Motion Control/​Automation

Explore the latest developments in motion control and automation. Discover innovative advances from NASA and major research labs in robotics, autonomous vehicles, industrial automation, PID controller applications, motor drives and power transmissions.

Articles : Robotics, Automation & Control
Centennial Challenges: NASA’s Prize Program for the “Citizen Inventor”

The Centennial Challenges are NASA’s prizes for the citizen inventor. Through open competitions, we seek novel solutions from diverse sources in technology challenges of interest to NASA and the nation. Competitions are open to anyone, and teams have included small...

Articles : Robotics, Automation & Control
Reducing Electromagnetic Interference in Motion Systems

EMI (Electromagnetic Interference) comes in different forms, frequencies, and levels. Electronic equipment has different categories for both emissions and susceptibility. Under normal circumstances, elimination is not possible so reduction to acceptable levels is what can be reasonably...

Application Briefs : Medical
Rugged-Duty Actuator Enhances State-of-the-Art Pool/Spa Lift

The benefits of aquatic physical therapy and rehabilitation for those who have difficulty with weightbearing activities due to arthritis or injury, or those who are overweight, have long been known. There is also a significant population of wheelchairbound and disabled persons who use...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Low-Friction, Low-Profile, High-Moment Two-Axis Joint

The two-axis joint is a mechanical device that provides two-degrees-of-freedom motion between connected components. A compact, moment-resistant, twoaxis joint is used to connect an electromechanical actuator to its driven structural members. Due to the requirements of the overall mechanism,...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Miniature Multi-Axis Mechanism for Hand Controllers

A hand controller provides up to three axes of motion, and all required feel characteristics (stiffness and breakout torques) located inside a hollow handle within the grip of the hand. This is achieved using a miniature gimbal mechanism that allows for independent motion about one, two, or...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Magnetostrictive Brake

A magnetostrictive brake has been designed as a more energy-efficient alternative to a magnetic fail-safe brake in a robot. (In the specific application, “fail-safe” signifies that the brake is normally engaged; that is, power must be supplied to allow free rotation.) The magnetic fail-safe brake must be supplied with...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
DC Motors

AMETEK Technical & Industrial Products (Harleysville, PA) offers the Pittman® Series 8540 30-mm brush-commutated DC motors that integrate bonded neodymium magnets and 7-slot straight armature to minimize cogging. The motors feature a diamond-turned commutator and copper-graphite brushes for high current capacity. The motors are 1.181"...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Rotary Encoders

Heidenhain Corp. (Schaumburg, IL) offers the 1000 Series rotary encoders with IP 64 protection and absolute position-value formation in a 35-mm-diameter housing size. The encoders are designed as single-encoder measurement feedback systems in safety oriented applications. They provide two independently formed position values via...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
MEMS Inclinometer

ASM Sensors (Elmhurst, IL) has introduced the PTAM20 Series POSITILT® MEMS inclinometer available in single- and dual-axis versions. It is available in a compact, flat housing and features a measurement range for the single-axis version of ±15° to ±180° in increments of 15°. For the dual-axis version, measurement range is...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
DC Gearmotor

Midwest Motion Products (Watertown, MN) has released the Model MMP-D22-376H-24V GP52-195 BR-005 DC gearmotor with integral brake. Accepting any 24V DC source, including battery power, the encoder-compatible gearmotor/brake measures 2.25" in diameter and 9" in length. It has a keyed output shaft of 12 mm diameter by 25 mm long....

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Servomotor Brakes

Nexen (Vadnais Heights, MN) has introduced the Eclipse line of servomotor brakes designed to mount to servomotors up to 20 horsepower. The spring-engaged brakes are equipped with a split-hub, zero-backlash clamp collar for attachment to the servomotor shaft. The flange-mounted brakes can be used with standard servomotors for...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Linear Stages

Aerotech (Pittsburgh, PA) has introduced the PRO Series of side-sealed, hard-cover, ball-screw-driven linear stages available in 68 standard models with travels from 50 to 1500 mm. A variety of travels, widths, speeds, and load capabilities is available. The hard-cover design provides protection from debris, and the side seals keep...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Mechanically Commutated Drive

Maxon Motor (Fall River, MA) offers the RE 50 mechanically commutated drive that features an ironless rotor for detent-free running, and a combination of a two-pole neodymium permanent magnet with winding technology for high torque and acceleration. The drive measures 50 × 108 mm and is available with four...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Servo Amplifier

Sanyo Denki America (Torrance, CA) offers the SANMOTION R high-speed EtherCAT interface AC servo amplifier that provides 100 Mbps communication. Multi-function software includes a motion simulation function that runs the same codes as the actual amplifier, allowing it to go directly from simulation to live usage without...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Magnetic Encoder

Avago Technologies (San Jose, CA) has introduced the AEAT-601B compact, integrated, incremental magnetic encoder for speed detection, knob control, and rotary encoder applications. Housed in a protective plastic housing, it provides a resolution of 256 cycles per revolution and angular detection in a complete rotation of 360...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Rotary Stage

The M660 high-speed, direct-driven piezomotor rotary stage from PI (Physik Instrumente) L.P. (Auburn, MA) is designed using PILine® piezomotor drive technology. The stage reaches top speeds of 720 degrees/sec and resolution to 40 μrad. A self-locking ceramic drive holds the position steady at rest, and a directly coupled precision...

Articles : Robotics, Automation & Control
Choosing the Right Touchscreen Display Technology for Your Control/Automation Process

From industrial panel PCs, to open-platform graphic operator interface terminals (OITs), to microOITs, to human-machine interfaces (HMIs), there are many choices of interactive display technologies for manufacturing and process control. It can be a challenge to...

Application Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
High-Flex Cable Assembly to Aid Robot Arm in Mars Exploration Program
Cables Cicoil Corp.
Valencia, CA 661-295-1295

Cicoil has provided a custom-formed high-flex cable to the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), scheduled to launch in 2011 as part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program. The program is...

Articles : Robotics, Automation & Control
Benefits of Magnetostrictive Sensors for Industrial Applications

Modern industrial machines rely on fast, accurate motion control in order to achieve high product quality and productivity, as measurement errors can lead to increased scrap and production downtime. However, these and other costly headaches can be avoided by choosing the proper...

Articles : Robotics, Automation & Control
Roller Pinion Technology Allows High Positional Accuracy for Precision Applications

Increasingly competitive markets make efficient and accurate processes more critical than ever before. To meet the demands of manufacturers, machine builders are constantly searching for new methods to design faster, more precise, and longer-lasting systems that...

Articles : Motion Control
All Motors are Stepping Motors

In 1938, General Electric began producing a two-phase synchronous induction motor which, at 60 Hz, ran at 75 RPM. The low speed resulted from using a different number of rotors to stator poles or teeth, which made the motor a good bi-directional control motor. This motor was used by Superior Electric Company of...

Articles : Motion Control
Intelligent Control Increases Motion System ROI

The economic realities of the industrial marketplace are driving machine builders and integrators to get creative and build more intelligence into their machines in order to increase productivity and lower lifecycle cost. This is done by minimizing time to communicate with the motion controller,...

Application Briefs : Motion Control
Connector Improves Reliability, Cuts Cost on Engine Production Line

HARTING North America was recently asked to solve some of the problems associated with power distribution and motion control on a vehicle manufacturer’s long conveyor and engine block production line. The line’s system integrator needed to reduce installation costs to be...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Programmable Actuator

The IDEA(TM) Drive stepper motor linear actuator from Haydon Kerk Motion Solutions (Waterbury, CT) integrates a linear actuator, electronic drive, and control unit with a patented GUI (Graphical Unit Interface). The GUI enables the operator to automatically enter motor and drive parameters based on the actuator part number....

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Servo Motor Actuator

The IMA integrated-motor actuator from Tolomatic Inc. (Hamel, MN) combines a servo motor with a rod-style actuator. Compared to rod-style actuators, the integrated design improves dynamic performance by eliminating the need for separate motors, couplers, motor mounts, gearing and belts.

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Retaining Rings

The Hoopster(R) retaining rings from Smalley Steel Ring Company (Lake Zurich, IL) fit into shallower groves than regular snap rings or retaining rings. The rings’ low-profile, precision circularity, and small radial size allow it to be an unobtrusive component in an assembly. They are suited for light to heavy loads and are...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Intelligent Motor

The SM3416DT-PLS2 SmartMotor(TM) from Animatics (Santa Clara, CA) delivers up to 480 oz-in. of peak torque and over 200 oz-in. of continuous torque, at speeds of over 5,000 rpm. It incorporates high-speed position capture, advanced torque overshoot braking, and modetorque-brake. An eight-pole, segmented stator design improves...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Programmable Linear Actuator

The Series 500 programmable linear actuator from Nook Industries (Cleveland, OH) offers an expanded range of performance in generating high loads, longer life, increased duty cycles, higher speed, and programmability. Load capacities range up to 550 lb for in-line configurations, with parallel configurations ranging...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Linear Actuator

The MDrive(R) linear actuator from Intelligent Motion Systems Inc. (Marlborough, CT) is available in non-captive and external shaft styles with a choice of NEMA 14, 17, or 23 motor sizes. It accepts input voltages from 12 to 75 Vdc, handles loads to 200 lb., and is capable of 256 × 200 microstepping with an operating temperature...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Linear Motion System

Available in various versions, the LM76 linear motion system from LM76 (East Longmeadow, MA) features high-speed travel to 10 m/sec and acceleration to 50 m/sec2, and load capabilities to 1,259 lb. The low-cost, precision dual rail system can mount vertically or horizontally.


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3D Printed Metals Are Not All the Same

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Testing and Inspecting 3D-Printed Parts

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Using Simulation to Design Robust Adhesively Bonded Structures

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Electric-Vehicle Transmission Development and Simulation

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Thermal Management Crisis: Knowing Your Passive Solution Options

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IoT’s Role in Today’s Transportation Systems