Page 1

February 2018

inside: Motion Control: Turn down that noise!

p. 68

Linear Motion: Crossed-roller slide

variations and uses

p. 74

Fastening & Joining When should you use

self-clinching locknuts?

p. 88

CAD models on Mars page 80

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I n s ights



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CEO Frank Blase

On a recent press tour of igus’ Cologne, Germany headquarters, I had the pleasure of chatting with Frank Blase, the company’s CEO—and one of the most approachable and down-to-earth manufacturing leaders you are apt to find. Blase shared some of what has helped him grow his father’s small German company into the global manufacturer with hundreds of millions of dollars in sales that it is today. 1 Don’t have a big ego. Blase said the company’s original formulas for success

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were “very, very superficial.” He explained that it took them eight or nine years to understand how much research they had to do to get the business really going. They’ve been doing fundamental research since about 1990. “In 1983, I could only say, ‘My father thinks it’s a good product. Test it,’” said Blase. Today, the company realizes they have to prove that their products will work in an application before getting the sale. In fact, there is a huge R&D area set aside in their manufacturing facility, with everything from cable carriers to bearings being tested continuously—under some pretty extreme circumstances.

2 Make it easy for the customer. igus has built a large IT platform around online

configuration tools to simplify design, specification and ordering. It’s also been working on product lifecycle management tools for its site, as well as building up product information and educational resources online. And it now allows customers the flexibility of 3D printing—a part can be printed there in Cologne, or if the customer wishes to print it themselves, igus will sell them a reel of the material, used to make the part

3 Bigger isn’t always better. Although the company has grown to thousands of

employees, Blase attributes some of their success to keeping smaller pods of people together—like business units that function separately. This company-within-a- company mentality helps to keep employees working toward specific goals, and allows for individuals to feel like they are an integral part of everything that’s happening. Plus, Blase has found that smaller teams are more nimble and agile—they can quickly bring about change.

4 Don’t be afraid to try something totally new. One small business unit that has

been growing within the company is the Robolink system. The idea grew out of the fact that they wanted to get the word out that plastic components, such as gearing, could work in industrial robots. But as they designed different parts, they realized that they could actually offer a low-cost industrial robot based on their engineering accomplishments. Today, customers can design, piece by piece, what they want on the company’s online robot configurator. And that business segment is poised to expand rapidly, meaning a whole new revenue area that wasn’t in anyone’s business plans, even a few years ago. DW Paul J. Heney - VP, Editorial Director On Twitter @ DW—Editor

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Teschler on Topic

Innovation for the rich If you want a measure of what’s happening in venture-funded start-up companies these days, consider a display by a company called AirspaceX at the recent North American International Auto Show. AirspaceX is developing an electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing aircraft, sort of a VTOL Uber service, for shuttling passengers and cargo on demand. AirspaceX didn’t mention what a ride on one of its VTOLs might cost, but we are tempted to speculate that potential passengers who have to ask the price probably can’t afford it. Thus it seems that AirspaceX has come up with a technology that benefits mainly consumers with a high net worth, the “one percenters” – those earning over about $343,000 annually. Of course, AirspaceX isn’t alone in pursuing developments that make life more convenient for the rich. Many start-ups take the same route, and therein lies a problem, at least according to Ross Baird, founder of Village Capital. Baird’s firm invests in entrepreneurs trying to solve societal problems that affect more than just

the financial elite. Baird contends that the way venture firms fund start-ups tends to create blind spots about opportunities outside the mainstream of $100,000 super cars and services for well-heeled consumers. Another difficulty is that startups and venture firms tend to cluster in small prosperous areas, and this clustering promotes group-think. To illuminate the problem, consider a list of “start up game changers” put together by the data mining analysis firm CBInsights. Though the firm’s analysts looked around the globe for promising ideas, nine of 30 companies on the list, slightly less than a third, hail either from near Silicon Valley or the tech corridor around Boston. Both areas have a generous share of affluent residents. One result of this concentration: “The American Dream seems to have been confused with the Silicon Valley Dream, which means that more people don’t see these opportunities outside the mainstream,” says Baird. “Instead of solving the biggest problems of the day, we’re putting billions of dollars into how to make mobile advertising and clickbait news more effective, and nudging people to buy more stuff.” Baird’s frustrations with current practices for funding start-ups compelled him to write a book about

it: The Innovation Blind Spot: Why We Back the Wrong Ideas--And What to Do about It. It’s easy to get upset at the intellectual laziness he spotlights among venture firms. “I also hear about investors who won’t even look at a company that would require them to take a connecting flight. Indeed, the average distance between a VC firm and the companies it invests in is eighty miles,” he writes. And when VC firms do invest in ideas, they tend to invest in the wrong ones. Baird says investors tend to look for new ideas that are similar to those that have been commercially successful before, not the best way to uncover truly innovative concepts. A better way to find promising avenues is to look at things the way an entrepreneur would: Evaluate the probability that a certain outcome can happen if the right resources are brought to bear. This gets around the trap of figuring out how a new idea might fit into existing patterns, Baird says. Looking at new ideas the way an entrepreneur would is one way to avoid filtering out schemes not exclusively aimed at one percenters. And it can be profitable as well. Baird says start-ups evaluated this way see a 90% survival rate compared to 50% for those measured with usual methods. A final plus: They generate seven times the revenue growth. DW

Leland Teschler • Executive Editor On Twitter @ DW—LeeTeschler


February 2018

Lee Teschler Column 2-18_Vs3.LL.indd 6


2/6/18 2:57 PM

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Technology Forward Where to go to learn more

about additive manufacturing Additive manufacturing is quickly changing from a tool for prototyping into a third option for manufacturing production. The major additive vendors continue to focus on developing systems that are faster at producing end-use parts. Major companies like GE and Siemens are just a few of the newer companies competing in the additive market. And other large companies are developing materials and ancillary products for the production end of additive manufacturing.

Sooner rather than later, engineers will need to know a lot about taking advantage of additive capabilities. For your information needs, you can rely to some extent on additive service bureaus, but for real efficiency, you need better training. One of the best ways to get information is by attending conferences. Two are coming your way in April. The Additive Manufacturing Users Group Conference will occur between April 8 through April 12, 2018, at the St. Louis Union Station. I’ve attended this conference for a number of years and it continues to impress with the access you have to the original inventors of this technology, experts and long-time users of these machines. The AMUG conference encourages networking with fellow attendees. Plus, the conference is filled with sessions that will cover such topics as working with metals and other materials, using AM in specific industries, and overviews of the latest software just to mention a few subjects. Speakers showcase their research in how to improve the use of various additive machines and tout discoveries that will make it easier for users to work with this technology. Many sessions are workshops involving hands-

on training. One example engages attendees in simulation to avoid typical casting defects such as air entrapment, shrinkage porosity, cold shuts and mold degradation. You won’t see a lot of machine exhibits at AMUG, as it is geared more as a conference. There will be two days to view machines from the sponsors, but after that, this conference focuses on educational sessions. So after you attend AMUG, plan on attending the RAPID+TCT show to see the latest additive machine technology and processes. RAPID+TCT will be held in Fort Worth, TX, at the Fort Worth Convention Center, April 23 through 26, 2018. RAPID plans to have more than 300 exhibits, four executive keynotes, and a number of education sessions. This show is a great place to see equipment and discover the latest processes, applications, materials, and research in additive manufacturing. Both opportunities will give you the information you need to work with additive manufacturing in whatever capacity is coming your way. See you there. DW

Leslie Langnau • Managing Editor On Twitter @ DW_3Dprinting


February 2018

Leslie Column 2-18_Vs2.LL.indd 8


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Green Engineering Paul J. Heney

• VP, Editorial Director

Getting serious about the environment Recently I chatted with Ryan Schroeder, President, Americas, for IMI Precision Engineering as part of a new podcast series. Many of you who work in fluid power may know his company’s Norgren Division. Our conversation covered a lot of ground, from acquisitions to the Internet of Things, but I also asked Schroeder about what green engineering meant to his company. “Well, from a manufacturing level, it is an objective of every single one of our factories to consume less energy and be more efficient year after year after year,” he said. “It is part of our initiatives for every factory. We take it seriously—everything from air loss on pneumatic systems to energy consumption to infrared heat analysis—to make sure we do not have any hotspots in our electrical systems in our factories. We take that very seriously.” Schroeder told me that the company operates in a way where it has a minimal footprint on the communities it operates in, as much as possible. That includes things like right lighting, using reflective roofing and the proper level of insulation in their plants. They also look at that the electricity that their products consume, both on the air preparation side and for mobile machinery (where weight is also a huge consideration). With some of IMI’s products that are used on commercial vehicles, he said, the energy to actuate a valve puts the total system right to the edge of ability to have to go to the next fuse level. “For that reason, we work very hard with our valve technology and solenoid technology such as latching solenoids in the legs to consume as little energy as we possibly can,” he said. “On the pneumatic side, we’re coming out with the Excelon Plus (FRL) line that goes to great lengths to make sure that we are minimizing the air loss from cycles in the legs. We do take it very seriously. It’s something that certainly more important in certain marketplaces than others. We operate so broadly on the marketplace, we have to be there or we’re going to miss opportunities and we recognize that—not to mention it’s the right thing to do for the industry and for the world.” DW IMI Precision Engineering |


Green Engineering 2-18 Vs3.LL.indd 11  

February 2018


2/12/18 10:57 AM

Contents 2 • 2018

vol 13 no 2

Inside: 54/ Consumer Robotics • 58/ Medical Robotics • 60/ Micromirror Devices • 64/ AGVs


the devil may be in the details. page 56

88 _Fastening & Joining

Turn down that noise!

When should you use self-clinching locknuts?

How one manufacturer solved its stepper motor noise issues by a combination of motor and drive redesign.



| Courtesy of HP Mars Home Planet Challenge


A Supplement to Design World - February 2018

Robotics Cover_2-18_FINAL.indd 50

2/6/18 3:17 PM


Mating screw applications that require secure attachments can rely on self-clinching locknuts, which self-lock threads to reduce loosening and can be removed repeatedly without affecting performance.

74 _LINEAR MOTION Crossed-roller variations and uses


Linear slides with crossed rollers are rigid and versatile. Several features impart smooth and reliable motion while extending axis life.

80 _3D CAD CAD models on Mars

Contestants in a recent Mars design challenge are creating 3D CAD models that depict buildings and vehicles that would allow humans to colonize the red planet.

ON THE COVER Contestents in a recent design for Mars challenge deliver a number of innovative CAD designs. | Courtesy of HP Mars Home Planet Challenge

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VP, Editorial Director Paul J. Heney @dw_editor

VP, Creative Services Mark Rook @wtwh_graphics

Managing Editor Leslie Langnau @dw_3dprinting

Art Director Matthew Claney @wtwh_designer

Executive Editor Leland Teschler @dw_leeteschler Senior Editor Miles Budimir @dw_motion Senior Editor Lisa Eitel @dw_lisaeitel Senior Editor Mary Gannon @dw_marygannon Associate Editor Mike Santora @dw_mikesantora

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February 2018


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Design for Industry O f f- h i g h w a y

Electro-hydraulic drivers are


These XMD Bluetooth-Configurable Electro-Hydraulic Drivers are CE and E-Mark rated, achieving 100-V/m radiated immunity (Level 3, Class A) for demanding applications. That means they’re ready out of the box to meet the needs of international mobile and industrial equipment customers to control electrohydraulic actuators used in on- and off-highway equipment in agriculture, forestry, construction, marine, earth moving, material handling and many other applications. The XMD Drivers offer a range of advanced features, including simplified configuration with a free cell phone App, SAE J1939 CAN communication capabilities, a selection of preprogrammed profiles for common tasks, a comprehensive diagnostic mode and the ability to easily shape and apply output curves. The compact, 3.381 x 2.303 x 1.403 in. (85.87 x 58.49 x 35.62 mm), XMD driver is completely sealed in an IP69Krated, solid-potted enclosure engineered to stand up to the extreme environmental conditions frequently encountered in mobile and industrial hydraulic applications. Initially offered in two models—the XMD-01 with a single

universal input and PWM output and the XMD-02 with two universal inputs and two PWM outputs—the new drivers can handle a full range of common input formats, all of which are software configurable: • 0-5 Vdc • 0-10 Vdc • 4-20 mA • Digital • 60 Hz-5 kHz Pulse • 60 Hz-2.5 kHz PWM • 0-10 kΩ • SAE J1939 Messages

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Design for Industry O f f- h i g h w a y PWM outputs range from 0-3000 mA with ± 1-mA resolution at 0-5 kHz high-frequency PWM and the ability to superimpose 30-500 Hz dither in 1-Hz intervals to improve the performance and precision of controlled devices including pumps, valves, motors and cylinders. Also included are integral diagnostics for open/short circuit detection, integrated fly-back protection, a +5-Vdc reference output, and a 0-65-second ramp time programmable in 1-mS increments. XMD Drivers are compatible with standard DIN 35-mm rails and can also be mounted to any flat surface such as a manifold block using an innovative snap-in-place installation bracket. The bracket allows the XMD Driver to be mounted either vertically or horizontally with the connector facing up/down/left/ right as required by the application. Both the bracket and the XMD enclosure are patent pending.

high torque servo gearheads

Did you mean: DieQua Corporation?

Electrical connection is made with a standard 12-pin Deutsch connector. The XMD’s open architecture allows many compatible connections and coil types, including DIN 43650, Amp Junior Timer, twin-lead, metri-pack and Sun’s upcoming line of FLeX coils. CAN bus communication is accomplished via a select set of core aspects of the SAE J1939 protocol which allow the XMD Driver to be configured as a remote CAN node. Used with a CAN display or master controller, the XMD Driver makes it easy to design and implement small intelligent systems with minimal I/O investment. Programming is accomplished with the XMD Mobile App available free from the Apple and Android stores. The app provides a simple way of incorporating I/O curves to linearize hysteresis in proportional valves for better and more linear performance. The I/O curves can

also be used to create non-linear outputs for greater usability and controllability of booms and hoists or develop a multispeed output for motor control. The app includes several preconfigured quick select profiles for typical single and dual coil applications that allow the XMD to be configured with a single tap of the screen. Each pro-file is supported by a detailed functional explanation that is available instantly to the user. Once the XMD is configured, a password can be set to make diagnostic parameters viewa-ble to service personnel while remaining tamper proof. If needed, an engineer can simply text, email, and even tweet the saved device configuration to service personnel with the profile password. DW

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The BML S1G-series absolute magnetic linear encoder has SIL 2 certification for use in machine safety applications. The SIL 2 certification allows machine designers to take advantage of this high-performance absolute position feedback system with an added value of machine safety applications in one device. Users can implement safety functions such as Safely Limited Speed (SLS), Safe Stop 1 (SS1), and Safe Torque Off (STO). Some of the features of the BML S1G with SIL 2 include: • Meets the requirements for DIN EN ISO 13849-1:2015, Machine Directive, Performance Level D • Easy to set up; no configuration required for the position feedback • Measuring lengths up to 48 meters, and position resolution to 1 µm DW

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February 2018


2/7/18 1:15 PM

Design for Industry Semiconductor

Semiconductor-oriented stacked XY motion stage

Charon2 is a semiconductor-oriented stacked XY motion stage, backward compatible with existing modules and options. It can handle larger payloads and offers improvements on accuracy and repeatability than the Charon. Exceeding 1g acceleration and 1 m/s speed at doubled payload, while delivering an absolute positioning accuracy below 1 Âľm, Charon2 represents a turnkey motion solution for semiconductor applications. It is an example of ETEL vertical integration, based on proprietary IP for motors, electronics and controlling know-how, as well as synergy with HEIDENHAIN when relating to positioning accuracy feedback. It can serve OEM wafer-positioning needs, process or process-control related, ranging from a core XY to a complete system of up to nine axes, independently controlled. DW



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February 2018

DFI 2-18_Vs2.LL.indd 22


2/7/18 1:15 PM




maintenance & assembly tools

Tips on PCB design PCB assemblers are often asked whether there’s really a need for soldermask and silkscreen. Soldermask protects exposed metal, reduces the chance of shorts and keeps solder where solder needs to be. Silkscreen removes ambiguity, ensuring that parts go where parts need to go, and that they are pointed the way they need to be pointed. Those are some of the benefits, but what about the drawbacks? Doesn’t leaving mask and silk off dramatically reduce the cost? On the surface, leaving off the soldermask and silkscreen seems like it reduces cost. You can buy boards that way for less money. If you’re hand building your own boards, it may be a viable option, but it can lead to other problems down the road. PCB assembly electronic manufacturers recommend always having a soldermask. Always. Without soldermask, solder can migrate off the pad, on to the traces or down into vias. The amount of solder paste used on a surface mount pad is based on making a good solder joint and having solder mask to prevent that migration. Some PC board metal surfaces will corrode if not covered with either solder or solder mask. And it’s a lot easier to short something in operation with all of that extra exposed metal. What about silkscreen? Shouldn’t automation render the need for silk screen obsolete? In practice, no. The implementation of industry standards is sporadic enough that users cannot rely on data to be accurate. There’s still a lot of human work and too much ambiguity due to poor use of standards in marketing. The only exception with silkscreen is having a good assembly drawing. A detailed assembly drawing, with all reference designators, part outlines and polarities clearly marked, can eliminate the need for silkscreen. Some people like to put other information on the board, like instruction or port identifications. In cases like that, all the reference designators can make the board unreadable. If you need that, provide an assembly drawing. DW



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mounts with bore styles are compatible with the special needs of fruit, nut, and vegetable conveyors. These shaft collars, couplings and flange mounts are designed with hex, square, and round bores for use in popular fruit, nut, vegetable, poultry and related conveyors and equipment. Machined from 303 or 316 stainless steel, Nylon, or Delrin with 18-8 or SST fasteners, these USDA- and FDA-approved materials fit applications requiring frequent washdown. Available as one-, two-piece, and hinged shaft collars and flange mounts, these units are offered in 0.25 in. to 14 in. I.D. sizes, depending upon material, and the Nylon and Delrin collars come in 1 in. to 4 in. I.D. sizes.  Special bores, keyways, knurls, and other treatments are offered along with various high temperature alloys. DW

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Design Notes

On the road again: Actuators help paraplegic motorcyclist

Edited by: Mike Santora • Associate Editor

When James Powell was repairing actuators on airplane landing gear as an aeronautical engineer, he never thought that he’d someday be using them to help him regain his passion for motorcycling. However, after a riding accident in 2009 left him wheelchair bound for life, his professional background played an instrumental role in getting him back on the road. “I wanted to be with my friends, riding through the bush country again. My only option was a four-wheeled quad bike, but that is quite restrictive.”

Quad bikes are not allowed full registration in Powell’s native Australia, even as

transportation for disabled individuals. Since motorcycle controls are on the handlebars,

Powell Once the bike is rolling, s, and zer bili sta simply raises the ers the low p, when he is ready to sto would wheels—much like a pilot r. deploy airplane landing gea

operating this type of vehicle would not pose a problem, but because Powell had no use of his legs, stabilizing the bike during a stop would present a major challenge. Channeling his engineering days, Powell concluded that building a custom system was his best option. He knew that the secret to his success would lie in selecting the right actuator to drive the lowering and raising of stabilizing wheels. These wheels met disability modification requirements for motorcycles and would thus be subject to fewer restrictions than quad bikes. “I needed something that was lightweight, and I wasn’t going to get that with a hydraulic pump system, which would be too bulky for use on a motorcycle,” said Powell.


February 2018

Design Notes 2-18_Vs2.LL.indd 26


2/7/18 1:01 PM

Ergonomic side handles

• Make Equipment Lifting Easy and comfortable – attach in pairs

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Operating elements

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long time. I also looked into pneumatic systems, but even though they are quick acting, they did not have the strength I was looking for.”

After a few false starts with systems using dual actuators,

Powell took the advice of a local automotive technology distributor

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Hinges and connections

Accessories for hydraulic systems

who suggested that heavy duty electromechanical linear actuators from Thomson Industries, Inc. would be best suited for the rugged conditions he would encounter.

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“I started with a list of several actuators that would have been

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sufficient for my basic needs and compared their spec sheets for weight, speed, current draw etc.,”he said.

“The Thomson actuator was slightly heavier than the others, but

its IP rating and strength proved to have the robustness I needed.” Powell designed his stabilizer using an Electrak HD actuator. This ball screw type actuator is known for its high power, longer stroke, onboard electronics and ruggedness. It has an ingress protection rating of IP69, which means it is highly resistant to mud, inclement

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Design Notes 2-18_Vs2.LL.indd 27

February 2018


2/7/18 1:02 PM

Design Notes

The onboard electronics of the actuator also

enabled him to customize controls. An encoder built into the actuator tracks its position and relays it to a small computer that Powell built to read the signals and display them on the handlebars, enabling him to control the actuator. Once the bike is rolling, he simply raises the stabilizers, and when he is ready to stop, lowers the wheels — much like a pilot would deploy airplane landing gear.

“The actuators were very easy to work with,” he

said. “I had built the overall mounting structure from scratch to accommodate it, so mounting was just a matter of tightening two bolts and connecting a couple of wires.” Powell back on the road after using a Thomson Electrak HD actuator which helped him add a retractable stabilizer to his bike. TL Design Worls ad copy.pdf



The modified motorcycle is now fully tested

and in steady operation, and Powell is enjoying his rediscovered freedom to ride—and stop—whenever and wherever he pleases. DW

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Design Notes Edited by: Mike Santora • Associate Editor

Leveraging PC control to improve 3D printing post processing

Running TwinCAT 3 software, the Beckhoff CP6706 Panel PC with 7-in. touchscreen serves as the durable all-inone controller and HMI for PostProcess machines, enabling easy access to the proprietary Automat3D software and HMI.

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, could become one of the greatest advances in manufacturing. A nearly infinite number of shapes can be created using 3D printing with all types of materials including plastics, metals, and even food. The process creates shapes that would otherwise be problematic, if not impossible, to make without extensive multi-axis machining or highly specialized tools. Almost all manufacturers in the Fortune 100 and 500 are using 3D printing to prototype parts. This trend of direct digital production has taken off to meet the needs for both low- and high-volume manufacturing applications. However, the 3D printing process is not without its challenges. Building complex geometries with a 3D printer with overhangs or other asymmetrical contours requires the use of support materials. These supports ensure that a work piece does not collapse during printing. But the support materials must be removed afterward, which creates inefficiencies.


February 2018

Design Notes 2-18_Vs2.LL.indd 30

In addition, 3D printed parts often require finishing processes to achieve the desired look and feel of a completed part while meeting tolerances for size, texture and precision. Historically, highly skilled artisans performed post-building processes by hand, a labor-intensive process that slowed production. PostProcess Technologies, a company specializing in additive manufacturing postproduction machines, had an idea – automate the finishing process. PostProcess founder and current President and CTO Daniel J. Hutchinson, DESIGN WORLD

2/7/18 1:03 PM

Design Notes

A selection of EtherCAT I/O terminals from Beckhoff assures fast, streamlined communication and directly integrates safety equipment via the TwinSAFE I/O (yellow terminals). building on his extensive software background, created the Agitation Algorithm (AGA). This software, along with a series of patent-pending machines, leverages the chemistry of detergents and abrasive media to dramatically increase throughput during post-processing of 3D parts. These patent-pending machines required key components. PostProcess turned to Beckhoff Automation for help with the company’s newest machine, the Hybrid DECI Duo. This multifunction, space saving machine removes support material and improves the surface finish.


The DECI Duo uses a combination of optimized energy from chemistry, guided by the AGAs to remove support material and provide the desired surface finish while preserving fine-detail part geometries. It handles advanced thermoplastics, light-cured resins, and metals. The proprietary Automat3D software powered by the Agitation Algorithms allows different agitation levels for a variety of geometries, enabling customers to mix geometries into batches to save time and operate more efficiently. In addition, the process is precise. “Damage to parts while being finished is simply not an option,” said Michael Frauens, principal process development engineer. “Often, these parts cost tens of thousands of dollars and may have taken weeks or months to design and build. The Automat3D software accurately inspects and interprets each part – regardless of geometry. In this way, we can provide reliable support removal and dependable surface finishing, producing ‘customer-ready’ parts, every time.” As the PostProcess team began research for the technologies, they knew they needed proven, robust


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Design Notes

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Motion control for the DECI Duo is accomplished via TwinCAT 3 NC/ PTP and AX5103 compact servo drives.

automation components. They determined that a full-featured PC-based control system from Beckhoff offered the best combination of price and performance for their needs. “We felt a PC-based control system would add an ideal level of familiarity for our customers,” said Hutchinson. “Since most of the 3D printers are not PLC driven, but rather PC driven, a familiar platform goes a long way to shorten the learning curve.” The Beckhoff CP6706 Panel PC has a 7-in. touchscreen and multi-core Intel Atom processor (4 Core) and serves as the all-inone control and HMI device for the DECI Duo system. The control can communicate between separate devices, external sources and applications. It uses the Windows 10 IoT operating system (OS). TwinCAT 3 software from Beckhoff serves as the back-end for the DECI Duo system, providing real-time automation of the part post-processing operations. PostProcess implements several TwinCAT 3 runtimes on the controls, including the TwinCAT PLC and 10 axis NC/PTP options. “TwinCAT 3, and in particular its integration with Visual Studio, is huge for us. We use Visual Studio Team Services for our configuration management, so the availability of industry-wide standards is beneficial. The ability to test the software on a virtual machine helped reduce our integration time,” said Dan Wascak, controls development engineer. The PostProcess team has also standardized on a motion system from Beckhoff, a selection of AM8000 series servomotors

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Design Notes 2-18_Vs2.LL.indd 32


February 2018 DESIGN WORLD

2/7/18 1:04 PM

with One Cable Technology (OCT), and several AX5103 EtherCAT servo drives. EtherCAT communication helps speed implementation of the motion system, and provides a complete system bus in the Hybrid DECI Duo. EL series EtherCAT I/O terminals, also from Beckhoff, are installed across all PostProcess production lines. PostProcess has also integrated safety technology using TwinSAFE I/O technology in the EtherCAT system. Special safety equipment such as e-stops and guard doors are connected through TwinSAFE I/O terminals. With the Beckhoff system, the PostProcess team noted their development time was cut in half. “Much of this is due to the flexibility of TwinCAT 3 software and the ability to reuse function blocks and other code on subsequent machines,” said Marc Farfaglia, engineering manager. “The PC-based system lets us easily transfer code and run machines in a minimal amount of time.”

As the 3D printing and additive manufacturing market continues to evolve at a rapid clip, it is this level of flexibility that will help OEMs like PostProcess shape the future of the industry. DW

PostProcess Beckhoff Automation

The high-performance internal rotary table levera ges several Beckhoff servomoto rs with One Cable Technolo gy (OCT), including the AM85 43 shown here.

Design Notes 2-18_Vs2.LL.indd 33

2/7/18 1:06 PM

Design Notes Edited by: Mike Santora • Associate Editor

Winch drive helps AHC offshore crane get its sea legs

When cranes load or remove loads from ships, crane stability is a must. One technique used is Active Heave Compensation (AHC), a technology that compensates for the relative motion between the ship and the water in offshore operations. AHC increases safety of offshore lifting operations by reducing the influence of waves on the load while a crane is lifting it. For Elevating Boats, LLC (EBI), its telescopic box boom offshore crane had to have Active Heave Compensation of the main winch. This was the first application of AHC in the U.S. On top of that, there was a tight installation deadline. AHC had to be installed in the crane within five months. To achieve these goals, EBI contracted Bosch Rexroth for the job. They chose a high dynamic winch drive system with speed and torque (constant tension) control of the main winch that uses a dynamic open circuit hydraulic drive. The Bosch Rexroth team supplied the hydraulic power unit components, accumulators, winch hydraulic motors, load holding manifolds, mobile control valve assembly and controller. Norwegian company, Scantrol, provided the controls for Active Heave Compensation. The team selected the A15 VLO 280 pump, a mobile pump that was developed to replace the A11 pump with more flexible controls, high power density and less cost. Joe Sabbia, applications engineer for the Marine & Offshore industry at Bosch Rexroth, states that the A15 is “more suited for mobile machines. This crane is driven by a diesel engine turning at 2200 rpm. Two 280cc pumps turning at that speed can produce a lot of flow in a small package.” 34

The A15 VLO 280 pump is a mobile pump that was developed to replace the A11 pump with more flexible controls, high power density and less cost. The biggest challenge with the project wasn’t technology, but time. Along with an accelerated schedule, there was also a limited budget to work within, as well. EBI’s part was also on an accelerated schedule with a lot of educated guesses on the front end and modifications done on the commissioning and startup. Scantrol did the overall crane controls for the crane while the Bosch Rexroth added single axis control for the winch motors. The project involved multiple factions working simultaneously on their own and then combining to put it all together. According to Ken Serigne of EBI, “this crane was the first active heave compensated crane commissioned here in the U.S. mounted on a diving vessel. It showcases a lot of already proven concepts combined with some sophisticated drive and control equipment. Bringing together the hydraulic and control system is a good example of state-of- the-art electronic controls being used in existing hydraulic concepts to make them smarter. We were doing things that we thought were impossible.”

February 2018

Design Notes 2-18_Vs2.LL.indd 34


2/7/18 1:08 PM

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When a client came to Elevating Boats, LLC (EBI) needing a telescopic box boom offshore crane with Active Heave Compensation of the main winch, EBI contracted Bosch Rexroth for the job.

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The teams solved multiple challenges at every stage. In one instance, there was a problem discovered around 8 p.m. The engineering team thought it could potentially delay everyone for up to two days. EBI technicians told the Rexroth team to be there at 8 a.m. the following day. EBI called their hose supplier at midnight and they produced what was needed on the spot. They pulled an all-nighter to make sure they’d be on schedule in the morning. It was not an easy task. As with any project, issues arose along the way, but coordination among all parties allowed for a smooth process overall. The crane was installed on the vessel in Singapore and then the vessel sailed to the Mediterranean to start working. The crane is supporting offshore construction and diving operations and is working well. EBI sees this success as being important to their oil and gas industry business, but also as a way to expand into other industries. Says Ken Serigne, “We would like to get into other industries and types of operations, and this crane opens a new door for us. We’ll put it on a variety of vessels worldwide and can use it to get into other types of construction projects on the water.” DW

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Design Notes 2-18_Vs3.LL.indd 35

February 2018


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Smart pneumatics monitor for Gateway IoT systems This Smart Pneumatics Monitor acts as an IoT gateway when used

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with the Aventics AES fieldbus system to prepare and supply information to a local IT network or a user’s cloud solution. It enables predictive maintenance and 100% machine uptime. The Smart Pneumatic Monitor (SPM) module delivers reliable information on the state of wear of actuators, valves and other devices as well as the energy efficiency of pneumatic systems – without the need to involve machine control. With the AES fieldbus system, the SPM module detects in advance when critical limits will be reached and provides users with information for early intervention. In addition, the sensor data collected through the I/O modules also provides a multitude of options to optimize other important areas, for example, the pneumatic systems’ energy efficiency. In line with the IoT concept, the system records local data independently of the control, and prepares and supplies the information through standard interfaces wherever it is required, whether in a local IT network or in the user’s cloud solution. The SPM module features pre-installed analysis modules for condition monitoring and energy efficiency analyses and allows for the simple creation of individual analyses. It is easy to program using the supplied open source interface Node-RED. DW Communication protocols include: OPC UA Server, OPC UA Client, Modbus Master, Modbus Slave, MQTT, S7 RFC1006, cloud connectors: SPA, Microsoft Azure IoT


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Internet of Things

IoT Gateway for harsh environments The dissemination of Internet around the world changed the way people communicate. The evolution of the information and communication technology allowed the creation of new types of services involving electronic devices with huge potential. Internet of Things (IoT) offers new possibilities and new services to end users, since they could learn more about other entities present in the surrounding environment. Therefore, the biggest challenges for the IoT application developer is to bring all these heterogeneous systems to an intelligent network, transform the data into a unified format for IoT communication and management. The Matrix-713 is a gateway system that is a fanless Linuxready Cortex-A5 Industrial Box Computer suitable for the mobile computing, integration and control needs such as Vehicle and smart factories. Matrix-713 provide a series of optional I/O interfaces including isolated RS-485 Serial ports, CAN and digital I/O, Gigabit

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Ethernet ports that can be used to flexibly connect with various equipment and systems already existing on the field. Different from the Matrix-710, which is suitable for simplified data transmission, the Matrix-713 supports GPS/ GLONASS and 9 axis MEMS microsensor for location information transition more accurate. For software, Matrix-713 equips Node-Red, the browser-based flow editor provides a dashboard builder and a rich RESTful APIs, which system integrators can use to design and generate user interfaces and create various webservices and mobile applications. The Matrix-713 is designed for harsh environment—a wide operating temperature range from -20 to 80°C, for solid, industrial-grade performance. Also, it offers a miniPCIe slot that can

easily use RF modules to achieve wireless network communication and position; such as LTE/4G, 3G, Wifi, BLE, Lora…etc. For its’ mobile ability, it equips dual power source which can support battery backup. DW



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oem pressure transmitters

The M5 series pressure transducer is an ideal solution for static and dynamic applications where size and performance matter. At only Ă˜6.2 mm, the M5 provides reliable pressure measurement up to 30 bar at temperatures up to 200°C and dynamic response up to 50 kHz. For more information, contact Keller America toll-free 877-253-5537 or email

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Internet of Things News OPC UA companion specification for new “CSP+ for Machine” technology The CC-Link Partner Association (CLPA), along with the OPC Foundation, announced an OPC UA companion specification for the CLPA’s new “CSP+ for Machine” technology to further ease the implementation of Industry 4.0 type applications. CSP+ for Machine is an extension of the CLPA’s existing “CSP+” (Control & Communication System Profile) that provides network configuration and maintenance by offering profiles that describe each device on a CC-Link IE or CC-Link network. CSP+ technology has been established for some time and provides drag and drop network configuration from CSP+ files provided by CLPA partner vendors, allowing users to create convenient device libraries. With this development, the technology allows machines to be treated in the same way, meaning that complex systems can be handled as if they are a single device. The CLPA offers the CC-Link IE open gigabit Ethernet and CC-Link IE Field Basic, which extends CC-Link IE compatibility to 100Mbit Ethernet devices. CSP+4M simplifies the process of extracting data from factory systems with OPC UA. CSP+ for Machine uses XML to provide information related to the machine. This includes: machine specifications, application software, what data should be acquired and how, and the relationship between machine data and information. Since it is typical for a given manufacturing site to operate a variety of process equipment based on different technologies, this ‘open standards’ based approach means that the current challenges which prevent efficient transparency and better management of processes will soon become a thing of the past. DW


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CAE Solutions

Bruce Jenkins • Ora Research

Iowa State University’s Formula SAE team

uses solidThinking Inspire to slash weight of rear aerodynamic wing

Cyclone Racing, Iowa State University’s Formula SAE team, consists of 40+ active members who design, build, test and race a formula-style race car each year to compete with approximately 80 teams representing seven different countries at the Formula Lincoln event and some 30 different teams at the Formula North event. Cyclone Racing is currently ranked fourth in the United States and fourteenth in the world out of 550 teams. Most aspects of being a professional racing team are evaluated and judged, and the team operates largely from private sponsorship with support from Iowa State University. Teams must demonstrate a top-performing racing machine on the track, and also demonstrate their working knowledge of both engineering and marketing through a series of presentation events. When designing their latest vehicle, CR22, one of the team’s goals was to reduce the weight of the vehicle’s rear aerodynamic wing. Nate Lenz, Cyclone Racing’s Technical Director at the time, noted, “With last year’s car, the internal wing structure was very heavy, to the point that we would see some very excessive roll, and a few times, even though


the car was super-fast, we would find ourselves up on two wheels. Keeping that in mind, a huge goal with this year’s car was to reduce the weight of the entire wing package, while also ensuring that it was very strong and stiff.” Nate first learned about solidThinking Inspire from a flyer he saw posted on campus. “It immediately caught my attention,” he said, “and I thought it was fascinating, but other priorities came up and I did not have a chance to try it at that time.” When the project to redesign the bracket mount for the rear wing package came up, Nate immediately thought of Inspire. “Knowing that the mount had to be extremely light, while also being as stiff as possible, it seemed like a perfect project to try Inspire on. After struggling to complete the project with some other tools, I downloaded solidThinking Inspire.”

solidThinking Inspire in the design process The first step in using Inspire was to learn how to use the tool successfully. Nate mentioned, “Inspire was very intuitive to learn— it honestly only took about five hours of working

February 2018

CAE Solutions 2-18_Vs3.LL.indd 42


2/6/18 4:41 PM


Machine Tool Components

Full wing structure including optimized swan-neck mounts.

Spring Plungers New optimized mount design and analysis in Inspire.

reduce the weight of the entire wing package from approximately seven pounds to four. “The weight reduction in the mounts was significant,” Nate reported. “We even went from a hollow wing last year to a foam-filled wing this year, which increased its weight, so the reduction in weight for the mounts was imperative. This ultimately helped reduce the weight of the entire car, and helped us perform better in competition. The mounts were not only very light, they were also very stiff and survived all of the rigors that our competitions put on them. My teammates regularly come up to me now and say, ‘Hey, Nate, can you solidThinking this part for us?’”

Results The new swan-neck wing mounts were a great success. Not only did Inspire allow the team to design these parts for the specific manufacturing process they wanted to use—waterjet cutting— it also enabled them to significantly

Iowa State University solidThinking

CAE Solutions 2-18_Vs3.LL.indd 43

Workholding Grippers

What’s next? Today Nate is on the senior design team of Cyclone Racing, where he and the team are currently working on some new and exciting projects. “We plan to continue to use Inspire,” he says. “Right now we are completely looking to redesign the car’s differential. This will be integrated into the car with a number of new mounts, as we will be going from a floating differential and floating engine, to now having them mounted in-between each other. We are working on taking the new loads from the chain tension and applying these in Inspire to generate and design all of the new mounts, which will be water-jetted or machined.” Nate also mentions that a number of other teammates are working on learning Inspire so Cyclone racing can use and reap the benefits of using the tool into the future. DW



February 2018



through the tutorial models for me to become comfortable with using the tool.” Once confident enough with the tool and its capabilities, the team created an initial design space for the brackets in an external CAD tool. “This particular beam was unique in that it had to stretch over a long distance, be high off the ground, and put under a bending load. The nice thing with it was that we were only constrained by the mounting locations, so we were able to work through a few different design space options, as well as loading scenarios, prior to ending up on the final design.” After running through a number of different iterations in Inspire, the team was able to select a final optimized design for the bracket which it then used Inspire, as well as third-party analysis and verification tools in order to simulate and analyze the performance of the part. After the design was verified, the team moved into the manufacturing process, where the new brackets were manufactured using waterjet cutting— which was not only quick but also very cost-effective. Nate mentioned, “I really liked being able to set the different manufacturing and symmetry constraints in Inspire. This allowed us to design the part specifically for the manufacturing process we wanted to use.”

Mount design space and loads setup in Inspire.

Fixturing Accessories

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2/6/18 4:46 PM 1/10/18 2:26 PM

CAE Solutions On-demand, pay-per-use ANSYS software through Rescale

Rescale provides enterprise big compute and cloud HPC. Recently the company announced that ANSYS Elastic Licensing can be purchased directly through Rescale’s ScaleX, a SaaS platform for solving challenging engineering, scientific and mathematical problems with HPC in the cloud. ANSYS Elastic Licensing is an on-demand, pay-peruse licensing model that unlocks access to the ANSYS engineering simulation portfolio including structures, fluids, and electronics solutions. Rescale enables customers to use ANSYS Elastic Units (AEUs) in the cloud, backed by more than 60 data centers worldwide. AEUs can be purchased directly through Rescale’s ScaleX platform, for efficient, single-vendor procurement of on-demand access to cloud HPC and simulation software. ANSYS Elastic Units are available in three pack sizes.

With Rescale, customers can run existing traditional licenses and purchase pay-per-use licensing on ScaleX, as well as access a variety of hardware architectures through bare metal and virtual servers and their on-premises infrastructure. In addition, the ScaleX administration portal allows company administrators to monitor and control their company’s AEU usage by setting budgets at the user, project, and company levels. ANSYS customers interested in purchasing on-demand ANSYS Elastic Licensing through Rescale should contact their Rescale account executive. DW

Rescale |


Connect and discuss this and

other engineering design issues with thousands of professionals online


February 2018

CAE Solutions 2-18_Vs3.LL.indd 44


2/6/18 4:44 PM

CAE Solutions Jean Thilmany • Senior Editor

Report: Simulation software market The increased need for eco-friendly environments and the growing number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMBs) will drive growth of the simulation software market over the next five years, according to the research agency Research and Markets. Aerospace and defense vertical is expected to have the largest market size during the forecast period The lack of standards and benchmarks in the simulation and analysis technology and the integration complexities in the simulation and analysis tools should as restraints for market growth, according to a recent report from the company. The 150-page report, released in December 2017, is formally titled “Simulation Software Market by Component (Software and Services), Application, Vertical (Automobile, Aerospace and Defense, Electrical and Electronics, Healthcare, and Education and Research), Deployment Mode, and Region–Global Forecast to 2022.” Cloud-based deployment mode is expected to have the largest market share during the five-year forecast period that runs to 2022, according to the report. In the simulation software market, the cloud deployment mode offers multiple benefits, such as reduced operational and maintenance costs, fewer complexities, and more scalability. The simulation and analysis solution providers are focusing on the development of cloud-based solutions for their users, as many organizations have started adopting the cloud-based deployment mode. Additionally, the cloud deployment mode is user-friendly and easy to access, the report states. Simulation and analysis software and services are predominantly applied in the aerospace and defense verticals for various purposes. For instance, in the aerospace vertical, simulation and analysis technology is used for designing aircrafts and its parts. On the other hand, in the defense vertical, this technology is used for


CAE Solutions 2-18_Vs3.LL.indd 45

designing the defense equipment and training the soldiers, the report states. Researchers at the agency expect North America to have the largest market in the simulation software market during the forecast period. ANSYS, which makes simulation software, is one of the companies profiled in the latest Research and Markets report, which profiles simulation software growth through 2022 based on a number of factors. The North American region has shown increased investments in the market, and several vendors have evolved to cater to the rapidly growing market. A considerable growth is expected in the region during the forecast period. The major initiatives taken for the growth of the simulation and analysis technology have their origin in this region. In this region, the enterprises and governments have positively adopted the simulation and analysis technology to enhance the products and the process of manufacturing in the industrial manufacturing and automobile industries. In-depth interviews were conducted with Chief Executive Officers (CEOs), marketing directors, innovation and technology directors, and executives from various key organizations operating in the simulation software market. The report includes the study of the key players offering simulation and analysis solutions, hardware, and services. Altair Engineering, Bentley Systems, ANSYS, PTC, Siemens PLM Software, Autodesk, CPFD Software,  


set to grow through 2022

Cybernet Systems, and Dassault Systemes are among the companies profiled in the report. The report includes an in-depth competitive analysis of these key simulation software market players, along with their company profiles, which include business overviews, product offerings, recent developments, and market strategies. The report segments the simulation software market on the basis of components (software and services), applications, deployment modes, verticals, and regions. The simulation and analysis software segment includes computational fluid dynamics, electromagnetic waves, and finite element analysis. The services segment includes design and consulting, and support and maintenance. The application segment includes eLearning and training, and research and development. On the basis of deployment modes, the simulation software market was divided into the cloud and on-premises deployments. On the basis of verticals, the market was segmented into automobile, aerospace and defense, electrical and electronics, industrial manufacturing, healthcare, education and research, and others. The other verticals include retail, mining, telecommunication, consulting, entertainment, and energy and power. Finally, on the basis of regions, the simulation software market has been segmented into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, and Latin America.

Research and Markets | February 2018


2/12/18 10:37 AM

Connector Notes

Farmers easily harvest data with ‘intelligent connector’ design


When AgTech Industries started to develop its smart infield telemetry system solution, they realized they needed an intelligent rugged connector that wasn’t available off the shelf.

Rugged connector and component manufacturer Bulgin has successfully developed an “intelligent connector” and trialed its use in agricultural sensing and control. In a custom project for California-based AgTech Industries, Bulgin incorporated integrated electronics into a rugged miniaturized connector for AgTech’s new smart infield telemetry system called AgriCapture.


AgTech asked Bulgin to develop a connector

lightweight and rugged, offering highly reliable

with a built-in integrated circuit that would allow

power, data or signal connections condensed

the connector to be electronically paired with the

into a compact form factor.

correct sensor, while at the same time performing

these functions in the harshest possible

a 7 x 5 mm PCB with an EEPROM (electrically

environmental conditions such as temperature

erasable programmable read-only memory)

extremes, exposure to dirt and direct spray from

device, situated securely underneath the

rain or sprinklers.

overmold of the 400 series connector. The

intelligent connector enabled the client to

The 400 series is one of the most compact

Bulgin designed the connector to contain

connectors within Bulgin’s Buccaneer range, and

implement serialization, reduce expenditure and

is ideal for designs requiring a small footprint.

other challenges associated with the physical

The miniature sealed circular connectors are

marking or labeling of connectors.

February 2018

Connector Notes 2-18_Vs4 MG.LL.indd 46


2/6/18 4:39 PM

The connectors are easily

reprogrammable and the system also allows the user to see whether or not a connector is active and connected.

EEPROM devices in connectors can be

Out-of-Box Conveyor Solutions

used for a wide variety of applications, including medical devices, test and measurement probe calibration, sensors and devices with TEDS (transducer electronic datasheet) requirements.

For AgTech, the intelligent connector

project has enabled it to develop and deliver its AgriCapture solution in a costeffective way — which has ultimately

Conveyor Stops

proven to be beneficial to its clients.

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PHD offers many drop-in replacements for conveying systems

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“One of the best things [about

Heavy Duty Actuators

collaborating with Bulgin] was the

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customer service. They helped us find

ISO/VDMA Actuators

the connectors that we desired, and worked with us to make sure that they were cost effective as well as suitable for our solutions,” said co-founder and Chief Procurement Officer of AgTech, Jesse Martin. “Working with Bulgin to develop our smart cables could really revolutionize the agricultural monitoring industry.” DW

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2/6/18 4:39 PM

Design World 2017-18 FPB.pdf

Design-2-Part Show 2-18.indd 48



8:51 AM

2/6/18 3:34 PM

Connector Notes

Long cable carrier

solution eliminates traditional guide troughs With its new Gortrac Articulated Roller Support (ARS) long travel system, Dynatect’s latest cable carrier solution eliminates traditional guide troughs, reducing system weight and costs. The ARS responds to the needs of the crane, machine tool, and automation industries for long travel cable carrier solutions. It is intended for applications up to 300 ft and eliminates the expense, potential damage, and depot storage area of a traditional trough. “Dynatect brings a revolutionary long travel system that eliminates wear and tow force spikes from alignment or failure of guide troughs, glide shoes, and push plates,” said Mark Thurman, CEO of Dynatect. “This solution eliminates up to 50% of the force required to push and pull in most applications.”

For decades in long travel applications,

Thurman added that the ARS “costs

the default solution has been to allow

less, eliminates 20% of the weight, and

the cable carrier to glide on itself

significantly improves safety factors for

within a guide trough. Non-gliding long

long travel applications.” The ARS Long

travel applications are limited by the

Travel System supports high load, high

unsupported span of the cable carrier

acceleration, high speed (greater than 5

and number of support rollers that can

ft/sec) applications and has been tested

be applied (fixed rollers cannot be placed

through millions of cycles. Installation is

in the area where the curve travels).

faster than traditional trough systems

Dynatect’s ARS solution features

and accommodates many styles of

articulating roller supports that are

plastic cable carrier. DW

mechanically actuated by the curve of the cable carrier as it passes through the

See a video of the ARS’ dynamic support

supports. These supports allow passage

and protection at

of the cable carrier as it travels and in turn provide support throughout the

Dynatect |

Connect and discuss this and

travel of the system.


Connector Notes 2-18_Vs4 MG.LL.indd 49


other engineering design issues with thousands of professionals online  

February 2018


2/6/18 4:39 PM

Inside: 54/ Consumer Robotics • 58/ Medical Robotics • 60/ Micromirror Devices • 64/ AGVs

A Supplement to Design World - February 2018




the devil may be in the details. page 56

Robotics Cover_2-18_FINAL.indd 50

2/12/18 12:43 PM



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2/6/18 3:37 PM

The Robot Report By Frank Tobe • Founder of the Robot Report

Robots and the two-edged blade of new technology


There was a recent scare-tactic video going around on social media, and I wanted to

weigh in on it—this particular video had gone from 500,000 views to 1,700,000 in fewer than 10 days. It presents a scary future in which killer robotic drones—controlled by any terrorist organization or government—run rampant. The twin issues of killer robots and robots taking our jobs are the result of the two-edged blade of new technology, i.e., technologies that can be used for both good and evil. Should these new technologies be stopped entirely or regulated? Can they be regulated? Once you see a video like this one, one doubts whether they can ever be controlled. It’s fearful media that doesn’t say it is fake until far beyond the irresponsible level. Videos like this one—and there are many—are produced for multiple purposes. The issues often get lost to the drama of the message. They are the result of, or fueled by, headline-hungry news sources, social media types and commercial and political strategists. This particular shock video—fake as it is—is promoting a longer, more balanced documentary and non-profit organization on the subject of stopping autonomous killing machines. Yet there are other factual videos of the U.S. military’s Perdix drones swarming just like in the shock video. Worse still, the same technologists that teach future roboticists at MIT are also developing those Perdix drones and their swarming capabilities. My earlier career was in political strategy and I know something about the tactics of fear and manipulation—of raising doubts for manipulative purposes, as well as the real need for technologies to equalize the playing field. Again, the two-edged sword. At the present time, we are under very real threat militarily and from the cyber world. We must invest in countering those threats and inventing new preventative weaponry. Non-militarily, jobs ARE under threat— particularly the dull, dirty and dangerous (DDD) ones easily replaced by robots and automation. In today’s global and competitive world, DDD jobs are being replaced because they are costly and inefficient. But they are also being replaced without too much consideration for those displaced. It’s hard for me as an investor and observer (and in the


February 2018

Robotics_Frank Column 2-18_Vs2.LL.indd 52

past as a hands-on participant) to reconcile what I know about the state of robotics, automation and artificial intelligence today with the future use of those very same technologies. I see the speed of change, e.g.: for many years, Google has had thousands of coders coding their self-driving system and compiling the relevant and necessary databases and models. But along comes George Hotz and other super-coders who single-handedly write code that writes code to accomplish the same thing. Code that writes code is what Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking fear, yet it is inevitable and soon will be commonplace. Ray Kurzweil named this phenomenon and claims that the ‘singularity’ will happen by 2045 with an interim milestone in 2029 when AI will achieve human levels of intelligence. Kurzweil’s forecasts, predicated on exponential technological growth, is clearly evident in the Google/Hotz example. Pundits and experts suggest that when machines become smarter than human beings, they’ll take over the world. Kurzweil doesn’t think so. He envisions the same technology that will make AIs more intelligent giving humans a boost as well. It’s back to the twoedged sword of good and evil. In my case, as a responsible writer and editor covering robotics, automation and artificial intelligence, I think it’s important to stay on topic, not fan the flames of fear, and to present the positive side of the sword. DW


2/7/18 11:33 AM

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Consumer Robotics Paul J. Heney • VP, Editorial Director

An exciting future for



Wearables can collect a wide range of different data streams, and yet the ones that have true utility are hyperfocused on a specific use case. With a specific use in mind, the device can be optimized to fit within an ultra-low form factor, consume tiny bits of power, and be purpose-built for that application. As sensors get smaller, traditional design techniques that involve a plastic housing with components inside are giving way to the incorporation of circuitry directly into fabric, flexible circuitry that contours to the body, and more distributed sensors on the body. Making wearables actually wearable expands the possibilities of creative user interfaces that were not previously possible. We spoke with Redwood Stephens, CEO of Synapse (synapse. com), to find out more about this fascinating new technology.

Robot Report: What are some of the things that are holding wearables back, and how can these issues be addressed? Redwood Stephens: Wearables are a path to products that are more contextually aware. By that, I mean devices that sense what’s going on with you and your surroundings and use that context to provide more utility. I’m not just referring to health and fitness trackers; VR and AR systems can track everything most wearables today measure, along with more data points like head movement and eye movement. My expectation is that personal computing devices and wearables will become the same thing. This will probably be manifested as some sort of glasses and/or earpieces that augment your surroundings with additional imagery and information. These devices will be capable of recognizing speech and complex gestures.   I would say the main thing holding wearables back is a lack of understanding of what consumers really care about. On the technical side, computing power and data transmission are still limited by battery capacity, forcing engineers and designers to make hard decisions about what features to cut.

RR: How do consumers feel about wearables? How has this changed in the past five years? How do you expect consumer attitudes to evolve in the coming years?


February 2018

Consumer Column 2-18_Vs3.LL.indd 54

RS: Many wearables that created buzz five years ago have failed to pass the minimum bar of critical utility for the user and are now landfill. That said, we wouldn’t have been able to push the state of the art to where we are today and understand the most compelling use cases without having created these initial products.   As the number of sensors go up and artificial intelligence becomes more ubiquitous, the combinations of those data streams and machine processing on the back end are growing. There will be a point in the coming years where the analytics will be a service and there will be lots of different hardware options (wearables) to gather the data. People will subscribe to insight engines, and the organizations that sell these insights won’t necessarily be coupled with the organizations that generate or collect the data.   RR: How is data safety being addressed? How do companies ensure the security of data transmitted by or to the wearable?  

RS: Data security is as important to wearables as it is to any connected device. We see data breaches all the time! Companies must design security and privacy into their product ecosystems from the start, and must commit to


2/12/18 12:40 PM


reacting to security landscape changes with product updates. There are four aspects to data security as it relates to wearables:

• Device-level security and privacy • Security of data transmission from

the device to the cloud and back to the device • Cloud level security of the data and insights stored • Management of permissions to third parties for access to the data and insights I am currently a consumer of insights provided from the data streams I’m generating. I believe there will be organizations that consumers trust to only provide them with information that individuals find beneficial and there will be organizations that spam the user with information that has commercial interest not aligned with what you want. It will come down to the organization’s

reputation. If they mess it up, they will lose their subscriber base. The organizations that I will allow to mine my data and provide insights will be transparent about how they share and do not share my data. There will be third party watchdog groups that rate data use versus the user’s best interest.  

RR: How will AI will affect the future of wearables?

RS: While wearable devices already depend on sophisticated algorithms to sort out what all the sensor data means, AI will take the insights provided by this data stream to the next level. In addition to providing deeper insights for a given individual, AI can infer patterns at the group level by leveraging data from many users in a region or from around the world. For example, because we’ve collected data on 20,000 athletes, we can know the moment that you are about to bonk. AI can even make these correlations

between performance and sensor data just by looking at patterns, without needing to know any medical science. We may not know what sensor data the AI is using to figure out that this correlation, because the algorithm is looking at the relationships between data from many different sensors and users and identifying patterns too complex for humans to see.

RR: What is the biggest misconception about wearables?

RS: The biggest misconception is that a wearable is a device that stands alone. Every wearable of significance has some sort of connectivity—some way of transferring and transforming information. A significant component of a wearable devices value includes what is done with the information that is gathered and how those insights are fed back to the user. The value is in the insights and the potential for behavior modification associated with those insights, not in the device itself. DW

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20/12/2016 16:01:46 2/7/18 11:29 AM

Artificial Intelligence


Miles Budimir • Senior Editor

With AI, the devil may be in the details


A lot of people are talking about artificial intelligence (AI). They mostly divide into two camps; those who are rosy optimists, seeing AI’s helping hand in every human endeavor, and those who see catastrophe and the end of civilization as we know it. These are, of course, extreme caricatures. But there is truth in both views.

For one, AI is already a powerful tool helping people in all kinds of ways. At the same time, AI is so unlike other technological developments that it warrants special attention because it raises unique concerns. However, those concerns may not be what most people have in mind. The things that most people fear about AI are the usual fantastical sci-fi-like possibilities; killer robots, the robotic overlords scenario. But these may not be the real issues at all. Of real concern are the mundane aspects like the human tendency toward bias and prejudice becoming a part of AI algorithms and programs. In a recent interview with MIT Technology Review, the head of AI research at Google, John Giannandrea, spelled out what he believed to be the biggest danger with AI. “The real safety question, if you want to call it that, is that if we give these systems


February 2018

Artificial Intelligence_Miles 2-18_Vs3.LL.indd 56


2/7/18 11:36 AM

biased data, they will be biased.” He would certainly be in good position to know, as Google has positioned itself on the front lines in the push to develop and implement AI strategies in many areas. Giannandrea makes a poignant analogy with medical devices to highlight the bias issue. “If someone is trying to sell you a black box system for medical decision support, and you don’t know how it works or what data was used to train it, then I wouldn’t trust it.” This concern has a lot of validity. Most of us know just how “dumb” computer programs and algorithms can be; “dumb” in the sense of mechanically following program instructions without the human capability of context and nuance that allow human beings to assess and evaluate complex situations. The other problem is how bias is tied to power; who wields it, who is disadvantaged by it, and how programmed biases can perpetuate

It simply isn’t the case that we have no control over how AI is developed and ultimately deployed...we do have control,...which raises questions that we can’t and mustn’t avoid. power imbalances and breed further inequality. Of course, there is always the problem of unintended consequences. But it simply isn’t the case that we have no control over how AI is developed and ultimately deployed in the world. The fact is that we do control it and the questions of the very real-world social, political, economic and moral consequences are ones we can’t and mustn’t avoid.

In response to AI’s development, multiple efforts are under way to consider AI more holistically including the ethical dimensions of AI and its potential impact on virtually all aspects of human life. Recently, the U.S. Congress has tasked the Department of Commerce to advise the federal government on the uses of AI and how it could be regulated. And the IEEE, the world’s largest professional engineering organization, has started an initiative to put in place some kind of guidelines for ethical AI system design. They’re seeking input across a wide spectrum beyond just engineers and computer scientists. (Read more about the Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems here: https:// autonomous_systems.html.) AI has the potential to fundamentally reshape society. As such, it’s imperative that designers of AI systems seriously consider the consequences. DW

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12/01/2018 15.01 2/7/18 11:40 AM

Medical Robotics Fink Densford | Associate Editor

to a competitve US surgical robotics market



TransEnterix opens doors

The surgical robotics market in the US is now competitive. Last October, the FDA cleared its second robotic surgical system to date – the TransEnterix Senhance laparoscopic platform. The clearance is a significant milestone for the Morrisville, N.C.-based company and was followed by yet another - a month after receiving a nod from the federal watchdog, TransEnterix logged the 1st sale of the platform. “It’s really validating for our technology to have a sale so soon after [clearance]. The Florida Hospital is a tremendous facility and they’re a member of the Adventist Health System, which operates 45 hospitals in nine different states. And they’ve always been in the forefront of innovation,” CEO Todd Pope told The Robot Report in an interview.

The sale opened the doors to a market that has been dominated by competitor Intuitive Surgical and its da Vinci platform for over 20 years. “We now have 17 sales professionals in the United States alone, focusing day in and day out, on meeting with folks and introducing them to the benefits of Senhance. So we’re excited as we go forward from here to meet with all those surgeons and executives at hospitals that have interest in the first robotic platform available, new that is, in the last 20 years,” Pope said. Drawing a fair amount of attention is the platform’s ability to relay haptic feedback to the operating surgeon, Pope said, something its competition has yet to integrate. Other improvements include the


ability to actively control three separate robotic arms – one for each hand, and a camera arm that actively follows the operator’s eyes - to allow the surgeon to keep a tight watch on the procedure. Pope is hopeful that the system will convert traditionally non-robotic laparoscopic surgeries the same way its competitor Intuitive Surgical did with open surgeries. The company is also looking to increase the FDA indications for the device to open up more of the robotic-assisted laparoscopic market. “Our Senhance robot was designed to take the familiarity of laparoscopic surgery and really improve on that in many ways, so that is where our efforts are going to be focused,” Pope said. “We’ve committed over the next couple of months to continue to file more

February 2018

Medical Robotics 2-18_Vs2.LL.indd 58

human clinical data to expand our current indication here in the US. We’re looking forward to filing applications including hernia and gallbladder data – so that we can continue to expand our indications.” For Pope, the success of the Senhance system means more than just a successful business – it serves as an inherent jump in value to our healthcare system as a whole, and one that will lead to more predictable surgeries and lowered costs. “We’re really proud after many years of working to be just the second robot approved in the US market, and the feedback we’re getting from healthcare workers, surgeons, and patients is overwhelmingly positive, so we’re excited about the place we find ourselves and continue to work hard to bring better clinical results and great value,” Pope said. DW DESIGN WORLD

2/7/18 11:44 AM

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2/6/18 3:35 PM

Micromirror Devices Leland Teschler | Executive Editor

Super-sophisticated MEMS mirrors could bring super-capable lidar

The digital micromirrors that make possible solid-state scanning lidar may soon give way to more capable MEMS devices able to do much more than just beam a laser across a scene.


The Digital Micromirror Devices (DMD) now used for video

projection also play an important role in autonomous vehicle technology. These microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) can quickly reflect a laser across a scene and make it possible to field solid-state lidar devices.

A single mirror fabricated at Lawrence Livermore National Labs. Plans are to create arrays comprised of 10,000 mirrors for use in lidar systems. At left is the underside of the mirror. Visible are three microflextures that will later be attached to a paddle actuator. These microflextures were 3D printed but researchers say they will eventually be created using the same photolithographic methods used to devise the rest of the mirror array.


Indications are that new generations of MEMS-based micromirror arrays resembling DMDs are on the verge of ushering in dramatically more capable lidar. The primary reason is that the new arrays have more degrees of freedom. DMDs have only two states, on or off. In the on state, the DMD reflects light onto a target – onto a screen in the case of video projection, onto a field of view in the case of lidar. In the off state, the light is directed elsewhere (usually onto a heatsink). In contrast, the MEMS-based mirror arrays now on the drawing boards have three control directions: tip, tilt, and piston (basically moving the mirror forward and back). These movements potentially make feasible such ideas as focusable lidar and sensing techniques that depend on steerable lasers. Today, research groups at 49 companies and 23 academic institutions have come up with 2,631 research papers and patents on micromirror array (MMA) technologies. So says Bob Panas, an engineer at Lawrence Livermore National Lab’s Materials Engineering Div. Panas was part of a group that cataloged work taking place in MMA worldwide. LLNL has its own MMA project that it is pursuing in conjunction with UCLA and MEMS consulting group AMFitzgerald. Panas says lidar is just one potential application for the LLNL devices. Others include optical switches, precision optical alignment, imaging, 3D displays, and new approaches to micro-additive manufacturing. The LLNL MMA design is indicative of what researchers are striving for in the technology. It will eventually contain 10,000 hexagonal-element arrays, each measuring 1 mm2. To give each mirror a large range of motion in tip, tilt, and piston directions, LLNL researches came up with a hybrid manufacturing

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technique consisting of additive manufacturing and conventional integrated circuit lithography. Additive techniques are used to print structures on the back of the mirrors that become part of the actuators for mirror positioning. But the additively manufactured components are only temporary. “Because we are in the R&D phase, we’ve designed the mirrored actuators as assemblies, so we can adjust the flexure designs. But we think we can roll this design into a standard microfabrication process where all the features are turned into masks for lithography,” says Panas. Surprisingly, the MMA devices could be economical to produce once they are translated into monolithic chips. “A conventional DMD device has 20 layers. Our design has fewer than that,” says Panas. “We will be able to build all the mirrors on a single wafer simultaneously. We expect to get 20,000 to 30,000 mirrors per wafer.” The micromirror array is composed of hexagonal unit cells, each of which contains three bipolar electrostatic comb drive actuator paddles, three decoupling flexure linkages and a hexagonal mirror. Currently, the mirrors are fabricated in a batch process from an SOI wafer, where the device layer is cut into hexagonal patterns, gold coated, then released to form free mirrors that can be placed into the array. Panas aims to eventually construct 10,000-element mirror arrays covering about a 10 cm2 surface. Moving in unison, the mirrors will be able to move as a single reflective device if desired. Each mirror can also be controlled independently to create sophisticated effects. The performance of MMAs is characterized in terms of a speed-range product. Panas says the commercially available devices he’s examined have speed-range products about 100 times lower than that of LLNL’s device. The LLNL micromirrors can realize ±10° rotation and translations exceeding ±30 µm while working at about 40 kHz. For comparison, DMD chips developed by Texas Instruments exhibit about a ±12° tilt, says Panas. But TI DMD mirrors measure only about 10 µm across where LLNL mirrors are about 1,000 µm. “The inertia difference between the two kinds of actuators goes to about the fourth or fifth power,” Panas explains. “We have something like a million time more inertia to drive. The tradeoff is that smaller devices can move much faster, but they lose the possibility of precise control – you are not exactly sure where your mirrors are pointing. But that works just fine in a digital device that is just on/off.”

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Kollmorgen Motion Solutions play a vital role in a variety of robots, including collaborative, industrial articulated, and surgical by providing: • High power density to reduce size, weight and system complexity • Smooth, precise motion for control and safety • Broad range of size and power • Standard and optimized options to meet specialized requirements

Our expertise makes us a unique motion partner who understands the business and technical needs in robotics. Kollmorgen offers highly configurable products such as AKM® & AKD® servo motors and drives, KBM & TBM frameless motors, and stepper motors & drives. We also offer machine design and manufacturing expertise to help you optimize your robot.

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Micromirror Devices LLNL micromirror t



Flexures t

Actuator paddles


Base plates

An exploded view from a CAD model illustrates the component parts of a single mirror. The patterns visible on the red base plates are part of the interdigitated combs that create mirror motion. Interdigitated electrostatic combs serve as combination actuator/sensors for torqueing the mirrors. Attached to platforms holding the mirrors, these voltage-controlled actuators double as capacitive feedback position sensors. Measured capacitance is a function of the mirror angle and is sampled at a rate of about 100 kHz. Of course, each mirror in an array would have three feedback control loops,

one for each degree of freedom. That means a single 10,000-element array would have 30,000 feedback loops. Panas says the ancillary electronics necessary for all that motion control sets a lower limit on the size of an array that is feasible. “It turns out that the way to solve the feedback control problem is with a hierarchical control scheme,” says Panas. “Each mirror has an area of about

one-millimeter-square behind it. We fit a low-level feedback controller in that space which takes care of lowlevel high-speed control. We are using a distributed technique that eliminates the need to do everything from a single high-level controller.” Panas thinks lidar is the most immediate application for the Lab’s mirror arrays. The arrays are capable of running up to 1,000 times faster and hitting much higher resolutions than conventional systems, performance that could lead to locating objects quickly and at greater distances than are practical today. The super-high controllability of the arrays could also let lidar systems focus on specific areas of interest in their field-of-view rather than scanning areas indiscriminately regardless of whether they contain data of interest. Panas also says the arrays would be small enough to be integrated into vehicle taillights and other unobtrusive locations. Additionally, they could provide a lidar capable of a 360° field-of-view without requiring any mechanical moving parts, a feat difficult to realize today without resorting to motorized scanning. Panas says he has had discussions with lidar makers interested in licensing the LLNL technology. DW

LLNL micromirror movement

The three degrees of mirror motion. Interdigitated electrostatic combs attached to platforms holding the mirrors serve as combination actuator/ sensors for creating the motion.


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AGVs Lisa Eitel • Senior Editor

Re-envisioning material handling with AGVs


Autonomous or AGVs (AGVs) are those compact wheeled conveyances that tote, tow, trailer, lift, shift, rotate, rack and store, or otherwise transport goods along defined paths set by guidance systems. New iterations of these robotic designs are on the rise. In fact, AGVs — a relatively mature technology in the field of robotics — make a $850 million (global) market set to grow at 10% CAGR or better in coming years. This is partly due to the aim of manufacturing, assembly, logistics, and distribution plants and warehouses to lower labor costs with automation and lean processes. Right now, the automotive industry dominates AGV use (at 25% of all applications) but growing drivers are global industrialization, e-commerce, and interest in leveraging IIoT functionality (with integration of automation with enterprise-level operations) in an array of other industries.

Shown here is a train of 20-kg RC20 AGVs from Vecna Robotics. RC20 RGVs carry individual totes or containers, and gang to form virtual conveyors — imparting far more flexibility than traditional conveyor systems.


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Software (and control, guidance, and collision-avoidance electronics) on today’s AGVs have enhanced their affordability and functionality. Kion Group (which owns what was Egemin — now part of Dematic) offers no fewer than six AGV software modules for warehouse management, safe AGV movement and AGV traffic optimization, navigation and mapping, and overall coordination of material flow. Another standout offering is Transbotics Movement Optimizer software developed by Transbotics Corp. engineers to let AGVs transmit and receive system and IoT-level data to communicate vehicle status, inventory information, and other controls. Meanwhile, battery innovations (in type, capacity, and approaches to charging) have made AGVs increasingly practical. Visit Robots/Platforms page for more on this. One representative innovation in 2017 came from Delta Products in the form of a new (and 93% efficient) wireless charging system for AGVs. Based on coil-to-coil induction, it simplifies and ruggedizes the battery-charging process — particularly helpful for making selfcharging and opportunity-charging AGVs more reliable. Still other rather exotic AGV installations are omitting the battery altogether and using continuous inductive power transfer (IPT) to power coordinated fleets of AGVs (through cables embedded in shallow floor channels) during operation. Of course, the real strength of AGVs is their simple implementation — and the way in which they prompt smart facility-process and material-handling improvements. While traditionally lacking the full flexibility of vision-guided and self-driving vehicles that navigate unpredictable environments on the fly, many newer AGVs allow for excellent functionality (with small detours and the like) as well as configurability when predefined navigation routes need changing. Case in point: Omron Adept Technologies now sells self-navigating Lynx-brand AGVs it bills autonomous indoor vehicles (AIVs) that mostly follow magnetic-tape roads, but can also enter and exit the road paths to perform


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Autonomous or AGVs are those compact wheeled conveyances that tote, tow, trailer, lift, shift, rotate, rack and store, or otherwise transport goods along defined paths set by guidance systems. special tasks — even while navigating around people and unplanned obstacles. Taking it a step further are technology ecosystems that aim to address unify the builds of AGV navigation, hardware, and software. NDC8 from Kollmorgen’s NDC Solutions is one such generic and scalable ecosystem. It works with an array of AGV navigation types, including multinavigation setups that serve multiple facility areas (such as assembly areas and storage areas, for example) needing different AGV modes of piloting. Increasingly common in many AGV designs is laserguided navigation. Consider the proliferation of application-specific AGVs from OEM JBT Corp. — including those specifically for hospital, trailer loading, and automated batch retort installations. Most use laser triangulation to track reflective strips of tape that trace paths through the facilities. In contrast, Kuka AG takes it a step further with its KUKA.NavigationSolution — an autonomous navigation system for AGVs that uses software, laser scanners, and wheel sensors to map facility environments with what’s called simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM). Such functionality takes their vehicles’ capabilities to beyond what most of industry defines as AGV operation and into fully autonomousvehicle territory. DW  

Kollmorgen NDC Solutions offers AGV solutions that enable natural, laser, spot, magnetic, magnetic-tape, inductive, inductive-wire, and multi-mode navigation. New-York-based research group Future Market Insights predicts that emerging economies and the healthcare industry will spur the most AGV adoption to make it $2.5 billion market over the next decade. | courtesy of Kollmorgen • NDC Solutions

February 2018


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GAM The New Gearbox Standard in Robots Our new robotic gearbox offers a unique level of precision, lifetime and energy efficiency unseen from other gearboxes suppliers. Our planetary technology is based on a unique patented gear profile that remains backlash free at ≤0.1 arcmin for the lifetime of the gearbox. Our high tilting rigidity and 95% efficiency, allow us to achieve an impressive life of 20,000 hours, unheard of in today’s robotic gearboxes. We have 7 sizes up to 7000Nm with many versions available from sub-assembly to right angle in both shaft and hollow configurations. These features set this gearbox apart from all others in the market today!

Contact info: GAM 901 E. Business Center Drive Mount Prospect, IL 60056 888.GAM.7117 | 847.649.2500

Kollmorgen Kollmorgen TBM™ Offers Optimal Performance in a Compact Package As new applications for robots continue to emerge the market for high power density motors also grows. Kollmorgen’s TBM series of Direct Drive Frameless motors offer the flexibility to help you push the limits of what’s possible by working seamlessly within your design. Kollmorgen TBM series of Direct Drive Frameless motors are designed to be directly embedded into machines, using the machine’s own bearings to support the rotor. TBM technology is optimized for applications that require high power in a small, compact package with minimal weight and inertia. Additional features include: • Efficient electromagnet design leads to lower temperature rise • Low voltage design is optimized for applications up to 48 VDC • High quality materials ensure a long service life

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Want to learn more about Kollmorgen TBM frameless motors? Contact info: Bill Sutton Kollmorgen 203A West Rock Road Radford, VA 24141 Phone: 1.540.633.3545 Email:


2/7/18 12:27 PM

Robotics Robotics


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RENISHAW VIONiC™ encoder series The VIONiC digital incremental encoder series has been specifically designed with the machine builder in mind. Its enhanced ease of use, superior metrology capability and multiple configuration options all ensure optimal machine performance. VIONiC really has been designed for the designer.

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Universal Robots Robotics Within Reach Universal Robots has reinvented industrial robotics with flexible, collaborative robot arms. Innovative forcesensing technology makes the robot stops operating when encountering an employee, eliminating the need for safety guarding in most scenarios. Unlike traditional industrial robots that stay hardwired in a cage, the lightweight UR Robots can be moved around, automating high mix low volume production runs. Programming is intuitive; simply grab the robot arm to teach the desired movement, or use the touch screen.  The Polyscope GUI runs on a Linux OS platform for easy customization of specific tasks and tools. Product portfolio includes the UR3, UR5 and UR10 robot arms named after their payloads in kilos, they all feature 0.1 mm repeatability and span in reach from 19.7” in to 51.2”. Since the first collaborative robot was launched in 2008, the company has experienced considerable growth with the user-friendly cobot now sold in more than 50 countries worldwide. U.S. regional offices are located in Ann Arbor, MI, Long Island, NY, Irvine, CA and Dallas, TX.  

Contact info: Universal Robots USA, Inc. 5430 Data Court, Suite 300 Ann Arbor, Michigan 48108 United States Phone: +1 844.462.6268 Email:

February 2018


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M o t i o n

C o n t r o l

Turn down that


How one manufacturer solved its stepper motor noise issues by a combination of motor and drive redesign. Dan Jones | Incremotion Associates, Inc.

Noise in electrical systems,

particularly motors and motion systems, is an old problem. Whether it’s naturally occurring or equipment-based, noise can range from an unpleasant side effect to much more, even to indicators of a mechanical problem or a dire warning of impending failure. While many outside natural noises are filtered by the plant or office environment, the equipment-generated noises become more objectionable. Many users of motion control equipment are demanding lower audible noise operation. The step motor is among those motion control devices subject to new design criteria that include lower audible noise, higher motor torque and better position accuracy. The connection between lower motor mechanical vibrations and resonance is well known. Increasingly, new lower vibration and audible noise conditions are being significantly improved in the latest step motor offerings. Vibration and noise countermeasures

There are several mechanical-based solutions for cutting down on or eliminating noise that include using a rubber-based mounting material to isolate the motor vibrations from the machine structure or using a mechanical damper to damp the step motor’s internal vibrations. Another method uses a thermoplastic material to encapsulate the entire stator structure. This approach improves motor rigidity and reduces


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motor vibration and audible noise. Together with these mechanical-based improvements, the motor drive’s current waveform into the step motor can also be a significant source of noise. A microstepping drive reduces the step motion into finer velocity perturbations that helps to reduce shaft vibrations. So by controlling the step motor current as a sinusoidal waveform, this changes its motion into a quieter step motor. (See Figure 1.) Focusing on the internal design of the motor itself, one motor manufacturer changed the step motor’s internal lamination design. This new family of hybrid step motors and associated drives create higher torque capability and feature better position accuracy. The new step motor design also reduces internal step motor vibrations as well as audible noise. DESIGN WORLD

2/7/18 12:33 PM


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M o t i o n

C o n t r o l

Figure 1: Controlling the step motor current as a sinusoidal waveform changes its motion into a quieter step motor.

Motor vibration suppression

The motor vibrations can induce unwanted torque and current ripple in the step motor drive. A new family of hybrid step motors, the CVK family from Oriental Motor, have been interfaced to a new smooth drive function that operates with a micro step drive over the new step motors’ entire speed range. The new step motor driver employs the smooth drive topology to suppress step motor shaft vibration and audible noise. Two speed ranges, from 50 to 200 rpm and above 500 rpm, have been stability problem areas in the past. A controlled motor current phase scheme is used to quiet the 50 to 200 rpm speed range while a special vibration suppression circuit lowers vibration and audible noise for 500 rpm and higher speeds.


The testing of these new motors and drives and the corresponding results demonstrate the effectiveness of these design changes. Several of the noise tests were completed using the new smooth drive and the new product family of step motors. The testing also included the use of a general motor IC chip drive in combination with the new 2-phase and 5-phase step motor families. The results show a significant improvement. The noise tests with the common IC chip drive and the 2-phase step motor resulted in a 68 db noise level similar to the noise of an operating vacuum cleaner. The audible noise signatures were 44 db using the smooth drive with the 2-phase step motor and an even lower 35 db when driving the 5-phase step motor at rated load and speed. To put that in perspective, that’s as quiet as a low-speed kitchen fan 1 meter away. Two vs. five phase

The physical difference between a 2-phase and 5-phase step motor is in the number of the stator windings. The 2-phase step motor has 8 windings and the 5-phase step motor possesses 10 stator windings as illustrated in Figure 2. The 0.72/0.36 degrees per step furnishes a higher number of phases that distributes the developed torque over a single rotation. This provides a lower torque ripple and a lower vibration or resonance signal. For this reason, the 5-phase version is intrinsically more accurate than the 2-phase counterpart. High torque capabilities

Figure 2: This image shows the differences in stepper motor windings; the 2-phase step motor has 8 windings while the 5-phase step motor has 10 stator windings.


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The new Size 24, 2-phase motor (red) generates much higher torque at the motor shaft speeds approaching 1,000 rpm. This motor’s torque approaches the current (blue) step motor’s torque above 2,000 rpm as shown in Figure 3. The new 2-phase step motor models peak at 67 oz-in. (0.47 N-m) while the conventional step motor torque peaks at 50 oz-in. (0.35 N-m). Figure 3


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Figure 3: The graph shows both torque-speed profiles with the new step motor plotted in red and current step motor plotted in blue.

Figure 4: This graph compares the new 2-phase and the 5-phase torque vs. speed profiles in red and blue color plots.

Figure 5: The graph shows a 3X accuracy improvement for the 2-phase stepper motor.

Figure 6: As with the 2-phase steppor motor, the 5-phase stepper motor also shows a 3X improvement in accuracy.

displays both torque-speed profiles with the new step motor plotted in red and current step motor plotted in blue. Figure 4 compares the new 2-phase and the 5-phase torque vs. speed profiles in red and blue color plots respectively. The 2-phase step motor supplies maximum torque in the low speed range and the 5-phase step motor develops its higher torque profile in the mid and high speed ranges.


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Step motor accuracy

The typical hybrid step motor has a position accuracy at the final position of ± 0.05 degrees at full step operation. The closer the driver current waveform is to a sinusoidal shape, the lower the impact on the step motor’s position accuracy. The Smooth Drive, when using a 16:1 microstepping protocol, with the new 2-phase (red) is more accurate than the  

current 2-phase step motor (blue) with a 16:1 microstepping control. Note the 0.1125 degree per micro step magnitude equates to a 16:1 micro step for a 2-phase 1.8-degree step motor as shown in Figure 5. Step accuracy is improved from ± 0.075 degrees (in blue) to ± 0.025 degrees (in red). A similar condition is shown with the more accurate new 5-phase 0.36-degree step motor (in red) versus the current

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M o t i o n

C o n t r o l

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The typical hybrid step motor has a position accuracy at the final position of ± 0.05 degrees at full step operation. step motor accuracy (in blue) in Figure 6. The measured step accuracy is ± 0.018 degrees for the new 5-phase step motor (in red) and smooth drive versus ± 0.051 degrees for the current 2-phase step motor and drive. The new high-resolution 0.36 degree, 5-phase step motor reduces the final step positional error (or step accuracy) to ± 0.015 degrees as shown in Figure 6. The total accuracy improvement from the 5-phase 0.72-degree current system versus the new 5-phase 0.36-degree step motor-drive system is over 3 times better. The improvement in the new 1.8-degree step motor models versus the current models is also 3 times more accurate than its current (blue) step motor. The latest step motor family with its Smooth Drive has achieved its joint goals of developing quieter step motors, 44 db for the higher torque 2-phase step motors and for the super quiet (35 db) 5-phase step motor. Both the new 2-phase and 5-phase step motors present more torque than previous models that lead to better torque stiffness and stopping capabilities. DW Oriental Motor |


Connect and discuss this and other engineering design issues with thousands of professionals online


Trust NTE Electronics to be your Electronic Components Supplier 72

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Crossed-roller slide variations and uses

Linear slides with crossed rollers are rigid and versatile. Several features impart smooth and reliable motion


while extending axis life.

Precision rail guides known as crossed-roller guides (also called crossed roller slides, linear bearings, or ways) are linear-motion load supports that incorporate arrays of cylindrical roller bearings for the reduction of friction. These crossed-roller slides contain the rollers between solid twin guide bars (usually made of throughhardened tool steel) cut with V-shaped grooves that are ground to specification. The rollers (often made of hardened roller bearing steel of 55 to 65 HRC) alternate between two 90° offset orientations. Because of this roller orientation, crossed-roller slides can carry loads from four directions. Usually a third element — a cage — keeps the rollers well-spaced (which in turn prevents excess friction in the form of skidding or poor performance due to roller-toroller contact). Composite or engineered-plastic cages let rollers space more tightly together, so more rollers fit into the crossed-roller guide assembly for a given stroke length … and that in turn increases load capacity. In contrast, cages made of aluminum or other metal take more space and reduce the guide roller count for a given length, but are often the only suitable choice for harsh environments or applications operating in cleanrooms or vacuums. That’s because composites are sensitive to contamination and can contaminate controlled environments with outgassing. While indispensable, crossed-roller guide cages can exhibit what’s called cage creep. Because the cage floats between the guide assembly’s two bar guides, during operation it can drift from its correct (central) position … especially when operating on vertical axes or when the axis makes many short or partial strokes. Vibrations and shock loading can also induce cage creep. A cage that’s misaligned from center effectively reduces


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Linear slides with crossed-roller arrangements maintain high rigidity. | Courtesy of Del-Tron Precision Inc.


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L i n e a r

M o t i o n

Note that these calculations are not a guarantee of system stability. The engineer must check the system response to a step input using the closed-loop transfer function … and must also check system stability using a Nyquist plot.

Cages wrap around crossed-roller guide rollers to maintain their spacing — and prevent skidding, premature wear, and failure. Various anti-creep mechanisms prevent cage creep. Shown here is a Schneeberger crossed-roller guide that uses a rack and pinion feature to maintain cage position.

stroke length so that the cage strikes end stops before the completion of a full stroke. That in turn forces the cage back to its centered position — potentially damaging the slide halves and inducing the very roller skidding or sliding the cage is supposed to prevent. Anti-creep mechanisms include rackand-pinion sets that integrate into the assembly or mount externally. Another solution to cage creep is to incorporate a studded center roller that engages indentations along the rail during each slide stroke. One caveat here is that while many

manufacturers’ crossed-roller slides are interchangeable (and can even replace ballbearing slides without necessitating design changes) mechanisms to prevent cage creep can introduce slide dimensions that deviate from standard sizes. Note that because rollers in the vast majority of crossed-roller bearings don’t recirculate, table length and overall roller count limit maximum possible stroke length. Even so, where stroke lengths don’t exceed a meter, crossed-roller slides often outperform recirculating linear bearings. Rollers (rather than balls) as the loadcarrying elements makes for greater load capacity with line contact with the raceways (and not point contact). This also boosts the rigidity and accuracy of the linear axes into which they integrate.

Crossed-roller slides integrate rollers alternating between two 90° offset orientations — so these linear-motion supports can carry loads from four directions. | Courtesy of NB Corp. of America


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L i n e a r

M o t i o n


Crossed-roller bearings don’t exhibit the oscillations and vibrations associated with recirculating bearing balls entering and exiting load zones. This makes for extremely smooth and quiet motion. | Courtesy of SKF

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L i n e a r

M o t i o n

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At the risk of complicating the topic, there do exist crossed-roller slides (or at least contained carriages that mate to essentially standard guideways) with recirculating roller circuits. Though far less common than the traditional (non-recirculating) crossed-roller types, these recirculating-roller slides excel in applications that must bear high loads and require rigidity (delivered by crossed-roller arrangements). Another technology that competes against traditional crossed-roller slides here is air bearings. The latter carry heavy loads even while maintaining exceptionally smooth motion, but lack the stiffness of mechanical bearings. Air bearings are also costly both upfront and during operation. Crossed-roller slides are often designed and assembled by component manufacturers with preload to eliminate clearance. Preload also helps minimize linear-guide deflection under load (within specified load capacities). Manufacturers’ precise machining of the top and bottom mounting surfaces ensure flatness and parallelism, though it falls to the installer to mount crossedroller slides to suitably rigid and flat surfaces. Applications where crossed-roller slides excel Crossed-roller slides help boost the performance of general automation, microprocessor manufacturing, and linear axes on diagnostic

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SKF offers Anti-Creeping Systems (ACSs) in variations for most precision-guide types. Shown here is a refined SKF ACS solution in the form of an ACSM on a LWRE rail guide with maximum stroke to 400 mm. The cage includes an involute-toothed control gear made of brass; involute teeth machined into the rail ensure reliable operation, even on axes requiring quick acceleration.

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Shown here are curved variations of crossed-roller slides from NB Corp. of America. These NB gonio ways incorporate low-friction precision rollers to serve applications that need gradient changes or accurate setting of specific angles without change to the center of rotation — a requirement in some precision measurement and optical equipment, for example. The term gonio is from the Greek and denotes anything relating to the expression, measurement, or actuation of angles.

equipment. As mentioned, crossed-roller guides impart high load capacity as well as high stiffness and travel accuracy — in many cases, the same applications where recirculating-roller linear guides are also suitable. But one key advantage of crossed-roller slides over recirculating-roller linear guides that use balls is that the former maintains extremely smooth motion. The omission of roller recirculation means these precision linear guides don’t exhibit pulsations that recirculating bearings induce upon entering and exiting the internal load zones, either. That makes the guides quiet. The high load capacity and smooth motion of crossedroller slides often make them the leading option for short-stroke applications needing µm or nm positioning as well — such as axes in semiconductor and electronics manufacturing machinery and stages for inspection. Because there’s little difference between static and dynamic friction coefficients for crossed-roller slides, these precision rail guides also work on axes needing frequent stops and starts while executing very short strokes — as in cameras and microscopes, for example. DW


Connect and discuss this and other engineering design issues with thousands of professionals online


February 2018

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Positioned for Tough, Compact Applications Novotechnik’s TX2 Series of position sensors have pivot-head mounting that can handle up to ±12.5° of offset from misalignment without affecting performance. The TX2 is designed for mobile and other tough environments with heavy-duty construction featuring a stainless steel rod and metal housing. It is sealed against ingress of dust and liquids. Specifications • Stroke lengths from 25 to 300 mm • Very long life to 50 million movements • Resolution better than 0.01 mm • Repeatability to 0.01 mm • Linearity up to ±0.05% • Sealed to IP67 For complete TX2 information, visit Novotechnik U.S., Inc. 155 Northboro Road • Southborough, MA 01772 Telephone: 508-485-2244 Fax: 508-485-2430


2/7/18 12:45 PM

CAD models on Mars Contestants in a recent Mars design challenge are creating 3D CAD models that depict buildings and vehicles that would allow humans to colonize the red planet. Jean Thilmany | Senior Editor


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Sometime in the not too distant future, one million humans will live in the Mars Valley located on the planet Mars. Okay, that’s far from a certainty. But a currently running contest asks participants to imagine the possibility and to create 3D CAD models as part of their plans for that scenario. If humans do one day colonize Mars Valley they’ll probably have a thing or two to learn from contestants in the HP Mars Home Planet challenge in which engineers, architects, and others design a Mars habitat that could protect one million future human residents as they live, work and travel the planet. Participants in the challenge, which kicked off in August, design and visualize the possibilities for this future civilization. The contest is now running on Launch Forth, a product design platform that regularly hosts around 180,000 designers, engineers, and architects. Users collaborate on ideas, solve problems and create solutions for challenges held on the open-access platform. The first phase of the Mars Home Planet challenge saw nearly 500 entries worked on by more than 34,000 participants who submitted conceptual designs for buildings, vehicles, smart cities, and transportation systems that could support one million humans in the Mars Valley, says Elle Shelley, executive vice president of Launch Forth, headquartered in San Francisco. The HP Mars Home Planet challenge encouraged engineers, architects, and others to design a Mars habitat that could protect one million future human residents as they live, work and travel the planet.


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CAD modeling and virtual reality rendering have a place in developing the buildings and roads that Mars inhabitants may use as part of their daily Martian routine.

Many entries included the use of 3D printing to “print” transportation and buildings on Mars from material both already available on the planet and transported from Earth. That first phase closed in October, with nine winners announced at Autodesk World 2017, held in Las Vegas in November. The winners were chosen by Launch Forth voters as well as by nine

high torque servo gearheads

judges prominent in related industries. In the next phase, entrants will use CAD software to model aspects of vehicles, buildings, and transport systems. That phase closes in this month. In a third phase, entrants will create virtual-reality renderings of their creations, bringing the buildings and systems to life in an immersive, 3D environment for an audience interested in a virtual walkabout in a potential Mars habitat, Shelley says.

Did you mean: DieQua Corporation?

The virtual reality environment surrounding the winner’s creation will be built on Mars Valley terrain from a video game called Mars 2030, which uses NASA imagery, she adds. Each phase doesn’t lead on from the previous one; rather, each has its own deadline and prizes, with the first phase winners received $38,080 in total prizes, Shelley says. The project’s corporate sponsors are: HP,

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The virtual reality environment surrounding the winner’s creation will be built on Mars Valley terrain from a video game called Mars 2030, which uses NASA imagery.


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NVIDIA and Launch Forth, Autodesk, Epic Unreal Engine, Fusion, HTC Vive, Microsoft and Technicolor SA. A model Martian transporter Architect Kenny Levick was well versed in construction issues on Mars before he and project partner Dominic Forlini submitted their Mars Home Planet infrastructure titled Mars Genesis and Mawrth-Integra Fleet. The project was one of the nine firstphase finalists. Levick did his master’s thesis at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, on colonizing the asteroid belt. That’s where he began to develop his own approach to space habitats, he says. For the Mars Home Planet challenge, Levick and Forlini proposed a fleet of semiautonomous vehicles that actually construct the needed roads and other transportation infrastructure as they move forward. The infrastructure is necessary to ferry humans, supplies, and raw materials throughout the planet’s Mawrth Vallis region, Levick says. “A connected Mawrth Vallis is the foundation for human expansion across Mars, which is our goal,” Levick says. The two are now working to model phase two of their project in three dimensions in AutoCAD from Autodesk. They may go on


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A fleet of urban transport networks

to create a virtual-reality version of parts of their transport system, though, as Forlini says, “VR rendering isn’t our strong suite.” Levick is currently a visiting architecture and interior design professor at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and an architectural consultant. Forlini is a geologist who works at Cascade Environmental LLC performing groundwater remediation. “Early settlement colony-to-colony and urban transport networks will stem from the service which the Mawrth-Integra fleet provides,” they stated in their proposal. “As Martian labor forces continue to arrive, ease of transportation allows for allocation of human resources, food and energy. “The fleet is needed to develop inhabited colonies in close proximity to valuable areas within the region, such as mining, permafrost and climate proxies and for urban expansion,” they wrote.


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Levick and Forlini proposed two types of transportation vehicles: a semi-autonomous road paver to construct the roads, a methane-powered propulsion craft for movement on Mars and to parts of the asteroid belt. The pair had previously worked together on the September 2015 3-D Printed Habitat Challenge, a NASA contest that focused on how to build structures on Mars using only the soil available on the planet. For that competition, Forlini analyzed the soil samples provided by NASA to determine the minerals stored within and how best to extract them. From there, they came up with the Mars Genesis Hab, a habitat that used Martian dirt to 3D print—by means of laying down layers of soil-a physical barricade around an inflatable bladder delivered from Earth. Once unpacked, the bladder would pressurize and be hooked to all critical life support systems and it could slowly 3D print other aspects, such as habitat, into the landscape. The printed barricade would surround the inhabited area. For his Miami University master’s project, Levick focused on Ceres, a small dwarf planet in the asteroid belt. That’s when he began to realize the economic value of focusing on the asteroid belt. If infrastructure could be established in the asteroid belt, humans could extract water from asteroids and use it to make rocket fuel. “If we have water, we can support life and refuel ships, creating essentially an interplanetary gas station for future travel,” Levick says. And that gas station could be located on Mars. “Mars has been in conversation for a while now,” Levick says. “It’s like a second space race, and it’s interesting and exciting to try and play a small part in that.” Forlini and Levick are now developing a 3D model for the second phase of the HP Mars Home Planet Challenge. They’ve code-named that project Flower, Florini says. “In the first phase we laid out the fleet and outlined how early settlers would initially form and exist within a Mars-based habitat,” Florini says. “We were setting up shop and getting water and oxygen resources there and setting up survival systems.” Flower will be an airport, refueling station, and transportation hub at the center of the habitable Mars regions. The hub is roughly analogous to an airport or gas station here on Earth--where the



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The HP Mars Home Planet challenge encouraged engineers, architects, and others to design a Mars habitat that could protect one million future human residents as they live and work on the planet.

crafts can be housed, launched from, and refueled, Forlini says. They’re creating CAD models of the main aspects of the hub—modeling the entire system would be a huge undertaking, outside the realm of the contest, Forlini says. But the two are particularly keen to model specific parts of the rockets that can be launched from the hub. “We want people to be able to see what they look like inside and see the control panels,” Forlini says. “We’ll model as much as we can and submit it to the contest from there,” he says. “We’re always adding new things and refining what we have.” They’ve called in help; a few of Levick’s friends with strong AutoCAD modeling experience. For the third stage of the contest, Forlini and Levick will bring in more friends who can help them render a virtual reality model of their refueling station and airport hub. Third-phase entrants will bring their winning 3D models in the Epic Unreal Engine game engine. The environment will be built on Mars Valley terrain from the Mars 2030 game from Fusion, which itself is based on NASA Mars research and high resolution photography, according to Shelley.


That way, the refueling station will look as though it’s actually situated on Martian terrain. Beyond the contest, Forlini says, he and Levick will continue to work on their Martian concept “tying our project into a whole planetary timeline. “We have everything flowing with this timeline, so you can extract resources from Mars to create fuel using methane as a propulsion system to get oxygen and water from the airport out into the region,” Forlini says. “We have systems for rare earth and water extraction, to extend the ability for life, with nothing required to be transported from Earth.” “Our goal is to become earth independent and be self sustaining to explore the minor galactic region around Mars,” he adds. Roman Domes 3D printed Jose Daniel Garcia Espinel was the only winner onsite at Autodesk World when the winning first-phase Mars Home Planet proposals were announced in November. His team anticipates a city on Mars named Martropolis located within the Mars Valley crater and built using 3D printing with materials harvested directly from the Martian soil.

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Espinel is a civil engineer working as director of digital innovation at the Spanish renewable energy and construction company Acciona. The biggest challenge the as-yet-dreamedof Martropolis faces is, of course, the planet’s environment. “The atmosphere is too aggressive; full of dust storms,” Espinel says. “The climate is too cold and the pressure is quite low. Also, water is needed for life and local minerals must be used as raw materials to build the first Martian structures.” The solution: a system of tunnels, or tubes, that connect domes where humans will live. He plans to use common construction machinery--robotic bulldozers, excavators, compactors, trucks and water vehicles. “These machines could be self-driving or be remotely controlled from a space base,” Espinel states in his proposal. To construct the system, Espinel has taken a page from the 3D printing process. The machines will use a pressurized system— analogous to how the 3D printer operates--to layer minerals previously mined from the Mars soil. The layers will compress, forming a type of concrete, he states in his proposal. But how to create the internal living and transport space within? Steel beams are far too heavy to be transported to Mars from DESIGN WORLD

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Earth, no matter the payload future rockets could handle, Espinel says. So he and his team members took inspiration from ancient Romans building methods: compression. “Compression working structures done of mass concrete is a technique well known in architectural history. Romans were the first humans that used this technology to build domes,” Espinel states in his project proposal. Martropolis structures will be created in the same way, with humans living within domes specially pressurized and oxygenated to mimic the Earth’s pressure and atmosphere, he says. While Mars colonization is, of course, a long ways away, several companies are already looking into the prospect, Forlini says.

Meanwhile, it’s challenging and exciting to consider the prospect through creation of their transportation hub and vehicles, Levick adds. “Whether or not this will ever be used on actual Mars, who knows?” he says. “I feel like with Dom’s research and my architectural direction, together we have a good chance at really making some noise in the Mars design community.” CAD modeling and virtual reality rendering also have a place in that quickgrowing design community that may be behind the buildings and roads our descendants travel over as part of their daily Martian routine. DW



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F a s t e n i n g


J o i n i n g

When should you use self-clinching locknuts? Mating screw applications that require secure attachments can rely on self-clinching locknuts, which self-lock threads to reduce loosening and can be removed repeatedly without affecting performance. Self-clinching prevailing torque locknuts integrate a nylon hexagonal element offered as a locking mechanism option.

Michael J. Rossi | Marketing Services Supervisor • PennEngineering


February 2018

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By all measures, the hardware specified to attach components is expected to perform reliably in service. But sometimes application-related factors — vibration, thermal cycling, or other disruptive forces — will place fasteners in jeopardy. Especially in the case of mating screws, such forces can loosen them and potentially result in attachment failure. How can designers prevent such problems? Self-clinching locknuts offer solutions on multiple fronts. They effectively “self-lock” the threads of mating screws to eliminate any risk of screws loosening over time, regardless of application forces. In addition, the locknuts allow for repeated screw removal and reattachment without compromising threadlocking performance. And, unlike chemical locking methods or patches, locknuts do not require extra production steps and/or materials during the assembly process, saving time and money along the way. Beyond their central function of withstanding external forces and holding mating hardware


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Self-clinching free-running locknuts designed with a modified thread angle provide a vibration-locking feature.

securely, self-clinching locknuts offer yet another layer of reliability, thanks to self-clinching technology. Upon their installation, the locknuts become permanent and integral parts of a thin metal assembly, will not loosen or fall out, never have to be restrained from rotation with a tool, and never have to be handled again. Specific types of self-clinching locknuts further offer specific benefits, based on design. Some integrate floating threads to compensate for misalignment; miniature versions feature smaller footprints accommodating smaller design envelopes; and others will achieve particularly high clamp strength. The universe of self-clinching locknuts continues to expand in response to application and marketplace needs.  

February 2018


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F a s t e n i n g


J o i n i n g

Locking mechanisms When evaluating self-clinching locknuts for an application, designers can begin to narrow the field by considering two main categories: prevailing torque locknuts (in many variations) and free-running types. Self-clinching prevailing torque locknuts encompass all-metal styles as well as locknuts integrating plastic inserts (usually nylon). All-metal types “self-lock” the threads of mating hardware by fundamentally altering the shape of the nut during manufacture to grip a screw during tightening. A common method is the purposeful distortion of the nut’s threads. Depending on type, the nut’s threads may be elliptically squeezed (slightly deforming the thread barrel into an elliptical shape), flexing jaws may be created by vertically slitting the thread barrel and squeezing the two sections together, or one or two of the last threads on the head side of the nut may be deformed. The particular design feature of all-metal prevailing torque locknuts produces friction between threads of mated hardware, thereby increasing the force needed to tighten as well as loosen the nut. Prevailing torque locknuts maintain essentially the same torque value,

Self-clinching technology provides a big assist in the world of fasteners, in general, and locknuts, in particular.


Self-clinching prevailing torque locknuts with a specially engineered “TRI-DENT” locking feature offer a cost-effective locking solution.

regardless of the amount of axial load applied, and have been engineered to provide up to 15 cycles of thread-locking performance. Self-clinching prevailing torque locknuts with nylon inserts generate torque resistance using a plastic insert as the locking element. The insert is added during manufacture into the self-clinching body of the nut on the screw exit side (with the inner diameter of the insert approximately at the screw pitch diameter). As the screw enters the insert, the resulting interference at the major diameter creates prevailing torque. A major advantage of this locking method is the ability to significantly reduce the chance of conductive debris forming from the repeated removal and re-installation of a screw. These, too, can offer up to 15 cycles of thread-locking performance. In contrast to prevailing torque types, all-metal self-clinching free-running locknuts will require tightening against a bearing surface for the locking mechanism to function. A modified thread formation on the loaded flank of these fasteners provides the vibration-resistant locking feature and allows mating screws to spin freely during

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the attachment process until clamp load is induced during the screw-tightening process. The applied clamp load then engages the locknut’s vibration-resistant locking feature, which locks the mating screw in place. (If the clamp load, is removed for any reason, the nuts no longer will provide any torsional resistance to rotation.) Locking feature reusability will be unaffected by the number of on/off cycles. Regardless of locknut type, designers should always consider the potential impact of certain application conditions in realizing optimized performance of locknuts in service. As one example, locking features may be subject to temperature limits. Locknuts with nylon inserts generally have a recommended temperature limit of 250˚F (or 120˚C) before the strength of the locking feature will be affected. In turn, all-metal locknuts can usually be heated to higher temperatures without affecting the locking strength, but higher temperatures may give rise to brittleness and reduced corrosion resistance.

Permanent clinching Self-clinching technology provides a big assist in the world of fasteners, in general, and locknuts, in particular. Self-clinching fasteners in all their many types and DESIGN WORLD


2/6/18 3:56 PM

variations provide permanent and reusable load-bearing threads to accept mating hardware in ductile metal sheets too thin to be tapped or where extruded or stamped threads would be impractical. Among other benefits, they allow for component removal and re-attachment whenever needed for access or service and can dramatically reduce or eliminate the amount of required attachment hardware. Fewer parts promote lighter designs and less hardware in an assembly translates to savings in product time and costs. Self-clinching fasteners install easily (usually during the fabrication process) by pressing them into a properly sized hole and then applying sufficient squeezing force using a press. This process causes displaced metal sheet material to cold flow into an annular recess in the shank or pilot of the fastener, permanently locking the fastener in place in the assembly. A knurl or similar feature prevents the fastener from rotating in the metal when tightening torque is applied to mating hardware, such as screws in the case of locknuts.

Unique engineering Each application will be characterized by distinct requirements and, within the overall family of self-clinching locknuts, uniquely engineered options can be specified to meet the challenges. Profiles of three (among many) individual types of self-clinching locknuts for thin metal assemblies illustrate the range and capabilities. Locknuts with “flexing jaws” embody a design particularly appropriate for severe service applications. These fasteners utilize two rugged, semicircular flexing jaws (instead of several less-supported segments) to achieve greater retention for preventing relaxation and loosening of the fastener over time. The design further protects the threads of a mating screw: clearances obtained by only two interruptions of a full circumference — together with the spreading of the jaws by the entering screw — will minimize the possibility of thread damage. A shoulder additionally provides increased pull-through performance and a positive stop during installation. The flexing action of their locking feature serves to permit repeated use and effective locking torque.


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Locknuts with floating threads permit up to 0.030 in. or 0.76 mm adjustment for mating hole misalignment. Extra strength and support in the assembly is obtained by the threads of the floating nut extending into the fastener’s retainer shank. Miniature locknuts are relatively lightweight with a smaller footprint and can be specified in a range of especially small thread sizes — making them ideal in applications where size and weight matter. A strong knurled collar, which becomes embedded when installed in a host metal sheet, guarantees against rotation of the fasteners in the sheet. The torque-out resistance of the knurl greatly exceeds the torque that can be exerted by the selflocking feature. As these examples illustrate, selfclinching locknuts have been designed for virtually any application where securing a mating screw is mandatory. As a best practice, decision-making to identify the proper locknut type for an application can be reinforced by enlisting a supplier’s inhouse technical and engineering resources early in the design stage. The support ultimately can contribute to locking in reliable application outcomes. DW PennEngineering |


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February 2018


2/6/18 3:57 PM

Product World Embedded HMI service Pro-face Pro-face Connect is a ready-to-use embedded HMI service that allows users to access machines remotely and securely from anywhere at any time. Pro-face Connect is easy to configure based on familiar HMI panels and software, so there is no need for extra hardware or accessories. By adding the Pro-face Connect Link Manager license, users can even expand their abilities to manage other devices connected to the HMI, including PLCs. Pro-face Connect is ready to go, with a simple online upgrade for activation.

Modular belt conveyor ABCO Stingray is a low-profile modular belt conveyor that employs micropitch plastic belts. This heavy-duty stainless-steel conveyor has reliable product transfer, smooth transitions, and product accumulation, making it suitable for delicate, small footprint, or unstable products that may be damaged by a conventional conveyor.

Stingray is modular and scalable with sections available up to 20’ and belt widths

include 4, 8, 12, and 24-in., allowing easy integration into any floor space. In addition, conveyor sections easily accommodate 90° transitions for smooth, precise movement from one conveyor to another. Stingray includes these distinct features: --Conveyor frame and spanners constructed of 11-gauge stainless-steel and optional powder coating for increased durability. --Hardened steel nose ends for better wear and adjustability. --Additional bearings to provide greater load capacity.

Rolled-steel ac motors AutomationDirect These MTR2 series IronHorse general purpose, rolled-steel motors are available in 1-phase and 3-phase versions and offer better performance specifications, improved cosmetic appearance and quieter operation. Single-phase MTR2 rolled-steel motors are available in 1800 RPM, 115/230 VAC models. The motors are 56C frame, TEFC, and provide rigid base or C-face mounting. Nameplates include 60 & 50Hz specifications and reverse wiring instructions.

The 3-phase 208-230/460 VAC rolled steel MTR2 motors are available in 1800 and 3600 RPM

models with TEFC (Totally Enclosed Fan Cooled) frames, cast aluminum end bells and removable mounting bases. Nameplates include 60 & 50 Hz specifications.


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For further information about products on these pages visit the Design World website @

New concept electric motor EMF97 The wound stator of the EMF Motor is almost the same as a traditional motor. Magnets are glued to the rotor. If the motor is supplied with a voltage and a frequency, a magnetic flux is created which magnetizes the motor. As the frequency increases, the electric field in the wound stator begins to turn. The rotor moves in the opposite direction to the rotating field and is much slower. The number of magnets and the geometry of the motor defines the speed ratio. With this new motor principle, a high torque is achieved with a low number of poles on the winding. The low copper and hysteresis losses result in very high efficiency values.

Shaft locking bushing with high radial load capacity Zero-Max

Heartbeat technology for analytical transmitters Endress+Hauser The Liquiline CM44 and CM44R transmitters are for use with

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systems. They are also a suitable choice for locking into position

level with clear remedy instructions provided for operations or

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machinery. Handling torque ranges from 531 to 10,620 inch lbs.

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or distributed control system via fieldbus digital communications,

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sensor information that can be combined with process data to

identify trends. This information, along with performance indicators,

The ETP Power single radial screw design ensures fast

When the Liquiline transmitter is connected to a PLC, SCADA

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to the shafts. ETP Power positions in seconds and can be

maintenance. Heartbeat

readjusted hundreds of times just as quickly and without any

Monitoring information is

axial movement of the bushing or component along the keyless

available over Profibus DP,

shaft. An Allen wrench is all that is required to mount and lock

EtherNet/IP, Modbus TCP or

these bushings into place. They have sealed, clean lines that

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Product World Brush and brushless dc motor and gear motor

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Thermally conductive potting compound Master Bond


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2/6/18 4:32 PM

For further information about products on these pages visit the Design World website @

Digital differential impedance transducer Kaman The Digital Differential Impedance Transducer, is designed to provide a digital interface for high speed eddy current measurement systems, with resolution in the micro-inch range, at bandwidths as high as 60 kilohertz (kHz). It is suitable for use in applications for fast steering mirrors, magnetic bearing active control, shaft vibration, image stabilization, and adaptive optics. Using a standard 9D connector for reading data, power, and control signals, the system operates from a single power supply with a voltage range of 8-28 volts.

The custom sensors, signal processing, analog to digital converter, and custom calibration system

are used to deliver each Digital DIT sensor system. The DDIT is available in three configurations: The Digital System is designed to interface directly to an embedded controller with a master serial peripheral interface (SPI) bus. The ANA (analog) System provides linear analog voltage, with a full range output signal of 0-5 Vdc with a null position of 2.5 Vdc. The FE System is designed for field-programmable gate array (FPGA) interface for high speed operation, with data rates as high as 128 kHz, 48 bits of data, 60 kHz bandwidth, and no internal firmware.

Brushless servo motor kits Maxon The EC 60 Flat Frameless Brushless Servo Motor Kit consists of only a rotor and stator – with no bearings or motor shaft. With an outer diameter of only 60 mm, these pancake servo motor kits are extremely compact. Available in size ranges from 70 to 100 Watt, these EC (electronically commutated) frameless slotted motors feature low voltage windings, high pole pair count and are shipped as BLDC frameless motor kits.   These Inner Rotor Slotted Motors feature:

• Low voltage windings

• High accel/decel capabilities

• Low rotor inertia

• High pole pair count

• Lower cost vs. slotless motors


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February 2018


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Ad Index


ACE Controls .................................................. 20

Fabco-Air, Inc. ................................................ 24

Aggressive Hydraulics ............................... 37

Fixtureworks ................................................... 43

Aignep USA ..................................................... 41

HP 3D Printing ............................................... 29

Allied Electronics &

igus .................................................................... 73

Automation .................................Cover, 2,3

ITT Enidine ...................................................... 77

Allied Motion .................................................IBC

J.W. Winco, Inc. .............................................. 35

AllMotion .............................................................4

KEB America, Inc. ..........................................69

Altech Corp .........................................................1

Keller America Inc .........................................40

Aurora Bearing Company ......................... 35

Novotechnik ................................................... 79

AutomationDirect ........................................IFC

NTE Electronics, Inc. .................................... 72

Baldor ..................................................................9

OKW USA .......................................................... 15

Bay Associates Wire

PBC Linear ................................................38,39

Tom Lazar

Mike Caruso 469.855.7344

Garrett Cona 213.219.5663 @wtwh_gcona

Jessica East 330.319.1253 @wtwh_MsMedia

Technologies Corp. ................................. 31

PHD Inc. ........................................................... 47

Bodine Electric Company .......................... 85

Pyramid Incorporated .................................. 41

Bird Precision .................................................84

QA1 ..................................................................... 79

Michelle Flando

CIT Relay & Switch ....................................... 36

Rutronik ........................................................... 32

Clippard ............................................................BC

Smalley Steel Ring ........................................ 10

CS Hyde Company ........................................ 14

Smart Products USA, Inc. ........................... 19

Del-Tron ............................................................ 78

Southern New Hampshire University .................................................. 25

DieQua ........................................................ 18,82

Tensility International Corporation ........ 33

Digi-Key Electronics ...................................... 13

The Lee Company .......................................84

Dorner Mfg. Corp. ......................................... 83

Tolomatic, Inc. ................................................. 21

Dunkermotoren .............................................. 17

Trim-Lok ........................................................... 28

Elesa USA Corporation .............................. 27

Whittet-Higgins ............................................. 23

EXAIR ..................................................................5

Zero-Max, Inc. ...................................................7

Jim Powers 312.925.7793 @jpowers_media

Courtney Seel 440.523.1685 @wtwh_CSeel

Michael Ference 408.769.1188 @mrference

Design-2-Part Shows ..................................48 408.701.7944 @wtwh_Tom 440.670.4772 @mflando

Mike Francesconi


Publisher Mike Emich 508.446.1823 @wtwh_memich

Managing Director Scott McCafferty 630.488.9029 310.279.3844 David Geltman @SMMcCafferty 516.510.6514 EVP @wtwh_david

Marshall Matheson

Neel Gleason 312.882.9867 @wtwh_ngleason 805.895.3609 @mmatheson

The Robot Report Inside: 54/ Consumer Robotics • 58/ Medical Robotics • 60/ Micromirror Devices • 64/ AGVs

GAM ........................................................................ 59 Kollmorgen Corp. ............................................... 62

maxon precision motors ..................................53

A Supplement to Design World - February 2018

mk North America ...............................................61 New England Wire Technologies & New England Tubing Technologies ........51



Renishaw .............................................................. 55

the devil may be in the details. page 56



Universal Robots USA, Inc. .............................57

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Follow the whole team on twitter @DesignWorld DESIGN WORLD does not pass judgment on subjects of controversy nor enter into dispute with or between any individuals or organizations. DESIGN WORLD is also an independent forum for the expression of opinions relevant to industry issues. Letters to the editor and by-lined articles express the views of the author and not necessarily of the publisher or the publication. Every effort is made to provide accurate information; however, publisher assumes no responsibility for accuracy of submitted advertising and editorial information. Non-commissioned articles and news releases cannot be acknowledged. Unsolicited materials cannot be returned nor will this organization assume responsibility for their care. DESIGN WORLD does not endorse any products, programs or services of advertisers or editorial contributors. Copyright© 2018 by WTWH Media, LLC. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, or by recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. Subscription Rates: Free and controlled circulation to qualified subscribers. Non-qualified persons may subscribe at the following rates: U.S. and possessions: 1 year: $125; 2 years: $200; 3 years: $275; Canadian and foreign, 1 year: $195; only US funds are accepted. Single copies $15 each. Subscriptions are prepaid, and check or money orders only. Subscriber Services: To order a subscription or change your address, please email:, or visit our web site at DESIGN WORLD (ISSN 1941-7217) is published monthly by: WTWH Media, LLC; 6555 Carnegie Ave., Suite 300, Cleveland, OH 44103. Periodicals postage paid at Cleveland, OH & additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: Design World, 6555 Carnegie Ave., Suite 300, Cleveland, OH 44103


February 2018

AD INDEX_2-18_Vs1.indd 96


2/12/18 1:38 PM

Motion Solutions That Change the Game

Motion Solutions That That Change the Game Motion Solutions Change the Game

Solutions We Engineer

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Brushless Torque Motors

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North America



China, Taiwan, Japan, S. Korea, and UK, Ireland, continental Europe, Asia EasternEurope Europe, Scandinavia, Israel: other Far East Countries: Asia Europe China,Technologies Taiwan, Japan,ASC S. Korea, and UK, Ireland, continental Europe, Canada, NASC Mexico:Allied Motion Allied Motion Technologies EUSC AlliedUnited MotionStates, Technologies other Far East Countries: Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Israel: China, Taiwan, Japan, S. Korea, and UK, Ireland, United States, 58 Leshan Road Ekbacksvägen 26, PO continental Box 11198 Europe, 495 Commerce DriveCanada, Mexico: United States, Canada, Mexico:

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other Far East Countries: Xinbei District, Changzhou 213022 Israel: S-161 11Eastern Bromma,Europe, SwedenScandinavia, Amherst, NY 14228 USA Allied Motion Technologies NASC Allied Motion Technologies EUSC Allied Motion Technologies ASC China +46 (8) 546 111 00 +1 (716) Road Technologies ASC 26,Technologies PO Box 11198EUSC58 Leshan 495242-7535 Commerce Drive Allied Motion Allied Motion Allied Motion Technologies NASC Ekbacksvägen +852 2607 4038District, + 86 519 85113625 213022 Changzhou S-161 11 Bromma,26,Sweden Amherst, NY 14228 USA 58 Leshan Road Ekbacksvägen PO Box 11198 Xinbei 495 Commerce Drive China Xinbei District, Changzhou 213022 +46 (8) 546 111 00 S-161 11 Bromma, +1 (716) 242-7535 Amherst, NY 14228 USA +852 2607 4038 + 86 519 85113625 China +46 (8) 546 111 00 +1 (716) 242-7535 +852 2607 4038 + 86 519 85113625

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Come see us at CeMAT Intralogistics, 23-27 April at Hannover Fair, Hall 26, Stand G23!

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Design World February 2018  

3D CAD: CAD models on Mars. Motion Control: Turn down that noise! Linear Motion: Crossed-roller slide variations and uses. Fastening and Joi...

Design World February 2018  

3D CAD: CAD models on Mars. Motion Control: Turn down that noise! Linear Motion: Crossed-roller slide variations and uses. Fastening and Joi...