maxon motor UK office spoke with Philip Norman at Ross Robotics, who has created greater flexibility with his modular robots via innovative use of hub drives.
Ross Robotics specialises in remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) that are modular. The robots are designed to be made from generic parts to build robots small, medium and large. Tools and sensors are modular too and can be plugged on to suit the application. One robot can then perform different functions, which is highly unusual in the robotic world.
An unusual advantage
The latest modules offer greater flexibility than previously by using hub drives. Hub drives consist of motors and electronics inside a wheel case. These are stand-alone units, one of the advantages being that little maintenance is required. The speed and torque of the ROV can be changed quickly by swapping to a different hub drive. ‘The idea is to hide the complexity from the end-user to provide a range of performance options’ said Philip Norman, Research and Development Director of Ross, ‘If you want a police force robot to travel at 25 kmh or a bomb disposal unit to travel at 1 kmh, the hub drive will look the same from the outside but will be calibrated to perform to a specific task.’
Philip’s team are now using the maxon EC flat motor series with accompanying maxon gearboxes in each hub. Philip explained that initially they were using an alternative gearbox combined with a maxon motor. ‘We thought we needed a customised gearbox. This was expensive and we found they were prone to failure. We then tried an off-the-shelf maxon motor and maxon gearbox and it worked perfectly.’
The modular ROV’s have huge potential from mine inspection in South America to perimeter fence patrolling in Scandinavia. In agriculture, they can be used inside chicken farms. The robots are used to check the welfare of the birds. By using autonomous or remote-controlled navigation, onboard modular sensors can monitor the air quality, as well as the chicken distribution. Chicken aggression can be a big problem. Because robots are not imprinted as predators (unlike the human stockman) they can modify the behaviour of the birds by interacting with them, like ‘super hens’, allowing smaller birds to get to the feeders and drinkers. This is hugely beneficial for the birds’ welfare and results in improved commercial outcomes for the farmer.
The nuclear industry is using robots to explore areas hostile to humans. The robots can endure rough terrain and deploy modular sensors, LIDARs, cameras and Geiger counters to determine the quality of the environment. When equipped with suitable tool modules they also perform useful decommissioning tasks.
Ross Robotics offers a range of hub motors, depending upon customer requirements. They promise quality and reliability. ‘Our biggest worry is failure. No-one wants a call at 2 am from a customer in Australia to say that your robot has failed, and it’s affecting business’, says Philip. ‘This is why we use maxon products. maxon has a great reputation globally, we only have to say that the Hub has maxon motors and gearboxes in it and customers are reassured. If we want to deliver a quality product, the quality of our suppliers is paramount.’
Please contact Karen Whittaker, Marketing Manager maxon UK and Ireland, for more information.
maxon motor Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477.
Left to right: maxon EC flat motor with gearbox; hub drive from Ross Robotics; and hub drive.
The maxon brushless flat motors are now available in combinations with planetary gearboxes, encoders and vented rotors for increased torque.
The recently released 90mm diameter Brushless DC ventilated motors from maxon gave power level increases from 160W to 600W within the same diameter. Two length options of 27.4mm and 39.9mm are selectable with two air cooling options. Four winding options are available for DC voltages varying from 12 to 60VDC. Continuous torque capability is up to 1610mNm from the motor alone and when combined with planetary, worm and helical gearhead options repeated peak torque levels of 650Nm have been achieved. High ratios and 25600qc integrated internal encoders make them extremely useful products for rotary joint applications such as robotics and industrial machinery actuators. Maxon can also manufacture custom versions with specific cable looms and rear shafts for mounting loads on both sides of the motor. The combination of the flat motors with high stiffness, low profile, zero backlash, trochoidal style gearheads also makes the complete drive suitable for wheel drive applications such as autonomous ground vehicles and warehouse logistic machinery.
maxon motor Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477.
Hardness testers are used to check whether materials have the desired characteristics. These days, this is done in a fully automated, networked process.
A material’s hardness can be used to gain information on various other properties, and the history of using hardness measurement to identify, analyse, or improve materials goes back over a hundred years. The principle has remained more or less the same – at least when it comes to metals. With a defined amount of force, a diamond or other testing object is pressed against the material to be measured. Measuring the penetration depth or the size of the impression then allows conclusions to be drawn about the hardness, which in turn can be used to derive other valuable insights about the material.
Since quality control plays an increasingly important role in industry, hardness testing today is a standard step in many labs, production facilities, and incoming and outgoing goods stations. The machines used for the task need to be smart, precise, and fast. In the age of Industry 4.0, networking capability and secure digital data archiving are also key.
The Austrian company Qness has tackled these challenges. Since 2010, Qness has been developing and producing hardness testing devices for a wide variety of applications in the automotive and aerospace industries, in medical technology, and in research. In the words of Robert Höll, General & Technical Manager, the relatively young company with 40 employees has “struck a nerve” with its products.
The latest generation of the company’s micro testing devices are used mainly in the laboratory and are able to perform hardness testing automatically. They are operated via a PC-based software, have an automatic tool changer, and support the usual testing methods (Vickers, Knoop, and Brinell). “We are also the first in the industry to integrate 3D representations into the user interface and enable the import of 3D data into the software,” says Robert Höll. This achieves a very high level of user friendliness.
The devices are able to perform a long series of tests automatically. Test sequences can be stored in the form of programs and reused as templates. The measuring results are evaluated to generate and document statistics and hardness curves. The results can be digitally archived and are available anytime and anywhere. This is an important factor in the digital age of networking.
However, all this is useful only if the measurements are accurate. High accuracy is therefore another important goal of Qness. “Our accuracy is now significantly better than that required by the standard,” says Robert Höll. To achieve this, the company uses only high-quality products – such as DC motors from maxon. Up to six of them are used per device, for positioning workpieces and tool turrets, as well as for tool-changing systems.
Qness relied on maxon from the start. The company particularly appreciates the online configurator, which allows customers to build specific drive systems. The requirements are clear: long service life, low noise, and short lead times. “The drives need to be very precise. After all, they need to move the slide with micrometer accuracy. We can’t afford compromises.”
As a next step, Qness wants to further expand its international sales and continue working on new innovations in the field of analytic devices. Robert Höll says: “As a developer, there is nothing more exciting than designing a machine concept, getting the first prototype to run, and to test whether it fulfills the expectations.”
For further information please contact maxon motor Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477.
Two leading names in motor control work together to ease development challenges for engineers and students. They jointly created a plug-and-play servo control development kit for drives, robotics and automation.
STMicroelectronics, a global semiconductor leader serving customers across the spectrum of electronics applications, is working with maxon, a leading precision-drive specialist, to accelerate the design of robotics applications and industrial servo drives. The companies demonstrated a jointly developed servo control kit at sps 2019 trade show in Nuremberg.
The EVALKIT-ROBOT-1 is a plug-and-play solution aimed to help users easily approach the world of precise positioning and high-end motion in servo drives and robotics. A maxon 100-Watt BLDC motor with built-on 1024-pulse incremental encoder is included in the kit, embodying the company’s expertise in magnetic design in precision motors that ensures smoothness and balance to allow fine control even at low rotor speeds.
The servo control board supplied with the kit contains ST’s STSPIN32F0A intelligent 3-phase motor controller and a complete inverter stage built with ST power transistors ready to connect to the motor. Motor-control firmware is also included, making it easy for users to start the motor and begin sending commands.
“Our motors are trusted worldwide to deliver high quality, precision, and accuracy,” said Felix Herger, Head of Business Development Industrial Automation at maxon. “Teaming with ST has created a platform that makes these attributes more easily accessible to a wider variety of product designers.”
“Designing high-end motion controls with accurate positioning capabilities is complex and time-consuming, demanding specialist skills. Working with maxon, we have now put those skills in a box for our customers,” said Branimir Ivetic, Motion Control Product Marketing Manager, STMicroelectronics. “The EVALKIT-ROBOT-1 kit accelerates development of next-generation robotics and automation that delivers advanced capabilities and dexterity with excellent reliability and ease of use.”
Further technical information:
ST’s STSPIN32F0A system-in package contains critical circuitry for motor control, including an STM32F031C6 microcontroller and three-phase inverter driver in a compact 7mm x 7mm VFQFPN package. The microcontroller comes loaded with plug-and-play firmware for MODBUS communication and field-oriented control (FOC) with precise positioning capabilities. Power management and current sensing circuitry are also embedded in the device making it more flexible and versatile.
The maxon EC-i 40, 40mm-diameter, 100-Watt brushless (BLDC) motor embeds a maxon ENX 16 EASY 1024-pulse incremental encoder for precision control. Hall sensors for detecting rotor position are included. The motor features an optimised design for high output torque with low cogging torque, which permits smooth motion across the speed range and enhances positioning precision.
The 3-phase BLDC inverter power stage features ST’s STL7DN6LF3 60V, low on-resistance, N-channel MOSFETs, capable of 6A maximum output for driving the motor. The kit is available now at ST.com
For further information please contact maxon motor Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477.
In the European spring of 2019, the famous cathedral of Notre-Dame was damaged in a devastating fire. The Paris fire department prevented the complete destruction of the building – with the help of a special unit in their ranks.
April 15, 2019, 7:50 p.m – In front of the eyes of an aghast public, the spire of Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris collapses. To firefighters, this isn’t just a cultural tragedy: The collapse means that the structure of the church is further destabilised by the flames. From this point on, entering the cathedral to fight the fire from within is very dangerous. The incident commander decides to send the robot Colossus into the cathedral.
Colossus was built by the French company Shark Robotics. The company employs 20 people and builds high-tech robots to assist or even replace humans in especially dangerous environments. Their robots are capable of moving in rough terrain. Equipped with an articulated arm, they assist firefighters or help with defusing explosives or removing other dangerous objects.
A modular system as a recipe for success
Colossus was developed in collaboration with the Paris fire department. It’s not just suitable for fighting fires, but also for rescuing people after the collapse of a building, or for removing biohazards. Since the tasks vary so much, Shark Robotics decided to use a modular design. A base unit is equipped with tools suitable for the mission.
In addition to a fire hose, the robot can be equipped with a 360° pivoting HD camera, for example. The robot can also be equipped with sensors that measure parameters like temperature or radiation exposure and detect the presence of toxic substances. Colossus can also take point, carrying a smoke extractor to make a seat of fire accessible to human firefighters. The gripper arm enables it to clear a path into an area. Not least, Colossus can be equipped with a stretcher, a rescue cage, or a ram. These applications put high demands on the quality and resilience of the materials. That’s why Colossus is completely made of steel and aluminium alloys that are also used in aerospace applications. Two 4,000 W motors and six batteries make sure that it is able to work continuously for up to twelve hours. It is completely sealed against dust and water and resists powerful heat radiation.
3,000 litres of water per minute
During the fire of Notre-Dame, the fire hose of the robot was used to keep the inner walls of the church and the structural elements of the building wet and prevent the fire from spreading. Via a supply hose, the robot was provided with almost 3,000 litres of water per minute – without the slightest danger to human personnel. Colossus is operated via a remote-control module with a display.
Designing a robot like this is a technological challenge. For this reason, Shark Robotics contacted mdp – maxon France. For the gripper arms of the robot, the designers were in search of motors that are compact, powerful, and efficient. “Our robots need highly resilient motors that are suitable for extreme operating conditions,” says Jean-Jacques Topalian, managing director of Shark Robotics for R&D. “The decision to use maxon was an easy one for us: The company has an excellent track record, and its motors have already proven themselves in hostile environments.”
Shark Robotics currently uses 19 different maxon products and obtains the motors directly from the drive specialist’s website. Oh, since we mentioned hostile environments: The same electric motors are built into the European rover that will start roaming planet Mars in 2021.
maxon motor Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477.
New products are revealed by maxon at the 30th SPS Exhibition in Nuremburg, from November 26 – 28, 2019. Visit maxon in hall 1, booth 224.
Maxon are excited to reveal a new development by way of a powerful, modular compact drive made especially for applications in industrial and logistics automation. Introducing the IDX drive. It combines a formidable, brushless EC-i motor and an EPOS4 positioning controller, which can be complemented with a maxon planetary gearhead where required. This drive stands out for its high efficiency, maintenance-free components, and a high-quality industrial housing with IP65 protection. It also has configurable digital and analog inputs and outputs. Intuitive software enables easy commissioning and integration in master systems. The new IDX drive will be formally released at a special ceremony at the maxon booth – be there at 4pm on Wednesday, November 27th to be a part of the official unveiling.
Also showcased is the new EPOS4 DC motor controller, now available in a Micro version. As the name suggests, the benefits of these motion controllers are their small size and attractive pricing. This makes the maxon EPOS4 Micro 24/5 particularly interesting for robotics applications where space is at a premium, as well as cost-sensitive multi-axis applications. At the maxon booth you can get a detailed look at the small motion controllers.
Across all three days, maxon experts will stand ready to talk about innovative aerospace and medical applications, share their expertise, and discuss potential solutions.
In addition maxon will have a special guest, Biorobotics expert Kamilo Melo, who will be showing the robotic snake he developed. With 16 maxon DC motors and a specific software, it moves just like one of its natural counterparts. Come along and see the snake at the maxon booth!
Please contact the maxon media office for more information email@example.com.
maxon motor Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477.
The America’s Cup is as much a design race as it is a sailing race. Racing through the unpredictable waters and weather elements requires not only skill from the sailors but reliability from the state of the art technology inside the AC75 yachts.
On a sunny October day we were given access to the workshop and a behind the scenes tour of the Auckland base by Luke McAllum, Mechanical Engineer with Emirates Team New Zealand. Luke explained some of the mechanics of the boat and gave a sneak peek of the boat pre-launch, while it was getting its mast stepped.
For about the past year, Luke has been liaising with Brett Motum, maxon motor Australia Managing Director, as part of the team designing the AC75 Class yacht. maxon are an Official Supplier of DC motors and provide drive systems advice. The America’s Cup AC75 Class Rule allows the use of electric motors to operate hydraulic valves, drive clutches, rudders and foils. Teams may also use motors for driving simulator platforms and numerous test jigs.
“The America’s Cup is as much a design race as it is a sailing race. Innovation & technology is at the forefront of every team’s priorities” said Luke.
The base, situated on the foreshore of Auckland’s harbour, has been a hive of activity. “We are still one and a half year’s out from the Cup. But every team is flat out with design and development” said Luke.
Taking a look at Emirates Team New Zealand’s AC75 yacht, Te Aihe, it is 75 ft long and weighs around 6.5 tonne. There are two foil arms on the boat, with a foil wing on the bottom of the arm. Each foil arm moves through 120 degrees articulation and the foils have a wing span of approximately 4 metres. On each foil wing, there is a foil flap, that the sailing crew control to fly the boat.
When the boat is in the dock, it’s in dock configuration which means both the foil arms are down at 0 degrees giving maximum stability. When the boat is in sailing mode, the leeward foil arm goes up about 60 degrees which puts the foil wing horizontal and the windward foil arm goes up about 120 degrees which lifts it fully clear of the water. This allows the crew to fly the boat using the controls inside the cockpit. The foiling control system is of course top secret.
When the team perform a manoeuvre they drop the windward foil wing down and lift up the leeward foil arm. Both of these maneuverers take about 3 seconds each. The foil arms weigh 1.2 tonne each and the crew are lifting these from 60 to 120 degrees, or the equivalent of 3 metres in vertical height, all in about 3 seconds. The configuration is designed to give maximum stability to the yacht throughout the manoeuvres.
While in dock the team perform dock commissioning checks before the boat is in the sailing environment ensuring all system functionalities are checked.
maxon inside Ti Aihe
We are shown one of the containerised workshops, where the design & engineering team have been working with Brett Motum and his team at maxon motor Australia. “The service that they have provided has been absolutely fantastic” said Luke. The maxon 480 W DC motor combined with a 42mm gearbox, driven by an EPOS motor controller is one of the DC motor combinations the Team have been excited to work with.
Luke said “What we really like about this motor is the size and the power it provides for how compact it is.” While Luke would like to tell us more about the DC motors, the rest is classified information.
“The America’s Cup is all about the small details and getting that small edge over our competitors. We’d like to thank maxon very much for the support they have provided. We’re looking forward to the future and the exciting development of their products on the race yacht.” said Luke.
maxon motor Australia Tel. +61 2 9457 7477.
maxon motor Australia is an Official Supplier to Emirates Team New Zealand. We follow the progress of their journey as Defender in the 36th America’s Cup campaign, March 2021.
maxon Groups current edition of driven, the in-house magazine that explores drive technology, focuses on the impact digitisation and automisation have on the workplace, and what exactly is meant by a Smart Factory.
Home automation systems where appliances are managed remotely and through a single touchpoint, are becoming more commonplace and a great example of digitisation in the home. In companies though, how will Industry 4.0, the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence affect employment? Will people be replaced by automisation and robotic systems? Readers will learn what is behind the terms used in connection with the smart factory and why some technologies are taking longer to reach fruition than initially expected.
In other news, the editorial staff of driven visited an exoskeleton team preparing for the Cybathlon, the second part to the article on “Inductance in iron-core DC motors” is released and the Ceramic Department within maxon Group gets a closer look.
Available free of charge. driven magazine is published bi-annually in three languages and is full of interesting reports, interviews, and news from the world of drive technology. The current issue is available online or can be ordered in print.
Please contact the maxon media office for more information.
firstname.lastname@example.org or maxon motor Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477.
A specially developed glove with maxon DC motors provides strength and mobility to the wearer.
Two medical engineers have created a glove that restores mobility to the wearer’s fingers. The mechatronic orthosis, called the exomotion® hand one, is in its testing phase and available soon to the market. The exomotion® hand one is worn like a glove and consists of custom-fitted exo-finger mechanics, a supporting forearm splint, a sensor, a control unit, and four miniature drives that provide the power to open or close the wearer’s fingers. Six types of grip are available, restoring freedom of movement that may have been lost as a result of accident, stroke or degenerative disease.
The hand orthosis was developed by Dominik Hepp and Tobias Knobloch, both medical engineers. They first met in university, where they both focused on this issue and founded start-up company HKK Bionics, in 2017. The two men hope to close a gap with their development: “We offer patients with fully or partially paralysed hands an aid than helps them to perform everyday tasks on their own again,” explains Dominik Hepp. Simple tasks like cooking, carrying shopping bags and opening packages will soon become part of the wearer’s daily routine again. “With an aid that is suitable for everyday use, these people can regain a degree of independence in their daily lives.”
The development of engineering medical prototypes is not without its challenges. The orthosis is intended to be worn all day long therefore it needed to be robust, high-performing and lightweight. After developing the initial prototype, the main focus was on making everything smaller, including finding suitable new components. “That was a real challenge, since we couldn’t accept any compromise in terms of stability or performance,” says Dominik Hepp. To solve this problem, the two designers collaborated with suppliers to develop special components. At the core of the hand orthosis are four customised EC motors from maxon. These requirement was not only small in size and powerful, also the DC motors had to guarantee years of service with hundreds of thousands of operating cycles. The brushless micromotors deliver the necessary grip strength and are controlled via sensors that respond to still-intact muscles, a principle that is also found in prosthetic arms.
2019 is a year of practical trials for HKK Bionics, as the product goes through extensive testing before it is approved and becomes available on the market. “We want to make the exomotion® hand one accessible to as many patients as possible. That’s why we are pursuing collaborative partnerships with selected medical supply stores while expanding our network to include doctors and therapists,” explains Dominik Hepp. For the two young businessmen, this is an exciting challenge at the interface between technology and human beings. “It’s great to see that with our experience, plenty of creativity, and some tinkering around, we can contribute to improving the quality of patients’ lives.”
For further information please contact maxon motor Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477.
Designing in the right DC motor and mechatronic drive system for a small precision device can incite challenges on many levels.
With the development and increase of collaborative robots, there has become a need for a wide variety of grippers and end effectors in general. One of the more challenging applications is for automated gauging and measurement of small parts. Such a device must provide high-resolution positioning with resolutions as low as 2.5 micrometers that can be continually available to decision-making software in automation applications. This is why New Scale Robotics (NSR), a Division of New Scale Technologies decided to design and manufacture one of their latest grippers.
Built for the smallest collaborative robots, the NSR-PG-10-20, Precision Parallel Gripper, is a mechatronic system that integrates motor, sensors, precision bearing guides, drive, and control electronics, along with embedded firmware for automation, into one device. During the design process, NSR decided that the gripper had to offer plug-and-play integration that could be installed in minutes to Universal Robotics (UR) line of small cobots. The NSR-PG-10-20 offers users the smallest size and mass with the highest precision. All power and control circuitry is located through the robot tool port and slip rings so that no external cable or electronics boards are required. To install the gripper, simply mount it to the UR robot tool flange and connect the single cable to the UR tool I/O port. Motion commands are received through the robot’s 8-pin tool I/O interface. No external wires or separate electronics are needed, which allows for full 360-degree or infinite rotation of the UR robot wrist joint without cable interference.
The Precision Parallel Gripper incorporates an internal absolute position sensor specifically for automated metrology applications offering high precision for intricate small part handling, measurement, sorting, and assembly. The grippers had to provide fast, precise movements repeatedly over a long life cycle.
Precision Motion Control
During the design process, NSR researched the needs of their Precision Parallel Gripper and selected the EC-20 Flat brushless DC motor (BLDC) designed and manufactured by maxon. This motor offers up to five winding types as well as built-in encoders. Multiple power outputs are available, and the motors provide high stability and quiet operation. The motors were primarily selected because of their extremely small mass of only 15 grams as well as their high continuous torque of 3.75 mN-m. The motors’ excellent torque-to-mass ratio means that the NSR-PG-10-20 can achieve an adjustable gripping force of ±3 to 10 N while using a modest gear ratio of 16:1. The gripper incorporates a symmetric timing belt drive with a range of 20 mm. Plus, the operational voltage, current, and torque were a good match with the internal robot power supply.
The brushless DC rotary motor drives gear reduction to a timing belt that converts rotation to linear motion. A separate angle sensor is used to measure the motor shaft angle, while separate digital electronics are used to generate the three-phase drive current needed for operation. This mechanism provides the linear motion necessary to open and close the gripper fingers used to grab and release small parts. Gripper fingers are able to grip from the outside or inside of the part depending on the application. Through the use of the embedded sensor mentioned above, the linear part measurement resolution of the gripper is 2.5 micrometers. The open/close speed of the gripper is 20 mm/second and the open/close range is 20 mm.
According to David Henderson, CEO of NSR, “The tricky parts of the design were maintaining the small size, height, and low mass of the gripper while providing closed-loop position and velocity characteristics. It was also a challenge to find a low power and current motor that allowed us to use the internal power on the robot.” maxon’s EC-20 Flat allowed NSR the leverage they needed to deliver the product their customers most needed — and still be easy to install and operate. The mechanical integration was the easiest part. The company used an EC-20 Flat without an angle sensor and instead provided their own external angle sensor for commutation. “In the future, we expect to extend our product range to include grippers with higher gripping forces — and correspondingly higher mass and power motors — longer gripping ranges, and embedded force sensors to improve force control,” Mr. Henderson said.
The gripper is equipped with interchangeable fingers. The NSR-PG ships with factory fingers installed so that users can get right to work. The gripper also provides teachable finger positions when used with Universal Robotics’ UR3, UR5, UR10 robots as well as the company’s latest line of eSeries Robots, the UR3e, UR5e, and UR10e robots. Manually move fingers to the desired position and set them using the teach pendant — a process familiar to anyone who has used a UR robot in teach mode. Position is repeatable to 0.01 mm. By setting finger open and close positions that match a user’s workpiece allows the user to minimise the finger motion (stroke) for each operation, saving time and energy. Overall, the NSR-PG-10-20 allows the user to automate repetitive, labor-intensive measurement and quality control tasks so that the UR cobot becomes a powerful tool for metrology applications.
Finding the right DC motor for such specific applications can be a daunting task. Having the availability of the latest technology in the smallest packaged DC motor has allowed NSR to fulfill their customer needs. maxon’s EC-20 Flat DC motor was a key component in the design and manufacture of the NSR-PG-10-20 Precision Parallel Gripper.
For more information: newscalerobotics.com or contact maxon motor Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477.