Motion Control

Alternatives to Keyways in Motion Systems

The age-old tradition of using shaft keys in mechanical drives has served the power transmission industry well for many years. When appropriately sized, it guarantees that virtually no relative motion can take place between a shaft and its respective shaft hub in a unidirectional continuous motion application. Today’s increasing demands for speed, precision, and small size have changed the standard for shaft locking devices, and challenged motion components manufacturers to develop new methods of keyless shaft locking for dynamic loading. As motors and drives become increasingly capable of rapid acceleration and rotary positioning accuracy in smaller and smaller packages, backlash, stress distribution, and balance have all needed to be addressed in shaft locking devices, in many cases rendering the shaft key obsolete.

Posted in: Features, Motion Control, Articles

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Actuator Controls Valving in Micro-Satellite Thruster

In the 1980s and 1990s, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (Pasadena, CA) began developing advanced microsystems and microelectronics technologies and components for future space applications. One of these experimental designs, the Micro-Inspector Spacecraft, is capable of visual inspection of a host space vehicle with support from NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate. The piezoelectric actuator in the Micro-Inspector’s propulsion system is from Dynamic Structures and Materials (DSM, Franklin, TN), and controls the many valves of the satellite’s engines.

Posted in: Applications, Motion Control, Application Briefs

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Fiber Optic Rotary Encoder Helps Guide Aerial Tramways

In situations where human travel is necessary but where the geography is too steep or treacherous, aerial tramways often are used as a convenient alternative. Ski resorts, mountaineering centers, even archeological sites and cities with a diverse geography have tapped tramways as a method of transportation. When FREY AG (Stans, Switzerland) began constructing new aerial tramway systems, it turned to Micronor’s (Newbury Park, CA) fiber optic MR314 ZapFree™ high resolution hollow shaft rotary encoder to be part of the tramway’s positioning and cable systems.

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Pneumatic Cylinders Used in Robotic “Hand”

Robotics are now and have been an inextricable aspect of American industry, performing tasks as varied as the robots themselves. Robots can, in most cases, accommodate greater production speeds, and can be re-tasked for any future changes or even re-assigned to a different application. As technology advances, and demand and expectations grow, robotic systems are being developed displaying greater abilities in precision control and dexterity. The printing and packaging industries are no different, and when Roskam Automatic Machine (Birmingham, AL) developed a robotic end effector — what amounts to a robotic “hand”— to integrate with other robotic systems (industrial manipulators, or the “arms”), it relied on the pneumatic devices from Parker Hannifin (Cleveland, OH) to help run the robotic “fingers.”

Posted in: Applications, Motion Control, Application Briefs

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Servo Drive System

YET US (Manchester, NH) introduced the XtraDrive® servo system, configured for compatibility with all brushless servo motor technologies. The unit features patented non-linear control technology (NCT) for performance and stability; NCT technology allows for zero settling time, and augments non-linear gain control and system productivity. The control structure accommodates changing load requirements, and features an integrated amplifier with an embedded 1.5 axis controller. The system operates as a standalone unit or can be driven by an external PLC or multi-axis controller for step and directional input, analog velocity, or torque control and networking capability. Options include extended I/O, Devicenet, SERCOS, MACRO, and Profibus.

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Angle Encoders

Heidenhain (Schaumburg, IL) expanded its ERA 4000 series of angle encoders with the ERA 4×80, 4×81, and 4×82 versions. The ERA 4x80 is mounted using a centering collar method, with a low profile encoder system. With seven standardized diameters, system accuracies are offered with the 20 μm grating period version from ±6.1 arc seconds with the smallest diameter to ±2.8 arc seconds on the largest.

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Linear-Arc Motor

Applimotion (Loomis, CA) offers the LARC Series of linear-arc motors, a combination of a disk drive voice coil motor and brushless linear motor. The units can be driven by three-phase brushless motor controllers from 24 to 300 volts with speeds ranging from 0.1 to 1000 rpm. Features include axial low profile, with options as low as 10 mm axial thickness up to 800 mm diameter. Torque output is approximately 15 lb-in per radial inch of arc. With a 360° magnet track, they can run continuously. Hall Devices are a standard option.

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