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.
Produced entirely in-house, maxon Group Australia designed and delivered a complete solution on a system that sensed, and measured, the subjective perception of pressure.
maxon have long been involved in assisting customers with the selection of their DC motors and drive systems within haptic applications. The obvious involvement of maxon is support in selecting the appropriate DC motor and controller. It is perhaps not a traditional connection that maxon be involved in the development of a device from concept stage through to the creation of the algorithms to gather data and provide valid haptic feedback. maxon Australia R&D team led by Dr Carlos Bacigalupo created such a device in-house and all in one mechanism.
Macquarie University Australia PhD candidate David McNaughton initially contacted maxon in July 2018 for assistance with DC motor selection. David needed to build a sensitive test instrument as part of his PhD thesis. After many communications with maxon application engineers, David realised there was no better candidate to build complex motorised instrumentation than the motor manufacturers themselves.
David said “It became quickly apparent in the discussions with maxon that the skills and knowledge to build such a device required a high level of specialisation. After meeting with the application engineers, I was confident they could deliver this bespoke device in a timely manner. maxon were professional and detail orientated throughout the developmental stages of the device, which led to the device meeting brief specifications. The goal of this research is to understand important perceptual and sensory processes involved in the human body. maxon’s insights to improve the device compared to previous models has been crucial in making this possible”.
Complex force control
The aim of the instrument was to produce adjustable levels of force to the finger of a test subject. The forces needed to be generated in three specific methods. Each of these methods requires a specific behaviour from the motor controller. Either by being idle, directly targeted or manually controlled by a slider, the instrument had to comply with well defined experimental protocols.
Four different target forces were required for David’s tests. 1N, 1.5N, 2N and 2.5N and the forces needed to be randomly selectable and quickly applied by the operator. All test data needed to be recorded for later analysis.
There were three main considerations to the application:
- the DC motor and controller to switch between manual or automatic operation;
- the need to produce adjustable levels of force;
- real time recording and translation of data into meaningful language for analysis.
Of the many motors considered for the force application the maxon Rare Earth 50mm, 200W was selected because of its linear characteristics, detent free, coreless rhombic winding design, proportionally low mass inertia and a high torque constant of 242mNm/A allowing for extremely fine control over the applied pressure.
maxon DC motor RE50 © maxon group
Coupled with the motor was an optical encoder with 20,000 quad count resolution for feedback to the maxon EPOS 4 motion controller. Dr Carlos Bacigalupo said “Carefully selected gain adjustments and a well-tuned PID feedback loop are required for this type of sensitivity. The configuration and testing cycle is greatly accelerated by the powerful tuning wizards in the EPOS Studio, but it is also vital to have the ability to individually manage all necessary parameters within the controller’s object dictionary”. maxon provided a colour touch screen for operator interface, with custom quick set controls and overriding fine adjustment facilities. The test data is recorded to a USB stick.
maxon: expertise is beyond motors
maxon have supplied many motors to customers who develop their own systems. Being involved from the concept to the finalised product was an exciting step. “maxon Australia quickly became interested in the project and showed no hesitation in an ability to deliver” said David. “Their professionalism, in depth knowledge and enthusiasm to build the device were significant factors toward awarding the contract to Maxon. The design, construction and programming of this bespoke device would not be possible without the knowledge and expertise of maxon application engineers.”
maxon are excited to bring ideas to fruition and turn concepts into reality. This is a unique project that will have far reaching gains beyond helping David to achieve results for his PhD.
For application requirements involving system design, engineering, integration and complete drive systems please contact maxon Group Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477.
The much-anticipated launch of the first two AC75 foiling monohull yachts from the Defender Emirates Team New Zealand and USA Challenger NYYC American Magic respectively did not disappoint the masses of America’s Cup fans waiting eagerly for their first glimpse of an AC75 ‘in the flesh’.
Emirates Team New Zealand were the first to officially reveal their boat at an early morning naming ceremony on September 6. Resplendent in the team’s familiar red, black and grey livery, the Kiwi AC75 was given the Maori name ‘Te Aihe’ (Dolphin).
Meanwhile, the Americans somewhat broke with protocol by carrying out a series of un-announced test sails and were the first team to foil their AC75 on the water prior to a formal launch ceremony on Friday September 14 when their dark blue boat was given the name ‘Defiant’.
But it was not just the paint jobs that differentiated the first two boats of this 36th America’s Cup cycle – as it quickly became apparent that the New Zealand and American hull designs were also strikingly different. On first comparison the two teams’ differing interpretations of the AC75 design rule are especially obvious in the shape of the hull and the appendages.
While the New Zealanders have opted for a bow section that is – for want of a better word – ‘pointy’, the Americans have gone a totally different route with a bulbous bow that some have described as ‘scow-like’ – although true scow bows are prohibited in the AC75 design rule.
The differences between the two AC75 hulls do not stop there, with the two design teams taking significantly contrasting approaches on the underwater profiles of their AC75s as well.
While the American Magic AC75 appears to have been built with an all but totally flat underwater section, Emirates Team New Zealand’s boat has a pronounced longitudinal bulge underneath running almost from bow to stern.
These two different approaches have set the sailing world alight with fans speculating over the thinking is behind each of them and pondering what the sailing characteristics of each boat might be.
Despite being very different the images of the two boats reveal some similarities as well such as the cockpit layout. Both teams have their cockpit divided in two by a central extension to the forward deck, creating two pits in which the crew can operate low down and out of the airstream. There will be plenty of improvements to come on how teams will manoeuvre the boats but so far both teams seem to have decided on fixed positions for their grinders who won’t cross sides during tacks and jibes.
With foiling now established for the America’s Cup, a key focus for designers has been to make the foils more efficient. Once again designing the shape, width and thickness of the foil wing is a trade-off between speed and stability.
The path chosen by the two teams have been very diverse. Emirates Team New Zealand has two different foils: one with anhedral angle and the other one which is straight. American Magic, on the contrary, seems to have two very similar foils wings in terms of shape and that’s probably because the Kiwis are still testing solutions whereas the Americans having been sailing consistently with their test boat, might have already got to some key conclusions.
Given that we can expect the teams to build and test a multitude of shapes in the run up to the 36th America’s Cup there is probably little to be gained from too much analysis there at this stage.
After almost a decade, soft sails are back in the America’s Cup and a lot of effort has been put in by the teams adapting the twin skinned mainsail concept to the new Class Rule with the main difference between the two AC75 appearing to be the boom position in relation to the mainsail foot. The Americans sporting a conventional boom, whereas the Kiwis have opted for a deck-sweeper mainsail foot, not unlike those used on the latest A-Class catamarans.
Despite all their differences – in their bows, underwater sections, and other design features – it is worth noting that both boats were foiling (and seemingly stably) within hours of going sailing for the first time. That is a remarkable achievement for both syndicates and a testimony to both the designers and builders, as well as to the efficacy of the AC75 design rule itself.
And it seems we will not have to wait very long for the next two AC75s to see the first light of day. The Italian Official Challenger of Record Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team is scheduled to be the next to launch on October 2, with the British INEOS Team UK syndicate following suit two days later.
Could we see two more surprising design ideas on show then?
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.
Drive specialist maxon and Swiss car racer Sébastien Buemi team up to share their passion for precision, efficiency and e-mobility.
Racer Sébastien Buemi knows what precision and efficiency are. After all, the former F1 driver has already won 13 races in the new Formula E and was the world champion in 2016. Being fast is not enough to be a front runner in this fully electric race series, a driver must also be efficient and energetic, or the battery will be empty before he reaches the finish line. That’s why Sébastien Buemi is a perfect match for maxon, whose high-end electric motors can be found not just in Mars rovers, but also in the Ad-Blue injection systems used in Formula 1 race cars.
maxon is collaborating with Sébastien Buemi and the parties signed the contract on September 9th. To celebrate the occasion, Buemi visited maxon headquarters in Sachslen, Switzerland to tour the company and meet the maxon team. Buemi was impressed with the cleanrooms and the tiny drives with a diameter of only four millimeters.
When the Formula E starts its sixth season on November 22nd, the Swiss collaboration will be represented by the maxon logo on Buemi’s racing suit. Buemi is also an ambassador for maxon. He says: “I’m proud of working with a Swiss high-tech company and being part of the maxon family.” The joy is mutual. CEO Eugen Elmiger says, “Sébastien and the Formula E in general are a great match for maxon. After all, we are increasingly becoming a systems provider, and the e-mobility market is particularly interesting in this regard.”
For further information please contact maxon’s media office, telephone +41 41 662 43 81 or email email@example.com
In France’s Bordeaux region, robots autonomously eliminate grass and weeds between the vines, making pesticides unnecessary. To enable the robots to navigate the hilly terrain, the developers looked to the Mars rovers for answers.
The wine region around Saint-Emilion in France is world famous and steeped in tradition. Winemaking here goes back to the Roman age. These days, robots help with the laborious care of the vines. The Vitirover, developed by the eponymous company in Saint-Emilion, is one of these robots. It is a fully autonomous lawnmower powered by solar energy. About twenty of these robotic mowers are in use in the vineyards. This year, Vitirover will deliver 200 more robots, for example for use along railway tracks or in photovoltaics plants. The main benefit of the robot is that it is environmentally friendly and helps to make organic wine. The use of the robot in the vineyards makes pesticides like glyphosate unnecessary. In addition, the robot protects the soil by avoiding the compaction that may be caused by tractors or horses.
The development of the robot, which is able to mow more than two hectares of land, wasn’t an easy task. As it turned out, the unstable soil in the vineyards is quite similar to the surface of Mars. This is why, when drafting the first design specifications, Vitirover collaborated with the European Space Agency (ESA) to review the designs of all of the robots that were developed for Mars missions. “This really helped us, because we couldn’t find any terrestrial robots that came as close to our specifications,” says Xavier David Beaulieu, CTO at Vitirover. He started the company in 2010, together with Arnaud de la Fouchardière. After taking over the Château Coutet winery in Saint-Emilion, he faced the challenge of controlling the growth of grass and weeds between the vines.
The robot negotiates rocky, often steep terrain and is exposed to mechanical stresses every 12 seconds, on average. The requirements for its motorisation were accordingly high. The mechatronic solutions are the result of a partnership spanning more than eight years between Vitirover and MDP (maxon France). The robot is driven by four DC motors, one per wheel. They are brushed DCX 22 L drives that offer maximum power density in a very small installation space. They are highly efficient, which is important in battery operation. Combined with a GP 32 C gearhead, this solution enables the mower to absorb the load on the wheels and deliver the torque required for traction. “In terms of the drive, the problem of the radial load on the wheel axle wasn’t an easy one to solve. However, in the end we did it,” says Xavier David Beaulieu.
The greatest challenge however was elsewhere, namely the three blades that are driven by DCX 32 L series DC motors. The high load tended to damage the ball bearings of the motors, which led to failures. The engineers at maxon finally developed an aluminium bell housing for sustainable protection. Kevin Schwartz, in charge of the Vitirover project at MDP: “Our role is not limited to delivering electric motors. Instead, we supply complete solutions that fulfill the needs of the customer.”
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.
Where motion is the key to a great cup of coffee, duplicating the precision and reliability of the motion of a person’s hand, wrist, and elbow requires a unique robotic design.
Coffee lovers are passionate about their cup of coffee. Providing a consistent and reliable cup from a coffee shop often takes a lot of time in training your baristas. Gaining that same precision motion control combined with speed and reliability was the utmost challenge for Poursteady’s Chief Engineer, Stuart Heys, who has always loved a good challenge. maxon spoke to Maximilian Babe, Poursteady’s Jack of all trades and current manufacturing manager about the final products.
Poursteady manufactures two different models. The PS1 five-station machine and the PS1-3c three-station machine. Each Poursteady machine automatically produces the perfect pour-over coffee based on the barista’s precise needs. “We wanted to design a tool that the baristas wanted to use, one that would give them the perfect cup of coffee every time while they made sure the grind was just right and that the customer was being well taken care of.” To do this, Stuart and the Poursteady team needed components that were not only accurate, but highly reliable, and offered long life. “Our machines have literally made millions of cups of coffee without a breakdown.”
The idea was for the machine to only automate the steps in making perfect pour-overs that made sense. This means that the recipes are variable depending on what the baristas choose to program into the machine. Hundreds of formulas can be stored and can be perfectly repeated with the push of a single button. Water is measured to the gram.
The robotic system provides the shapes and sizes of the spirals that are poured. Precise motion in multiple directions along with precise timing of each step is tracked and executed by the machine — using the Technosoft VX Intelligent Drive — for up to five cups at a time. Each cup can have a different sequence based on its program. Any combination of pour and motion is possible. This not only allows baristas to do other work and help customers in another way, it reduces the training the coffee shop owner needs to provide. And, it allows the shop to make more cups of coffee in less time, getting through a line of customers faster and more efficiently.
Stuart is a robotics engineer, and he used industrial automation components rated and tested for years of continuous use. Both machines use the same motion control components. Using two maxon DC motors and three belts, the machine is able to manipulate the pour spout any way it chooses. The 3c machine is around 24 inches long, which is much narrower than an espresso machine. One belt runs the full length of the X axis of the brewer. It attaches to a gear and pulley design where a second belt runs from the pulley to the motor shaft, all inside the cage of the system. The Y axis is connected directly to a motor that sits outside the cage and pivots back and forth dependent on the controller signal programmed into the unit.
The combination of motions from the design allows a user to program the unit for any type of flow — simply back and forth along one axis or a wobble along one or two axes, or a circular pattern that can be adjusted for width as well as shape.
The DC motors used in the PS1 and PS1-3c include maxon’s 30 Watt, EC45 Flat motor for the X axis and the EC32 Flat motor for the Y (or tilt) axis. The motors are electronically commutated, thus enabling extremely long motor life, since there are simply no mechanical brushes to wear out. Hall effect sensors are built into some DC motors in order to provide feedback to the control electronics. The motors offer good heat dissipation and high overload capability. Both the EC45 flat and EC32 flat DC motors have a stainless-steel housing, vary widely in diameter, and offer different shaft lengths as well. The motors can be used at any speeds needed to accommodate the application. The dynamic load of the nozzle that is always moving during the pour sequence, is light and requires little torque. Precision of the operation is what’s important, and Poursteady acquires that through the use of a closed loop control system.
“We are not the experts on how a particular shop, or barista, should prepare their coffee. With the Poursteady machine the flexibility is there for the user,” Maximilian explained. Whatever coffee, roast, and dripper preferred can be set and saved in a recipe file. If a user finds they can’t get the perfect pattern on their unit, Poursteady will help provide a custom pour pattern for them.
The next goal for the company is to provide a way to make a one-minute cup of pour-over coffee. This would allow a barista to make over 100 cups of coffee per hour with a single operator and therefore reduce customer wait time, allowing for a better barista-customer experience overall.
For more information, visit Poursteady or to learn more about the DC motor and drive system capabilities please contact maxon motor Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477.
America’s Cup sailors have proved once again to be at the top level of the sport of sailing, winning two golds and one bronze at the Tokyo Olympic Test Event in Japan. If history can be trusted the outcome of competition at Enoshima is a good indicator of how the medal challengers will fare at next year’s Olympic Games.
Emirates Team New Zealand’s sailors and 2016 Rio Gold medallists Peter Burling and Blair Tuke won the gold medal in the 49ers with an 11-point advantage. Ruggero Tita of Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team and his bow, who had topped the Nacra fleet all week long, finished fourth in the Medal Race to get gold by 12 points.
The medal race of the Finn Class was abandoned because of insufficient wind and INEOS TEAM UK’s and Olympic Finn Champion Giles Scott had to settle for closing the event with the bronze medal. Andy Maloney of Emirates Team New Zealand followed in 4th position.
Enoshima, the venue for the 2020 Olympic Sailing Regatta – which was also the venue for the 1964 Olympics – displayed a variety of conditions throughout the week of racing providing the sailors with plenty of experience for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in one year’s time. From the strong breeze and big waves of the first day to the light and unstable winds of the second day, requiring the sailors to adapt quickly in order to maintain consistency.
With a total of 363 sailors from 47 nations – among those 30 individual medallists from Rio 2016, as well as an additional 11 from London 2012 – an extremely high level of competition was guaranteed and the event was made even more fierce by the fact that, for many nations and athletes, it meant the qualification for Tokyo 2020.
With the Test Event now over the focus for the sailors who are squeezing in a Tokyo 2020 Olympic Campaign alongside their America’s Cup commitments will shift again to their America’s Cup teams as the launch of the first generation of AC75 is just around the corner….
maxon Australia is an Official Supplier to Emirates Team New Zealand. We follow the progress of their journey as Defenders in the 36th America’s Cup campaign, March 2021.
maxon Group Australia are excited to announce their collaboration with innovative Australian space company, Space Industries, to develop new mining technologies on the moon.
It’s not every day you receive an inquiry to help build a rover that will mine the surface of the moon. When maxon was contacted by Space Industries CEO, Joshua Letcher, with this exact query, a remarkable collaboration was born.
Specialising in the development of lunar and space mining vehicles, subsystems and systems for space systems, in a world-first, Space Industries are designing and developing revolutionary technology: a rover to mine elements on the lunar surface. “Space Industries are leading the way in space mining by focusing on gas production to produce resources that will sustain life on the Moon and other planets, along with producing Helium-3 for use in Medical and Energy industries on Earth” said Letcher. Soon to be located at Australia’s only dedicated Space Precinct at Perth Airport in WA, Space Industries have strategically positioned themselves amongst other leading global companies involved in civil engineering and research & development within the sector.
It was maxon’s long-standing involvement working with agencies such as NASA, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and European Space Agency, amongst others, that prompted Joshua Letcher to call maxon. maxon DC motors, drives systems and sensor technologies have already been used to drive several Mars rovers and withstood the conditions there. The DC motors resist brutal temperature changes, dust, dirt and storms. They are also built to survive a dynamic entry, descent and landing sequence as well as the harsh daily conditions on the moon. maxon Managing Director, Brett Motum, said “we are thrilled to be a part of not only an Australian first, but a world-first, invention that is going to redefine the term sustainable energy, open up exciting possibilities within the medical and energy sectors and of course, put Australia on the global Space map”.
It’s this type of application that sits at the heart of maxon – working with companies who share the same passion for innovation, technology and development of pioneering inventions. Particularly those that help to shape the future of this planet and perhaps even sustain life on the moon.
For further information please contact maxon Group Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477 or Space Industries firstname.lastname@example.org
Researchers all over the world are looking for new battery types and technologies. The goal is to lower the size, weight, charging time and price of batteries while increasing their safety.
In e-mobility, all is nothing without them: batteries. They deliver the “juice” for countless vehicles and applications that are exciting for the reason they don’t need to be connected to a power outlet all the time. Yet even though the technology has made great progress over the past decades, batteries still seem a little old-school compared with state-of-the-art high-tech electronics. For example, the microprocessor of a smartphone is able to perform billions of operations within seconds. However, charging the battery takes hours. In addition, batteries are the heaviest of all the installed components. Consumers might find this annoying, but it is simply in the nature of things that energy storage devices and the chemical reactions inside them can’t be miniaturised to the same extent as is customary in the semiconductor industry. In our daily lives, we encounter a number of different battery types:
- Cheap alkaline batteries, for example in remote controls and watches
- Nickel-cadmium batteries, with similar uses as alkaline batteries, but rechargeable
- Lithium-ion batteries, for example in cameras, power drills, and electric cars
- Lithium-polymer batteries, for example in smartphones and tablets. Lithium polymer batteries are a special type of lithium-ion battery that can be built very flat, since a gel electrolyte is used instead of a liquid one. However, they are more sensitive than lithium-ion batteries.
Even though lithium batteries are the gold standard today, they have certain downsides that can’t be overlooked. Most people have seen pictures of smartphones or electric cars whose batteries caught fire or even exploded—a horror scenario. This is why researchers all over the world are looking for new battery types and technologies. The goal: Lowering the size, weight, charging time and price of batteries while increasing their safety. In addition, the elements of lithium and cobalt (the main components of many batteries) are not available in unlimited quantities.
Magnesium batteries could be a potential successor. This technology is at the focus of a research project by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the Helmholtz Institute in Ulm. “A magnesium battery would offer decisive advantages over conventional lithium-ion batteries,” the KIT writes in a press release. “As an anode material, magnesium enables much higher energy densities and would be much safer.” Another benefit: Magnesium is about 3000 times more common than lithium and easier to recycle. “If Europe makes good progress with the development, then magnesium batteries might also help to reduce the dominance of Asian battery manufacturers and establish a competitive battery industry in Europe,” the KIT also writes. Another candidate for what is known as a solid-state battery is, surprisingly, glass. The sodium contained in glass is one of the most common elements. Sh batteries with a special glass electrolyte are potentially capable of being charged within minutes, while offering better safety than flammable lithium-ion batteries. However, some time is going to pass before such a battery technology will be ready for the market and will be able to replace lithium-ion batteries.
maxon explores the world of batteries
Batteries manufactured by drive specialist maxon? What may sound like a plan for the future is already reality. maxon began its journey into the world of power storage with the development of the BIKEDRIVE, a retrofitting kit that turns a regular bicycle into an e-bike. After some difficulties with the battery supplier, maxon decided to build its own batteries. However, this is easier said than done. Manufacturing batteries requires engineering creativity, technical knowledge, and specialised equipment. “For us, this is a relatively new, but exciting field,” says Benny Keller of maxon advanced robotics & systems (mars).
A battery pack consists of several individual cells that typically deliver a voltage of 3.7 V. Depending on how these individual cells are wired, the battery pack has different specifications. If the cells are wired in series, their voltage are added. Wiring cells in parallel increases the battery capacity. Creating an optimal combination of such individual cells requires skill and technical knowledge. “In addition, there are many safety standards that need to be met,” Benny Keller explains. A battery pack isn’t finished after the cells have been professionally glued and wired. A battery management system (BMS) is also needed. The electronics are usually installed on a PCB in the battery casing. The specialists at maxon have developed and produced their own BMS. The BMS ensures that the cells are charged and discharged evenly. This is critical for the battery’s service life. There are also safety aspects to a BMS. For example, it prevents that a battery is charged or subjected to load at excessively low or high temperatures.
It’s clear that, as a newcomer to the scene, maxon can’t start mass-producing batteries from one day to the next. However, the workshop in Giswil is very well equipped for the production of prototypes and small output quantities. For larger quantities, maxon relies on the assistance of renowned manufacturers in southern Germany. Naturally, maxon batteries are designed for e-mobility and robotics applications.
For further information please contact maxon Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477.