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THINK INSIDE THE BOX Exceptional designs deserve superior components. The developer of the original world-class linear motion systems, THK continues to redeďŹ ne industry standards and to meet an ever-growing range of needs. From aerospace and machine tool to packaging and medical, THK products play a vital role in the advancement of technology and capability.

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6 8 12 18 21 28 32 42 46 48 52 59 65 68 72 80 83 88

Consumer products can be technology ambassadors Automation in fast food Educational initiatives and eLearning Positioning stages • rotary tables • gantries Linear guides, power transmission, and actuators Ball screws Motors and their connectivity Bearings Brakes • Clutches • Torque limiters Controllers Conveyors • Linear-transfer systems Couplings Drives Encoders Gearing and gearmotors Sensors • Transducers and feedback Shocks and damping Ad index

O N T H E COVE R Automated biochemical analyzers speed the processing of patient samples through laboratories. Turn to page 32 to learn more about the motion technologies integrated into this and other designs for laboratory automation — including the cobas 6800 and 8800 machines from Roche that automate the testing of nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swab samples from patients suspected of having COVID-19. The FDA issued Emergency Use Authorization for their SARS-CoV-2 tests run on cobas to make large-scale testing faster and more efficient.



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Consumer products can be

technology ambassadors I THINK AND WRITE ABOUT electric motors (and designs based on

motors) every single day of my life. That’s why it’s a special satisfaction for me that after years of mediocrity, robot vacuums — those little bundles of motor arrays designed to reduce drudgery — are finally worth their purchase price. My interest in robot vacuums began years ago and intensified upon losing a Roomba I7 to my esteemed colleague (and lucky dog) Dan Kara of Design World sister publication therobotreport.com at recent company-meeting raffle. In the fit of exasperated yen that followed, I did some research and ponied up for a Neato Botvac D7. My little D7 vacuum is devastatingly smart and powerful. A brushless dc motor made by Delta Electronics is at the core of its vacuum blower. A slightly customized 6-Vdc 2,100 rpm brushed dc gearmotor from (in many cases) Nichibo Taiwan drives a LiDAR turret for location. A Chengfang 12-Vdc motor via a tiny toothed belt drives the beater-brush cylinder; two wheels to propel and pivot the D7 rely on twin encoder-fitted motors with transmission via elegant gear assemblies all integrated around load-bearing axles. A final 6-Vdc motor twirls a side brush (via a miniature shaft-mounted pulley to accommodate a round belt that’s essentially a fancified O-ring) to flick debris into the robot’s suction path. All these motor-driven elements are complemented by bump and cliff and bin sensors and switches as well as certifiably IoT control electronics that allow smartphone configuration and cleaning plans and scheduling. Of course, all the wonderment that I and other engineers feel from such elegant designs is matched by the trepidation many others feel about technology — especially when such designs threaten to eliminate people’s current jobs. Surely there are some folks out there working as domestic cleaners who are far less enthusiastic about Roombas and Botvacs than me. At an automation event earlier this year, futurist Byron Reese outlined more optimistic perspectives. Certainly, the doomsday messaging of media coverage on robotics and advanced automation “taking jobs” doesn’t help assuage suspicion. But Reese argues that we should no more fear



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robots and AI than our ancestors should have feared electricity and assembly lines and mechanization. It’s true that in the short term, such developments greatly disrupt the structure of workplaces (and cause industries to rise and die) but ultimately innovation empowers workers to do higher-level jobs — and doesn’t replace them. We cover one example of this in our 2020 Trends article on the rise of automation in fast-food chains. The quick-service restaurant (QSR) industry currently faces not a lack of jobs to offer but rather a shortage of potential workers to employ. Reese explains that every fifty years for the last few centuries, half of all jobs have been eliminated by innovation — and yet unemployment has never exceeded 10% or so. That’s taken us from a time when 90% of all people descended from farmers and worked as farmers to today, when millions of people work as “lab techs, marketing directors, and ice sculptors” and in other positions nonfarmers of yesteryear would have considered ludicrous for those of agronomist ilk. Buy-in from the general populous would certainly increase with more exposure to and direct engagement with automation and robotics — in the form of cutting-edge consumer goods that are affordable; approachable and relevant vocational programs; inspiring outreach and education for young students; access to automated facilities on a local level; and above all else, feasible paths to gainful employment that provides stability and personal meaning in hightechnology fields. As Henry Ford knew so long ago, those who work in factories and the trades must be able to afford purchasing the spoils of new technology if the business is to work — and if those workers are to embrace the idea of technological advancement being a good thing. That’s as true for robotic vacuums and Teslas today as it was for Model T cars … because after all, probably little feels worse than being disenfranchised by the gizmos and systems others celebrate. Innovation and its innumerable benefits have never been problems for humankind … rather, effective communication and the equitable sharing of technology’s yields continue to be humanity’s main challenges.


In coming weeks, expect coverage from Design World on life-saving laboratory-automation technologies and medical equipment to fight COVID-19 — which may come to be the best technology ambassadors of all.




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Shown here is part of a modular pizza-making system offered by the company Picnic through a robotics-as-a-service (RaaS) subscription model. It installs at restaurant locations to fully automate the assembly of up to 300 pizzas per hour. TO THE RELIEF OF THOSE WHO ARE indecisive at the drive through,

McDonald’s Corp. will soon be ramping up its use of voice-activated order taking. That’s according to a Wall Street Journal report last year — which also details how designs coming to the restaurant also include automatic systems to operate the deep fryers for its chicken patties and nuggets, fish filets, and French fries. Of course, what we in the automation industry call machine-to-machine (M2M) networking already helps quick-service restaurants (QSRs) remotely monitor operational data related to food supplies as well as the status of restaurant refrigerators, security, and safes … with many M2M functions even to levels qualifying as IIoT. McDonald’s chief aim in applying automation and connectivity technologies is primarily to address wait times that have lengthened in



3 • 2020

recent years. Other fast-food chains and QSRs have begun using these technologies to boost safety and consistency. That’s according to to DryLin Product Manager at igus Matt Mowry. “We at igus are seeing an interest in automating certain jobs in the fast food and restaurant industries. Many businesses are using robots to enable people to do other things. In other words, that next egg and cheese that you had for breakfast may have been cooked by a robot,” adds Mowry. One company is using actuators to scoop up eggs and flip them over. Other companies are automating the process of placing items on buns … and all major chains are looking to automate the tasks — even down to filling the beverages. The self-lubricating maintenance-free aspect of engineered plastic components has helped igus become a key player in this industry, says Mowry. “At the last CES show, one display of an AI-powered automated pizza maker prompted public discussion of automation in the food-service industry. Such solutions are on the horizon, though the wide diversity of








of product mix and variance in fast-food options complicates the automation profiles,” says Allied Motion applications engineer Brian Herzog. “Many would require prohibitively complex and costly solutions.” Even so, Herzog points out that automated systems are quite justifiable in restaurant franchises with high levels of product standardization.

FAST-FOOD DEEP DIVE WITH TWO AUTOMATION SUPPLIERS In a recent conversation with Macron Dynamics national sales manager Michael G. Giunta and Dave Endres, president of QC Conveyors, about the quick-service restaurant industry, we learned more about how restaurant chains employ motion designs for physical tasks to optimize operations. Here’s what Giunta and Endres had to say on this growing industry for automation. Eitel • Design World: When we think of fast food, we think efficiency. Of course, we’ve heard of self-operating dishwashers and semiautonomous cook stations under testing in select pilot locations. How is automation is already helping chains boost throughput of meals? Endres • QC Conveyors: QC Conveyors got into the fast-food industry more than 15 years ago to help boost throughput — not to reduce labor. QSRs were looking to increase capacity, which is a big deal in their industry. Everybody talks about automation eliminating jobs but the QSRs were coming to us because their volume was growing … and they needed to keep pace. We can’t divulge details about the designs we supply, but essentially the

3 • 2020

automation first helped to speed throughput and only now is targeted to reducing labor. That’s especially true for the cooking of French fries and chicken nuggets and tenders — which are otherwise very labor-intensive processes. Giunta • Macron Dynamics: Efficiency is everything. After all, every restaurant is basically like a miniature factory … and the fact that there’s a menu means customers are essentially choosing from a catalog of options. QSRs face the same challenges as many U.S. factories in preparing product and getting it into customers’ hands with quality, consistency, accuracy, and quickness. This includes McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Chick-fil-A, and Burger King. For example, most Panera Bread locations now have ordering kiosks. There’s less front-counter staff as the kiosks are becoming a more efficient way of order taking. Eitel • Design World: A lot of consumer coverage of automation in QSRs includes imagery of collaborative robots as well as SCARAs tending fryers and the like. Are there places where these and other automated motion designs are already in place? Giunta • Macron Dynamics: Though I can’t say much, I can state we’ll see more of these installations in the future. Some franchises are fully owned and operated by franchisees … and some of these restaurants will ultimately make their own decisions about when to automate. In other instances, corporate mandates could spur the adoption of more technology by owner-operators. In fact, European fast-food locations that face relatively high labor costs will likely lead adoption. It’s the job of motion-component



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and system suppliers such as Macron Dynamics to help these companies develop the technology … though a caveat is that the technology must be cost competitive. Endres • QC Conveyors: We will certainly see more QSR automation in Europe, though Germany is a little more conservative and doesn’t usually adopt as rapidly. Other countries in eastern Europe do adopt such systems fairly quickly. That’s actually where we started in this industry — in Europe as well as Asia. Eitel • Design World: The National Restaurant Association cites a labor shortage for quick-service chains. Where have you seen automation help address this issue? Giunta • Macron Dynamics: There’s definitely a shortage of labor in the workplace, so restaurants must often fight for whoever is left in the labor pool. Many QSRs keep business afloat by employing minimal staff at every location. Reconsider kiosks: These mean workers aren’t forced to sit behind registers all day … which in turn frees these employees to help prepare food and assist customers with seating. Automation also helps prevent the biggest source of complaint customers have — orders that aren’t correct. Again, kiosks let customers enter orders how they want … and if the order is wrong, it’s kind of on them. They’re the ones who entered the field with the data. Eitel • Design World: Most people probably aren’t aware of how much McDonald’s beverage fulfillment is automated. Giunta • Macron Dynamics: At most McDonald’s restaurants is a machine with a carousel that drops cups onto an indexer with a small conveyor to the right beverage location. The system fills the cups with ice and the correct fluid volumes. Then the person working at the drive through just needs to put a lid on the cup and hand it to the customer. Soon we’ll see similar systems for coffee drinks. Eitel • Design World: Labor unions warn that automation could eliminate jobs. If that’s not true, how can industry help assuage concerns? Give some examples of technologies complementing the efforts of employees. Giunta • Macron Dynamics: Well, consider Chic-fil-A, which publicly advertises all the time about service and quality and consistency. McDonald’s touts these values as well. Both companies aim for continual



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improvement of efficiency and consistency … especially for their most popular items such as chicken tenders and nuggets. At McDonald’s, one of the most-sold products is actually chicken nuggets. Eitel • Design World: What? I never would have guessed. Giunta • Macron Dynamics: I didn’t always know that either. But chicken nuggets and French fries are top orders … I mean, everybody gets fries. So automation makes a lot of sense for these high-volume items because machines can completely prevent cross contamination. More specifically, there’s zero risk of an employee accidentally putting a fish filet into the oil vat meant for fries. Most people won’t know this, but those vats of oil are application specific — and you don’t want to cross contaminate. Endres • QC Conveyors: Of course, automating the cooking of fries in particular is not as simple as it sounds — because you’ve got to find a way to get the fries out of the freezer and into the fryer basket in the right amount. Then you’ve got to lower the fries into the oil and get them back out. Then the fries get salted and put into some kind of container. This last step — putting fries into their container — isn’t automated yet but everything prior to that is. The process for nuggets is similar but has some additional complexity. Giunta • Macron Dynamics: Indeed. Macron Dynamics has helped develop a linear robot for the industry to execute the accurate transfer of product in and out of the fryers for chicken nuggets, breaded chicken sandwiches, fish filets, and French fries. This delivery system includes an automatic way of getting food out of the freezer, putting it into a basket, putting the basket into the oil, taking the basket out of the oil at the exact amount of time, and dumping it into either a basket or tray — to motioncontroltips.com





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let a person grab the items for garnishing and wrapping. In practice, Cartesian systems for these settings install behind a shield to prevent any oil from splashing on employees. Eitel • Design World: To be clear — when you say linear robot — is that another term for Cartesian robot? Giunta • Macron Dynamics: Yes, that’s correct. Just consider the motion of a fryer basket going in and out of a fryer: It’s going up and going down and left and right — and that’s it. It doesn’t require a sixaxis robot to do this simple linear motion. In fact, it’s our perspective that many of the repetitive processes associated with frying foods and delivering ice into a cup and so forth are very linear moves and not complex enough to justify the high-tech motions that a human or 6-DOF robot can do. Linear-based motion technologies shine here, as they come at a price point that’s far more economical than collaborative robots. Eitel • Design World: So does the equipment around the Cartesian robot require customization to accommodate the grippers or hooks or whatever end effector you are using? Giunta • Macron Dynamics: Yes indeed. Everything is as low technology as possible in order to grasp the metal fryer basket. Of course, there are any number of ways to grab a product —but in the case of baskets, a hook or a simple gripper is basically all the application needs. A high-technology end effector would be overkill, because again — the job is to grab what is essentially a piece of tooling. All

the handles on these baskets are the same exact size, and they don’t change — so the automated system is repeating the process over and over and over and over again. Endres • QC Conveyors: Volume is going up and up, so QSRs have targeted these kinds of well-defined jobs. I’d say the automation to tackle more complex tasks such as the assembly of sandwiches isn’t yet viable. Such tasks require tremendous automation capabilities that are indeed available today, but not cost effective for restaurants that might have an annual volume of a couple million dollars per location. Eitel • Design World: Do automated systems perform jobs as well as actual employees? Endres • QC Conveyors: Yes. You may have been at the register in a QSR and heard all the beeping going on. Some alarms sound when someone hasn’t pushed a button to lift food items out of oil. These situations can result in overcooked food items. So QSRs are all looking to eliminate labor associated with these basic processes and task employees with more involved functions. Higher-level jobs include maintenance, cleaning, taking care of customers at the register, and the more complex preparation of food — such as the aforementioned assembly of sandwiches. Giunta • Macron Dynamics: Automation does indeed improve food quality. Picture a restaurant’s lunch-hour rush with employees running around and a drive through that’s going crazy. People in the restaurant’s front area are ordering off kiosks and from employees … and there’s a huge spike in food-order volume. All fast-food chains deal with this. What happens? Employees rush to get meals to customers as quickly as possible — so in some cases, they may take French fries out of the fryer too soon. In other cases, if they become busy helping customers, they may take the French fries out too late. The whole situation makes for inconsistent French-fry quality. In contrast, putting oil-vat operations on exact timers is perfect every cycle. Another factor that makes the automation of French-fry cooking so successful is that QSRs all standardize their potato cuts’ shape and size — so a preset cook time yields the same consistency … whether you’re in Chicago or South Carolina. Eitel • Design World: Unfortunately, accidents and injuries such as burns do happen. That’s exacerbated by the fact that many fast-food restaurant workers are there for temporary work. One study found that Panera Bread loses 100% of its employees every year. How exactly does automation help boost safety for even inexperienced employees? Giunta • Macron Dynamics: Fryers are especially dangerous because of the hot oil — and because a lot of times, the floor near the fryer can become slippery. So protecting humans from this immediate environment efficiently renders QSR

This is the Flippy design from Miso Robotics to automate the grilling of burgers.



3 • 2020




AUTOMATION IN FAST FOOD This is a fully automated restaurant called Spyce. Located in Boston, its kitchen area includes motor-driven axes for moving ingredients and woks to assemble, cook, and serve 150 made-to-order meals every hour. The robotic kitchen uses about 0.3 gallons per minute, which is 80% less than that used by a typical commercial dishwasher. Total time to complete each meal is less than three minutes.

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working conditions safer. That’s especially relevant to restaurants that aim to provide empowering work to individuals with developing skillsets and learning disabilities. It’s absolutely a priority that no one gets hurt. So designs based on linear robots are already helping eliminate one of the most dangerous areas. Endres • QC Conveyors: Safety is paramount, and hot fryers and grills are the most dangerous areas. It’s also important to prevent injuries identified by Workers’ Compensation as resulting from repetitive tasks. Jobs that make workers perform repetitive tasks are hard on the body and boring — and are one of the causes for high employee-turnover rates. Here too automation helps by reducing the amount of training required to onboard new people. Eitel • Design World: When the product is a $3 sandwich, it’s got to be hard for some franchisees to justify the upfront cost of automating tasks. Endres • QC Conveyors: Absolutely — so a lot of restaurant owners aim to implement only relatively inexpensive automation. Say a piece of equipment costs $50,000 and an upgraded model with automated functions costs $60,000. Well, purchasing the latter makes sense. But an

automated station for sandwich creation might cost $300,000 and that’s just not viable. It will be in the future though. Read the rest of this article by scanning this code.

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Why eLearning technical topics just may fit the bill






IT IS A UNIVERSAL TRUTH that training for your employees and staff is a good thing. Finding the time and money to

send people off for training … well … not so much. Budgets are tight, people are too busy to be away from their primary responsibilities, and many people don’t like to travel to far away sites no matter how necessary the training might be. As a technical trainer for variable frequency drives (VFDs) you won’t hear me bad mouthing in-person training as probably the best method of presenting large quantities of mostly new information to groups or individuals. But the reality is that there just isn’t always the time and money available for it. Enter eLearning. Like all things in modern life, the internet has changed the game when it comes to training people on technical topics. Admit it: The last time you had to repair something around the house you first did a quick search of YouTube to see if there was a video that showed step-by-step how to fix your exact model. The same thinking can be applied to industrial and commercial devices that are just too complex to be intuitive. Here are some important reasons that justify why eLearning should be part of your employee training curriculum. Low or no cost: eLearning modules and videos are freely available on the web. Great short and long videos are available either at public sites like YouTube channels, or directly through manufacturer’s websites. Since most web browser can host the video or module there generally isn’t a cost for special software to view or host the content. And of course, because these are available 24/7/365 on the web, there is no cost for travel, lodging, and meals that are normally a part of onsite training. Pacing: In every training class, there is always a challenge to create a comfortable learning environment. Part of the challenge is the pacing of the content. It always seems that the information is coming too quickly for some and too slowly for others. Either way, it is easy for the student to lose interest in a class where the pacing is not appropriate for their skill level. With eLearning the pace of the information is totally controlled by the viewer-student. Beginners can stop the content and review at their leisure and even start over as many times as they Note that this article was authored before the coronavirus pandemic, so does not cover how eLearning can support efforts to slow the spread of the virus. Design World will continue to report on changes in our industry spurred by COVID-19.



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With the current state of the internet and the interconnectivity of devices and equipment, it is in the best interest of any company that wants to optimize the productivity of their associates tasked with technical tasks consider eLearning. It offers high ROI due to its low cost, ease of access, skillbased objectives, and ability to customize to each viewer. Above: Some eLearning modules present quizzes to help students measure their own proficiency on a topic. In fact, eLearning modules can also provide step-by-step instructions on detailed tasks such as programming; virtual chapters on specific subtopics to save engineers time; and certification to those who require it.




ENGINEERING EDUC ATION Training for everyone from students to OEMs Robert Watkins, V.P. of sales and applications at Ruland Manufacturing Co. explains his company's education initiatives. We've begun working more closely with our customers to provide application-based training both online and in-person. In-person training can be more impactful because it is a captured audience with limited distractions. Ruland web-based training is primarily done live (not prerecorded) and we try to have multiple people take it in the same room. This approximates some helpful aspects of in-person training. Beyond that, we've made a company-wide commitment to the FIRST Robotics program — and have been a Gold level supplier of FRC for more than 10 years. We donate parts through the kickoff kit, FIRST Choice, and directly to teams ... and grant students access to all the training we give to our customers and technical-support team. We've passionate about STEAM education and FIRST has been a great way for us to engage and help educate the next generation of engineers. would like. More experienced students can skip directly to the part that they are most interested in without sitting through the parts that they already have down. This keeps them engaged and optimizes the time spent on the training. Many video platforms such as YouTube also let publishing manufacturers to annotate videos with topic timelines to give viewers the ability to jump directly to video portions of interest. Timeline jumping by topic can optimize the student’s time and prevent them clicking away when they are faced with sitting through stuff that doesn’t interest them. Manually forcing them to click around until they find what they want can also lead to frustration. Universal: Particularly when the eLearning is in the form of YouTube videos, there is a joy in knowing that the devices that can partake of the training are not limited to any one device, like a personal computer, or to any particular platform, like Apple or Android. YouTube videos are available everywhere and the quality of the video is automatically scaled to match the device and internet bandwidth available. Of course, many companies may need to figure out how to allow their personnel access to the eLearning videos without the worry of losing employees to binge watching non-work related or inappropriate content on work hours. Scale: Unlike in-person training which usually lasts at least a day to multiple days and covers a breadth of topics, eLearning’s specialty is short topic and skills based. Instead of a class on everything, most people want to know about a particular device. An eLearning video will cover a shorter topic and much more skill based — such as How to wire a motor to a VFD. However, many short topic modules can be strung together to create an overall skills-based training certification when testing is included and vetted as part of a course. Achievements: Speaking of a course style of learning, eLearning can be organized into larger collections and be utilized 3 • 2020



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MOTION SYSTEM TRENDS as part of a Learning Management System or LMS. Students can strive to achieve certificates via completing and passing groups of shorter lessons. Just as collections of predetermined classes can lead to an associate or bachelor’s degrees, collections of shorter eLearning tasks can developing skills. Online lessons can be easily populated with quizzes athat require a passing score for students to achieve badges. Interactive: A subcategory of eLearning is one that couples viewable eLearning modules or videos with online real-time student interaction with actual equipment. This is especially useful when teaching

skills that require the use of equipment that students may not own. For example, software from VFD manufacturers can customize VFD operation ... but using the software requires some training. Students interested in this software watch YouTube demonstrations and then access a VFD connected to the Internet to prove their command of the software by completing preset projects. Upon successful completion of projects, the students can earn Professional versions of the customizing software. In this way, the student gets something to which the general public doesn’t have access … and the manufacturer gains capable programmers using their advanced software tools.

Motion-industry educational efforts abound for students and engineers Motion-component suppliers surveyed for this year’s Design World Trends issue described several different programs to maintain technical proficiency for both application engineers and OEMs and other users of their products. CGI Motion engages in outreach in the form of open houses so that STEM students get chances to tour the company facility. That’s from Robert Shouppe of CGI Motion. “We also provide equipment to Western Nevada College in our area — including CNC equipment and other machinery for their technical program. Plus we offer scholarships … and are proud to say that some of our employees have come to work for us, gone back to school to take the programs we sponsor, and obtained degrees and certifications in electronics and automation to ultimately advance their career within our company,” says Shouppe. He adds that CGI Motion hopes to see more students enter both engineering and machine-shop professions in coming years, because he currently sees a labor shortage. “The retirement of baby boomers will really impact our industry, especially as a lot of older machinists are preparing to retire or ease into a sunset career. There's a big gap between the skill and knowledge we have in the shop and that just entering the shop.” CGI Motion manufacturing mechanical engineer at Lance Brown adds its own perspective: “Colleges do an excellent job recruiting students early. However, I think there’s an emphasis on technical jobs related to computer programming and robotics … and our industry needs more attention is paid to developing young people in the skilled trades. We’re just not developing craftsmen anymore; few high schools still have wood shop and metal shop classes.” Brown opposes portrayals of skilled trades as only pursued by dropouts: “Our industry offers lots of terrific manufacturing jobs. Many people raise families and live wonderful lives working those jobs; I certainly did.” Robert C. Adams Jr. PhD, P.E. of rigid-chain technology supplier SERAPID shares that his company supports engineering education in many ways — including full compensation of what employees spend on tuition for higher education. In addition, SERAPID: • Hires engineering students as engineering interns and sponsors capstone senior projects for the nearby School of Engineering and Computer Science at Oakland University • Donates to the local FIRST robotics team and provides SERAPID products at cost to other U.S. FIRST robotics teams



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• The company’s Director of Engineering also teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Lubrication, Friction, and Wear (as well as a graduate course in advanced tribology) at Oakland University. Manager of technical Training at Thomson Industries Thaniel Smith explains that a large portion of his company’s training (whether for internal personnel or our distribution partners) is face-to-face classroom instruction. “Our product experts and application engineers conduct these training sessions at our factories in North America and Europe where participants are also able to see firsthand some of the products on which they’re being trained,” explains Smith. Thomson field salespeople and product teams also provide training for OEMs and distributors on an as-needed basis. “In addition to classroom training, our on-demand training content is always available on our website at www.thomsonlinear.com/en/ training with content specific to each of our product categories. Text, images, animations and videos cover basic design concepts as well as Thomson-specific information such as features, specifications, installation instructions, and maintenance tips,” Smith adds. Multimedia presentations and on-demand resources are increasingly making their way into education and training materials to enhance these types of programs. Mario Mitchell, product manager for IPS T-slot aluminum framing at Parker Hannifin’s Electromechanical & Drives Division explains yet another program. “In October 2018, we released the Parker T-Slot Aluminum Design Architect software called TADA. This digital tool lets end users design T-slot aluminum framing solutions for tables, carts, and machine guarding,” says Mitchell. The software is categorized as standalone — so it’s more than just an online catalog of parts. “TADA isn’t a plugin either, so design engineers aren’t locked into a certain 3D CAD platform when accessing our components for design work.” Although the market is heavily dominated by 3D CAD software, the availability of software that doesn’t limit itself to a specific vendor is highly beneficial to customers. TADA inserts and keeps track of the proper fasteners to use within the design — a feature that’s fairly unique. “In the past we did the bulk of our design work without the aid of a customer-facing tool. Now we can shorten the time from quote request to final proposal,” notes Mitchell. Design engineers can access tutorial videos, templates, and more at www.parker.com/designarchitect.





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The Vega semiconductor backend inspection machine owes its high accuracy to the fact that all centers of gravity and driving forces go through one plane. PM engineers used their linear-bearing expertise and knowledge from the production floor to perfect the motion system.

Stages, rotary tables, and gantries

take application-specific iterations MOTION DESIGNS TODAY must offer simplicity in setup and startup,

which is why component suppliers execute more integration than ever of positioning stages, rotary tables, and gantry setups for OEMs and plant engineers. Most of these solutions include all the axes’ motors and drives as well as the controller for quickly electrical and mechanical connection — and easy networking to other machines as well as supervisory control systems such as PACs. Of course, increased need for networked controllers and drives has come with ever-faster communication protocols such as EtherCAT. Other manufacturers leverage the power of automation controllers designed to control axes of motion as well as the rest of the machine. These accept all I/O for seamless control of whole operations — which relieves OEMs and plant engineers of the integration burden.



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XY2Z-THETA MOTION SYSTEM SPEEDS SEMICONDUCTOR WAFER INSPECTION For more than fifty years, the Dutch linear-motion company PM has developed and produced precision linear and rotating bearings and slides. It focuses on applications requiring smoothness and stiffness from their linear bearings … and continues to expand its standard range of linear components. But customization is becoming the norm — and now, catalog products account for only around 30% of sales. Customization usually begins with the machine builder asking for slight changes to some standard component — for just a bit more precision or a smaller footprint or an additional mounting option, for example. 30% of PM’s business is here. The final third of PM’s business is in supplying ultra-precise positioning solutions. That’s in part because very few end users consider such designs to be their core competency. Here, PM collaborates with customers to build motion systems … and continually works towards projecting the design features likely to be required by industry over motioncontroltips.com




the next five years. One design to come of the latter efforts is called the Vega motion stage … a key subsystem in the manufacturer’s XY2Z-theta motion system for backend wafer inspection applications. “The semiconductor industry is very demanding,” says PM manager of R&D and engineering Jan Willem Ridderinkhof. “So our logic is that if we can perform in that industry, we should also be able to satisfy the medical market.”

HIGH SEMICONDUCTOR THROUGHPUT GENERATES A LOT OF HEAT Over a stroke of more than three hundred millimeters, mechanical accuracy in the X and Y directions must be better than 1 µm at accelerations of 2 g and speeds to 2 m/ sec. Vibrations in that plane must remain below 25 nm. Vibrations in the Z axis — used to get the wafer into the optics’ focal point — must stay below 10 nm. Complicating matters is that the wafer must shoot back and forth at lightning speed … a motion that generates copious heat in the process. But such motion is essential to maintaining the high throughput required for effective chip production.

“Our starting design philosophy was that all centers of gravity and driving forces should go through one plane,” says PM lead engineer Mathys te Wierik. “To illustrate why, recall that a motorcycle on the highway applies force to the asphalt — and the bike’s center of gravity and that of the rider are stacked. But opening the throttle on the motorcycle can induce a wheelie” which takes those centers of gravity out of their common plane.” In a system such as the Vega, such physics can seriously degrade design accuracy. “Our motors can’t cause an angular momentum — so we align the assembly’s centers of gravity and motor forces. An added benefit is less load on the bearings … which in turn extends system life.” it’s more complex than it sounds. For only the X direction, it is still relatively easy to let the motor drive through the center of gravity. “Normally we’d put a second module on top to realize the movement in the other direction … and a third module for the Z axis,” explains te Wierik. “But stacking like this alters the moving part’s center of gravity — which is an unwanted effect … because then the masses effectively get a lever arm, which in turn degrades overall system stiffness.”

Several engineering iterations yielded a construction with a horizontal frame that runs over two bearings — much like a train on rails. In that square frame, there’s a platform that glides vertically back and forth. PM integrated the Z-theta module in this sliding structure, which is responsible for rotations and up and down movements … so all the masses stay in a common plane.

ITERATIVE PROCESS FOR THE STAGE DEVELOPMENT The next design element was determining a suitable shape of the frame to maximize stiffness while minimizing bending and mass using PM’s own topology optimization software written in MATLAB. Maintaining manufacturability meant keeping the profiles constant lengthwise for easier milling. Eventually the design took a C-shaped profile to let the panel for the Y movement slide in the channel. Next came various designs for driving the key axis. Ultimately, the engineers chose an ironless linear motor. “That complicates construction but lets us mount the motor, bearing, and encoder all underneath the C profile,” says te Wierik. With that component subject to the toughest design requirements,

The Z-theta module ensures that the wafer is properly positioned under the optics.

motioncontroltips.com | designworldonline.com

3 • 2020




Stage Motor coil COG

Motor track


Designing was an iterative process, because every part removed or added affects the center of gravity.

the rest of the machine is belt with less accuracy and more costeffectively. “Every piece of material machined or added to the machine directly affects the center of gravity … and all objects put on the stage also have masses mass for which we must account. That is why we have chosen to focus on backend inspection. After all, a wafer has a well-defined mass,” adds Ridderinkhof. Another challenge was thermal management — especially because the machine’s frame is aluminum.

“Aluminum is light and relatively stiff so very suitable for fastmoving systems … but aluminum has a high thermal expansion coefficient,” explains te Wierik. “Our extensive calculations and simulations revealed ways to sufficiently dissipate heat and keep the expansion under control. The solution of cooling fins required added mass, but was the best solution.” Information for this article provided by Alexander Pil, Techwatch editor for PM. For more information, visit www.PM.nl.


Linear guides, PT, and actuators

see unexpected applications OUR 2020 SURVEY of the industry indicates an unabated trend

towards more automation of previously static or manually tended systems. Key to these new offerings is installation simplicity for OEMs and end users of linear components for linear axes … as well as positioning stages and Cartesian robots. In fact, Cartesian robots (also called linear robots) increasingly serve as turnkey solutions where tasks were previously done manually. That’s in part because (where suitable) linear-based solutions offer simplicity and precision at a price point that’s unrivaled by other solutions. So linearmotion adherents want these multi-axis arrangements to come to mind when laypeople and engineers alike discuss robotics. “When discussing robotics, some people think of walking robots. Others picture consumer-grade designs or even toys and Japanese companion robots. Those in automation often conjure a 6-DOF robot or SCARA in their mind’s eye. I’d really like to change such preconceived notions — at least in our industry. After all, a gantry qualifies as a robot. It is taking human motion and it’s repeating it and it’s programmable,” says Macron Dynamics national sales manager Michael G. Giunta. Giunta considers it a core mission to help industry recognize Cartesian arrangements as robotics. “The official definition of robot is a machine capable of

automatically replicating certain human motions and functions. So a linear-motion installation in a fast-food kitchen that picks up a fryer basket and moves it to a second location as a human would do is in fact a robot. In contrast, the Da Vinci surgical system is often called a robot, but technically it does not qualify — because its movements are ultimately controlled by a human being,” explains Giunta. Trends in linear guides and guide rails, slides, and ways include more uses for profile rails and linear bearings with plain bearings and linear guide wheels. Our experts reported more configurability for both rails and shafts as well as carriages and runner blocks that traverse them. That’s to satisfy demand for flexible machines that employ modularity to adjust to changing processes for material-handling machinery, packaging, and other forms of factory automation. This year has also brought increased focus on hygienic component designs. Those in turn are supporting some newer automation industries — such as that for CBD or cannabis-related products. “Machine builders are now using our products for automated watering systems as well as the positioning of lights and a whole range of tasks in the vertical and indoor farming industries,” says Matt Mowry, DryLin product manager at igus. DryLin products are also used in automated installations to support planting — especially for seeding and (after harvest) the pressing out of plant oils. “Designers use our lead screws because they continuously run clean. If dirt does get on them, they still perform well,” adds Mowry. The self-lubricating screws need no oil, which is important to the CBD and cannabis market for meeting the standards for products meant for human consumption. “Plus the linear actuators are much lower in cost than actuators based on ballscrews … and maintenance free.”

These are IMA-S integrated electric servo actuators from Tolomatic that meet hygienic standards with no harborage points for bacterial growth. 316 stainless-steel construction resists corrosion and withstands hot and high-pressure caustic washdown. IP69K ingress protection makes these linear actuators suitable for open machine designs. A hollow-rotor motor design outputs up to 11.1 kN and strokes to 450 mm with options for planetary roller screws or ballscrews. Feedback is via a multi-turn absolute encoder (Hiperface DSL, Hiperface SinCos, EnDat 2.2), incremental encoder, or resolver to integrate with most PLCs or control systems.

motioncontroltips.com | designworldonline.com

3 • 2020



Linear shaft motors see increased force capabilities thanks to advances in magnets By Paul Denman • Applications engineer and business development Nippon Pulse America Today most linear-motion designs execute their strokes with actuators based on stepper motors or brushless dc (BLDC) servo motors. Such designs have an inherent complexity due to the fact that the motors and its gearing and encoder must essentially hang off the machine design and out of the needed motion space. One fast-growing trend is migration towards linear shaft motors — a more compact solution

that only requires space for an encoder and linear bearing inside the motion space. Linear shaft motor adoption has grown faster in the last decade due to the increased performance of their magnets — which in turn has made them more power dense than early-generation versions. How do these linear motors work? In short, the motor’s magnetic shaft consists of a hollow nonferrous stainless-steel tube housing a stack of doughnut-shaped magnets. Because the forcer coils wrap a full 360° around the shaft’s magnetics field, these linear motors deliver 40% more power than competitive offerings. What’s more, one shaft can

accommodate several forcers — for even more compact and flexible solutions. Some manufacturers of linear shaft motors even stack the magnets with their poles north to north and south to south (in a rather advanced assembly process) for even higher force and efficiency. That results in linear motors with exceptionally high force capabilities. This design arrangement and the fact that magnets have become increasingly strong mean that some linear shaft motors can output more than 6,000 N. One last benefit of linear shaft motors is that they exhibit zero cogging so maintain high accuracies — even up to the accuracy of the selected encoder. Resolutions better than 10 µm are possible without increased motor price.

Nippon Pulse America can supply linear shaft motors up to 14 feet long. Applications of these higher-power shaft motors are expanding as engineers discover their availability and use.


Linear Rotary Motor The new PR02 motor series is characterized by a new design where both motors are integrated in a slim housing. In addition to the linear motor and the rotary motor, further options such as a magnetic spring «MagSpring», a torque sensor and a force sensor can be provided. The MagSpring ensures that the weight force of the moving load is passively compensated and also prevents the axis from lowering in the current-less state. The torque sensor and force sensor enable precise, reproducible and recordable sealing processes as required in the pharmaceutical or medical industries. The user also benefits from the shorter installation length of the entire unit and the hygienic design with easy-to-clean surfaces.

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This A-311 planar XY air-bearing scanner stage from Physik Instrumente (PI) comes in two new versions to deliver travels to 200 x 200 mm or 300 x 300 mm. The stage excels in semiconductor inspection, laser marking, and optical metrology. The stage includes a hardcoat aluminum base and two linear motors for a lower cost and smaller footprint than traditional granite-based XY stages. In fact, the ironless linear motors maintain smooth motion with no cogging and velocities to 2 m/sec with accelerations to 2.75 g. The stage maintains 1-µm straightness over 300 mm and 10µrad orthogonality over 300 mm. Absolute linear encoders provide 1-nm resolution, 0.1-µm bidirectional repeatability, and 0.2-µm accuracy. An EtherCAT-based motion controller includes ServoBoost and NanoPWM technology to adapt to various loads.

Home hobbyists making routers and 3D printers are other users of these components. "Frequently, they get plans online and swap out the steel ball bearings with our bearings for higher consistency and self-lubricating nature,” adds Mowry.

ACTUATION TREND TO MORE PRECISION Ballscrew-based and newer belt-based linear actuators are associated with high precision on large motion axes ... and miniature designs can in some cases employ leadscrew-based actuation to satisfy the same design objective. “Laboratory automation has always been a great fit for linear motion … especially stepper linear actuators.

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Of course, within certain laboratory devices, precision is required for moving samples into position, adding reagents, and withdrawing samples,” explains Dave Beckstoffer of Portescap. “Now, advancements in the linear force and speed capabilities of stepper linear actuators let device manufacturers increase their throughput with these actuators without sacrificing quality.” The terms stepper linear actuator and stepper-motor linear actuator typically refer to can-stack stepper motors with a built-in leadscrew. “The laboratory devices are also rendered more adaptable to additional tasks and analysis thanks to the miniaturization of stepper-based linear actuators,” adds Beckstoffer.




ACTUATOR TREND TO EASE OF INSTALLATION The past year has brought new electric actuators that complement battery-powered designs for mobile and off-highway vehicles, medical equipment, and transportation systems. These eliminate efforts related to successful integration for OEMs and end users. Check out the Design World 2020 Trends article on shocks for another example of new motion applications in the offhighway industry. “We recently developed a longlife electromechanical linear actuator to withstand harsh environments such as those associated with pantographs for the connection and disconnection of electric power in mass-transport applications,” says Anders Karlsson, product line specialist for linear actuators at Thomson Industries. Karlsson also sees more buses, trams, and trains incorporating hybrid powertrains employing externally supplied electric power and batteries. “This means vehicles charge on overhead lines when available and then disconnect from the charging system to run systems off batteries ... so there are high cycle counts for actuators in these vehicles. “Our Electrak LL delivers long life here — and meet rigorous railway standards.” Another battery-powered application making use of linear actuators is automated guided vehicles (AGV) for material handling. Some AGVs necessitate 24/7 operation even

if duty cycles never exceed 25% or so. “The stroke our compact HD actuator excels here — and with 10 times the life of a standard actuator, our LL is durable enough for inclusion on AGVs,” adds Karlsson.

USE EXAMPLE: ACTUATORS RECONFIGURE HOMES Traditional residential construction is fraught with inherent inefficiencies. Bedrooms are infrequently used during the day, while living rooms are unoccupied overnight. At a time when real-estate prices are climbing (especially in urban areas) the desire for single-purpose rooms inflates prices. Plus energy consumption is rising in many parts of the world … so the need to heat and cool unused space adds cost and degrades environmental sustainability. So one group of Virginia Tech University engineering faculty and students aimed to design a solution to these issues. Now their smart house prototype has rooms that can reconfigure on command by touch, voice, gesture or smartphone. Their design includes electric-motor-driven linear motion from Thomson Industries to move room-sized load-carrying walls smoothly and quietly. “Some of the modules have sliding walls to adjust room sizes to suit various purposes as they change throughout the day,” said Virginia Tech architecture professor and director of the FutureHaus project Joe Wheeler.

A FlexSpace demonstration home Wheeler and his team built essentially delivers 1,500 ft2 of living space in a 900-ft2 footprint. The area of the prototype’s home office, living room, and bedroom are fully adjustable by sliding the partitions that separate them. “If a person operates a business out of the home and requires conference space, he or she can just command a partition to move into unused living room,” said Wheeler. “At the end of the workday the partition slides back to re-expand the living room. Embedded in the partition between the office and the living room is a large viewing screen, which can be rotated into the home office (for use in teleconferencing during the day) or back into the living room for TV in the evening.” The partition between the living room and the bedroom can also move to provide a larger living room during the day or a larger bedroom in the evening. For these adjustments to work easily, the partitions must be able to move easily, quietly and smoothly, while also carrying a heavy load. For example, one side of the partition between the living room and bedroom carries the living room sofa with it as it slides. The bedroom side would carry a fully stocked room-length closet and drawer storage. To handle such loads, the team chose two electronic linear-motion systems from Thomson.

During the day, the left side of the living room wall slides into the living room to open the home office. A screen on the partition rotates to provide teleconferencing for home office or entertainment in the living room.



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The FlexSpace system allows the adjustment of living spaces. This is one floorplan from above. The bathroom and kitchen modules form the top row, and the home office, living room, and bedroom are the lower row. Sliding walls in the lower row (alternate orientation shown in blue) let homeowners transform their living space based on time of day and activity.

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3 • 2020



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A bedroom partition (left) slides to open living room space (as seen in the living-room image of this article).

CHOOSING THE RIGHT LINEAR-MOTION SYSTEM The university team already knew of Thomson motion technology from their research on an earlier, similar model of a solar-powered housing project. “We needed to have the strength to move load-carrying walls easily and the intelligence to be do it on demand,” said Wheeler. Thomson linear-motion technology provides that robustness ... and the actuators’ built-in electronics and communications allows connectivity with the home network.” The FutureHaus engineering team chose the Thomson Movopart M55 linear system for each moving wall. A smaller unit would not have done the job, and a bigger one would’ve added unnecessary cost and energy consumption. These units

are belt driven and incorporate engineered polymer bearings for smooth motion. Each unit is about 7 ft long with a movable area of 5.8 ft to add about 10 ft to the living room when both walls are repositioned. Within the actuators, low-cost servomotors pair with Micron NemaTrue planetary gearheads designed for highprecision motion-control applications requiring a high torque-to-volume ratio, torsional stiffness and low backlash. Errorfree attachment of the motor shaft to the gearheads is via a Thomson RediMount adapter kit, which connects in about five minutes. Safety is fundamental to the FutureHaus designs, so engineers ran all actuator selections through a LinearMotioneering sizing tool to verify a safety factor ten times higher than

needed for the specified load and speed. Once verified, Thomson delivered the preassembled linear motion system. In operation, users glide each wall along rollers suspended from the ceiling on both ends of the wall. The linear motion systems sit above the ceiling on one end of the wall only, providing the thrust needed to move the wall back and forth along the rollers. Built-in sensors stop the wall if it meets any resistance. Besides being a highly functional and economical living space, the FutureHaus is prefabricated so that components can be produced by efficient mass production and then shipped and assembled onsite. “We’re just scratching the surface of where we can go with this,” says Wheeler. “We’re now working on a model optimized for affordability.”

The Thomson Movopart M55 linear system with RediMount motor mounting adapter smoothly moves walls to add about 10 feet of living room space.

motioncontroltips.com | designworldonline.com

3 • 2020




These illustrations show the difference between two types of ball return circuit. The end cap return (pictured above with black end cap) shows a single circuit with multiple returns. This design is best for long lead applications where the lead is greater than 50% of the screw diameter. It offers reduced wear via a patented fingerless pickup design that eliminates the common end-cap wear point and allows for refurbishing. | courtesy Dynatect

The other design, the internal button return, shows a single turn with multiple circuits. Such a design is good for typical lead and diameter combinations.

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ball screw selection, design BALL SCREW PERFORMANCE continues to improve, thanks to advancements in

Newer ball screw designs can also better

manufacturing methods and materials. Newer generations of ball screws have higher load

resist harsh conditions such as extreme temperatures, high particulate levels, exposure to chemicals and high-pressure washdown environments, as well as shock and vibration.

capacities, which means they’re increasingly being used for applications with higher loads as well as more challenging environmental conditions. Hence, the rise in ball-screw-driven actuators replacing traditional fluid power actuation methods in some high-force applications.



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Precision ground ball screws from Dynatect offer lead accuracy of +/- 0.0005 in. with lead times of two weeks.

With a growing number of product options, engineers are looking for new tools and services to help simplify the ball screw selection process. Manufacturers are responding with product sizing and selection tools as well as services for custom designs. For example, some screw manufacturers are seeing more demand for custom screw designs for applications that can’t be accommodated by standard off-the-shelf products. As it stands, the ball screw market largely consists of high-volume, standard catalog products, which are suitable for most OEM applications. Case in point; the experience of ball screw manufacturer Dynatect. For starters, they see quite a bit of design diversity in the ball screws they manufacture. In terms of value-added services, they provide engineering support for both OEM and end-user customers.

So instead of a catalog inventory, Dynatect LSI manufactures customized ball screws including extra long length and large diameter designs. (Diameters can range from 5/8 in. to 6 in. with lengths to 65 ft and more.) These custom ball screws are used in manufacturing, material handling, and any application requiring a force multiplier. “End users and custom machine builders have leveraged Dynatect’s experience developing energy efficient solutions to meet specific thrust load, backlash and position accuracy,” notes Chris Coughlin, National Sales Manager with Dynatect LSI. In fact, selecting the right options can reduce precision ball screw costs by 20% for a typical fleet of machine tools. “By offering both repair, rebuild, and replacement options, the typical machine tool user can save 20% on precision ball screws,” adds Coughlin. (Typically 40% of precision ball screws qualify for refurbishment rather than replacement.) Much like the convergence of ISO, DIN and Japanese JIS standards in the area of screw-based What’s more, the right design, linear motion, so too are U.S. gear suppliers seeing consolidation of standards — in the case combined with repair options, can add up of gears, to metric-based references. That’s according to Lance Brown, mechanical engineer III to significant savings for a fleet of machine at CGI Motion. We asked him to elaborate on this topic, and here’s what Brown had to say. tools. Specifically, when it comes to older designs with external ball return tubes, CGI Motion is a member of the American Gear Manufacturers Association (AGMA) and companies like Dynatact can replace participates in a handful of AGMA technical committees. These include the Fine Pitch Gearing these with an internal return with several Committee, the Bevel Gear Committee, and the Gear Rating Committee. We supply gearing advantages including size, interference, and do work to many standards, and we're even involved in helping to develop their rules. breakability, and repairability. Currently we’re reaffirming the AGMA’s fine-pitch gear proportion standards. We recognize the leadership of AGMA president Matthew E. Croson, who has shepherded the introduction of many new technologies into the AGMA. Some are emerging technologies such as cast carbon fiber and others include additive machining, which we haven’t seen in the gear industry before — even though it's used elsewhere. In fact, there’s now significant focus on emerging gear technologies as well as automation at the AGMA. Another trend we see is a dramatic increase in the use of metric units instead of English units. In many technical conversations, more design engineers have begun employing metric terminology for specifying gears as well. For example, an engineer might call and ask, “Can you do this metric-sized module or that metric-sized module” instead of asking for an AGMA 12 or AGMA 6. In response, the AGMA is converting a lot of their standards over to metric. Those of us engineers who are a bit older and still think in inches must convert these units in our heads.



3 • 2020





Motion control is central to

automated COVID-19 testing

This automated machine is a Roche MagNA Pure 24. It is a key tool in testing people for the coronavirus, in part because it’s common in laboratories and hospitals throughout the world. The Roche cobas 8800, which is nearly fully automated, can test human samples about 10 times faster.


suspected of having COVID-19. On March 13, 2020, the FDA

the testing of patient samples in laboratories, which has become

issued Emergency Use Authorization for their SARS-CoV-2 tests

critical now that the COVID-19 pandemic has spread across the

run on cobas automated systems. This will make large-scale

globe. Advanced automation with motor-based motion systems

testing faster and more efficient.

will help in the fight to hasten diagnosis. Just consider the cobas 6800 and 8800 machines from Roche that automate testing of nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swab samples from patients



3 • 2020

The Roche cobas 8800 can test 4,128 swab samples a day. That’s possible because human interaction is only required for three steps — the loading of reagents and other test consumables; the




MOTION MOTION SYSTEM SYSTEM TRENDS TRENDS Shown here are views of just one of dozens of motion subsystems on a Roche cobas. This particular fluid-transfer head assembly includes two maxon RE25 coreless servomotors; two Avago HEDL-5540 optical quadrature encoders for closed-loop control; two THK RSR7 linear guide rails with blocks; two detachable Roche tip needles with liquid transfer sample loops; two stainless-steel trapezoidal leadscrews with Derlin anti-backlash nuts; one double-channel capacitive sensing PCB; an LTC485 RS485 interface transceiver; and a Traco Power TEL 3-2411 isolated dc-dc converter. Images by permission of emannov • tinyurl.com/s2rqh3n

racking and insertion of trays containing RFID tracked or barcoded samples into another segment of the system; and then the emptying of a waste bin and reading of digitized results that are sent onward. The actual test executed by the Roche cobas compares nucleic acids from patient mucus or saliva to sequences found in known coronavirus strains. An X-Y-Z Cartesian gantry uses a precision gripper to pick test tubes containing patient samples out of loaded racks and place those tubes on a specialized conveyor for single-file buffering. The tubes get grouped by another robot and put into an automatic centrifuge module; a precision destopper pulls the tops off the test tubes to allow sample access. Tubes go through a highspeed labeling module rivaling the fastest labelers in the packaging industry to get stickered with secondary barcoding. Then they go through an aliquoter — a specimen-sampling unit that takes the exact amount of sample required for repeatable testing. In fact, we’ve covered AutoSorter 1200 technology from the Motoman Robotics Division of Yaskawa America for similar aliquoter systems on high-speed specimen processing equipment. Another Cartesian gantry takes the end-effector arrays to a station to receive disposable culture tubes and (after they’ve been used to sample specimens) release them into a waste chute. Networks of tiny precision conveyors take tubes to additional stations and then to a restopper machine unit and finally to an output buffer rack. Test results are automatically sent to laboratory information system (LIS) and electronic medical record (EMR) networks and in some cases can be displayed locally on an HMI. For more information on the Roche cobas series, visit diagnostics.roche.com. In another design related to manufacturing testing devices, Roche is using an eXtended Transport System from Beckhoff to manufacture cobas plasma separation cards (PSCs) that simplify and improve the monitoring of patients with viral infections even if they are in remote locations. Read more about the XTS starting on page 52.





RELIABLE MOTION SOLUTIONS. HIGHLY COMPACT SMARTMOTOR™ SERVO SOLUTIONS FOR AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES. • Fully integrated designs • Most compact, power-dense solution on the market • Complete servo system Top: Roche cobas connection modules (CCMs) leverage still more automation to seamlessly connect disparate analyzers and other equipment for guaranteed turnaround times in high-throughput laboratories. Center: A dedicated priority lane enables fast and easy handling of time-sensitive samples. Bottom: The cobas 8800 from Roche is an integrated automated solution for viral load monitoring, donor screening, and tests related to women's health and microbiology. The FDA recently issued Emergency Use Authorization for Roche SARS-CoV-2 tests run on these and 6800 machines to make large-scale testing faster and more efficient. A cobas 8800 can process thousands of COVID-19 patient samples a day. 3 • 2020



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Motors get

more connected and more efficient

Drones are a trending motor application: CP Aeronautics unmanned aerial systems (UASs) can handle various payloads and data links to ground control stations. Motors in the Orbiter 1, 2, and 3 models include brushless outrunner motors to direct drive the UAS’s fixed-pitch propellers — 28 V for 1 and 2 or 42 V for Orbiter 3.

2020 IS SEEING NEW TRENDS IN THE APPLICATION OF STEPPER MOTORS as well as permanent-magnet synchronous

motors (PMSMs), brushless motors, and direct-drive motors (including torque motors) as well. Perhaps one of the most dramatic trends is increased use of PMSMs or synchronous ac motors. They began seeing more use in the early 2000s, and now such motors (sometimes called brushless ac motors, permanent-magnet ac motors, or PMACs) have become fairly common in a range of applications ... including those for hoists and cranes, conveyors, printing, packaging, and vehicle hub drives such as those in AGVs. Frameless motors are another motor type seeing increased use. Recall that frameless motors are rotor-and-stator



3 • 2020

subcomponent sets not prefixed in a traditional motor housing. They don't include an output shaft (or shaft-support bearings) either. Instead, it's left to the OEM or design engineer to integrate the frameless motor stator and rotor directly onto the machine axis. Robot builders in particular benefit from frameless motors, as they allow designs that are smaller and more precise. “Our distributors probably have the most information about the applications for our gearing. In many cases, we’ll only know the torque and speed and other hard parameters of a design … and not the ultimate function of the machine into which our gearboxes and the motors they accompany go,” notes Robert Shouppe of CGI Motion. “That said, we're certainly seeing a growing trend towards custom applications employing frameless motors. We supply to




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Allied Motion HeiMotion Premium AC brushless servo motors come in five metric frame sizes with rated torque from 0.12 to 14.4 Nm.

engineers integrating frameless motors in various types of robotics … including surgical robots,” adds Shouppe. Others confirm this trend. “Our frameless torque motors are a top choice for engineers designing military applications who prefer to design their own actuator and require a robust stator and rotor part set,” says Eric Barton, A&D market specialist at Allied Motion. “We also design and manufacture custom as well as commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) and modified (MOTS) rotary and linear actuators, brushed and brushless dc motors, gearboxes, and drives commonly used in military robotic applications.” The motor maker’s BLDC and brushed dc motors are frequently specified for unmanned aerial and ground vehicles having the demanding motion control requirements associated with extreme-temperature and otherwise harsh environments.

Barton’s colleagues cites other leading applications. “AGVs are changing the landscape of manufacturing and warehousing, as well as the military industry. We supply various tractionwheel assemblies for AGV vehicles,” explains Allied Motion systems engineer Jeff Shearer. Some such offerings are actually based on brushless dc motors complemented by epicyclic gearboxes and integrated drive electronics with a fully assembled wheel for quick mounting to a vehicle. “Electrifying what were previously hydraulic systems is also an area of growth,” Shearer continues — “and moving armored doors on military vehicles has been a new area of application for electric motors. In fact, one new patented design we offer takes advantage

Synergistic advancements for motors and gears Dave Beckstoffer, commercial program manager at Portescap, detailed the complementary innovations of motor and gear technologies. There’s more on this topic in our gear-trends article starting on page 72. One top trend over the last few years has been towards more modularity in gearing for miniature motors. Modularity in some product lines has quadrupled the available number of ratios available from a given gearbox diameter. This frees engineers to fine-tune the increase of output torque and reduction of output speed when employing gearboxes … in turn helping them optimize the motion solutions for their end products. Another trend for gearing is higher torque capability for a given package size. Motor technology advancement has increased their power density … requiring gearboxes with higher maximum torque to fully utilize the motor’s torque. So this means design engineers can either increase output from a given design footprint or use a smaller motion design in the application. Additional gear trends include: • Quieter designs — thanks to engineered housing interiors and material choices to reduce the audible noise emitted by the gearbox during operation • Gearing that’s low profile — in the form of wider gearboxes with less height to fit in applications where length is the main criteria • Customization – with gear suppliers designing gearboxes to fit in designated spaces integrated with other adjacent components.



3 • 2020

of spring-energy storage to counterbalance the weight of an armored door. As a result, the weight of the system required to actuate the door (including power supply, cabling, servo drive, motor, and gearing) is greatly reduced — to save space reduce vehicle weight, and boost efficiency,” explains Shearer.

MOTORS RUN OFF BATTERIES Efficiency is also a top design objective for motor-driven designs run off batteries — including e-vehicles such as scooters, cars, and buses. “We’re starting to see engineers put more resources into Lithium-ion (Li-ion) and Lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) battery packs for e-vehicles such as e-bikes, e-motorcycles and e-scooters,” explains Ryan Tan, systems engineer at Texas Instruments. “One big reason for this increase is that China recently implemented a new regulation requiring that e-bikes weigh no more than 55 kg — and that’s including the battery pack.” This has prompted a transitioning of battery packs from lead-acid to Li-ion/LiFePO4 because the latter chemistries have a higher power density ... and are lighter than lead-acid options for a given capacity. “Additionally, the e-bike and e-scooter market is growing rapidly in Europe and North America … and the rapid market growth is creating room for motioncontroltips.com




high-performance products that utilize Liion/LiFePO4 batteries,” says Tan. The motors integrated into scooters and e-bikes varies widely — from simple brushed-dc motors sporting an outputshaft sprocket to engage a chain drive to advanced brushless servomotors capable of more finesse of vehicle speed. Elsewhere, BLDC motors dominate. “Brushless dc motors based on the advancement of the our patented Ultra EC coil are revolutionizing the power-tool industry,” says Dave Beckstoffer, commercial program manager at Portescap. The high torque output of these motors is letting the OEMs reduce the overall size of the power tools ... in turn making them more ergonomic for the operators that sometimes use them for hours at a time. “The lower losses during operation also keep the temperatures of the power tool at a comfortable level,” Beckstoffer adds. “This lets design engineers provide the performance needed in a battery-powered tool — and eliminates the need for a cord to give end users more freedom.” Of course, careful analysis of the drive electronics associated with sending current to the motor is required to realize top motion-design efficiency. “Though the IoT until now has been dominated by sensors and wireless interfaces, it will soon include more active motion designs. In other words, IoT in the home especially will soon go beyond just smart LEDs to a broad variety of new battery as well as line-powered actuators and small robots doing daily tasks for us,” says Jonas Proeger of Trinamic Motion Control. This will result in a shift in requirements for motor control. “As the majority of these applications will be battery powered, they’ll need lowest standby power consumption — as standby current has a major effect on the energy budget.” Consider this example: Assume we have a motor-driven design drawing a combination of standby and impulse load. DESIGN WORLD — MOTION



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might waste significant energy during system ontime as the full load current passes through the switch.”


| courtesy Allied Motion Assume each 100 μA of standby current adds 0.1 mA · 24 hours · 365 days per year = 876 mAh per year In contrast, an impulse load of 500 mA operating current for a total of 10 seconds a day uses 500mA · 365 days per year · 10/3,600 = 507 mAh per year “This example shows that standby current may be problematic for applications with low operating duty cycle,” explains Proeger of Trinamic. “This is relevant because standby is often used in conjunction with power ICs to save an additional semiconductor switch for completely interrupting the power supply. Of course, an additional switch is not expensive but the caveat here is that it

Boosting efficiency isn't always the top design objective when leveraging higher-performance motor technologies. Sometimes the goal is compactness. “Smaller motion devices can now mimic humanlike dexterity and flexibility capabilities — so are becoming more important than ever. New sensor technologies along with more efficient electromagnetic designs are driving solutions that can provide delicate touches and extremely careful gripping — or flexing to secure a fastener with ease,” says Robert White, applications engineer at Nippon Pulse America. Just consider how delicate the grippers that handle test tubes going through the Roche cobas 8800 must be. Electromagnetic designs that increase flux density through improved slot fill and higher energy magnets are enabling motors that are smaller yet more powerful than ever.

“In addition, feedback devices with improved resolution along with sensitive current sensors that detect smaller increments of torque or force improve the controllability of the motors used in these robotic applications,” adds White. A final trend in motor integration that White cites is that towards system-based design approaches. “This considers the application holistically and accounts for integration of motion elements into the robot design from the start — not as an afterthought,” notes White. Such approaches ultimately enable new mechanism combinations of motors, feedback, gearing, and even embedded controls for top system performance.

More on motors online and coming in April Please read our full piece on trends in motor applications by scanning this QR code. Also be sure to look for your regular Design World issue in April when we'll be publishing a related piece on cables, connectivity, IoT, cloud connectivity for industrial automation, and support for infrastructure on AWS or Azure. Cabling combining power and data transmission (for simplified connections between drives and servomotors) has become increasingly common. This is ÖLFLEX SERVO 7TCE from Lapp Group USA — a flexible oil-resistant servo cable with TC-ER approval.



3 • 2020




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Full evaluation of lubricant in pregreased and sealed radial deepgroove ball bearings is one of the most underestimated factors in the use of rolling-element bearings. Deep-groove ball bearings such as these from NKE have various seals and grease variants for different operating conditions.

IoT, new materials, and lubrication:



remain critical areas of focus and

The widespread adoption of condition monitoring technologies such as vibration analysis is a testament to the early adopters who pioneered their use within the industry. These technologies transformed the way we think about maintenance by providing users the ability to determine the health of an asset without interfering with its operation. The industrial internet of things (IIoT), coupled with declining sensor costs, has further accelerated the use of these technologies and enabled remote monitoring of realtime data, automated analysis, and instantaneous alerts. “One challenge that we see frequently is customers becoming disenfranchised with the technology because it wasn’t applied correctly to the asset and, as a result, does not provide advanced warning of faults or degradation. One-size solutions do not fit every application for the end customer. Our Perceptive Technologies teams provide a more holistic approach, including on-site and remote services for condition monitoring, diagnostics, and other hands-on services to improve a facility’s bottom line,” says Dan Phillips, director of technology monitoring and diagnostics for Regal Beloit.

innovation for the bearing industry in 2020 — as do advances in lubrication and material science. To get a better understanding of these technologies and what developments to expect, we asked some of top bearing industry experts for their take on what’s new and what's coming from their companies in 2020.



3 • 2020




BEARINGS Regal Beloit has also just launched a new mobile app (Regal PT Mobile App) on iOS to allow customers to register bearing products and schedule maintenance, with access to maintenance instructions and guides to help them in the application of the bearings. At Fersa, the MOSS Bearing system incorporates sensors to measure variables such as temperature, vibration, humidity, loads or speed, and others. “Automakers are still a bit reluctant to use the bearing as a sensor, but we see opportunities in the industrial market for sensoring and mechatronics ... from the agricultural business to mechanical drives for the wind industry,” says Sergio Santo Domingo, R&D director at Fersa Bearings. The electric future will affect bearing requirements, as an electric vehicle has up to 90% fewer moving parts compared to combustion-engine cars. The mechanics are simplified, which implies a change in the way of working. Energy efficiency

and reduction of fuel consumption are aspects increasingly demanded by users and manufacturers. Fersa expects to see increasingly efficient bearings in the short term, which may even be different from the standard versions of the product in terms of dimensions and assembly.

LUBRICATION ADVANCES The full evaluation of a lubricant in pregreased and sealed radial deep groove ball bearings represents — besides the topic of bearing clearance — one of the most underestimated issues in the use of rolling element bearings. On the one hand, design engineers must assess the best possible lubrication to minimize friction and metallic contact under realistic operating conditions. On the other hand, any lubricant is subject to aging during operation, depending on the actual operating conditions. “Most often, the lubricant’s performance is degraded to the extent that it has reached the end of its service life

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MOTION SYSTEM TRENDS well before the rolling element bearing itself. Again, the actual operating temperature plays a significant role in this context,” says David Schaljo, head of application engineering at NKE Austria. An evaluation of the lubricant is recommended for most applications in cooperation with the lubricant manufacturer and supported by the bearing manufacturer. But new greaseless alternatives are also an option that’s gaining traction in 2020. Another option is Polymer Solid Lube (PSL) — a bearing lubrication innovation that is gaining popularity with food makers and equipment manufacturers as the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) continues to transform the nation’s food safety system. PSL is a microporous polymer structure impregnated with oil that fills the free volume in the bearing between the races, rolling elements, and cage. During bearing rotation, the solid polymer releases the appropriate amount of oil to lubricate the rolling elements and raceways. As an alternative to traditional lubricants, PSL makes it possible to improve food safety and reduce maintenance demands by never having to re-grease critical bearings. In other cases, where certain types of sealed and greased ball bearings cannot be re-lubricated, PSL can still provide longer life and greater reliability compared to these options. “Timken has conducted cost-of-ownership studies that demonstrate the increased service life of a solid lube bearing versus a standard greased bearing. Typically, a solid-lube bearing will have 25% to 30% more oil by volume than a similar bearing using grease to let the solid-lube bearing to operate longer based on the added lubricant capacity,” says Steven Boyd, senior application specialist with Timken. In addition, solid lube acts as a secondary

sealing element by keeping contaminants that have passed through the bearing’s primary seal away from the rolling elements. There are other options for avoiding the problems of traditional lubrication. “The maintenance-free self-lubrication aspects of igus bearings are key to their use in material handling and automation applications,” says Nicole Lang, iglide Product Manager for igus. They're also suitable for electric vehicles, where weight is an key factor. In the food industry, self-lubricating bearings work in kiosks and settings for food preparation.” Lang's company has also invested heavily in expanding its 3D printing capabilities. “Our SLS printing service allows small batches — and customers can design and order on our website. We configure everything right on down to bearing service life. It’s a very quick process, and customers can have parts shipped to them in days. The products are made with igus materials and developed and engineered by us. That’s a major development in the world of bearings,” adds Lang.

MATERIAL SCIENCE LEADS Materials are key to ensuring food safety. Detectable materials are helping to ensure food safety by helping food and beverage makers improve foreign particle detection probability in their plants. Anywhere machines operate in close contact with food, there is the risk of contamination from adjacent moving parts. “Timken uses polymers that are optically detectable as well as bearing inserts with all stainless-steel components for metal detectability ... and our engineered polymer bearings are both optically and metal detectable,” says Boyd. Timken now has bearing housed unit options that include optically detectable blue thermoset housings and metal-detectable bearing cages for meeting USDA and FDA requirements, as well as implementing critical HACCP processes in their facilities.

Conventional bearings (top require periodic relubrication while food-safe bearings using PSL like this Timken bearing (bottom) can avoid the risk of grease purge and contamination altogether.

Single bearings are reaching their limits in terms of material, heat treatment, or geometry performance. So to go beyond those physical limitations, bearing makers are developing coatings and thermochemical processes. Coatings such as DLC or Zirconium Carbonitride increase wear resistance, fatigue durability, and reduce friction during bearing motion. New mechanical processes such as surface texturing help bearings survive aggressive environments and dry lubrication conditions. Component materials must also satisfy the unique challenges of electric motors ... because electric motors can rotate at higher speeds than combustion engines, and any electrical leakage can lead to bearing failure. “At Fersa, we're working on a Hybrid Bearings range with ceramic components to satisfy the needs of this vehicle type — including electrical insulation, high rpm, and reduction of vibrations,” says Santo Domingo.

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3 • 2020




200207_AutoPF1_DW_US.indd 1

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MOTION SYSTEM TRENDS Shown here is a custom design from Mach III with quarter for perspective. This brake provides tension on the filaments used to make false eyelashes. • Torque rating of 15 lb-in. at 80 psi • 2.58 in. O.D. and 1.27 in. overall length • 0.50 in. shaft size with a 0.125 in. keyway


gets tiny

CLUTCHES AND BRAKES as well as torque limiters continue to evolve

as the requirements for new applications for holding, stopping, and indexing continue to multiply. The ongoing trend for these technologies towards application-specific variations continues unabated — especially as several industries have exceeded capabilities of legacy stock parts.

Developed for a holding application, this custom C-face friction brake connects to an Allen Bradley servomotor and Apex planetary gearbox. It has a low-backlash design operation to 5,000 rpm. • Torque rating of 90 lb-in. • 3.94-in. O.D. and 3.78-in. housing length • Connections include 12-mm input bore with clamp collar and 12-mm output shaft

“Mach III has experienced a strong increase in application inquiries for miniature clutches, brakes, and torque limiters. In 2019, we had 14 new projects requiring a miniature clutch, brake, or torque limiter — more than in the prior three years combined,” explains president of Mach III Clutch Inc. Lesli Riehemann. “So far, we’ve started 2 new miniature projects in 2020 — one of which is a brake that is only 0.78 Inch O.D. x 1.75 in. long. Mach III defines miniature as requiring a 2-in. or smaller friction diameter, and a bore or shaft size of a half inch or less. Our assembly technicians joke that may need to get in touch with Santa’s workshop to subcontract assembly of these miniature products to the elves.” In an entirely different development, Andrew Lechner of R+W (who details his company’s new informative coupling in the couplings section of this Design World Trend issue) mentioned a similar IoT functionality that may soon come to a new line of torque limiters from the component manufacturer. Interestingly enough, we’re also known for ball-detent torque limiters. These are mechanical-overload release devices that (like couplings) install close to the business end of motion axes. Sensors here would be better at monitoring the machine performance than systems tracking amp draw at the motor. That’s why we may soon incorporate sensors into torque limiters as well.

This is a custom Mach III friction torque limiter from the front and side and shown with quarter for perspective. This torque limiter was developed to protect a motor inside a vehicle — in turn housing a camera to inspect underground pipes. • Max slip torque setting is 70 lb-in. • 1.275-in. O.D. and 0.58-in. overall length






This stainless-steel torque limiter from Mach III was developed for use on an autonomous sailing vessel employing a gearbox-fitted motor to operate the rudder. To prevent the shaft from breaking when something is caught on the rudder, this limiter will slip until the object is clear. • Max slip torque setting of 190 lb-in. • 2.69-in. O.D. and 2.44-in. overall length • Connections include two 10-mm shafts with 3-mm keyways

In fact, design engineers often guess at the proper disconnect settings for the mechanical torque limiters on their machines’ axes. Embedding sensors in these torque limiters could actually help machine builders fine-tune their safety breakaway settings … and better walk that line between acceptable axis torques and torques that necessitate machine shutdown. With such component, engineers would get torque monitoring and safety breakaway, which is about as robust as torque-overload protection can get. Read more on trends in brakes and clutches in our uncut online coverage of this topic by visiting motioncontroltips.com or scanning this QR code.


Don’t eat up valuable time searching for friction brakes, clutches and torque limiters. For more than 45 years, machine designers have relied on us for made-to-order products that meet their exact requirements. We are easy to reach, quick to respond, and deliver both catalog and custom products within reliable lead times. › Pneumatic and mechanical models › Torque capacities to 60,000 lb.in. › Experienced application assistance One call or email connects you with an engineer: USA 859-291-0849 engineering@machiii.com




Feature-rich controllers

tackle new applications

CONTROLLERS ARE CENTRAL TO motion control systems. They’re

often referred to as the brains of the system, evaluating feedback from the environment and responding in accordance with a control program to complete an assigned task. Today’s controllers have more built-in functions, are more powerful, and are being used in diverse applications. We asked some of the top controls manufacturers what trends they’re seeing in the industry. Below are their responses. Where do controllers of automation see new uses? Where do PLCs endure and where are they yielding to PLC functions onboard other controller options?

Christian Fritz, Head of Business Development, maxon We see a continued trend towards the distribution of control functionality. Driven by the miniaturization of embedded control hardware, networking technologies and protocols, system integrators are building highly modular mechatronic systems, that consist of intelligent subsystems. These systems do not replace the PLC or main control system but provide autonomous operation and decision making and simplify the highlevel control application. The result are systems that are more flexible (customer variations), easier to maintain (uptime) and allow for local decision making (increased performance).

Michael Burgert, Product Manager, Dunkermotoren “PLCs are the masterminds for all processes in machinery and equipment. They know and control every process detail.” This used to be the common understanding ever since PLCs ascended the throne of all process and automation equipment. And it made sense because processor costs were high and distributed intelligence would have cost far more than centralized processing power. Today, PLCs are no longer on the throne; there is no more throne. Hierarchies are about to dissolve and decentralized intelligence has already taken over many fields, which makes sense. With smaller and inexpensive processing power, even sensors can analyze themselves and generate warnings if they consider their signal levels poor. Integrated motors cannot only analyze their condition and forward this information but they can autonomously execute tasks and even control other motors or sensors. Every motor can be perfectly adapted to its task and communicate with all surrounding devices and with PLCs, if necessary. In many cases, PLCs are not necessary because decentralized intelligence can handle all the tasks of machinery and equipment. Imagine a packaging machine. Every station: material transport, goods transport, cutting and welding can be handled as autonomous tasks. Each station communicates with the other stations about status, condition and possible errors. Of course, PLCs will not vanish completely. There will always be tasks that are extremely complex and need a lot of processing power. But these PLCs will be on the same level as all other devices. Within the network, PLCs will more be the “pal that does the complex computing” instead of Mister Know-it-all. In what industries or application areas has your company seen increased activity or demand? Robotics

Giovanni Campanella, Systems Manager, Texas Instruments As robots are more and more a commonplace in factories it's important that they become more intelligent, autonomous, safer and efficient. All of this is enabled with precise motor control, differentiated sensing technologies and processing at the edge, all with robust real-time communication. TI offers various technologies that enable modern robotic systems ranging from TI mmWave sensors for detecting obstacles around the robot to Sitara processors running AI at the edge with multiple high-speed peripherals that enhance the designs of industrial robots. This cutaway view shows maxon’s EPOS2 70/10 controller, featuring dual-loop positioning and speed control.



3 • 2020





New computing technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) are being incorporated into control processing to improve real-time response to system anomalies. | courtesy Omron

Mike Chen, Omron Yes. Many manufacturers and businesses are intrigued by the idea of having robots help them improve productivity, but they often lack a full understanding of what constitutes a “robot.” For example, potential customers who are new to the technology view robotic technologies in a variety of ways – sometimes as full functional ready-to-work solutions that can do anything. There is of course more nuance to what can really be provided within their budget: a standalone product vs. a solution incorporating ancillary technology, custom written applicationlayer code vs. the just built-in firmware, possible integrated vision inspection or artificial intelligence, and so on. Retrof its

The ECMsm from ACS Motion is a 2- or 4-axis motion controller with integrated drives supporting up to 3.3/10 A per axis and a 12 to 48 Vdc drive supply input. The compact footprint makes it suitable for smallformat equipment in biomedical and semiconductor applications.

motioncontroltips.com | designworldonline.com

Todd Mason-Darnell, Ph.D., Marketing Manager-Services & Safety, Omron Automation Americas With the changing demographics of the workforce, aging of the existing equipment install base across all industries and the general demand for factory automation, Omron is seeing not only a significant increase for functional safety retrofits on existing equipment but also an increase in the expectations of our customers for the level of technical sophistication for those safety solutions. With the older workers being replaced with younger workers, companies are looking to implement safety solutions to protect those less experienced workers.This, coupled with the increased expectations of newer generations of workers for a safer workplace, is driving the general demand for functional safety retrofits. However, companies are using 3 • 2020

the opportunity of a safety retrofit to implement more sophisticated safety solutions which in turn support their larger IoT/IIoT strategies. For example, previously, companies may have used a safety door switch and a safety relay to guard a hazard. Now, they are using a safety network controller in place of the basic safety relays. The addition of the safety network provides them the ability to integrate safety data from their equipment into a larger “big data” solution. Electronics and biomedical

Jason Goerges, GM North America & Global VP of Marketing, ACS Motion We have seen an increase in new opportunities for next generation semiconductor, FPD, and electronic assembly equipment driven by advances in automotive, mobile device, and cloud technology. We have also seen opportunities for Biomedical equipment driven by advances in genome sequencing, imaging, and cell manipulation technology. Across these diverse applications, we are seeing higher precision and throughput expectations from OEM machine builders for the motion control system What kinds of capabilities do your components incorporate to suppor t functions related to the Internet of Things (IoT) or the Industrial IoT ?

Thomas Leyrer, Systems Architect, Texas Instruments For IIoT there are different requirements compared to networking in the broader consumer space. We differentiate two types DESIGN WORLD — MOTION


MOTION SYSTEM TRENDS of networks in IIoT. One is adding an information channel to get additional data for service and diagnostic. Such networks can be wireless or wired and requires network security. The diagnostic channel is typically asymmetric to the control communication and can use non-real-time communication

protocols such as OPC UA. The second type of network in IIoT is part of a real-time control system. Here, data exchange needs to be deterministic and real-time. The industry has developed realtime Ethernet protocols such as EtherCAT and Profinet for real-time communication

and control systems. There is a new network layer called time-sensitive network which is supposed to handle both real-time deterministic communication of control data and asynchronous communication for service and diagnostic with quality of service. In either of these networks for IIoT, the physical layer needs to conform to the industrial environment. Electromagnetic compatibility in industrial control systems such as robotics and PLCs need to withstand high levels of disturbance. Todd Mason-Darnell, Ph.D., Marketing Manager-Services & Safety, Omron Automation Americas In general, all of Omron’s newest safety components are created to support customer’s IoT/IIoT requirements. For example, our NX-SL5 line of safety controllers is the only safety controller on the market that can support CIP safety and safety over EtherCat (FoSE) on a single controller. Additionally, our newest family of light curtains, the F3GSRA, has I/O link capabilities that allows users to monitor the performance of the device to reduce troubleshooting and maintenance activities. What value -add ser vices have you provided to an OEM or other customer ? Are there ser vices that customers are specif ically asking for ?

Miro Adzan, General Manager, Texas Instruments Our customers continue to require more and more system-level expertise from suppliers. Design engineers take advantage of our dedicated systems engineering team, which is organized by market sectors. Additionally, we offer system-level and deep technical knowledge focused on analog technologies and embedded processing products through technical documentation and helpful design tools on TI.com. For example, sub-system reference designs, including block diagrams, BOM, test results and Gerber files are shared with customers. Todd Mason-Darnell, Ph.D., Marketing Manager-Services & Safety, Omron Automation Americas Beyond engineering and installing safety




Smart control solutions that integrate into packaging applications can boost manufacturing efficiency by enabling flexible and reconfigurable factory floors. | courtesy Omron

solution retrofits to existing equipment, we are seeing an increased demand from both end-users and OEMs for Omron’s safe machine design consulting services. Rather than retrofitting a safety solution to equipments after they arrive from the OEM, most manufacturers are now requiring to have the safety solution integrated into the design of the machine. However, with the general trend toward more automation and larger and more complex equipment, most OEMs do not have the in-house capability to adequately evaluate and design a safety solution that meets the customer’s expectations or the current regulatory requirements. As a consequence, they are partnering with Omron for our safety engineering expertise to ensure their equipment is safe as delivered. Jason Goerges, GM North America & Global VP of Marketing, ACS Motion ACS provides training (ACS-specific and generic), application support, and application development services to our OEM customers. For OEMs interested in evaluating ACS capabilities, we offer application testing and conversion services. For select applications, ACS develops customized control algorithms that push the envelope of achievable motion performance. Are you seeing much activity or interest in new trends in wireless connectivity and technologies for industrial applications and machine designs?

Miro Adzan, general manager, Texas Instruments More and more IoT and IIoT systems are beginning to require wireless communication technologies. We offer a broad portfolio of RF-MCUs that support the main industry motioncontroltips.com | designworldonline.com

standards for RF communication including Wireless HART, wireless IO-Link, BLE and Wi-Fi. Several TI products are capable of supporting multi-channel and multi-wireless protocol implementation which enables customers to use one hardware platform for differing communication requirements - even dynamically switching between different wireless protocols within one application. Todd Mason-Darnell, Ph.D., Marketing Manager-Services & Safety, Omron Automation Americas Both bluetooth and I/O link are becoming huge for customers to monitor their individual safety components. Bluetooth is so ubiquitous in our daily lives, most customers just expect all components to have that capability. For diagnosis and routine monitoring, the ability to wirelessly connect to individual safety components via a phone or tablet is becoming a “maintenance multiplier” for most customers. Similar, the ability to gather data, I/O link, to a central hub has simplified those routine and daily activities in a plant. Mike Chen, Omron Yes, but much more interest than implementation. Wireless technology for communications between industrial devices has been a hopeful fascination from the automation industry for many years over multiple technological innovations. After the customer goes through detailed investigation, we find that many customers end up choosing what their companies can self-support with their maintenance teams if anything should go down and risk production. Jason Goerges, GM North America & Global VP of Marketing, ACS Motion There are new applications involving wireless communication (host to controller), however 3 • 2020

the more significant trend we see is towards integration. For example, integrating the motion controller and drives into a single compact package becomes increasingly valuable when trying to minimize machine footprint. The soon to be released ECMsm, first in a series of new Economical Control Modules, was developed to address this need. Tell us about any selector, sizing, or sales software you use or offer to customers and how these tools are changing how design engineering is done.

Mike Chen, Omron Built-in simulation and emulation software has become critical in optimizing engineering time. When multiple hardware products are required to solve an application – with different lead times for each – the on-time completion of the project depends on how well the engineering team can use their time before the hardware arrives, and whether they can trust that their application code will work with the system hardware once it does arrive. Omron provides built-in simulation and emulation tools in our software to help our customers get a major head start in solving their applications or even in quoting their own customers before they need to invest in inventory. Jason Goerges, GM North America & Global VP of Marketing, ACS Motion ACS will release the new Smarter Motion Tools software package in Q2 2020. This software package was designed to streamline the process of defining and executing motion stage performance qualification and ATP, saving stage manufacturers and machine builders significant time and effort.




Specialized conveyors

keep jobs going

Some conveyors such as this adjustable-width timing-belt conveyor from mk North America can carry parts of different widths and lengths for more functionality than traditional designs or those that require complex changeover processes to accommodate new workpieces.


in-line weigh stations and complementary inspection systems are seeing increased use. Many of these are run by motors that are more efficient than ever. The latest designs also include new forms of wiring and connectivity that satisfy the latest standards. Motor-driven roller or MDR conveying systems remain crucial in industries such as intralogistics, packaging, food and beverage, and assembly. The motorized rollers on rollerbased conveyors can either couple to a gearmotor on the

conveyor flank or directly integrate motors called drum motors inside their cylindrical bodies — in turn usually made of stainless steel. MDR conveyors position items with moderate accuracy as in automated warehousing might employ only motorized rollers. In contrast, systems or sections of conveyor with laxer requirements (or relying on peripheral systems for final positioning functions) might gang some number of unpowered rollers to each powered roller via cords or bands made of round polyurethane belt. These bands loop around and nestle into grooves on the powered and unpowered roller ends; tension keeps the round bands firmly set in their grooves and facilitates the transmission of power from motorized roller to ganged passive rollers.

The EP7402 EtherCAT Box from Beckhoff is a multi-zone controller for motor-driven roller (MDR) conveyors — regardless of the conveyor or roller-motor vendor.


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A revolution in linear transport systems: XTS NEXTSTEP The XTS advantage circulatory movement flexible modular system individually movable movers

User benefits reduced machine footprint software-based changeovers improved machine flexibility increased throughput shorter time to market

www.beckhoff.us/xts Manufacturers around the world need to offer increasingly customized products â&#x20AC;&#x201C; with machines that deliver reduced footprint and improved productivity. Available now in the U.S., the eXtended Transport System (XTS) from Beckhoff answers these machine design challenges and more. In combination with PC- and EtherCAT-based control technology, the XTS features a high level of design freedom for machine builders to develop game-changing concepts for product transport, handling and assembly. A stainless steel hygienic XTS version is ideal for use in the pharmaceutical and food industries. Take your next step in machine design with XTS: total freedom of installation position compact design integrates directly into machinery freely selectable track geometries few mechanical parts and system components


"The problem is that many MDR control options on the market require complicated messy wiring — and the basic cabling design of some systems doesn’t meet current electrical standards being enforced in 2020,” says Matt Prellwitz, motion control product manager of Beckhoff Automation. To solve these issues, Beckhoff recently launched the EP7402 EtherCAT Box. This universal MDR controller is a twochannel motor output stage for BLDC motors used in MDRs — regardless of the conveyor or roller motor vendor. “This device offers optimal conveyor control through integrated logic for zero-pressure accumulation (ZPA) in its firmware, programming in the TwinCAT 3 engineering environment, and high-performance EtherCAT communication,” adds Prellwitz. The IP67-rated EP7402 offers form-factor advantages … including compact dimensions of 174 mm x 60 mm x 36.5 mm and easily mountable in standard C-channel or L-brackets on the conveyor frame. But one of the most important aspects is the use of One Cable Automation (OCA) via two B23 ENP hybrid connectors. “This OCA using the EtherCAT P standard allows the EP7402 to transmit 24 Vdc and signals not only to other MDR controllers, as well as EtherCAT devices in the field. Multiple M8 sockets to support two MDRs per device and digital I/O for peripheral sensors, vision systems or junctions to the entire range of EtherCAT Box modules,” adds Prellwitz.

FLE XIB ILIT Y ME E T S D IFFE RE NTIATION Specialization from conveyors continues to be an increasingly important design objective. Visit motioncontroltips.com and search Nadeau to find and read last year’s Design World conveyor-trends piece for a primer on this and four other enduring shifts in the industry.

ç This is an automated kitchen at Creator, a San Francisco restaurant that serves up gourmet burgers on a conveyor-centric design. Its original aim was to deliver consistently delicious meals using optimally applied culinary techniques with more energy efficiency than a traditional kitchen. In coming months, Design World will cover how such automated systems may ultimately help in the fight against COVID-19.



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Essentially, conveyors with a defined purpose are those customized with specialized modules such as scales for order checking, vision systems for inspection, and vacuums for securing small and expensive workpieces. The latter might take the form of perforated belt to allow a pneumatic system below the conveyor to draw air through the perforations via grooves in the conveyor bedplate and hold light or flimsy parts on the conveyor belt — even on inclines or during fast transport. Some conveyors take specialization a step further. Consider pallet conveyors, which can in some cases allow for specialization and then re-specialization as changing operations demand it. These transfer discrete products on carriers called pallets moved by belt, timing belt, roller chain, flat-top chain, or powered rollers. Some customized conveyor pallets are tooled with specially shaped fixtures to locate and secure product on the pallet. So not only can the pallet be accurately positioned on the conveyor, but the product can be precisely located on the pallet. This makes pallet-based conveyors useful in high-precision assembly, machining, inspection, and positioning tasks. In fact, some flexible pallet-based conveyors designed to support assembly processes are constructed from aluminum extrusions with no welded joints. This build allows for quick mechanical assembly ... as well as easy reconfigurations and line additions should the assembly process change in the future. “Many of these conveyors are also scalable in design,” explains Mark Dinges, product manager of assembly technologies at Bosch Rexroth Corp. “For example, if product volumes increase from 10,000 units per months to 100,000 units per month, modular conveyor systems such our TS 2 plus can easily be scaled or reconfigured to support such changes in demand.” DESIGN WORLD — MOTION


Improve Quality and Output

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MOTION SYSTEM TRENDS Top: The Rexroth ActiveMover linear motor conveyor system serves as an alternative to traditional power and free pallet-based assembly conveyors in select lightpayload applications than can justify the upfront cost. Linear motor conveyors (also called intelligent track or transport systems) are suitable for moving items at high speed and positioning accuracy. “Each pallet in this system includes collision avoidance and has the ability to travel both forward and backward, independent of other pallets in the system, to precisely defined positions. With speeds and acceleration up to 150 m/min. and 40 m/sec2 the linear motor conveyors excel in ultra-high-speed pallet-based assembly applications. Middle and bottom: The mechatronic eXtended Transport System (XTS) for linear motion from Beckhoff is currently installed in more than 1,200 real-world applications. One example is at the Roche manufacturing facility mentioned on page 34 of this Trends issue. Roche uses an XTS to manufacture tiny cobas plasma separation cards (PSCs) that simplify and improve the monitoring of patients with viral infections even if they are in remote locations. Among other things, the XTS enables flawless handling and cutting of an expensive and delicate membrane that goes inside the layered PSCs.

INTE LLIGE NT TR A N S POR T S YS TE M S Linear-motor conveyors, also called intelligent transport systems by those who aim to differentiate the offering, are costly but enable very sophisticated applications. “Complementing intelligent motion systems is our XTS modular linear transport system. It can trim machine footprints by half when used to replace indexing and conveying equipment,” says Jeff Johnson, mechatronics product manager of Beckhoff Automation. The movers on the system can travel independently of one another or in groups along a number of customizable rail systems. High dynamics and precision help the system excel in gapping and diverting applications — and a new hygienic version is aimed at pharmaceutical, biotech, packaging, and food and beverage environments. The XTS is not designed to replace other conveying systems. However, traceability with the system can reduce the scans required for each piece through an operation. "Because the movers are mapped as individual servo axes, the control system never loses track of items being transported,” notes Johnson. “Such traceability in traditional architectures can require an incredible number of scanners ... so the component and labor reductions of intelligent transport systems are worthwhile in some cases.”



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ON THE CUT TING E DGE : PL A N A R MOTOR S Other options for conveyance of goods are two-axis air-bearing stages and planar motors. Air-bearing stages suspend the carried load on a cushion of air and for motion rely on linear motors — often with an ironless forcer design for smooth actuation. Driving is often centered near the center of mass to maximize the straightness and minimize the angular errors of each motion. In contrast, planar motors use the electromagnetic behavior of its motors for both the movement and suspension of loads … which is why they’re occasionally called magnetic levitation (maglev) stages. In many cases, planar motors include coils in stationary tiles and magnets in its free-floating mover. This allows the mover to remain untethered by connections for cooling, controls, and power supplies. Special capabilities of planar motors include the ability to limitlessly tilt and rotate movers. Developed in the early 2000s, the technology until now hasn’t been practical for real-world use. But a series of planar motors from Beckhoff (in the XPlanar family) is now in beta testing … though Johnson points out that many of motors’ functional capabilities are already possible with linear transport systems and other more traditional motion solutions. “Our planar motor maintains traceability while providing an infinite number of paths that products or packages can travel,” says Johnson. “This flying motion system levitates magnetic movers with six degrees of motion up to 5 mm above planar motor tiles — for contact and wear-free operation.” Most impressive is that TwinCAT 3 for machine learning (and optimization) along with high data throughput (via EtherCAT G connectivity) lets the system automatically determine the most efficient path to get an item to its destination. “Then it can calculate the route — avoiding collisions with other movers and stopping at other workstations for the individual item … whether it requires an assembly step or special labeling or customization,” says Johnson. “XPlanar does this in real time, which is why a high-end control platform and the data throughput of EtherCAT G are important.”

Providing unlimited paths via flying motion, the XPlanar system from Beckhoff levitates magnetic movers with six degrees of motion.


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New coupling technologies offer more support for encoders ... more miniaturization ...

and new IoT functionalities THE LOCATION OF mechanical couplings — connecting rotating

shafts powered by electric motors and fairly close to the loads being moved or manipulated — makes it an ideal place to optimize the performance of machine axes. No wonder that our 2020 Design World Trends survey of industry experts indicates an uptick in innovation related to optimizing the torque and angular velocity through couplings and (with flexible variations) compensation for misalignment that’s more robust than ever. Some feedback even suggests all-new options for addressing vibration and improving system dynamics. Controlflex couplings from Ruland Manufacturing Co. solve three encoder application requirements.

This applied to couplings for motion-control applications (including positioning axes) such as disc, slit or beam, curved-jaw, bellows, and other zero-backlash couplings for precise torque transmission. It also included rugged couplings for power transmission (as in heavier equipment as well as pumps and material-handling machinery) such as Oldham, disc, grid, jaw, and gear couplings. Just consider the input of Robert Watkins, V.P. of sales and applications at Ruland Manufacturing Co. Please discuss the use of couplings in reconfigurable conveyor installations as well as linear-transfer systems. The conveyor market as a whole has been increasing steadily over the last few years as Amazon, UPS, FedEx, and the Postal Service modernize and expand their facilities. Warehouses using these conveyors often have shaft collars seated against rollers or bearings as safety stops or for component alignment. Couplings can drive the conveyor itself … or can go on conveyor accessories such as sorting switches. Of course, shaft collars and couplings are designed in on various manufacturers’ conveyors — and in many cases, the same exact part is used regardless of the system. This can make it challenging to identify what conveyor types are spiking in demand unless we are explicitly told by the manufacturer.

motioncontroltips.com | designworldonline.com

Shown here is a stainlesssteel Oldham coupling from Ruland Manufacturing Co.

3 • 2020




What applications have you supported over the last 12 months? At Ruland, we’re expanding the types of couplings we offer to better meet the varied demands of our users. Over the last year, we’ve added Controlflex couplings and slit-type couplings to our lineup. We’ve also added universal joints and developed stainless-steel Oldham couplings. Controlflex solves three specific encoder application requirements that our standard beam couplings do not. 1. First, Controlflex couplings have speed capabilities to 25,000 rpm in contrast with our standard beam couplings rated to 6,000 rpm. Of course, other beam couplings on the market are rated to 10,000 rpm … but these can be insufficient, as there are plenty of encoder applications that operate to 10,000 rpm and beyond. 2. Controlflex couplings can fit into confined spaces with a length-to-outer-diameter ratio under 1:1. Even in single-beam couplings — a standard style of encoder coupling — the ratio normally tops out at 1:1. Tight envelopes are common in encoders because mounts are often custom built … leading to a lack of standardization. Designers are usually trying to keep them on the shorter side to reduce the amount of misalignment. This can result in an unusual sizing relationship between the shaft sizes and coupling envelop requirements. 3. Lastly, Controlflex couplings come in myriad versions — including those with dramatically different bore-size combinations.

At Ruland, our beam couplings usually have a large-to-small bore size ratio of 2:1. It’s not uncommon in an encoder to have a large motor shaft (such as 20 mm) connecting to a small encoder shaft — such as 8 mm, for example. Our standard beam couplings cannot accommodate this drastic step in shaft sizes. That’s because when we designed the beam coupling line, it was meant for encoders and light-duty servo applications … which meant we had to be able to maintain torque transmission throughout the bore range. Such large steps in shaft sizes made it challenging to rate the coupling to our desired torque level, because it would overcome the clamping force on an 8-mm shaft. In contrast, Controlflex can handle a largeto-small bore ratio of up to 3.5:1 depending on the outer diameter size. This gives designers a lot of flexibility when selecting an encoder to attach to their motor. Ruland is distributing Controlflex, which is manufactured by Schmidt Kupplung in Germany. We have had a long partnership with Schmidt, who owns our German distributor Orbit — so it made sense to partner on stocking and reboring Controlflex couplings. What new support are you offering to laboratory automation or other industries that require small and precise builds? Slit couplings are our newest addition and fill four existing holes in our product range. They have small bore sizes down to 1.5 mm. These sizes are common in scientific and analytical equipment. Nothing in our standard product range fits sizes that small. These new slit couplings also have speed capabilities to 70,000 rpm. Such speeds are common in those small shaft sizes … though even the larger bore sizes that cross into our standard size range have higher rpm options. Thirdly, these new slit couplings These are some examples of shaft collars from Ruland Manufacturing Co.


3 • 2020

This is a double-slit Reliaflex flexible coupling from Ruland Manufacturing Co. to accommodate eccentricity and declination as well as axial misalignment between shafts. High-strength 7075-T6 Duralumin maintains twisting rigidity.

have moderate torque and high misalignment capabilities. We don’t have another standard coupling that satisfies applications with parameters that fall between those that suggest the use of bellows or disc couplings and those that suggest the use of beam couplings with low inertia. After all, bellows and disc couplings are high-performance couplings that have limited misalignment capabilities. Aluminum beam couplings have limited torque and high misalignment capabilities … and stainless-steel beam couplings have high inertia. The high inertia is not desired in most motion control systems. Slit couplings have torque capabilities comparable to those of stainless-steel beam couplings but with better overall misalignment capabilities. Lastly, our new slit couplings can fit in confined spaces and accommodate all misalignment forms. Currently, the only product we sell for high torque in tight envelopes is a single disc coupling. They have no accommodation for parallel misalignment which causes problems if misalignment can't be precisely controlled. Our slit couplings are manufactured by Reliance Precision in Ireland. Reliance is well known for building precision motioncontroltips.com



COUPLINGS This is a new TSC150 coupling (to transmit up to 150 ft lb) from Twin Spring Coupling. The manufacturer is currently developing a smaller version called the TSC100 for compact industrial applications. In contrast with certain beam, bellows, and elastomeric couplings that can in some instances allow only limited misalignment angles. “Our couplings can be used at least twice that angle. This lets design engineers redesign equipment to leverage our couplings and their high flexibility — without having to resort to traditional options such as universal joints,” explains Twin Spring Coupling CEO and founder Darren Finch. “That in turn helps engineers avoid the maintenance issues some such technologies introduce — such as the requirement for constant lubrication, broken yokes, and worn bearings. “Our one-piece design and no internal bearings means we can offer the performance of the universal joint without the issues commonly associated with them,” adds Finch.

assemblies and assisting companies with their designs. They have been using Ruland couplings as one of their standard options for many years. Do any of your couplings go into food and beverage machinery subject to washdown? Stainless-steel Oldham couplings were recently added to our standard offerings because they address three design challenges our other couplings do not. 1. Stainless-steel Oldham couplings are suitable for food processing and packaging applications that may experience washdown. Our other coupling styles use aluminum as the base material. The exception is stainless-steel beam couplings … however, these are not a corrosion resistant coupling. The standard hardware is alloy steel and will rust which can lead to failure. 2. The stainless steel Oldham product line has a stainless steel screw giving it consistent corrosion protection. Second, they can be used in high temperature applications. When combined with a PEEK disk they are capable of temperatures up to 148° C far surpassing anything else in our standard product range. 3. Lastly, stainless steel Oldham couplings excel in applications where low outgassing is required. Two caveats: This does require the use of a PEEK disk … and the end user may have to change out the standard screw (which has a proprietary anti-galling coating) depending on the application. Describe how the increasingly common process of outsourcing the design of motion subassemblies has impacted you. Ruland is seeing more coupling applications start with a design and prototyping firm as opposed to an OEM. This makes sense as companies have streamlined operations with R&D augmented by an outsourcing partner. As a manufacturer and component supplier, this trend hasn’t altered our process or interaction with customers. We may not know who the end customer is but the requirements won’t change and the mechanical engineers at the design firms have all the requisite expertise to properly select couplings … or give us the information to help in selection.

motioncontroltips.com | designworldonline.com

Where have your couplings been applied in robotic or AGV applications? Ruland components are in numerous robotics applications. These systems often use smaller shafts and require zero-backlash operation — and that’s where our couplings fit in the market. Robotics covers a broad range of application requirements. Our vast coupling product line lets designers come to us as a single source and use standard off-the-shelf components regardless of system needs.

COUPLINGS: THE PERFECT PLACE FOR SENSORS In another conversation with Andrew Lechner of R+W, we discussed IoT functionality in a new line of couplings from the component manufacturer motion components. Here’s what Lechner had to say. Lechner • R+W: 15 or so years ago, we experimented with bellows couplings capable of measuring misalignment. couplings that can provide information about shaft misalignment and torque. In fact, for a couple decades other coupling manufacturers have supplied couplings integrating torque meters ... but these are no different from standard torque meters — and they require a static component in addition to the rotating coupling. R+W actually leads in IIoT innovation, and has made significant progress on such technology through our R&D department ... which includes a team of engineers 100% dedicated to the development of smart couplings. What’s changed is that suddenly our industry is very interested in the IIoT … so now machine builders are asking: “How do your components connect? What’s your part in all of this?” Now we’ve released an informative coupling that goes beyond torque measurements to monitor other characteristics in the driveline — and address current technologies’ deficiencies in accurately recording downstream performance characteristics. There are problems associated with both of the dominant technologies currently used. • Readings done at the motor drive are often too insensitive to what’s happening at the furthest reaches of the axis, as such readings are too far upstream and can fail to account for driveline inertia.

3 • 2020




All products available directly on RULAND.COM

TOOL-LESS ADJUSTMENT COMPONENTS • Adjustable handles and knobs replace standard hardware and can be used to torque components without tools. • Levers can be used with Ruland shaft collars for quick installation and adjustment.

• Introductory offer: 10% off your next web order with code DW202003 • Free 2-day shipping on all domestic web orders - no minimum value. • Full product data, CAD files, technical information, and installation videos. • Large stock on hand in our Marlborough, MA USA location.

EXPANDED COUPLING LINE • Stainless steel oldham couplings for high temperature and corrosion resistance. • Controlflex couplings for encoders in single and double insert styles and speeds up to 25,000 RPM. • Slit couplings with bores starting at 1.5mm and speeds up to 70,000 RPM.

MODULAR MOUNTING SYSTEMS • Assortment of components that allow users to build small assemblies for mounting sensors, conveyor rails, machine guards, and more.

UNIVERSAL JOINTS • Friction bearing for high torque.

• Optional pre-designed kits make it easier to select the right system for your application.

• Needle bearing for accuracy and higher RPM. • Single and double styles available.


VIBRATION ISOLATING COMPONENTS • Rubber bumpers are ideal as end stops or mounting feet. • Vibration isolation mounts can be sandwiched between components to dampen shock loads. • Both types can have studs or tapped holes.

www.ruland.com | sales@ruland.com

• Spring-loaded indexing plugers with or without lock-out. • Designed to lock devices in-place for adjustable positioning.



• Torque sensors and vibration monitors peppered over a machine at strategic locations can be expensive and typically require static base stations to be nearby. The third option we offer with our informative coupling packages the sensing into a rotating component farther down the driveline and outputs signals wirelessly — for a more effective and economical solution overall. Lisa Eitel • Design World: What industries will these products serve? Lechner • R+W: Much of the interest has been from our industrial equipment customers — so people in the process industry designing extruder, pumping, and heavier manufacturing applications. Here, a flywheel effect can greatly influence driveline components downstream without much effect at all on the motor. So the first models of these informative couplings are for application torques of 350 to 2,500 Nm. Do you think we’ll see informative couplings for smaller applications? Lechner • R+W: I hope we will. Of course, smaller motor drives can be somewhat more sensitive than larger drives ... but we've observed that even small servos can fail to detect the downstream results of impact loads and abrupt stops. Of course, it’s a design objective to make all industrial rotating equipment compact. The sensor package on current informative-coupling models is about 75 mm long … of course, the larger the transmission, the less impact this size has on the overall design footprint. What was behind the decision to use a battery to power the sensors? Lechner • R+W: Batteries are robust and easy to implement. We extend sensor operation by allowing two modes — a high-resolution mode to allow three days of data collection and a lower-resolution mode for a couple weeks of data collection. Of course, many engineers want this design to have constant power sans need for recharging. That’s why we’re currently developing an informative-coupling variation with energy harvesters to allow 24/7 high-resolution monitoring. motioncontroltips.com | designworldonline.com

Would you be at liberty to discuss the exact sensor technologies inside? Lechner • R+W: Torque and axial strain are measured with strain gauges. Then accelerometers measure vibration. A gyroscope tracks speed. These devices are similar to those you’d find in your phone. It’s Moore’s law at work.

Shown here is a coupling from R+W that integrates an array of sensing devices to provide useful information about applications at a location that’s particularly useful — close to where the axis moves or manipulates the load.

The R+W iLP3 mobile app allows access to key informative-coupling data.

Lechner • R+W: Indeed. Traditional methods of developing and bringing such a coupling to market are obsolete; now we need to build the car while we’re driving it. So the informative couplings we are selling now are prototype-level oneoffs — and we’re perfecting the design in partnership with OEMs. We aim to sell informative couplings as standard catalog product toward the end of 2020. In fact, engineers who want to share their thoughts on this company are invited to review the R+W information we’ve published on this offering and fill out a survey we’ve setup. We’ll be sure to post that questionnaire on motioncontroltips.com. Engineers can also visit www.ai-coupling.com. Moving on to integrating these couplings … what output signals does this informative coupling generate? Lechner • R+W: We keep the design simple so end users can easily get their data. There's wireless transmission to the R+W Android app. We're also developing a gateway with USB, RS232, and analog output. End users can also emulate a serial 3 • 2020



connection using third-party software. Soon, R+W informative couplings could have IO-Link connectivity as well.


Is the R+W app for this readily available — or is that still in development? Lechner • R+W: In Germany it's on Google Play as an Android app. Once proven, it’ll release in the U.S. … most likely in July. Is this technology primarily to support predictive maintenance? Lechner • R+W: There’s far more to it than that. Predictive maintenance is the first function, as that affords lets end users know when tools are worn or axes are exhibiting misalignment or lubrication loss. In addition, the informative coupling supports condition monitoring. Case in point: Process engineers involved in everything from food to plastics to oil (such as drilling mud in the oil industry) must monitor viscosity variations along with other properties of the material being processed. Measuring torque required by a mixer, extruder, or pump to stir or push through that substance at the coupling yields accurate information about viscosity. For example, the start of an extrusion process needing more torque than usual may indicate that the vat of plastic is too cold — and requires more warming. Here, our informative coupling can help optimize such processes.

BELLOWS COUPLING 9 Torsionally stiff 9 Well balanced 9 Low inertia


Lisa Eitel • Design World: It reminds me of my senior project in college, which focused on the prevention of breakouts on continuous-casting steel operations. Here sudden spikes in the shaker’s inertia indicated an issue.




Drive trends propel robotics,

IoT applications

Commander C200 and C300 general purpose drives from Control Techniques recently extended the warranty from two to five years. The drives feature an on-board PLC, removing the need for an external controller. Designed for easy setup and installation, a broad power range from 0.25 to 132 kW makes them suitable for a range of low- and highpower applications. THE OVERALL TREND IN DRIVES is for more

powerful, capable, and feature-rich products to handle the challenges of automation and control over a range of industries and applications. We asked some top drive manufacturers what they’re seeing and here’s what they told us. In what industries or application areas has your company seen increased activity or demand?

Control Techniques, Mike Wolfe, Business Development Manager Robotics – We’ve seen a significant increase of activity in the automated guided vehicle (AGV) segment of robotics. Precision motion, fieldbus control options and distributed onboard motion control are some of the key needs in this market space. motioncontroltips.com | designworldonline.com

Factory automation – Here we’ve seen continued strong demand in general factory automation for drives and motors above 150 hp. Our Drive Free Standing (DFS) offering has expanded our reach and support for short lead time needs of ready to use drive and switch gear packages up to 1,250 hp. Farming – We have seen significant investment and customer activity in the automation of field harvesting equipment. These machines require precise motion control, vision systems and powerful control systems to automate activities historically performed by hand. Electromate, Warren Osak, President In the past five years we’ve seen a big increase in demand for our products in the robotics and eMobility markets. The cobot (collaborative robots) industry has also been a hotbed of activity. I believe the uptick in activity is directly related to the development of embedded 3 • 2020

robotics and the ideal function they serve in these growth markets. ABM DRIVES INC. North America, Gabriel Venzin, President We’re seeing new activity in AGV OEMs as well as some for auxiliary components on e-buses. At the same time we’re seeing increased requests for more efficient options for auxiliary functions on trains and subways. What kinds of capabilities do your components incorporate to suppor t functions related to the Internet of Things (IoT) or the Industrial IoT ?

Yaskawa America, Inc., Edward Tom, Low Voltage Drives Product Manager When it comes to IoT/IIoT, connectivity and data are the two most crucial components. Our drives offer a variety of communication options (EtherNet/IP, PROFINET, Modbus




TCP/IP to name a few) that provide our customers the ability to connect the drives to their network and fulfill the connectivity aspect. For the data component, all the monitors that are accessible on the drive’s keypad are also accessible through the network. This can be invaluable for those that are looking for innovative ways to monitor their machines. Electromate, Warren Osak, President Interoperability is a critical requirement in the development of the backbone of the IoT. In fact, interoperability is the primary driver of the fourth industrial revolution, also known as Industry 4.0. Industry 4.0 is the name given to the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. It includes cyber-physical systems, the Internet of things, cloud computing and cognitive computing. Without interoperability, Industry 4.0 doesn’t exist. Control Techniques, Mike Wolfe, Business Development Manager Our general purpose, high performance

and servo drive products have been built on a fieldbus agnostic philosophy. We have designed our drives to provide diagnostic information through Ethernet based fieldbuses such as EtherNet/IP, PROFINET RT and EtherCAT for many years and will continue to support access to meaningful data for third-party control and data acquisition systems as cloud-based data collection becomes more important. What value -add ser vices have you provided to an OEM or other customer ? Are there ser vices that customers are specif ically asking for ?

Electromate, Warren Osak, President We’ve always prided ourselves on our engineering ability to size, select, and field support the wide range of motion control products we sell. However in recent years we’ve been asked by our OEM customers to collaborate on developing mechatronic solutions and/or sub-assemblies for their machines. This, of course, requires a completely different skill-set and requisite

The GA500 Industrial Microdrive from Yaskawa is rated up to 40 hp and can be applied to 240 Vac single-phase, 240 Vac three-phase, or 480 Vac three-phase incoming power. It enables industrial IoT applications with support for EtherNet/IP, PROFINET, Modbus TCP/IP, and EtherCAT.

Focus: safety drives with Matt Prellwitz, motion control product manager of Beckhoff Automation Drives with integrated safety technology are on the rise for good reason. Not only do they create a safer overall motion architecture, but they also provide more diagnostics and performance data directly in the PC-based machine control platform. Along with other safety solutions, Beckhoff offers TwinSAFE drive option cards for our AX5000 and AX8000 Servo Drives for this purpose. Built-in Safe Stop 1 (SS1) and Safe Torque Off (STO) functionality, along with the option to easily incorporate additional safety options via TwinCAT software and EtherCAT I/O extensions, can reduce risk in machines and plants. In a CNC plasma cutter, for example, if a horizontal axis moves outside of the defined speed or

increment parameters, TwinSAFE-equipped drives can cut all torque to the motors and return the axes to a safe state. These capabilities and the range of safety hardware in the universal Beckhoff platform greatly simplify machine designs. New safety features of the AX8000 will expand TwinSAFE motion to cover linear motor safety for Safe Positioning and Safe Speed applications by integrating EnDAT 2.2 or BISS C safety encoders from leading encoder manufactures. With the aid of the integrated TwinSAFE editor in TwinCAT, programmers can manage the configuration with basic understanding of the safety encoder.

AX8000 Servo Drives from Beckhoff offer a range of built-in functional safety options via TwinSAFE — as well as greater data and diagnostics.



3 • 2020





higher level of investment, but it has driven revenue growth and strengthened our relationship with our OEM customer base ABM DRIVES INC. North America, Gabriel Venzin, President ABM is supplying OEMs with customized drive solutions based on a modular design. Most of our solutions require in-house engineering support and this is expected by our customer base. Are you seeing much activity or interest in new trends in wireless connectivity and technologies for industrial applications and machine designs?

Yaskawa America, Inc., Edward Tom, Low Voltage Drives Product Manager We are starting to see some rise in activity

motioncontroltips.com | designworldonline.com

when it comes to wireless connectivity, particularly Bluetooth. Our GA800 and GA500 drives offer an optional Bluetooth keypad that offers our customers the ability to connect to their drives without needing to open up the panel door, providing a safer way to get data to and from our drives. Do you have any selector, sizing, or sales software you use or offer to customers? And how these tools are changing how design engineering is done?

Yaskawa America, Inc., Edward Tom, Low Voltage Drives Product Manager We currently offer software called Product Selector that is available to everyone. The Product Selector provides our customers the ability to select the drive that they need by answering a few questions about their

3 • 2020

application. This eliminates the task of trying to go through various pieces of literature to try and determine what they should select. Control Techniques, Mike Wolfe, Business Development Manager We have significant data collected to show that self-service is trending in engineering for sizing, selection, and closing sales. While high tech pure engineering systems will remain in use for complex engineering problems, the companies that invest in software and processes to simplify the sizing, selection and sales process will rise to the top in the years ahead.




SIKO’s MSA213C magnetic sensor features absolute resolution of 1 μm with repeat accuracy of ±1 μm.

New uses drive

encoder design trends ENCODERS ARE CENTRAL TO motion

control applications. They can provide position, speed, and direction feedback to a controller or drive to increase the accuracy and reliability of a drive system. As technology evolves, so too do encoders, incorporating the latest advancements in communications and networking and offering engineers tools to solve challenges they face across a diverse array of motion control applications. For example, Heidenhain has seen an increase in collaborative robotics and AGV robots driving the market, thanks to the focus on robotic Functional Safety. But also, new uses are coming into sight.



Farming and agricultural applications are becoming more automated and as automation increases here, so too does the demand for reliable feedback of the kind offered by encoders. Likewise, SIKO sees many of the same application demands from their customers as well, including robotics and farming but also the more established factory automation uses as well as offhighway applications. The company sees requests for direct integration of sensors with high position accuracy that facilitates cost and space savings. One driver of encoder trends is the IoT and the related industrial IoT. “The core of IIoT communication is to provide more insight into the machine by supporting communication from 3 • 2020

many different sensors,” notes Jonathan Dougherty, Business Development Manager of Automation Markets for Heidenhain. “We help to enable this functionality by taking in all the sensor functionality in and around motors (temperature sensors, accelerometers, magnetic field sensors, etc.) and transmitting that information back over a streamlined pre-established communication channel using the encoder communication,” adds Dougherty. The company’s EnDat interface handles these tasks all while cutting wiring costs and simplifying design. Wireless connectivity is another part of communications equation. In Heidenhain’s case, the value they’ve seen in wireless connectivity is in providing motioncontroltips.com






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Leine Linde 800 series incremental encoders feature a dual set of heavy-duty bearings and a well-encapsulated enclosure. The series can also be equipped with Advanced Diagnostics System, ADS Uptime, for condition-based maintenance.

easy access to diagnostic data to maintenance personnel throughout the factory floor. “Our Advanced Diagnostic System (ADS) Uptime functionality, from Leine Linde, provides relevant diagnostics, along with condition monitoring functionalities, to enable predictive maintenance and problem-free operation time,” says Dougherty. “And built-in Bluetooth condition monitoring makes it possible to pinpoint potential sources of failure before problems occur, just by walking through the plant,” he notes. Plus, the placement of the encoder on the motor or drive shaft makes it especially well suited to collect operational and environmental parameters like vibration and temperature variations. The

encoders can then provide relevant information about potential sources of failure. While technological changes to the encoders themselves are one thing, the way that engineers work and design is another. For instance, working more closely with end customers to solve their problems. “With SIKO MagLine focusing on the integration of its encoder technology into the application of the customers, several solutions were created according to customer demands,” notes Edward Stuart, MagLine Product Manager with SIKO. Stuart adds: “A good example are rotary applications such as torque motors. It’s necessary to adapt the magnetic scale on a ring that can be added to the rotor and also have the encoder element with custom specific housing or as an open PCB solution designed

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NEW HOLLOW-SHAFT KIT ENCODERS The MSK320R bearing-free rotary encoder from SIKO is shown here with the incremental coded ring for hollow-shaft mounting.

Designed for Drives, Robot Joints Open-center form factor fits around central shaft, cables or structures Precision rotation measurement with multiturn range Rotation counter powered by Wiegand energy-harvesting technology - no batteries needed! SSI and BiSS-C interfaces Dust and moisture tolerant Factory-friendly assembly tolerances


to fit perfectly in the limited housing space of the motor.” Engineers are also sourcing more integrated designs. For instance, many manufacturers offer integrated motors that include controllers and encoders built into the motor. As Eric Rice of Applied Motion Products notes, “We’re now putting more of our development resources into feedback devices, such as small, highresolution magnetic encoders and multiturn, absolute encoders. The use of small, high-resolution magnetic encoders enables us to make smaller integrated motors for precision applications with light loads, such as medical and benchtop equipment.” The company is using multi-turn absolute encoders with no batteries or internal gears that offer a number of advantages. Once calibrated to the application, these motors with integrated encoders don’t need to reference a home position at every machine power up or changeover. “This makes them especially beneficial in applications where reference moves to a home position are time consuming, such as long-stroke linear applications and setup axes on packaging equipment,” adds Rice. On the other hand, as Heidenhain’s Dougherty notes, “Most engineering is



now done online before even speaking to a representative from any encoder company.” Which is why the company supports their customers’ research with tools that help engineers pinpoint the product they’re looking for and have a central source to access all the relevant information they need such as datasheets and CAD models. Although again, with custom designs, it’s a bit different. As SIKO’s Stuart points out, “In general with the versatility of SIKO products we work directly with the customer rather than setting up tools for them to half design a product that we have to then go back and verify.” For SIKO, it seems to work better having their engineering departments work closely together from the outset.

3 • 2020

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Trends in gears and gearmotors THE FUNDAMENTAL MODE OF OPERATION for gearing and its transmission of

mechanical power remains unchanged — as has that for the electric motors with which they pair. But innovative variations have become increasingly common and include more custom gearing, compact designs, and better gearboxes and servogear sets (including helical gearing) for efficiency.

GEARING AND GEARMOTORS IN E-MOBILITY DESIGNS Depending on the context, electric mobility (e-mobility) designs are: • Vehicles with electric-motor-powered drivetrains (and their smartgrids to support fleet power demands) serving as an alternative to vehicles with internal-combustion engines • Smaller personal-mobility designs such as scooters, e-bikes, wheelchairs, power skateboards, and even exoskeletons for military and accessibility applications Precision drive-system manufacturer maxon Group supplies motion components for e-mobility. Case in point: A Scewo Bro wheelchair originally developed by university students at ETH Zurich (called Scalevo as a prototype) includes two traditional wheels as well as two continuous wheels (called caterpillar tracks) optimized with maxon motors and gearing. This Scewo Bro wheelchair integrates twin 3.2-kg drives consisting of 60-mm-diameter brushless dc motors from maxon fitted with GP 52 planetary gearheads (shown above) for wheel propulsion. A maxon EPOS2 70/10 controller module ensures safe and reliable operation.



3 • 2020




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The FHA-C Mini Series is a family of extremely compact actuators that deliver high torque with exceptional accuracy and repeatability. As part of the FHA-C Mini family, an integrated servo drive version utilizing CANopen® communication is now available. This evolutionary product eliminates the need for an external drive and greatly improves wiring while retaining high-positional accuracy and torsional stiffness in a compact housing. • Actuator + Integrated Servo Drive utilizing CANopen communication • 24VDC Nominal +7-28VDC Supply Voltage Range • Single Cable with only 4 wires needed: CANH, CANL, +24VDC, 0VDC • Zero Backlash • Dual Absolute Encoders

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MOTION SYSTEM TRENDS Left: 3D-printed gearing from igus is used in a Matrix charging station for electric cars. The Matrix lets drivers park, dock, and charge with ease. It’s example of how motion systems support the functions of e-mobility designs even beyond the vehicles. Right: Stock Drive Products/Sterling Instrument (SDP/SI) Rolling Motion Industries miniature speed reducers use leading-edge traction drive technology. These traction drives feature a gearless design and have only six moving parts, so are quiet and highly efficient. They’re currently available in NEMA Size 8.

More specifically, the wheelchair integrates twin 3.2-kg drives consisting of 60-mm-diameter brushless dc motors from maxon fitted with GP 52 planetary gearheads for wheel propulsion. Ceramic subcomponents in the gearhead withstand high forces and are very durable. Complementing the motor drive is a maxon EPOS2 70/10 controller module to ensure reliable control. Climbing wheelchairs have particularly challenging design requirements, as they must safely go up curbs and even stairs to address these obstacles that are the main limits of manual wheelchairs. The traditional wheels on the Scewo Bro allow for normal operation; the continuous wheels enable stair and curb climbing by extending their bars while the tracks circulate. Sensors and cameras assess the stair geometry and then trigger automatic climbing functions to ascend at about one step per second. Once sensors detect a landing, small support wheels move into an active position to stabilize the rider and chair. Then the caterpillar tracks retract upward into a rest position and the wheelchair goes onward on its two traditional-looking wheels. The Scewo Bro wheelchair originally deputed at the CYBATHLON — an international competition (also supported by the maxon Group) in which athletes with physical disabilities use state-of-the-art technical assistance systems to compete on racecourses. Held at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, events at the competition include a brain-computer interface (BCI) race, a functional electrical stimulation (FES) bike race, and races in which athletes employ powered-arm and leg prosthetics, powered exoskeletons, and powered wheelchairs.



In fact, the team at Scewo led by athlete and chair pilot Basil Dias will compete in this year’s CYBATHLON as well. As of this writing, ETH Zurich together with the CYBATHLON Organizing Committee has postponed the event in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus: Originally to be held in May, the event will now be held September 19 and 20, 2020. “E-mobility is without a doubt a big trend that spans a range of application areas — including security and surveillance, transportation, logistics, and agriculture,” says Christian Fritz, head of business development at maxon. “As a technology leader for high-efficiency drive components, we’ve been in a prime spot to provide the industry with motors, gearboxes, and controllers.” Over the last couple years, the portfolio of the manufacturer has grown to include battery technology, battery-management systems, and application-level controllers. “Combined with the capabilities to integrate those components into mechatronic solutions, we’ve evolved to become a solutions provider for e-mobility applications in all industries,” Fritz of maxon adds.

UPDATE ON GEARSET CUSTOMIZATION The past year saw more plant and OEM engineers using manufacturer engineering software and outsourced prototyping as well as integration services. One technology that’s blurring lines between prototyping and production-quality products is 3D printing. As it’s become increasingly sophisticated, additive manufacturing has even made its way into the extremely challenging production of gearing made of nylon or polyamide. 3 • 2020

“Selective laser sintering or SLS enables applications beyond those possible with FDM printing,” says igus DryTech product specialist Preston Souza. “The FDM process is quite a bit slower, and the tolerances are usually not that great. In contrast, we offer tighter tolerances with SLS-produced components … and shipping within three days.” Another major benefit of these parts is durability. Testing indicates that some of these parts have wear rates comparable to those of injection-molded components — so can last almost as long … so they’re not just prototyping anymore. “These parts work for more than just verifying fit and function — and can actually run in production,” says Souza. “We’re pretty much in every industry with these components … especially in automotive, aviation, agriculture, and packaging.” On the front of traditional metal gears and their customization, we spoke with Robert Shouppe of CGI Motion. He chatted with us about the new ways in which engineers are sizing and specifying gearing as well as trending applications for these motion components. Here’s what Shouppe had to say. Do you ever assist engineers with verifying their design parameters? Shouppe • CGI Motion: Yes. Engineers can of course simply call us and say, “I want to get this gearbox,” and we’ll sell them the gearbox. But we support designers all the time who need help sizing their gearbox — and CGI Motion has lots of resources to offer exactly that kind of assistance. Our design engineering group is available to our customers to help them find the best motioncontroltips.com




Advanced Products for Robotics and Automation CGI Motion standard products are designed with customization in mind. Our team of experts will work with you on selecting the optimal base product and craft a unique solution to help differentiate your product or application. So when you think customization, think standard CGI assemblies. Connect with us today to explore what CGI Motion can do for you.

800.568.GEAR (4327) • www.cgimotion.com

copyright©2018 cgi inc. all rights reserved. 0516spd


fit for their application — be it a gearbox or gearset or gearbox assembly. In fact, supporting and supplying customized gearing is really our bailiwick in the gearbox industry — for years we’ve been known for our ability to customize. In some instances, we’ll execute a completely custom design from scratch. In other instances, we’ll take one of our existing products and modify it to fit a given application. A third option for engineers wanting ar precision grade to use our products is to work with our distributors. These teams also have motionGear precision Grade control specialists and engineers who can 0 1 2 3 5 help4designers spec in a gearbox or motor N4 N5 N6 N7 N8 N9 or controller. More OEMs are choosing 4 5 6 7 8 9 this option as staffs get smaller and baby boomers retire — taking their expertise out 13 12 10 9 8 7 of the company and industry. Motion-control 14 12 11 10 9 8 automation distributors can help machine 13 12 11 10 9 8 facing these trends. What’s it’s 11 10 10 9 builders 8 7 interesting is that I do see a lot of young

Gear precision grade"

e: nding materials of SCr415) is defined as 415. hardening), SCM415 is normally used. harder material, SNCM220 and/or SNCM420

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engineers just kind of looking on the Internet and picking out a gearbox and then putting it into their system … and it doesn’t work the way they want. So then they call us and we help solve their issue and get their machine axis working. What are other mistakes design engineers commonly make in the application of gearing? Shouppe • CGI Motion: The mistake we most frequently see is engineers initially thinking they can direct-drive their application with a motor. Then they realize at the last moment that the motor has insufficient torque for moving the application how they want. That’s usually when they come to CGI Motion and ask us to design the gearbox to fit into what are usually very tight spaces — because after all, they didn’t allot any room for gearing. Compounding the challenge is that

everyone wants to design and build everything to be as small and compact as possible. If an axis someone tried to run with just a motor actually requires gearing, now all of a sudden you have a four-inch-long motor you’ve got move out by three inches — and you don’t have that space. So one of the things we do quite well is work with our customers to make compact designs that fit a little better into their application. Do you recommend a certain coupling for attachment? Shouppe • CGI Motion: Couplers from our perspective depend on how the gearing and motor mount to the application. Typically, we don’t specify the coupling type … though we do see Zero-Max and Helical products used with our gear products quite a bit. Other couplings based on sophisticated squeezeclamp attachment are another option.

Largest selection of

de table : nt grades are for ref match each other.

Stock Metric GEARS in North America



Over 20,000 Stock Gears Available at www.khkgears.us 259 Elm Place, Mineola, NY 11501 Phone: 516.248.3850 | Fax: 516.248.4385 Email: info@khkgears.us



Shown here are three gearmotors. The stainless BK17 HiflexDRIVE from Bauer Gear Motor of Altra Industrial Motion includes a two-stage gearbox (with a 108.6:1 gear ratio) and an IE4 super-premium efficiency permanent-magnet synchronous motor (PMSM); it is capable of precise positioning without servo motor or encoder feedback. The gearmotor also features a smooth stainless-steel aseptic design for easy cleaning in washdown applications. Ingress protection is to IP69K.

What about feedback? Shouppe • CGI Motion: Engineers will often put an axis’ encoder on the back of the motor to track axis position. The problem is that there’s the motor and gearbox and coupler between that encoder and the actuated load — so the lost motion associated with those connections can slightly degrade the feedback information. In contrast, designs that couple an encoder to the very end of the axis (on the output side) get more exact position tracking. We're currently researching ways to offer design engineers yet another option — encoder feedback inside the gearbox to track the output shaft. That would also address one of the rare drawbacks of gearboxes ... that of backlash. After all, the closer the encoder or other sensor is to the source of backlash, the better the control over the system. Are belt-driven systems employing more of your gear products? Shouppe • CGI Motion: Yes — CGI Motion’s PMX series of Primetric planetary gearheads is well suited to belt-and-pulley systems as well as rack-and-pinion actuation. The gearheads in this series have oversized bearings that are separated by a bit of space to handle the radial loading associated with belt-and-pulley actuation. Such power transmission is common in conveyor systems as well as chain-based conveyance for moving racks across an area. Anything you would like to mention in regard to your gears’ geometry? Shouppe • CGI Motion: We offer several gearbox families that have a low-backlash option. We cut gears to high precision to minimize backlash and achieve tight tooth mesh. We don’t do gear grinding, as our

motioncontroltips.com | designworldonline.com


machines cut extremely highquality gears without the need for further machining. We’re hearing more about motion components designed to satisfy industry certifications and the requirements of environmental ratings. Shouppe • CGI Motion: CGI Motion is ISO certified AS9100 and ISO 9001 as well as ISO 13485, which encompasses regulatory requirements for design of medical devices. We’ll soon be releasing an IP69K-rated gearbox with a ruggedized housing and heavy-duty seal system. In fact, these gearboxes are targeted to food-packaging machinery to execute wrapping and other functions.

NEW WASHDOWN OPTIONS FOR GEARMOTORS CGI Motion is joined by other manufacturers in offering new washdown-ready options. “Some of our gearmotors come with optional gaskets and seals for washdown resistance, as well as corrosion-resistant paint to protect product from environmental effects,” says Allied Motion applications engineer Mike Babala. Other examples include: • Altra Industrial Motion Boston Gear washdown-duty stainless steel QC700 Series speed reducers with quick-connect couplings for conveyors and related equipment in facilities processing perishables such as seafood • Bauer Gear Motor washdown-duty stainlesssteel HiflexDRIVE gearmotors based on PMSM motors for facilities processing produce and more.

3 • 2020

We also asked Terry Auchstetter, business development manager at Bodine Electric and John Mason, manager of business development of control products at NORD Gear Corp. for their input on gearmotor trends. Here’s what they had to say. In what industries or application areas has your company seen increased activity or demand? Auchstetter • Bodine: We've seen increased activity in robotics, particularly in supplying gearmotors for robots and cobots in warehouses and automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS). We‘ve worked on new design projects with several manufacturers in this segment. For several years, our gearmotors could be found inside the orange robots darting around Amazon warehouses. We're currently supplying gearmotors to another U.S. manufacturer of warehouse robots. Besides the use of our gearmotors in many conveyor and packaging applications, one of the more interesting recent growth areas has been the equipment for processing cannabis and marijuana. Our gearmotors are used in both the harvesting and the chemical processing of various cannabis products. We’ve also seen increased activity in farm and agriculture applications. For example, one Bodine dc motor works in a GPScontrolled self-steering system for tractors first introduced more than 15 years ago — and still going strong. That application has developed into sophisticated new products with worldwide use. We’re currently involved in a next-generation product redesign with



MOTION SYSTEM TRENDS This BLDC gearmotor from Bodine Electric integrates controls and an encoder.

this OEM manufacturer. Our gearmotors are also used in planters, watering systems, and storage silos. One last growth area is for automated ovens used by fast-food restaurants. For instance, we’re currently working on a blower motor in a pizza conveyor convection oven. What capabilities do your components incorporate to support IoT functions? Auchstetter • Bodine: Bodine offers a number of design options for incorporating encoders in or on our gearmotors and motors. For example, encoders are used to control the motion of the drive wheels of picking robots in a warehouse, and the data from the encoder can also be used by the IIoT system for logging the number of operating hours or miles for maintenance purposes. Bodine also can put a thermal sensor inside the motor winding so that the IIoT system can predict a failure and take steps to address it when the robot is out of service for another reason (like battery charging). Worn components tend to exert more load on the motor, which in turn increases the current draw, which in turn raises the motor temperature. That’s why a temperature sensor can provide useful data for predicting failure.

Mason • NORD Gear: NORD offers complete Industry 4.0-ready IIoT solutions for geared motor systems. Our decentralized drive systems include a PLC located in the frequency inverter. Vibration, temperature, and virtual sensors along with drive-specific parameters are preprocessed in the drive’s PLC. The data can then be shared via an Internet gateway to the Cloud. What value-add services have you provided to an OEM or other customer? Auchstetter • Bodine: Our engineers frequently travel to customer sites to collaborate during new product development. Early collaboration between design teams stimulates ideas and leads to the most reliable, cost-effective, and highest-performing motion control systems for OEMs. Our engineers also have the knowledge and experience to help engineers integrate components we don’t manufacture but that are needed for final drive solution —including encoders, brakes, servo amplifiers, and cabling. Mason • NORD Gear: Condition monitoring and predictive maintenance systems using IIoT solutions are requested

quite often by our OEM customers and end-users. The process of sorting and analyzing all the different data that is available (and then creating a useful tool to present all that data) can be overwhelming. NORD provides value by working closely with engineers and guiding them through the process of creating an IIoT solution that’s for their specific application. Any new wireless connectivity options for machine designs? Mason • NORD Gear: We’ve developed a Bluetooth Mobile solution for commissioning and optimization that interfaces to all of our electronic drive systems eliminating the need for a PC and wired connection. The free iOS and Android app provides dashboard-based visualization for drive monitoring and fault diagnosis. You can even send a service request from the app directly to a local NORD support office.

This ac inverter-duty three-phase hollow shaft gearmotor is suitable for driving conveyors. Image courtesy Bodine Electric



3 • 2020




Motion Components

to Automate any Industry

Servo Gearheads for Linear Actuators



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Tank level information is collected from multiple tanks by Q45UA allin-one sensors and wireless nodes from Banner Engineering. The data is communicated over a Sure Cross wireless network to a DXM Series wireless controller, which makes the data available to other devices on network and can be configured to send text and email alerts.

Sensors on the front lines of

industrial networking


across many applications and uses; from object and position detection in manufacturing processes to remote condition monitoring for predictive maintenance purposes. Overall, the sensors are the vital link between the physical systems themselves. They collect data from various machine processes and use communication links to transmit that data to the cloud or other points of control or monitoring.



Generally speaking, sensors are following broader industry trends such as increasing data digitalization and the emergence of more robust communication networks. From a hardware perspective, advances in electronics means that sensors continue to get smaller. And as they’re increasingly digital, this means they can easily be integrated into many kinds of applications and systems via fast digital networks. Companies like Banner Engineering are on the front lines of these sensor trends. Specifically, as companies continue to look for ways to improve their processes, operate more efficiently, increase their productivity and lower expenses, they are investing in the latest sensor and networking technologies. Demand is rising in a range of industries including robotics, factory automation, off-highway applications as well as farming and fast food, among others. To take one example: The IoT continues to shape both end-user requirements as well as sensor manufacturers’ offerings. This goes for the industrial IoT (or IIoT)

3 • 2020




Smart Sensors for Every Challenge Built Reliable and Rugged for the Real World Smart laser measurement sensors from Banner Engineering reliably solve the most challenging measurement and inspection applications, even in real-world environments. From clear object detection to ultra-precise measurements, our laser sensors solve complex challenges with fewer, more powerful devices.

Detect or measure any target: • Clear and reflective targets • Very dark targets, even against a dark background • Multicolored targets with many color transitions • Extremely small targets

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Vibration, temperature, and current draw data gathered from a VT1 sensor and a current transformer from Banner Engineering is communicated by a CM Series condition monitoring node to a DXM Series wireless controller over a Sure Cross wireless network. Data can be used to track the health and performance of equipment and identify problems before a failure can occur.

as well. This is coupled with existing trends such as the digitalization of data that is driving more efficient control of processes including predictive maintenance and remote monitoring of all types of industrial and manufacturing processes. Sensor companies are being responsive to these changes. For Banner Engineering, this means offering sensors with added capabilities. For instance, the company’s sensors are suitable for IoT and IIoT applications by supporting wireless networks on 900 MHz and 2.4 GHz frequencies as well as embedded cellular connectivity on 4G with Cat-M1. Such sensors are useful for condition monitoring applications used to monitor equipment and assets for a number of different parameters including vibration, temperature, humidity, pressure, position, and open/close status and others. In fact, industrial applications for sensors are relying more on wireless connectivity. The advent of battery powered wireless nodes and sensors is allowing factories to easily scale hundreds even thousands of sensing points per facility. These devices are easy to use and feature advanced tools to provision networks, which eliminates the need for specialized knowledge to deploy devices and create an industrial wireless network.



3 • 2020

Beyond data collection is the challenge of processing and interpreting such large quantities of data. In addition to the sensors themselves, companies like Banner offer edge analytics and machine learning as well as cloud software and reporting to help with data migration to big cloud providers. The key is advanced signal processing at the sensor and gateway that limits the need to send large amounts of data. Sending just the right amount of data and limiting the amount of ‘on time’ for wireless networks means more efficient network communications and longer battery life. It also limits the amount of data that needs to be pushed over cellular networks and cloud infrastructure.





Off-highway and outdoor systems

employ more vibration mitigation and (IoT enabled) shocks

AUTOMATED MACHINERY AND MANUAL DESIGNS alike must exhibit minimal vibration

and should gently and precisely slow and


moving masses on (or engaged with) the design. Our 2020 Design World Trends survey of industry experts indicates an uptick in new


applications for shocks, damping, gas springs,


and kinematic holding that were previously done manually or run without any shock and vibration protection at all. These designs see the most performance improvements when vibrations are isolated or damped. In other instances, incorporation of sensing capabilities has (just as with couplings) leveraged the strategic placement of shock absorbers to gain IoT (Industry 4.0) functionalities. Just consider the input of Brad Griffin, product line manager at ITT Enidine, for more on this. Describe how the trend for ever-higher throughput is prompting more use of shock and vibration mitigation.

The industrial automation and manufacturing industries’ continued focus on ever-higher throughput and efficiency is impacting the DESIGN WORLD — MOTION


DROP SHOCK DAMAGE 800.838.3906



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ITT Enidine wire-rope isolators are corrosion resistant.

This is an ITT Enidine Sentinel shock absorber that imparts IoT functionality.



way manufacturers consider machine longevity, machine-operation safety, and production quality. Though some level of shock and vibration is unavoidable in moving systems, mitigating these factors is essential for maximizing overall performance. Our shock absorbers and vibration isolators help reduce machine vulnerabilities while improving performance, helping production lines achieve their desired throughput. The shock absorbers’ tamperproof design also ensures stable and repeatable performance cycle after cycle … and maximizes energy absorption from varying masses and forces. What are good options for machine designs that need to be rugged?

Wire-rope isolators help protect against damaging vibration and noise within machinery. Ours are constructed of stainless-steel cable and have RoHScompliant aluminum retaining bars … so are corrosion resistant and completely unaffected by oil, chemicals, abrasives, and ozone or temperature extremes. In one recent application, a leading manufacturer of operator cabs turned 3 • 2020

to us to get better isolaton from harmful vibration for its units. Enidine’s wire-rope isolators were installed and used in a compression-mounting configuration, which significantly reduced vibration. What kinds of new IoT functionalities do you see in the space of vibration mitigation and damping?

Automation combined with the emergence of the industrial internet of things (IIoT) is leading to smart factories — fully run via the internet. These automated factories and warehouses boast higher productivity because they allow for unattended operation and realtime communication. The problem is that machinery left unattended is vulnerable to excessive shock and vibration. So to help end users monitor unattended machinery and products in various factory settings, Enidine developed Sentinel Series technology. This is a firstgeneration IoT-enabled device that uses microelectronics integrated with Enidine’s heavy-duty shock absorbers to provide continuous monitoring and wireless alerts for impact activity on remote or unattended applications. Wireless communications support IoT functionality in any OEM design without the burden of high cost or system modifications. Sentinel is suitable for many industrial applications — including automated warehousing and automated





storage and retrieval systems (ASRSs) as well as stacker crane operations where continuous monitoring is critical to equipment uptime and safety. Have you seen increased use of your components in applications not previously automated or damped at all?

| courtesy Sorbothane

Before the rise of automation in factories and warehouses, machine maintenance and health monitoring were manual processes. Now, monitoring solutions are key to protecting machine health. Our Sentinel series of shock absorbers uses patentpending onboard monitoring for remote monitoring. Continuous shock absorber and impact monitoring yields data that is communicated across facilities to a PLC or other similar system. Designed with affordability and longevity in mind, OEMs and manufacturers can incorporate this IoT technology into existing designs without modification of existing equipment. Sentinel is the first of its kind in the industry, and the first generation in a line of solutions we’re planning.

Try it today!

Online gas spring sizing tool


Dampers improve

tractor cabs

Find, price and order the exact gas spring for your application in seconds! Size now: acecontrols.com

Key Dollar Cab has been perfecting the cabs of orchard tractors since 1982. KEY DOLLAR CAB manufactures tractor

cabs for an array of orchard-farm tractor models. In fact, Key Dollar Cab has been innovating and improving these designs since 1982 — leveraging new technologies to make the cabs ever safer and more comfortable for tractor operators.

www.acecontrols.com (800) 521-3320 23435 Industrial Park Drive Farmington Hills, MI 48335

For their newest orchard tractor cabs, Key Dollar Cab wanted a very specific feature — something unique to their offering to serve end customers with a durable and refined element. The Key Dollar Cab engineers wanted the tractor doors to exhibit smooth and controlled motion upon opening. The requirement could not be satisfied by a standard gas spring or shock; the engineers needed a custom damper for their application. In the end, Key Dollar Cab engineers arrived at a custom HB15 damper from ACE Controls. The damper is unique in that it provides an adjustable resistance for the door’s opening swing. At first the damper provides little resistance … but dramatically slows the door as the swing takes the door towards a fully open position.



That effectively prevents the door from slamming open into the tractor cab and causing damage. The damper exhibits zero resistance upon closing — so avoids any undue stress on the operator and lets the door close easily and tightly. ACE Controls specializes in creating custom parts for customers … and in fact, ACE Controls has a custom product engineer solely responsible for handling

Jessica Dawson • Product engineer at ACE Controls Inc.

3 • 2020


these requests. Custom product engineer Jessica Dawson documents and analyzes supplied parameters and runs them through ACE Controls simulation software; then she will let you know if it’s possible for her to design what you need. “The dampers are easy to install and have a wide range of adjustment which makes it an excellent resource to fine-tune the way our robust orchard-cab-door functions,” said Key Dollar Cab sales manager Mike Colombo. Though the door application sounds simple the damper satisfies two important requirements: • The damper protects the components of the door from excessive stress while allowing the door to open rapidly and with ease. • The damper also enhances the operator’s experience with the Orchard Tractor Cab from the moment they hop in and sends the message that this is a refined product.

The ACE Controls sales team and engineers regularly work with OEMs and machine builders from the design phase until project completion to ensure that all application requirements are met. Shown here are custom HB dampers on the door of a Key Dollar Cab tractor door.

ACE Controls HB dampers offer seamless integration into the orchard cab — something impossible with standard gas springs. For more information as well as sizing tools, configurators, CAD drawings, and YouTube tutorials, visit acecontrols.com. The ACE Controls sales team and engineers regularly work with OEMs and machine builders from the design phase until project completion to ensure that all application requirements are met.


Ace Controls............................................................... 86 AllMotion...................................................................... 9 AutomationDirect......................................................... 1 Banner Engineering.................................................... 81 Bansbach Easylift........................................................ 85 Beckhoff..................................................................... 53 Bishop Wisecarver...................................................... 11 CGI Inc........................................................................ 75 CMT ........................................................................... 13 Del-tron...................................................................... 26 Diequa........................................................................ 79 Digi-Key...................................................................... 45 Dynatect Manufacturing, Inc...................................... 29 Encoder Products Company...................................... 69 EZAutomation............................................................ 41 FAULHABER MICROMO................................. Cover, 31 Festo........................................................................... 50 Fluid Line Products, Inc.............................................. 67 Harmonic Drive.......................................................... 73 igus............................................................................... 7 Intech.......................................................................... 23 ITT Enidine................................................................. 87 KHK USA.................................................................... 76 LAPP USA................................................................... 37

Lee Linear...................................................................BC Lee Spring Company.................................................. 17 LinMot USA Inc.......................................................... 22 Mach III....................................................................... 47 Maple Systems........................................................... 39 Master Bond............................................................... 15 maxon......................................................................... 33 mk North America, Inc............................................... 55 Moog Animatics......................................................... 35 MW Industries - Helical.............................................. 58 MW Industries - Servometer.....................................IBC PI (Physik Instrumente) LP.......................................... 20 POSITAL-FRABA Inc................................................... 70 Pyramid Inc................................................................. 57 R+W America............................................................. 64 Renishaw.................................................................... 71 Ruland Manufacturing................................................ 62 SEW-EURODRIVE......................................................... 3 Smalley Steel Ring...................................................... 43 Sorbothane................................................................. 83 THK America, Inc.......................................................IFC Tolomatic.................................................................... 25 Zero-Max, Inc............................................................... 5



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WTWH Media, LLC 1111 Superior Ave., Suite 2600 Cleveland, OH 44114 Ph: 888.543.2447 FAX: 888.543.2447

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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© 2020 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: designworld@omeda.com, or visit our web site at www.designworldonline.com POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: Design World, 1111 Superior Ave., Suite 2600, Cleveland, OH 44114



3 • 2020

motioncontroltips.com | designworldonline.com

Metal Bellows Experts

Our engineering team focuses on your application and quickly responds with a custom design and high quality prototype or part. That’s why OEM manufacturers call us. Applications: • Actuators • Air Speed Measurement • Altimeters • Baromers • Oxygen Systems • Landing Gear Systems • Instrumentation, Temperature & Pressure • Medical Equipment • Semiconductor & High Vacuum


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Motion System Trends 2020  

Consumer products can be technology ambassadors Automation in fast food Educational initiatives and eLearning Positioning stages • rotary ta...

Motion System Trends 2020  

Consumer products can be technology ambassadors Automation in fast food Educational initiatives and eLearning Positioning stages • rotary ta...

Profile for wtwhmedia