Landing on Mars on 26 November 2018 was NASA’s InSight mission to Mars. The InSight probe is used in the analysis of the formation of rocky planets, involving driving a measuring probe five meters deep into the ground. maxon engineers pulled out all the stops to make their motor fit for the job.
The robotic InSight probe landed on Mars on November 26. If all goes according to plan, the stationary lander will proceed to carry out various measurements over a period of two years and provide important insights into Mars and the formation of Earth. The mission is being conducted by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for NASA.
Motor rams penetrometer 5 meters deep into the ground
DC motors from the Obwalden-based drive specialist maxon motor are also on board. A compact motor-gearhead combination with a diameter of 22 millimeters is used in the HP3 probe developed by the German Aerospace Center (DLR). It is designed to determine the temperature profile of the planet. Specifically, the maxon drive is located in a rod-shaped penetrometer, nicknamed “the Mole” by the developers. This penetrometer is autonomously driven five meters into the ground. To achieve this, the motor tensions a spring with each revolution. The spring then releases with great force, executing a powerful downward punch. In this way, the “Mole” gradually burrows downwards – over a period of several weeks, pulling along a cable that is equipped with sensors to help the researchers determine the thermal state of the interior of Mars and draw conclusions about its origin. Since Mars is a rocky planet like Earth, the scientific results may also help gain a better understanding of our own planet.
Special solution for more than 400 g
Mars is not a very friendly environment for technology. Nonetheless, more than a hundred maxon drives have already proven their worth on the Red Planet. The current InSight mission, however, posed additional challenges for the Swiss engineers. To efficiently drive the penetrometer into the ground, the DC motor needs to withstand forces in excess of 400 g – and more than 100,000 times. It took a number of variations and failed tests to find the right solution. The result is a standard DCX 22 motor, greatly modified with additional welding rings, bearing welds and specially shortened brushes. The utilised GP 22 HD gearhead, on the other hand, only needed Mars-specific lubrication.
Say hello to an old acquaintance
The InSight probe is powered by two solar panels for the duration of its mission. To save costs, JPL repurposed designs from the successful Phoenix mission, using a maxon DC motor developed some time ago to extend the solar panels. This type of motor, an RE 25, has ensured that NASA’s Opportunity rover has been active on Mars for more than 14 years (even if it is currently in deep sleep due to a sandstorm). Thus, two generations of maxon drives come together in the InSight robot probe to jointly contribute to the mission’s success.
For more information please contact maxon motor Australia tel. + 61 2 9457 7477.
Unique 5 wire Brushless DC motor with integrated BLDC controller provides a new and more conveniently packaged solution.
New from maxon motor is a brushless DC motor that takes a turn away from the Swiss motor company’s traditional designs. The EC-I 30IE motor features a five wire connection to simplify implementation and still give a wide functionality. An independent set speed value connection allows for a greater motor operating speed range over the common two wire approach to integrated brushless motor control. Additional features are a disable, direction and speed monitor output. It is an enclosed design that does not require any airflow through the body for cooling which makes it suitable for harsh environments typical of various industries such as food, packaging, manufacturing, mining & deep sea drilling and aerospace. Despite the internal motor control board the motor has still been designed with a shaft on both ends of the body for orientation convenience and is still part of the modular construction program allowing the addition of ceramic planetary gearheads (reduction gearboxes). The motor is 30mm diameter and 41mm long including the control unit. It has four quadrant control meaning it can control dynamic acceleration and deceleration in both directions. The controlled top speed is 6000rpm from a 24V supply and the 20W power rating indicates a high power density ratio.
For more information contact maxon motor Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477.
Global DC motor and drive specialist maxon motor has recorded growth across innovation, markets, revenue and production in 2017.
Sachseln/Obwalden (Switzerland) – The maxon motor group accomplished record revenues in 2017reporting a rise by 8.6% to CHF 459 million (up from CHF 422.5 million in the previous year). All markets contributed to the growth. Cash flow increased to just under CHF 50 million (up from 41.7 million). The number of employees globally increased to 2577. At a 40% revenue share, medical technology continues to be the strongest sector, followed by industrial automation at 28%. With R&D investments of CHF 34 million and more than 360 employees in our R&D sites worldwide, maxon has succeeded in bringing more than 20 new motors and gearheads to market and expand the company’s position as a leading manufacturer of high-quality drive components and systems. maxon looks to the future with confidence.
The impetus of growth behind maxon is mainly from the innovative precision DC motors and drives with high efficiency as well as the matching electronics for controlling complex motion sequences. The company produces in Sachseln/CH, Sexau/GER, Veszprém/HU, Cheonan/South Korea, and soon at its new factory in Taunton near Boston/USA. In addition to the sites above, R&D facilities are also located in China, France, and the Netherlands.
Growth in all markets worldwide
The biggest market in Europe is Germany, followed by Switzerland and the UK. Italy and the Iberian peninsula also grew markedly. After some years of stagnation, a strong growth has also picked up in the US. In Asia, maxon achieved new records in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. In China, maxon has seen double-digit growth over the past years. “The revenue increase by 100 million over four years has posed a great challenge to us as a company in regard to quality and service. Owing to our highly trained employees, we have been able to master this challenge successfully,” says majority shareholder Karl-Walter Braun.
20 + new products released in 2017 alone
One in seven maxon employees works in research and development. As a result of these steadily expanding capabilities, maxon launched more than 20 new electric motors, gearheads, encoders and controllers in the past year. In aerospace, the motors work at temperatures as low as -130°C, while ESA’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter space probe has to withstand temperatures of more than 350°C on its flight toward the sun. In 2020, high-performance maxon motors will be used in two rover missions by ESA and NASA, after having run for more than 15 years in the hostile Mars environment despite a scheduled service life of only a few weeks.
“Our ‘Mission 2020’ strategy for growth, which we launched years ago with the goal of achieving forward integration of drive systems, is showing some initial success,” says Eugen Elmiger, CEO of maxon motor group. “For example, we’ve been able to secure a large order for pump systems to reduce nitrous gas emissions in Diesel cars in the highly competitive automotive market. We also drove forward the development of complete surgical power tools, as well as micro-pump systems used in minimal invasive cardiac surgery.” Eugen Elmiger also expects healthy growth for the user-friendly and efficient high-performance multi-axis controllers made by zub, a company acquired by maxon last year.
Looking ahead: a strong start
The first months of the new year were characterised by strong growth across the group. Pending orders and revenues exceed the figures of the previous year. Due to the overall economic development, the company expects growth to slow down somewhat in the second half of the year. “We will approach further expansion with the necessary caution,” says Karl-Walter Braun.
For further information please contact maxon motor Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477.
For many, many years nature has inspired engineers in evolving and enhancing technology to create powerful and proficient robots. Here are some examples of current creative developments.
Birds, Dogs, Snakes and Elephants are just some of the animals inspiring mechatronic engineers to design state of the art robots. Here maxon takes a closer look.
The bionic bird A French company has developed a bionic bird toy that can be controlled with a smartphone. A lightweight 9 grams, the bird can achieve speeds of up to 20 km/h and has a range covering more than 100 metres. The bird presents an alternative to propeller drones.
ANYmal Engineers at ETH Zurich developed a four-legged robot that was made for very harsh conditions and can move autonomously. Since its inception in 2009, ANYmal has evolved into machine that can conquer inclines, run, jump and press elevator buttons. Using laser sensors and cameras, the robot continuously creates a map of its terrain, knows where it is and navigates through the changing landscape. Weighing around 30 kg it can carry a payload up to 10kg and run for 2 hours on a fully charged battery. The future use for the ANYmal is expected for inspections, rescue operations or the entertainment industry.
The underwater snake
A modular underwater robot snake has been developed for use in inspections, maintenance and repair work reaching distances and places that conventional underwater robots are unable to reach. The robot is flexible and has moving connecting parts with the option of mounting tools. Inside the connecting modules are maxon brushless DC motors with customised gearheads. The underwater robot has been in constant development for 10 years with the current model reliant on a cable. Future versions include keeping the robot on the bottom of the ocean indefinitely at a docking station from where it can launch into action when needed.
This robot was named so because it moves like a snake. With a diameter of 6cm it can fit into narrow spaces making it suitable for inspection in unstable environments such as after earthquakes. With independent modules the SnakeBot can also climb up plant legs and posts. There are approx.. 20 maxon EC20 flat brushless motors in the snake, selected for both their high torque and ability to withstand short periods of overload.
This robot is modelled on an octopus’s tentacles and elephant’s trunk. With skin made of innovative fibre technology this robot offers flexible movement that can bend in three different directions at the same time. The robot is pneumatic and lightweight with 12 degrees of freedom and can carry up to three kilos of payload.
For further information on any of these examples please contact maxon motor Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477.
Developing Exoskeletons for children present their own engineering challenges simply because children are still growing.
Exoskeletons were largely developed for people that have sustained paralysis or suffer muscular dystrophy. For adults who have stopped growing there is no risk of outgrowing the exoskeleton. However for children their growth and ability present a multitude of challenges for design engineers. An exoskeleton that fits a six-year old perfectly may be much too small by the time the child turns seven. For a child with spinal muscular atrophy an exoskeleton is designed to recognise users are not completely paralysed but are able to move their legs to a certain extent. Sensors within the frame detect weak leg movements and respond immediately to provide support. As a result, the child is able control the exoskeleton directly with the legs.
Spanish company, Marsi Bionics, manufactures exoskeletons mainly for adults but have developed two exoskeletons for children, the Atlas 2020 and Atlas 2030. Weighing approximately 14 kgs it is made for children from 3 years up who have a neuromuscular disease. The exoskeleton can be adapted to various leg lengths and hip widths, so that it also fits teenagers up to about 14 years of age. The “Atlas 2030 is an upgrade of Atlas 2020”, explains Elena García, creator and co-founder of Marsi Bionics. “The main difference is that Atlas 2020 is intended for use in hospitals for gait training and rehabilitation, while Atlas 2030 is designed for use in private homes as an integral part of the patient’s everyday life. Both devices are ready for industrial production and until then, Atlas 2020 will continue to be used in hospitals for clinical research.”
maxon motor have five drive systems in each leg of the children’s exoskeleton. Brushless flat EC45 motors deliver very high torque in a compact design, coupled with inductive MILE encoders that act as sensors. The motors are controlled by servo controllers from maxon’s ESCON series. “EC flat motors provide the best power-to-weight and power-to-volume ratio”, explained Elena García. “This is a variable of paramount importance, as gait exoskeletons require high power but a very low weight and volume.” The exoskeletons will be made available commercially once CE certification marks have been received.
For more information contact maxon motor Australia Tel. +61 2 9457 7477.
Brushless flat DC motor with hollow bore for air and light transmission.
Today we exhibit a new motor development featuring a Brushless DC (BLDC) flat motor. Flat motors are also commonly referred to as pancake motors. This unit has a body length of just 38mm and an output power of over 157W and 6000rpm at the shaft in the application. The average motor power rating for the series across 6 variants is 100W. The overall motor diameter is 68mm and it can be supplied with or without protective covers for IP rating. The motor is available with an internal encoder with resolutions up to 16,384qc per revolution making it suitable as a rotary stage of robotic joint actuator. The unique feature though is the motors hollow shaft. This is to enable customers to pass light or air through the bore of the motor. Air transmission is a common requirement for packaging and placement machinery and light or fibre is a common requirement for film and camera gimbal applications. This motor was also manufactured with the customers shaft length and bore specifications in combination with a custom rear shaft extension at the rear from the motor rotor.
Contact maxon motor Australia for motor specifications or assistance with a custom solution Tel. +61 2 9457 7477.
maxon motor have released the 2018/19 catalogue. Entitled “High precision drives and systems” the new catalogue theme is based on maxon motors focus on building complete drive systems including DC motors, gearheads, sensors and controllers.
maxon motor will continue to be the world’s leading supplier of high precision brushed and brushless DC motors and gearheads but also have expanded into cross-platform system solutions from a single source. In addition to the new capabilities expansion maxon have released a large range of new products. These include: A new square format 16mm brushless DC motor, 13mm and 16mm ECX high speed brushless motors, the new ECi-30 low cost high torque BLDC motor, an entire range of frameless brushless motors that are particularly suitable for wheel hub applications and robotic joint actuation, new encoders and various new motor control units. The first torque levels from a direct drive maxon motor at 1Nm have been achieved with the new 260W flat motor that is less than 40mm long and a series of motors with a hollow bore are handy for applications that require a passage for cables, air or light. Print versions and online e-paper versions have been released.
For customised solutions contact maxon motor Australia Ph: +61 2 9457 7477.
Maxon’s miniature high speed electric DC motors align perfectly with German manufacturer KAGs larger BLDC and Brushed DC motors.
maxon motor works closely with Hannover based, German manufacturer KAG motors. KAG produces heavy duty, innovative, reliable EC and DC motors for off-the-shelf or customisable drive system solutions to the transport sector. The industry is heavily legislated with regards to access rights for the general public. KAG DC motors can be found in automatic bus and train doors, sliding steps, access ramps, doors for WC facilities in trains, switchgear, sanding systems, mirror adjustment and auxiliary compressors. The designs are vandalism-proof, vibration-resistant, cogging-torque and noise optimised, and have a slim design where needed. For more information on DC motors for transport systems please contact maxon motor Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477. Visit http://www.kag-hannover.com/en/ for more information on KAG DC motors.
maxon motor Australia’s new frameless DC motor and encoder set allows even further miniaturisation and integration. The new motors meet the increasing need for smaller robotic actuation by assembling individual parts directly into the robotic joint.
This is the new frameless brushless DC motor (BLDC) with a diameter of 45mm and an assembled depth of just 23.7mm, it has a continuous rating of 50W. 70W and 130W versions are also available. The frameless design is particularly suitable for processing machine or rotary stage manufacturers who need a large through bore to pass cabling or tubing. For positioning a high resolution magnetic encoder ring also with the same bore as the motor rotor is also supplied as components. The encoder ring is marked with the zero position to allow alignment with the motor zero commutation point in the application and is available in IP rated, absolute and incremental options. The combination gives a low profile large bore positioning system made up from standard parts with shorter lead times than specialty manufactured complete assemblies. The second advantage is for space saving in applications already containing joint actuation bearings or mounting systems there is no need for a second set within the motor.
Contact maxon motor Australia for assistance with brushless frameless DC motors. Ph: +61 2 9457 7477.
First maxon motor of its kind. Brushless DC motor with hall sensors, absolute encoder and incremental outputs
For fine motor position control across multiple generation brushless motor controller models, maxon motor Australia has supplied the first of its kind maxon EC-max brushless DC motor with three modes of feedback.
The new micromotor encoder 16 Easy Absolute 16mm x 9mm offers high resolution motor feedback from a tiny package. Additionally it offers 4,096 counts per turn incremental outputs with line driver channels and an index pulse. The Absolute output is available in the choice of Binary BiSS-C or Gray Symmetric SSI. The encoders use an interpolated hall sensor angle measurement system to generate the incremental quadrature output signals according to EIA-422 with 20mA maximum current draw and ESD protections built in. The angle value zero of the encoder is factory aligned with the BLDC motor zero point and the encoder is welded in place on the rear flange of the motor. When fitted with a multi pole brushless DC motor the encoder can still show the angle values zero once per mechanical turn and the angle zero is identical to the index position. The motor itself also contains three hall sensors for commutation purposes. An adaptor is available to convert the single ended clock and data signals of the absolute encoder into TIA/EIA RS422 compliant differential clock and data lines.
For special configurations of this unique feedback solution with other maxon motor types contact maxon motor Australia Sydney office on +61 2 9457 7477.