Special Coverage

NASA Supercomputer Simulations Reveal 'Noisy' Aerodynamics
Robotic Gripper Cleans Up Space Debris
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

Electromagnetic Actuator Decouples Linear and Rotary Motions

A lightweight module for rapid, accurate, and versatile positioning of semiconductor chips features a novel electromechanical actuator that can move objects both linearly and rotationally. The technology was developed by researchers at the A*STAR Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (A*STAR SIMTech) and National University of Singapore (SIMTech-NUS) Joint Lab.

Posted in: Briefs, Motion Control
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MOTOR DRIVES: Build or Buy

Every system design presents a unique set of specifications regarding cost, space, time-to-market, and other factors. Designers must therefore make tradeoffs to meet these requirements, such as opting for a higher priced component to meet a stringent space constraint. For a motion application, design engineers can either source motion control components as complete self-contained units or build their own in-house, and each option has its pros and cons.

Posted in: Articles, Motion Control
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Inch vs. Metric Ball Screws: Are You Asking the Right Questions?

Because ball screws are available in both inch and metric dimensions, designers sometimes begin the specification process by selecting a product family based on the unit of measure. This decision may prematurely exclude the ideal product for the application and lead to significant losses in time, labor, and expense. This article explains how sizing and selection questions centered on performance — instead of monikers — can lead to more efficient linear motion designs.

Posted in: Articles, Motion Control
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Nano-Motion Stages Rely on High-Precision Encoders for Accuracy and Repeatability

ALIO Industries designs and builds very high precision automation stages for nano-level manufacturing and research applications, including microlithography, medical devices, and micro-machine tools. In this world where a misalignment of one micron might as well be one meter, Renishaw encoders have played a vital role in the performance of ALIO's True Nano™ and 6-D Nano Precision™ motion systems (Figure 1).

Posted in: Application Briefs, Motion Control
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Wireless Magnetic Field Powers Folding Robots

Folding robots based on origami have emerged as an exciting new frontier of robotic design. However, they generally require onboard batteries or a wired connection to a power source, making them bulkier and clunkier than their paper inspiration and limiting their functionality. A team of researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering has created battery-free folding robots that are capable of complex, repeatable movements powered and controlled through a wireless magnetic field.

Posted in: Briefs, Motion Control
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Harmonic Air Motor Offers Very High Efficiency

Currently available air motors have many advantages over electric motors. They are more compact, lighter-weight, instantly reversible without sparking, create no heat buildup, are undamaged by stalling or overloading, and supply extremely broad torque and speed range. Generally available commercial air motors, however, have only 5% to 20% of ideal efficiency. The Harmonic Air Motor developed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has all these advantages of air motors, but also offers a proven efficiency more than 60% of ideal, higher low-end torque than available commercial air motors, and can be manufactured at lower cost.

Posted in: Briefs, Motion Control
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Origami Techniques Expand Compacted Spacecraft

Origami has once again inspired engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. Besides aesthetic beauty, the Japanese tradition of paper-folding addresses a persistent problem faced by JPL engineers: how do you pack the greatest amount of spacecraft into the smallest volume possible?

Posted in: INSIDER, Aerospace, Joining & Assembly, Motion Control
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Self-Folding Electronics Could Enable Advanced Robotics

MIT researchers have developed a way to print flat electronics that can fold themselves into a desired shape. The researchers say the development could have applications in robotics and human-machine interfaces.

Posted in: INSIDER, Electronics, Motion Control, Robotics
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Webb Telescope Actuators Move with Microscopic Accuracy

The James Webb Space Telescope will be the most powerful space telescope ever built. With a 21-foot diameter, the telescope’s primary mirror is six times larger than the one used by the Hubble Space Telescope. In order for such a large mirror to travel into space, it has to be broken up into multiple segments; in this case, 18 of them. But for the 18 to act as one primary mirror, they have to be adjusted while in orbit.

Posted in: INSIDER, Joining & Assembly, Mechanical Components, Motion Control, Motors & Drives, Positioning Equipment, Optical Components, Optics
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Learning to Crawl: Origami Robot Moves Like an Earthworm

A new mechanical innovation unfolded this month at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a team of engineers built a new kind of crawler robot. The wheel-less design takes inspiration from two unconventional sources: origami and the earthworm.

Posted in: News, Materials, Motion Control, Motors & Drives, Robotics
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