September 06, 2022 Volume 18 Issue 33

Motion Control News & Products

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New rotary microstage includes built-in controller

The new M3-RS-U2-4.5-360 Rotary Smart Stage from New Scale Technologies is a miniature positioning module that simplifies the task of embedding high-precision rotary motion into scientific and industrial instruments. The latest addition to the M3 Smart Stage family provides point-to-point angular positioning with closed-loop resolution better than 0.022 degrees. M3 Smart Stages integrate piezoelectric motors, position sensors, and built-in controllers in compact modules that accept direct digital input from a system processor.
Learn more.

New high-performance hollow shaft gear unit for heavy-duty applications

Harmonic Drive has released its HPF series of hollow shaft gear units designed for heavy-duty industrial applications. These advanced gear units offer high torque outputs and flexible installation options, and they provide exceptional torque density and positional accuracy. Industrial applications include robotics, packaging, and material handling.
Learn more and get all the specs.

Totally new! Hybrid stepper and PM motor

The Hybrid-PM-Mix (HPM) from Lin Engineering is the first motor of its kind, combining the stator of a hybrid stepper and the rotor of a PM motor in the form factor of a high-speed BLDC. The result is a motor that behaves like a typical high-speed BLDC with the added benefits of hybrid steppers -- precise position control and position holding -- with low noise and vibration too. The 1330 Series is a small motor with a frame size of just 13 mm, which is perfect for small applications with minimal space.
Find out all the specs.

New magnetic tracks for linear motors -- more force with no redesign

The MWD+ is a new family of magnetic tracks from ETEL equipped with stronger magnets. These tracks are compatible with any existing ETEL LMG and LMS linear motor, enabling an average of 15% higher continuous and peak force compared to existing MWD products. Benefits include higher force density per unit volume, which allows users to improve the overall duty cycle or run a given duty cycle at lower temperatures.
Learn more about ETEL linear motors.

maxon adds dynamism to robotic drives

Innovative motor concepts are the answer to growing market requirements for dynamic response, compactness, and power density. With the EC frameless DT, maxon presents a solution that really packs a punch. The DT50 with matching encoder is the precursor of a new product family developed specifically for dynamic movements like those in robotics. The brushless motor with its frameless concept can be easily integrated into a wide range of applications by design engineers in applications where speeds can change in an instant. When installed, the EC frameless DT50 effortlessly reaches a nominal torque of over 500 mNm at a nominal speed of 4,000 rpm.
Learn more.

Better conveyors for automotive assembly lines

The Torque Arm Conveyor Drive is a more energy-efficient and maintenance-friendly replacement for the legacy "Floating Frame" conveyor drives used in many automotive assembly lines. Developed by OCC Systems, it features a custom-built gearbox solution with an Overhead Conveyor Drive gear unit from NORD DRIVESYSTEMS. This new drive concept contains far fewer parts, has a modular and maintenance-friendly construction, and comes with a built-in back-up system.
Read the full article.

Robot handles precision masking tape application for aerospace

Engineers from Aerobotix and FerRobotics have developed an impressive End of Arm Tooling system that provides smooth masking on parts varying in shape and puts down precise tape lines where the customer needs them -- even on intricate curvy paths. You've got to see it in action.
Read the full article.

Linear robots are now even more versatile

Bosch Rexroth has expanded its portfolio of linear robots (eight different axis combinations with 68 sizes!) for various applications in factory automation. The much wider range of working areas and loads makes the Cartesian subsystems also suitable for applications like battery handling or intralogistics. Predefined axis combinations make for quick and easy sizing and selection. Configure and finalize online and order as preassembled subsystems -- optionally with controllers. Each multi-axis system is also available as a Smart Function Kit for handling or dispensing. Preinstalled software allows for fast commissioning and intuitive programming.
Learn more about Bosch Rexroth smart mechatronic systems.

Selecting linear actuators for robotics

Nick Novotny over at Nook Industries has put together a handy and very useful short guide on selecting linear actuators for robotic applications. Besides addressing the primary considerations, he also explains motor types, linear actuator types, modularity, and advantages and disadvantages.
Read this informative Nook Industries blog.

5 key considerations for selecting a propulsion motor

Josh Jennings, mobile servo motor and drive applications engineer for Parker Hannifin's Hydraulic Pump and Power Systems Division, runs through the key factors to consider for a vehicle electrification project, including how the motor is cooled, its speed range, flexibility, efficiency, and reliability. Solid basic information.
Read the full Parker blog.

New mini planetary gearmotors

New PH Series Mini Planetary Gearmotors from Applied Motion Products are used with small step motors in NEMA 8, 11, and 14 frame sizes. These gearmotors are used in applications where space is critical. Small motors usually don't produce enough torque for demanding applications. Mini Planetary Gearmotors are an ideal solution. They offer an increase in torque and better inertia matching without breaking the budget.
Learn more and see all the options offered by Electromate.

New cobot welders with extended range unveiled at FABTECH 2022

Universal Robots has grown its welding application segment more than 80% this year as partners develop new capabilities for the pioneering cobot welders. At FABTECH last week, Universal Robots' booth showcased new solutions from Vectis Automation and Hirebotics, enabling the weldment of larger and more complex parts. Attendees also experienced Precision Cobotics' automated MECCO laser-marking solution with Apera AI bin picking, laser welding with Cobot Systems, metal deburring with Kane Robotics, along with the new UR20 cobot in a machine-tending application.
Learn about the new welding options and other UR FABTECH releases.

New! Multi-axis gantry attachment kits extend your working envelope

Multi-axis linear actuator assemblies from Bishop-Wisecarver extend the working envelope of automated motion systems and provide for more complex motion. ECO60 Gantry Kits create reliable and easy-to-assemble connections between ECO60 Linear Actuators. Benefits include: saving design time without sacrificing design freedom, easy ordering with single-part-number kits, and fast and simple assembly and installation. All multi-axis kits are made from aluminum with black anodize and stainless-steel hardware.
Learn more.

Robots handle post processing for metal AM parts and components

The NetShape Robot from Rivelin Robotics provides an automated solution for metal support removal and targeted finishing to meet the standards of mission-critical industries. Driven by the powerful NetShape control software, both machine learning and traditional deterministic control theory are used to optimize the quality and repeatability of the work. The result is an automated support-removal solution that reduces defects by 90%, exhibits a 10-fold reduction in operational costs, and eliminates human risk and variability.
Learn more.

Flat external rotor with encoder

The DF45 brushless DC motors from Nanotec are now available with an integrated encoder. The new flat motors with a diameter of only 45 mm are ideal for applications that require precise positioning in confined spaces such as AGV wheel drives, access control systems, and door drives. The two-channel encoder has a resolution of 1,024 CPR and provides additional Hall signals for commutation. The difference in length between the standard motor and the encoder version is only 2 mm, as the encoder has been completely integrated. The DF45-E has a rated power of 65 W at a rated speed of 4,840 rpm. Custom windings or shafts are also available.
Learn more.

Hydrogen fuel cell advance: UCLA team exceeds DOE-set targets for fuel cell performance and durability

CNSI-affiliated researchers beat Department of Energy targets thanks to tiny graphene pockets.

As important as the internal combustion engine has been for societal progress, it is also a major contributor to pollution that damages human health and carbon emissions that help drive the climate crisis. Close to 30% of U.S. carbon emissions come from transportation, and 95% of transportation uses fossil fuels.

One element of a potential remedy would be to power vehicles with hydrogen fuel cells, which emit only water vapor. However, this sustainability solution has an ironic, built-in aspect that's unsustainable: The catalysts necessary to draw power from hydrogen involve rare and expensive metals such as platinum. In amounts used for today's technology, widespread adoption would require quantities of these metals beyond what humankind can source.

A recent study in Nature Nanotechnology led by a UCLA professor may represent a turning point. The researchers reported on an approach that enabled them to meet -- and beat -- ambitious targets for high catalyst performance, high stability, and low use of platinum that were set by the Department of Energy. Their record-breaking technology used miniscule crystals of a platinum-cobalt alloy, each embedded in a nanopocket made of graphene, described as a two-dimensional material because it comprises a layer of carbon one atom thick.

Compared to the stringent DOE standards for catalysts -- unmet till now -- the authors' graphene-wrapped alloy yielded extraordinary results:

  • 75 times more catalytic activity.
  • 65% more power.
  • About 20% more catalytic activity at the expected end of the fuel cell's life.
  • About 35% less loss of power after testing that simulates 6,000 to 7,000 hours of use, beating the target of 5,000 hours for the first time.
  • Almost 40% less platinum per vehicle.

"This has never been done before," said corresponding author Yu Huang, professor and chair of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, and a member of the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA (CNSI). "This discovery involved some serendipity. We knew we were onto something that might make smaller particles stable, but we didn't expect it to work this well."

Today, half of the total global supply of platinum and similar metals is used for catalytic converters in vehicles powered by fossil fuels, a component that makes their emissions less noxious. Somewhere between 2 and 8 grams of platinum are required per vehicle. By comparison, current hydrogen fuel cell technology uses about 36 grams per vehicle.

At the lowest load of platinum tested by Huang and her team, each hydrogen-powered vehicle would need only 6.8 grams of platinum.

So how did the researchers get more power out of less platinum? They broke the platinum-based catalyst up into particles an average of 3 nanometers long. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter, and the nanoparticles were so small that it would take more than 30,000 laid end to end to span the thickness of a single sheet of paper. Smaller particles mean more surface area, and more surface area means more real estate where catalytic activity can occur.

There's a catch, though, that has stymied previous attempts to get better performance by going small with hydrogen fuel cell catalysts. On their own, tinier particles are also far less durable, because they tend to pull off of a surface or crowd together into larger particles.

Huang and her colleagues addressed this limitation by armoring their catalyst particles in the 2D material graphene. Compared to bulk carbon as commonly seen in coal or pencil lead, such thin layers of carbon have surprising capacities, conducting electricity and heat efficiently and showing strength 100 times that of steel at similar thickness.

Their platinum-cobalt alloy was reduced to particles. Before being integrated into a fuel cell, the particles were surrounded by graphene nanopockets, which acted as a sort of anchor to keep the particles from migrating -- necessary for the level of durability needed in commercial vehicles. At the same time, the graphene allowed for a tiny gap, of about 1 nanometer, around each catalyst nanoparticle, which meant that key electrochemical reactions could occur.

"It's sort of intuitive," Huang said. "If you put a cap on the particle that allows the reaction to go on but confines the particle in that place, it will resolve the durability problem which is, however, very challenging to achieve at such small scale."

This latest advance follows a recent collaborative study led by Huang that produced a model for predicting the catalytic activity and durability of a platinum-based alloy that can be used to guide the design of catalysts -- the first of its kind. She and her team are working to translate their experimental results into practical technology that can be taken to the market and, hopefully, add to green energy and sustainability efforts.

Source: California NanoSystems Institute



The study's co-first authors are postdoctoral researcher Zipeng Zhao and doctoral student Zeyan Liu, both of UCLA. Other UCLA authors are doctoral students Ao Zhang, Wang Xue, and Bosi Peng; and Xiangfeng Duan, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UCLA College and a member of the CNSI. UC Irvine faculty member Xiaoqing Pan and his postdoctoral researcher Xingxu Yan helped with imaging graphene nanopockets.

The research received funding from the U.S. Office of Naval Research.

Source: California NanoSystems Institute

Published September 2022

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