Motion Control

Choosing Stepper- or Servo-Driven Actuators to Replace Air Cylinders

Pneumatic (air) cylinders are widely used in industrial automation due to their low per-axis cost and high-speed/force capabilities. They have a long history of being popular workhorses in the automation industry. However, there are many reasons to use electric actuators in place of air cylinders: reduced machine downtime, reduced energy consumption, increased precision, and increased speed. In addition, electric actuators can be powered by servo or stepper motors, in conjunction with a control device, to provide linear motion. Advantages of Electric Linear ActuatorsReduced downtime. Electric linear actuators (whether screw- or belt-driven) are very low-maintenance. Regreasing may be the only regular maintenance necessary, and many screw-driven models are lubricated for the life of the actuator.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Motion Control, Sensors and actuators, Electric motors, Durability

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Custom Machines Create Engine Lip Skins on Boeing Aircraft

MJC Engineering, a custom machine tool builder in Huntington Beach, CA, specializes in metal-spinning machines for such applications as sheet spinning, flow forming, wheel spinning, and rotary forging. The company was commissioned to build a series of metal-spinning machines for GKN for use at its plants in Camarillo, CA and Orangeburg, SC. These machines produce lip skins for the engine housings on Boeing 777X and 737MAX aircraft. Using CNC from Siemens Industry (Elk Grove Village, IL) and robotic handling technology — in addition to its proprietary servopump-controlled Green Power™ hydraulic power unit that saves up to 40% on energy — the MJC team devised a unique solution to an engineering challenge brought to them by GKN.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Aviation, Motion Control, CAD, CAM, and CAE, Forming, Manufacturing equipment and machinery, Robotics, Commercial aircraft

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Linear Motor

The LinX® linear motor from Anca Motion USA (Wixom, MI) delivers a continuous force from 333 N to 665 N, and peak force from 2136 N to 4272 N. It features a cylindrical design with a thermal barrier that helps separate and remove heat from the motor. The motor’s zero net attractive forces eliminate the downforce associated with flatbed motors. Its cylindrical profile makes the system compact, effectively fitting into a space similar to that required by a regular ball-screw and circular motor. The motors are fully sealed and rated to IP67 or optional IP69K, making them well suited for machine tool and food processing systems. The motor can be enabled with an algorithm that increases axis stiffness and helps to minimize axis deflection with greater accuracy.

Posted in: Products, Motors & Drives

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Optical Encoders

MICROMO (Clearwater, FL) announced the FAULHABER high-precision IER3 and IERS3 optical encoders. Both encoders deliver two-channel quadrature signals and an additional index signal. They can position a FAULHABER micro DC motor or brushless DC servomotor with a typical accuracy of 0.1° to 0.3°. The encoders combine the LED, photodetectors, analysis unit, and interpolation levels on one chip. They lengthen motors by 15.5 to 18.5 mm. Both encoders are also available with line drivers that generate complementary output signals and make data transmission resistant to electrical interference, especially in encoders with long connecting cables. The IER3 encoder has a resolution of up to 10,000 lines per revolution, and achieves an angular resolution of 0.009° with the evaluation of 40,000 edges per revolution. The IERS3-500 provides resolutions of 250 and 500 lines per revolution.

Posted in: Products, Electronics & Computers, Motors & Drives, Optical Components, Optics

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Rocket Motor Design Could Boost Small Satellite Missions

Artists concept of a CubeSat onboard propulsion system. (Photo: Inside Out Visuals) Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory have developed a rocket motor concept that could be used to power CubeSat low-cost satellites. The Los Alamos team recently tested a six-motor CubeSat-compatible propulsion array with tremendous success.

Posted in: News, Motors & Drives, Power Transmission

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Morphing Wing Could Enable More Efficient Manufacturing and Flight

The entire shape of the wing can be changed by activating two small motors that apply a twisting pressure to each wingtip. (Photo: Kenneth Cheung/NASA) A new morphing wing architecture could greatly simplify the manufacturing process and reduce fuel consumption of aircraft by improving the wing’s aerodynamics, as well as improving its agility. The wing consists of a system of tiny, lightweight subunits that could be assembled by a team of small, specialized robots, and ultimately could be used to build the entire airframe. The wing would be covered by a “skin” made of overlapping pieces that might resemble scales or feathers.

Posted in: News, Motion Control, Motors & Drives

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Spherical Motor Eliminates Robot’s Mechanical Drive System

The spherical induction motor eliminates the robot's mechanical drive system. The SIMbot robot features an elegant motor with just one moving part: the ball. The only other active moving part of the robot is the body itself. A spherical induction motor (SIM) eliminates the mechanical drive system and can move the ball in any direction using only electronic controls. These movements keep SIMbot’s body balanced atop the ball.

Posted in: News, Motors & Drives

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