Special Coverage

Soft Robot “Walks” on Any Terrain
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Using Microwaves to Produce High-Quality Graphene
Transducer-Actuator Systems for On-Machine Measurements and Automatic Part Alignment
Wide-Area Surveillance Using HD LWIR Uncooled Sensors
Heavy Lift Wing in Ground (WIG) Cargo Flying Boat
Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems
Bringing New Vision to Laser Material Processing Systems
NASA Tests Lasers’ Ability to Transmit Data from Space
Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators
Automating Optimization and Design Tasks Across Disciplines

Reduce Compressed Air Costs with Proper Air Cylinder Sizing

Choosing an air cylinder without a full understanding of how it will perform in a pneumatic circuit can have long lasting, costly consequences.

There may be no stronger ally of electrical power utilities than industrial size air compressors, as they drone on every day, taking atmospheric air and transforming it into useful energy. Countless kilowatt hours are gobbled up in a mechanical conversion of electrical power into pneumatic power, a process that is wickedly inefficient, with one horsepower of pneumatic energy costing six times as much to generate when compared to one horsepower of electrical energy. Nevertheless, with its tremendous versatility, efficiency, and widespread use throughout many sectors, compressed air provides a clean, reliable source of pneumatic power that has a value outweighing its cost to produce.

Posted in: Articles, Motion Control
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Energy Management Through Direct Drive Servo Technology

Inertia ratio provides a determinate measure for optimizing energy utilization of a servo motor during a machine’s design.

Direct drive servo motor and drive technology has many advantages. It reduces an axis’ parts count, mechanical losses, and often its objectionable noise. What’s more, it also increases the machine’s efficiency, lowering operation cost for the user due to its inertia ratio as compared to the more common mechanically advantaged multi-body axis designs. Reducing the mechanical transmission components (gearboxes, timing belts, pulleys, cams, lead screws, etc.) between the motor and its load is only part of the savings.

Posted in: Articles, Motion Control
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Smart Actuators Add Brains to Automation Brawn

Integrated electronics let smart actuators perform enhanced control functions that were previously external, such as switching, position feedback, and system diagnostics.

Actuators have always been on the frontline of automation, providing the “push and pull” that extends human capabilities to operate everything from delicate pick-and-place applications to 10-ton agricultural combines. Now, as the industrial world becomes increasingly digitized and connected, a new generation of actuators is fulfilling that role with more intelligence, simplicity, and economy, while overcoming increasingly challenging environmental conditions.

Posted in: Articles, Motion Control
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Eliminate Interference from Converter Output

Motor chokes, sine wave filters, and EMC sine wave filters can help suppress the electromagnetic interference at a frequency converter’s output.

Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) in frequency converters can be very problematic if not addressed properly in the initial design. EMC ensures the proper operation of devices to avoid negative electromagnetic interference (EMI) effects. Good design takes into account the control, design, and function of each device to prevent such interference.

Posted in: Articles, Motion Control
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Sizing and Selecting Linear Motion Systems

The LOSTPED acronym can help designers avoid mistakes by reminding them to consider all the interrelated factors during system development and specification.

Virtually all manufacturing processes incorporate some type of linear motion. A common mistake that designers make when sizing and selecting linear motion systems is to overlook critical application requirements in the final system. This can lead to redesigns, and may also result in an over-engineered system that is costlier and less effective than desired. “LOSTPED” is a simple acronym that guides the designer in gathering the information needed to specify the appropriate linear motion components or modules in any given application.

Posted in: Articles, Motion Control, Systems engineering, Manufacturing equipment and machinery, Manufacturing processes
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Piezo Technology in Pneumatic Valves

Solenoid devices are the standard for electrically controlled pneumatic valves. However, piezo valves offer many advantages over their solenoid counterparts, and open entirely new areas of application.

Pneumatic valves made with piezo technology offer many advantages. They are small, lightweight, extremely precise, durable, fast, and save energy. Piezo valves do not need energy to maintain a switching status, and therefore generate almost no heat. What's more, piezo valves can potentially be operated without any noise. Another key advantage is that they always work proportionally.

Posted in: Articles, Motion Control, Parts, Valves, Pneumatic systems
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Adding Simple Vision Systems to Collaborative Robots

Upfront evaluation can help determine if a vision system is the best solution for an automation application.

Adding vision to a collaborative robot can open a world of possibilities for automation applications. With a vision system, a robot can inspect parts, check specific features of a part, recognize a part to pick it up, count items, adjust its path using visual feedback, color sort, and so on. The breadth of applications requires careful consideration to ensure selection of the right technology for the job.

Posted in: Articles, Motion Control, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Automation, Robotics
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Scanning Performance of Air Bearing Equipped Precision Motion Systems

Scanning is a common technique in applications ranging from high-resolution microscopy to industrial material processing. Scanning involves moving either a workpiece or an optic at a constant velocity while a reading or writing operation takes place. Air bearings are used for both purposes, especially when high precision and reliability are vital. While the physical act of writing an image or capturing an image differ by application and industry, all such applications share a common requirement — maintaining a constant velocity.

Posted in: Articles, Motion Control, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Automation, Bearings, Reliability, Reliability
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Four Ways to improve Production by Understanding the Physics of Servos

There is always a need to increase production in automation applications. Sometimes achieving improvements requires breaking the process down to its fundamental basics. The science behind the technology of servo-based motion control systems should be considered when attempting to eliminate inefficiencies. Four fundamentals to examine are inertia, resonance, vibration suppression, and regeneration.

Posted in: Articles, Motion Control, Finite element analysis, Electronic control systems, Electronic control systems, Automation, Productivity
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Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators

Hydraulics are rugged and deliver a low cost per unit of force, but electric rod actuators have attained higher force capacities while becoming more flexible, precise, and reliable.

Advances in motion control technology have prompted a new debate — do hydraulic cylinders or electric linear actuators offer the best solution for a linear motion application? Hydraulic cylinders provide high force at an affordable cost. Hydraulics are rugged, relatively simple to deploy, and deliver a low cost per unit of force. However, electric rod actuators (electric cylinders), particularly those with roller screws, have attained increasingly higher force capacities while becoming more flexible, precise, and reliable.

Posted in: Articles, Motion Control, Electrical systems, Flight control actuators, Electrical systems, Flight control actuators, Hydraulic control, Reliability, Reliability
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