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. Click here to learn more.
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.
EPSON redefines 6-axis robots with Flexion N-Series
The new Flexion N-Series 6-Axis robots feature a compact folding-arm design poised to dramatically change the scope of automation in applications requiring smaller robots and workcells. The first robot introduced in the series, the Flexion N2, offers a 450-mm reach and 2.5-kg maximum payload. Unlike any other 6-axis robot on the market, the Flexion N-Series features a unique tight-space motion capability, maximizing efficiency for faster cycle times. In addition, the folding arm reduces required workspace up to 40% compared to standard 6-axis robots. Click here to learn more.
Motors vs. pneumatics: Getting a grip on precision
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 small brushless DC servo motors from FAULHABER and MICROMO. Read the full article.
Low-cost tin-can stepper motors feature high torque and compact size
Nippon Pulse America's PF/PFC series tin-can stepping motors are conventional magnet-driven rotary stepper motors with a permanent magnet in their rotor core. Rotating in proportion to the number of pulses sent to the motor, the stepper motor is frequency synchronized and can change speed depending on the frequency of the pulse signal. Because of its high-torque output (2,500 mNm maximum torque) and low-profile construction, applications for tin-can stepper motors include printing, packaging, and medical devices. Optional gearheads are available to offer increased torque in a small package. Available from Servo2Go. Click here to learn more.
Great resources: THK’s guides for linear motion users
THK America has developed an online Resource Center packed with the latest industry insight and information on linear motion. Built into the navigation of thk.com, searchable content consists of white papers, briefs, case studies, articles, videos, e-books, and web content. Subjects cover a range of topics, including “The Value of a Domestic Supply Chain,” “Design with Robots in Mind: What it Means for Engineers,” and “THK: Shaping the Future of Service Robotics.” Narrow your info search based on your project role. A Technical Calculator is available to quickly estimate the service life of THK products, including Linear Motion Guides, Ball Screws, and Linear Motion Guide Actuators. Click here to learn more.
ABB sells its first-ever U.S.-made robot
In May 2015, ABB announced that it would begin producing robots at its Auburn Hills, MI, facility, making it the first major industrial robot company to commit to an American manufacturing footprint. It delivered its first U.S.-manufactured IRB 2600 robot (resplendent in a special red-white-and-blue paint job) to Hitachi Powdered Metals USA this month. In addition to the IRB 2600, ABB will begin manufacturing other popular robot models in Auburn Hills this year. The company estimates that by 2018 75% of all the models delivered to North American end-users will be manufactured in the United States. Previously, ABB robots sold in the Americas were made in Sweden and in China. Read the full press materials.
Complete system solutions for optimum drive and control performance
Kollmorgen’s updated Automation and Motion Control catalog details the features, benefits, and specifications of the company’s complete range of motion control solutions, including: Direct Drive motors, servo motors and drives, Safe Motion, distributed and central servo amplifiers, and the complete Kollmorgen Automation Suite. The catalog also includes stepper motors and drives, PMDC motors, linear actuators, and planetary gearboxes. Overall, more than 100 diverse and scalable product and solution ideas are covered in the catalog, making it much more than a simple guide for selecting individual products used in next-generation machine design. Click here to learn more.
Stationary field tooth clutch delivers higher torque in a smaller package
SEPAC designed the electro-magnetic Stationary Field Tooth Clutch (SFTC Series) to deliver an exceptional torque-to-size ratio with the ability to operate dry or in oil. This model offers a bearing-supported design to ease the installation process. The SFTC’s positive engagement, less than 1 degree of backlash, high torque-to-size ratio, and ease of installation make it ideal for a variety of applications. Additionally, the extraordinary reliability of the SFTC Series makes it a top choice for aerospace and defense actuators, aircraft flight control, military ground systems, weapon systems, elevator/azimuth, robotics, medical equipment/imaging, and more. Click here to learn more.
Economy series electric actuator
The Economy Series ES (slider type) and EC (cylinder type) electric actuators are built on THK’s original Linear Motion System technology for smooth and silent movement. Designed as an alternative to pneumatic cylinders and as an option for automating manual processes, these easy-to-install, compact multifunctional devices are ideal candidates for processing, assembly, transport, testing, and other applications. The ES incorporates the model SRS LM Guide, equipped with ball retainers, as well as Lubricator QZ for optimal ball-screw lubrication. The combined effect provides for long-term maintenance-free operation. Strokes available from 50 to 600 mm (ES) and 50 to 300 mm (EC), with speeds from 300 to 600 mm/s for both. Horizontal or vertical mount determines maximum load: ES = 0.5 to 10 kg (1.1 to 22 lb), EC = 3 to 15 kg (6.6 to 33 lb). Click here to learn more.
Automation: Robotic joint control how-to
Versatile and adaptive robotic armatures have the benefit of increasing manufacturing productivity by automating and performing complex, repetitive tasks 24/7. Designed to obey commands or to work in unison as cooperative robots (cobot/co-robot), these robots greatly simplify the design of automation systems. To further improve performance, reaction torque sensors are placed in-line with the drive motors inside each joint, allowing development of closed loop control laws to ensure smooth, repeatable, and efficient arm motion. Learn about precision torque feedback for robotic arms and co-robots.
Stanford researchers debunk popular flight models by flying birds through lasers
By Warren Duffie Jr., Office of Naval Research (ONR)
Resembling a feathered flying ace with his miniature protective goggles and chinstrap, the parrotlet named Obie stood ready to take off. On signal, Obie propelled into the air, flapped through a laser field infused with microparticles, and landed on another perch 3 ft away.
Obie the parrotlet dons his flying goggles for a test run at Stanford Univ.
The journey only lasted 3 seconds, but it challenged the accuracy of three aerodynamics models long used to predict animal flight. It also might impact future designs of bio-inspired drones, robots, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), a topic of interest to the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.
Sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), researchers at Stanford University found a new way to precisely measure the vortices -- the circular patterns of rotating air -- created by birds' wings during flight. The results shed greater light on how these creatures produce enough lift to fly.
"One of the most exciting recent advances in understanding flying animals has been the use of new technologies like this to collect all kinds of data in free-flight conditions," said Marc Steinberg, an ONR program manager who oversees the research. "We can learn what's really happening -- the biology and physics -- and apply it to create UAVs capable of navigating challenging environments like under a thick forest canopy or through urban canyons."
Led by Dr. David Lentink, the Stanford team tested three models commonly used to estimate how much lift birds, and other flying animals, generate when flying.
First, they had Obie and other parrotlets fly several times through a laser field flashing 1,000 times per second, lighting up nontoxic aerosol particles the size of a micron (one thousandth of a millimeter).
As Obie flapped through the field, thin mist particles moved around his wingtips and were photographed by super-high-speed cameras -- creating a new picture of the vortices in the wake of a flying animal. The Stanford researchers took this data and combined it with measurements gathered from another instrument, an aerodynamic force platform, invented in Lentink's lab with support from ONR.
"The platform is basically an ultra-sensitive weight scale that measures the force generated when a bird takes off in a specially designed flight chamber," said Lentink, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering.
The researchers then applied each of the three prevailing models to these new measurements multiple times. In each case, the existing models failed to forecast the actual lift of the parrotlets.
The problem is that long-standing models are based on historical measurements taken a few wingbeats behind a flying animal, resulting in predictions that wing vortices stay relatively frozen over time -- like the puffy clouds that form and dissipate slowly in an airplane's wake. Lentink's research, however, demonstrates that birds' wing vortices actually break up suddenly and violently, within two to three beats.
"For a long time, engineers have looked to animal flight literature to see how robotic wings could be designed better," said Lentink. "But that knowledge was based on inaccurate models for lift. We now know we need new studies and methods to inform this design process better. I believe our method, which measures lift force directly, can contribute to such improvements."
Future stages of Lentink's research will involve applying his new lift model to studies of how winged drones and UAVs can perform missions in environments that are difficult to navigate, such as dense woodland. His work is sponsored by an ONR Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative focusing on unmanned, autonomous flight.