here to learn more.
Linear Motion: Mini voice coil actuators
H2W has built its smallest moving magnet voice coil actuator (NCM01-04-001-2IB) to date, with an outside diameter of 0.40 in (10 mm) and a length of 0.735 in (18.8 mm). It has a stroke of 0.10 in (2.5 mm) and generates a continuous force of 0.10 lb (0.45 N) and a peak force of 0.30 lb (1.35 N). It weighs just 0.20 oz (5.7 g). This actuator uses a hardened shaft and sliding contact bushing to ensure long life and is ideal for oscillatory motion -- particularly in a number of handheld applications. Moving magnet voice coil actuators have built-in bearings, so there is no need for the customer to add mass or complexity to their motion system to integrate a bearing, and there are no moving leads to worry about cable management. Click here to learn more.
Motion: Next generation of precision motion controllers -- V3.0
MICROMO launches the new MC3/MCS motion control family -- an extensive and versatile basis for the complete FAULHABER motion system. The new controllers are optimized for use with FAULHABER motors, offer electronics for simple operation with state-of-the-art interfaces for multi-axis applications, and provide a motion control system solution with the most compact integration into industrial grade housing. The Motion Controllers V3.0 are high performance, intelligent, networked drives optimized for OEM and automation applications. Click here to learn more.
Cool Tools: Digital oscilloscope tests motors for damaging shaft voltages
Industrial motors controlled by variable frequency drives (VFDs) are at risk of electrical bearing damage. The new AEGIS Shaft Voltage Tester Digital Oscilloscope makes it easier than ever to check in-service motors for damaging VFD-induced shaft voltages and head off bearing damage and costly unplanned equipment downtime. A complete package, the two-channel, full-function 100-MHz digital oscilloscope comes with a special conductive microfiber-tipped probe for exceptional shaft contact, a probe holder with magnetic base, and a compact carrying case. Click here to learn more.
Low-cost belt-drive actuator
Tolomatic’s family of MXB electric belt-drive actuators includes a new solid-bearing load-carrying design ideal for harsh environments. The trapezoidal solid bearing provides a rigid, long-lasting bearing system capable of operating in environments that roller bearings would not be able to withstand. With loads up to 520 lb, speeds to 100 in./sec, and strokes up to 230 in., the MXB-S belt-drive actuator is an economical solution for light- to moderate-loading applications requiring high duty cycle and high speeds over long strokes. Click here to learn more.
Robotics: Robotiq camera for Universal Robots couldn't be more user friendly
Robotiq has just launched a new vision-guided pick-and-place solution for those oh-so-popular Universal Robots. This camera can be working on a shop floor in 5 minutes flat. No external PC is required to set up, program, or run the camera -- the camera’s user-friendly software is seamlessly embedded within Universal Robot’s graphical user interface. The compact camera design fits perfectly on the UR wrist and offers direct connectivity to the controller. Early users of the system say Robotiq’s Camera breaks down all the integration barriers we are used to seeing with vision systems in manufacturing automation. Click here to learn more.
What's so cool about piezo motors?
The PiezoWalk technology used by Physik Instrumente (PI) combines the technological advantages of piezo-class resolution with long travel ranges: They offer subnanometer resolution, high forces, and high stiffness. In contrast to conventional long-travel piezo-motor principles, PiezoWalk stepping drives are not subject to sliding friction effects, and virtually wear-free motion is achieved because the “legs” lift off for each step. Click here to learn more.
Low-cost linear motion systems resist roll, pitch, and yaw
The low-cost, wide, stable platforms of the SAIBO SB-LGC Linear Motion Systems are available exclusively from LM76 in two sizes to meet load requirements up to 6,000 N (1,349 lb). These wide, low-profile linear motion systems feature low noise, smooth travel, high speed to 10 m/s (120 ft/s), high acceleration to 50 m/s (150 ft/s), low weight, high linear accuracy, and sealed radial low-friction bearings. Because of their wide profile, they have high moment (roll, pitch, and yaw) load capacities. Additionally, they are easy to install, in any orientation, into new and existing applications. Click here to learn more.
Cool Tools: Voice coil actuator developer kits
BEI Kimco has improved its Voice Coil Actuator (VCA) Developer's Kit to include three new actuator sizes with greater force and stroke capabilities to provide a broader diversity in off-the-shelf selection (custom kits can also be ordered). Choose from six actuators with force performances ranging from 15.56 N to 1,512 N, and total strokes ranging from 6.35 mm to 31.7 mm. The kit provides all the necessary components to get an actuation system up and running to easily build a prototype. Uses include actuation, position, force control, proof-of-concept, full-function prototypes, test bed for actuator system design, stand-alone use for single-purpose actuation, live testing, vibration generator, and student engineering projects. Click here to learn more.
High-dynamic linear nanopositioners
Aerotech’s QNPHD linear piezo nanoposition-ing stages provide the benefits of both a stage and actuator in one compact, high-stiffness package. With a direct-metrology, capacitive sensor feedback option, high resonant frequencies, and high load capacity, the QNPHD is ideal for a wide range of high-speed and high-precision applications such as scanning probe microscopy, disc-drive testing, and semiconductor wafer articulation. Click here to learn more.
DARPA tests UAV-to-UAV refueling at 45,000 ft
DARPA completes close-proximity flight tests of two modified RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles, demonstrates technology enabling autonomous aerial refueling.
Global military aviation currently relies on a key enabler: aerial refueling. Fighters, bombers, reconnaissance, and transport aircraft use "flying gas stations" to go the extra mile.
Increasingly, UAVs are conducting combat and ISR operations, but they aren't designed to be refueled in flight. In 2007, DARPA teamed up with NASA to show that high-performance aircraft can easily perform automated refueling from conventional tankers, yet many unmanned aircraft can't match the speed, altitude, and performance of the current tanker fleet. The 2007 demonstration also required a pilot on board to set conditions and monitor safety during autonomous refueling operations.
But DARPA has been working to close this capability gap.
Global Hawk UAVs demonstrate close-proximity test flight.
DARPA's two-year Autonomous High-Altitude Refueling (AHR) program, which concluded Sep. 30, explored the ability to safely conduct fully autonomous refueling of UAVs in challenging high-altitude flight conditions. During its final test flight, two modified Global Hawk aircraft flew in close formation, 100 ft or less between refueling probe and receiver drogue, for the majority of a 2.5-hr engagement at 44,800 ft. This demonstrated, for the first time, that High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) -class aircraft can safely and autonomously operate under in-flight refueling conditions.
The flight was the ninth test and the first time the aircraft flew close enough to measure the full aerodynamic and control interactions for unmanned-to-unmanned connections. Flight data was analyzed over the past few months and fed back into simulations to verify system safety and performance through contact and fuel transfer, including the effects of turns and gusts up to 20 knots.
Since HALE aircraft are designed for endurance at the expense of control authority, the program started with the expectation that only one in six attempts would achieve positive contact (17%). The final analysis, however, indicated that 60% of the attempts would achieve contact.
Multiple autonomous breakaway contingencies were successfully triggered well in advance of potentially hazardous conditions. Fuel systems were fully integrated and ground tested, demonstrating a novel "reverse-flow" approach with the tanker in trail. This approach opens valuable trade space for future developers to choose between various fixed and modular implementations of proven probe and drogue hardware.
"The goal of this demonstration was to create the expectation that future HALE aircraft will be refueled in flight," says Jim McCormick, DARPA program manager. "Such designs should be more affordable to own and operate across a range of mission profiles than systems built to satisfy the most stressing case without refueling. The lessons from AHR certainly extend beyond the HALE flight regime, and insights into non-traditional tanker concepts may offer further operational advantages."
Using this capability, U.S. military Global Hawk UAVS could fly nonstop for days or maybe even weeks.