January 26, 2016 Volume 12 Issue 04

Motion Control News & Products

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Hybrid actuation system reduces energy consumption, simplifies designs

Learn how a leading manufacturer of household cleaning products solved its downtime problems due to an overloaded ball screw in its production-line electromechanical automated plastic cap dumping function. A Hybrid Actuation System (HAS) did the trick, combining the controllability of traditional electromechanical actuators with the power density, longer life, and failsafe conditions commonly found on traditional hydraulic systems.
Read this informative Parker blog.

Machine tending solution now compatible with any CNC machine

The Robotiq Machine Tending Solution has made automation accessible to businesses of all sizes, overturning the belief that automation is too complicated. The company says their part-feeding solutions can provide up to a 30% production runtime increase -- without communication cards, expensive wiring, custom programming, or permanent modifications.
Learn how to boost your CNC productivity.

How to implement redundancy in stepper motors

Some of the recent research activities in the area of electric motor drives for safety-critical applications (such as aerospace and nuclear power plants) are focused on looking at various fault-tolerant motor and drive topologies. After discussing different solutions, this article focuses on a miniature permanent magnet (PM) stepper motor design that provides increased redundancy.
Read this informative Faulhaber article.

Why choose electric for linear actuators? When precision, multiple positions, repeatability, or position feedback is important

Tolomatic has been delivering a new type of linear motion technology that is giving hydraulics a run for its money. Learn the benefits of electric linear motion systems, the iceberg principle showing total cost of ownership, critical parameters of sizing, and conversion tips.
Read this informative e-book. (No registration required)

New mini gearhead for robotics, semiconductor fab

Harmonic Drive is proud to announce the release of its CSF-2XH mini gearhead designed for servo and stepper motors. Available with an output shaft or flange, these gearheads are offered in four sizes with gear ratios of 30:1 to 100:1 and peak torque of .5 to 28 Nm. These mini strain wave gears are ideal for applications such as semiconductor manufacturing and robotics. Available through Electromate.
Learn more.

Super cool and versatile palletizing gripper: OnRobot 2FGP20

Palletizing just got easier and more affordable with the 2FGP20 from OnRobot, an off-the-shelf electric gripper with a payload of up to 20kg and endless customization possibilities to fit any automation needs. The 2FGP20 is an ideal solution that can be deployed and redeployed for multiple processes and handling different parts.
Learn more about the 2FGP20.
Learn more about palletizing.

New linear stages for increased load, speed, stroke

Discover the enhanced possibilities with Tolomatic's new size TRS 225 twin profile rail stage, offering expanded capabilities for precise and powerful linear motion in a closed-package design. This unit is built from the ground up to be highly rigid and accurate and is now available with strokes up to 86.6 in., travel speeds up to 50 in./sec, and load-carrying capacities up to 4,320 lb. Perfect for your heavy-duty needs.
Learn more.

Are ball splines right for your application?

Thomson Industries says ball splines are making a comeback, because more opportunities for automation bring more axes of motion to machinery, and pre-packaged solutions may not have the flexibility you require. But are ball splines the right choice for your design needs? They have the unique capability of integrating rotary and linear motion on a single shaft.
Read the Thomson technical article.

New stainless steel AC inverter-duty gearmotors meet IP-69K

Bodine Electric Co. has introduced six new type 56R1-50JW/H hollow shaft gearmotors that combine a stainless-steel AC inverter-duty, 230/460 VAC motor with a stainless-steel hollow shaft gearhead. When used with an AC inverter (VFD) control, these gearmotors deliver variable speed and maintenance-free operation over a wide speed range. Ideal for equipment subject to intensive cleaning, such as food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, and permanently wet environments.
Learn more.

Extend your range of motion: Controllers for mini motors

FAULHABER has added another extremely compact Motion Controller without housing to its product range. The new MC3603 controller is ideal for integration in equipment manufacturing and medical tech applications. With 36 V and 3 A (peak current 9 A), it covers the power range up to 100 W and is suitable for DC motors with encoder, brushless drives, or linear motors.
Learn more.

Motion systems: Check out THK's new online store!

THK has launched a new online store that is chock full of your motion system needs. Check out their latest offerings for Linear Motion Products (guides, actuators, rails, splines, and rollers), Feed Screw Products (ball and lead screws), Rotation Products (cross roller rings and cam and roller followers), Oscillation Products (link balls, rod ends, spherical bearings), and more. Lubrication Products available too.
See the new THK store.

Advantages of slotless motors over standard stepper motors

According to Lin Engineering, "Slotless motors have gone through innovations in design as well as manufacturing, making them a good choice for specific applications." This article explores the benefits and drawbacks of slotless motors and provides information that may help you decide when to -- and when not to -- select them as a solution.
Read the full article.

Intro to motor constants for fractional horsepower gearmotors

According to motor expert Bodine Electric, "Motor constants are needed to calculate permanent magnet DC (PMDC) or brushless DC (BLDC or EC) motor specifications and ratings, or to match the motor properly to an amplifier." You need the constants to predict the motor's performance with changing variables, such as different input voltages or different loads. This app note explains what the constants are, how they are derived. and how to use them. Very useful.
Read this informative Bodine Electric blog.

New wheel hub gearbox for AGVs and AMRs

Drive your automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) with the GAM GML Wheel Drive Gearbox. GAM's GML Series Wheel Drive Gear Reducer uses planetary gearing for a coaxial system. The motor mounts directly behind the wheel without axle offset for an inline drive from wheel to motor. Features a compact design with short overall length.
Learn more.

New rack-and-pinion LJ linear heads

Oriental Motor USA has released the new LJ Linear Heads for its Rack and Pinion system lineup. The LJ Series features a new linear head with a maximum transportation weight of 200 kg. By attaching it to the parallel shaft gearhead and motor, linear motion such as pushing, pulling, lifting, and lowering is possible. Perfect for high-load and long-stroke applications.
Learn more.

Army engineers cook up new recipe for biofuel: blue-green algae plus artillery propellant

By Audra Calloway, Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey

While people who go to the beach and lakes may think of algae as a slimy nuisance, engineers at Picatinny Arsenal have partnered with private industry to harness its photosynthesis ability to develop a safe, cheap, fast, and environmentally friendly way to recycle aging M6 artillery round propellant and create biofuel.

Propellant is the chemical substance in the artillery round that ignites and propels the round out of the howitzer tube. Currently, M6 propellant in the M119 artillery rounds is disposed, or demilitarized, primarily through incineration or open burning, which generates carbon dioxide.

"Because the algae-based process uses photosynthesis, it actually consumes carbon dioxide," explained Pamela Sheehan, the project officer and principle investigator for the M6 recycling research program at the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) at Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey.

Graphic by Kelley Glass.



"So not only is the process not carbon-dioxide generating, it goes beyond being carbon neutral to a carbon-dioxide consumer," she said. Eliminating the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere during destruction of propellant helps the Army reduce its carbon footprint and take action against climate change.

When circumstances allow it, the military recycles metal parts during the demilitarization processes.

However, the algae-based demilitarization method would allow the Army to recycle nitrogen, which is present in all propellants and explosives.

"We've conceptualized a process to develop a capability to extract and conserve that nitrogen using a hydrolysis process," Sheehan said. Hydrolysis is a chemical process of decomposition.

"The nitrogen then is in the form of nitrite and nitrate, and we want to use that nitrogen to grow algae in a reactor. The algae utilizing the nitrogen will grow, and as they grow will produce ethanol, and an oil product that can later be refined into diesel fuel," she explained.

Additional revenue source
By creating oil that can be sold or used on site, the algae-based biofuel process will also allow the Army to create a source of revenue from what otherwise has been a waste-stream. This will offset the cost of demilitarization.

The Picatinny team is working with the industrial biotechnology company Algenol Biotech LLC, which has a patented algae technology platform for the production of ethanol and other biofuels.

The company recently won the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award and has previously received funding from the Bioenergy Technologies Office at the Department of Energy.

ARDEC engineers are developing the hydrolysis process to extract the nitrogen at Picatinny.

The nitrogen would then be shipped to Algenol in Florida for the algae growth process.

Reducing the military's weapon stockpile
M6 propellant is one of the Department of Defense's top 10 most plentiful items in the demilitarization stock pile. Currently, about 8.7 million pounds of M6 propellant are stockpiled and awaiting disposal -- enough to fill about three Olympic-size swimming pools.

Incineration and open burning can be slow processes because the military is limited by equipment size, weather, and regulatory air permits as to how much propellant can be burned per burn space and per year.

"Because of logistical and environmental permit limitations, it could be 21 years before 8.7 million pounds of M6 propellant can be burned," Sheehan said.

Current estimates indicate that the same amount of M6 propellant could be disposed of in seven years using the algae-based process because the military could treat more per year, since it is not constrained by the limitations associated with burning.

"The algae-based process is a broad program, and we're looking at it as a platform technology," Sheehan said. "All of our energetics have nitrogen in them -- all of them. So conceptually, this process can apply to everything we have in the stockpile -- currently and in the future."

But how much does it cost?
Cost and budgets are always a significant factor to military programs.

Open burning the M6 propellant is currently the cheapest way to dispose of it. Typically, open burning and open detonation is about $1,000 per short ton of the M119 prop charge. The other alternative is to use a closed disposal treatment system, like an incinerator, which is roughly $4,000 per short ton.

However, the algae process is estimated to cost around $1,800 per short ton, making it more expensive than open burning, but still far cheaper than closed disposal.

"We want to implement a process that's safe, environmentally sound, faster, and cheaper," Sheehan said.

This innovative process to reuse artillery propellant has been underway at ARDEC since 2014. So far, it has made significant progress.

Sheehan's team has proven the concept can work successfully in small batches. The engineers are now scaling up and testing the process at a larger volume with reactors that run continuously.

Conversion of energetics to renewable biofuel is an example of a new capability in biotechnology and industrial microbiology emerging from the Demil and Environmental Technologies Division at ARDEC.

ARDEC is currently funding the program through science and technology funds and may transfer the program to the Product Manager Demilitarization once the concept has been proven, which could be as soon as 2018.

Product Manager Demilitarization is part of the Program Executive Office for Ammunition at Picatinny Arsenal. The Army is the single manager of conventional munitions and is responsible for demilitarization of all old, unserviceable, or excess ammunition for the Department of Defense.

Published January 2016

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