Motion Control Technologyâ„¢, a bi-monthly supplement to NASA Tech Briefs, contains a section called Applications, which reports on motion control components being used in the field. Here's an Insider sneak peek at one of the technologies covered in the upcoming June issue:

Scales Work as Part of Thermonuclear Ignition Target Assembly

The National Ignition Facility (NIF), part of Lawrence Livermore National Lab (Livermore, CA), constructed a system of lasers ending in a chamber ten meters in diameter to house tiny fuel capsules that are subjected to a high-energy pulse, setting off a small thermonuclear burst. The target assembly machine, built by ABTech (Swanzey, NH), used linear scales from HEIDENHAIN Corp. (Schaumburg, IL).

With an accuracy of up to 4 millionths of an inch, the 5-axis assembly station is an air-bearing machine that includes mechanical arms with the ability to slide into position without friction. The system is capable of positioning the target shell halves in locations within 0.1 µm. The scales are exposed linear encoders capable of small, precise measured steps to 0.005 µm. The system is completed with a high-resolution camera and surgical microscope that provide views of the mating components.

The new target design has allowed NIF to create thermonuclear ignitions mimicking conditions found in the Sun or an exploding nuclear event. The primary mission of NIF will be to attain fusion ignition in the laboratory, exploring fusion's potential as a clean, long-term energy source.

Look for this application in the June issue of Motion Control Technology.

Click here  to view previously published Applications

Click here  to learn more about HEIDENHAIN