November 13, 2012 Volume 08 Issue 42

Motion Control News & Products

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Critical medical applications demand top-quality motion

Surgical robotics systems offer an overwhelming advantage over traditional methods: improved precision and speed, faster patient healing, and a reduced margin of error. For minimally invasive procedures requiring this level of precision, performance, and reliability, the engineers of surgical robotics systems depend on FAULHABER motion systems.
Read the full article.


Pick, measure, and sort small parts with one robotic workstation

New Scale Robotics has introduced its Q-Span Automated Small-Part Measurement Systems for quality control (QC) teams in high-mix, small-batch manufacturing environments. Q-Span Systems combine robotic pick-and-place with automated measurement of small parts. They easily integrate into existing workflows in the QC lab or on the production floor, and automate the tedious manual process of measuring parts with digital calipers.
Learn more.


Universal Robots develops interface for Siemens engineering portal

Integrating Universal Robots' collaborative robots into complex machines and manufacturing environments will soon be a process machine builders and systems integrators can handle seamlessly through one of the world's leading automation platforms: Siemens' TIA (Totally Integrated Automation) portal.
Read the full article.


Voice coil stages and actuators for precise motion

Because of their small dimensions, voice coil motors are often integrated in compact stages, actuators, and fast tip/tilt mirror platforms. These devices are driven by an electromagnetic motor consisting of a moving coil winding and a fixed magnet (the opposite is also possible). By precisely controlling the electric current in the coil, the magnetic force (Lorenz force) -- and thus, acceleration, velocity, and position -- can be varied very accurately.
Learn all about voice coil stages and actuators from PI.


Compact, low-noise gearboxes for high loads

With the GP56-N series, the Nanotec product line now also includes low-noise planetary gearboxes for brushless DC motors and stepper motors with flange size 56 and 60 mm. They are ideally suited for applications in medical devices and building automation. The helical toothing allows the teeth to mesh gradually, which results in a smoother transmission of forces so that vibrations and noise are reduced. Planetary gears and the ring gear consist of a high-quality, low-wear plastic, making the new gearboxes quieter than conventional, straight-geared metal gearboxes. Available in one- and two-stage versions in nine different reductions and varying output torques.
Learn more.


Gearless speed reducers with traction drive tech

Stock Drive Products / Sterling Instrument (SDP/SI) has introduced new speed reducers with traction drive technology. Featuring a gearless drive, these speed reducers are highly efficient and feature only six moving parts. They use engineered traction fluid to cool and lubricate, and they generate less heat than conventional drives. Years of development and testing have been invested in this new technology, resulting in a product featuring infinite ratios up to a ratio of 5:1, dramatic reduction of motor torque ripple, low vibration and noise level, and significantly less maintenance than a conventional gearbox.
Learn more.


Exploring Mars with miniature motors

When developing the high-resolution Panoramic Camera on the ExoMars Rover, engineers looked for motors that were extremely compact and could also deliver reliable and precise positioning for the camera-focusing mechanism. FAULHABER Stepper motors were selected for the job, as they precisely position objects with a resolution of 1280 steps per revolution without the need for a separate feedback system, and are more rugged and sturdy than conventional servo motors.
Read the full article.


MAHLE developing highly efficient magnet-free motor for electric vehicles

German automotive industry supplier MAHLE is currently developing a new, highly efficient magnet-free electric motor that does not require rare-earth elements and costs less to produce. The company says the motor's efficiency level has only been achieved by Formula E racing cars so far.
Read the full article.


Distributed drive system designed for conveyor applications

With its new Sinamics G115D, Siemens is introducing a compact and powerful drive system specifically designed for horizontal conveyor applications. The IP-rated system comprises the motor, drive, and gearbox in one unit and is offered in two versions: wall mounted and motor mounted. It is suitable for applications in intra-logistics and airports, as well as in the automotive and food and beverage industries.
Learn more.


FANUC tabletop robot now in 10 model variations

FANUC America has just introduced the LR Mate 200iD/14L, the 10th model variation of its popular LR Mate series of tabletop industrial robots. Since the LR Mate series was launched nearly 30 years ago, it has become one of FANUC's biggest sellers, with over 70,000 units installed across the globe. The LR Mate 200iD/14L allows the highest payload of the LR Mate series, handling parts weighing up to 14 kg in the automotive, e-commerce and warehousing, food and beverage, medical device, pharmaceutical, and many other industries.
Find the right LR Mate for your application.


Boost productivity with OnRobot's all-electric VGC10 vacuum gripper

OnRobot's versatile VGC10 vacuum gripper enabled Sydney, Australia-based injection molding experts Designed Mouldings to boost productivity and reduce cycle times through automation of key assembly processes. The low-cost, all-electric VGC10 easily completes 20,000 product runs in 24 hours -- three times faster than manual labor -- freeing workers to focus on higher value tasks. And with no external air supply to worry about, the VGC10 supported easy deployment with excellent results.
Learn how.


Neat. Guide any major industrial robot easily with Robeye visual guidance system

Recognition Robotics offers its complete Robeye visual guidance system that includes all the components needed to guide any major industrial robot. This industry-proven technology with potential for hundreds of applications is currently running production in multiple automotive OEMs. Benefits include quick-and-easy setup, simplified line feeding (for things like pre-centering tooling, conveyors, high-precision racks and rack stands), reduced production time, increased flexibility, and no CAD data or calibration required for new tasks. Just connect, teach, and recognize -- all in less than five minutes. The Robeye Espresso Starter Kit includes everything you need to get underway.
Learn more about the system.
Learn about Robeye in De-racking Applications.


Mini brushless DC motor with integrated driver

Portescap's new 22ECP miniature brushless DC motor includes an integrated driver to optimize motor performance and simplify installation. The 22-mm-diameter motor is just 35 mm in length and delivers 50% more continuous torque than comparable brushless slotless mini motors -- without compromising smoothness of operation or motor lifespan. It's a high-performance, economic two-pole motor designed to deliver a balance between speed and torque. Applications include respiratory and ventilation devices, infusion pumps, mini industrial pumps, medical hand tools, clinical diagnostics, and valve actuation.
Learn more.


New Cobot Welder is programmable with smartphone app

The new Cobot Welder from Hirebotics is a major leap forward in easy-to-use welding automation that combines industrial-grade robot welding functionality with consumer-level ease-of-use and a phenomenal price point -- especially for small and medium-size businesses. The Cobot Welder's app programmability decreases the time required to teach a new part by 60%. A Hirebotics/Universal Robots launch event will be held April 28.
Read the full article.


Improved low-backlash Slip-Ease clutches

SDP/SI offers a new, low-backlash variant of its existing line of multi-plate in-line slip clutches. Both versions feature an all-mechanical design, which makes them considerably cheaper than electromechanical alternatives. These clutches are commonly used for overload protection to prevent injury and machine failure, but have a wide variety of other applications such as tension control and positioning retention hinges like the ones in reclining chairs. The slip plates are layered with friction pads in between, and an adjusting nut sets the slip torque by squeezing the plates together. The outer plates are tabbed to fit into the output housing and the inner plates are connected to the input hub, so the two ends disengage from one another upon slipping.
View the video.


Drill, baby, drill: Astrobotic unveils working prototype of lunar water-prospecting robot

Astrobotic Technology has completed assembly of a full-size prototype of Polaris, a solar-powered robot that will search for potentially rich deposits of water ice at the moon's poles. The first of its kind, Polaris can accommodate a drill to bore 1 m into the lunar surface and is being designed to operate in lunar regions characterized by dark, long shadows and a sun that hugs the horizon.

The 5 1/2-ft-tall Polaris aims to drill for water ice on the moon.

 

 

Astrobotic, a Carnegie Mellon University spinoff that develops robotics technology for planetary missions, is developing Polaris for an expedition to the moon's northern pole. It would launch from Cape Canaveral atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle. The company, in partnership with CMU, seeks to win the Google Lunar X Prize of more than $20 million.

Polaris is a flight prototype but has the same configuration as the rover that will eventually land on the moon. This will enable Astrobotic team members to spend the coming months testing and improving the robot's computer vision, navigation, and planning software, and software that can plot the rover's position on the moon within 10 ft. It includes a number of flight-worthy components, including wheels and chassis beams constructed of light, but tough, composite materials.

"It is the first rover developed specifically for drilling lunar ice," says William 'Red' Whittaker, Astrobotic CEO and founder of the Field Robotics Center at CMU's Robotics Institute. Other robots built by the Field Robotics Center have developed technologies necessary for lunar drilling, but none of those machines was ever meant to leave Earth. "What Polaris does is bring those many ideas together into a rover configuration that is capable of going to the moon to find ice," he says.

Observations by NASA and Indian spacecraft suggest that a substantial amount of water ice could exist at the lunar poles. That ice could be a source of water, fuel, and oxygen for future expeditions.

To find the ice, a rover must operate as close to the dark poles as possible, but not so far that it can't use solar arrays for power, Whittaker says. So Polaris has three large solar arrays, arranged vertically, to capture light from low on the horizon. The solar arrays will be capable of an average of 250 W of electrical power.

Polaris also makes use of software, pioneered in CMU's NASA-funded Hyperion robot, that keeps track of the rover's position relative to the sun's rays to maximize solar energy and husbands battery power for use in the long shadows and dark regions found at the poles.

Polaris, 5 1/2 ft tall, 7 ft wide, and almost 8 ft long, can move at about 1 ft/sec on 2-ft-diameter composite wheels. Like Scarab, a NASA-funded robot built by CMU, its suspension will enable the rover to rise up over rough terrain, but also lower itself to the ground to perform drilling. The rover will weigh 150 kg, or about 330 lb, and can accommodate a drill and science payload up to 70 kg, or a bit more than 150 lb.

"The composite materials are of aerospace quality, and that's a huge step up for us," Whittaker says. The lighter structural materials are essential for Polaris to accommodate the heavy drill as well as the massive batteries it will need for low-light operations. The carbon fiber and Kevlar materials also are important to the mission because they won't release gases in the moon's hard vacuum. The robot's science package will include gas sensors that could be disrupted by such out-gasing, he explains.

Whittaker says the lunar day lasts about 14 Earth days, though only about 10 days are suitable for water prospecting at the poles. The Astrobotic team expects Polaris could drill 10 to 100 holes during that time as it locates and characterizes water ice deposits. But if Polaris successfully survives the long, frigid lunar nights, as anticipated, the prospecting mission could be extended indefinitely.

Astrobotic has won nine lunar contracts from NASA worth $3.6 million, including one to evaluate how Polaris can accommodate NASA's ice-prospecting instruments during a three-mile traverse near the moon's north pole.

Astrobotic earlier developed a robot called Red Rover suitable for equatorial destinations. The design of Polaris is significantly different, reorienting the solar arrays to capture tangential light, rather than the overhead light of equatorial regions. It also is larger and generates more power to operate the science package. Griffin, a lunar landing vehicle being developed by Astrobotic, can accommodate either rover.

Source: Carnegie Mellon University

Published October 2012

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