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A mechatronic orthosis glove, for restoring mobility to the hand after an accident or stroke.

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.

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Medtech development: miniature surgical robot with haptic technology

A start-up company in Hong Kong has developed an abdominal surgical robot with two small arms that unfold inside the abdomen and controlled by the surgeon using a control panel.

The start-up company NISI (HK) Limited is developing a miniature surgical robot that can be inserted though natural openings in the body and only unfolds inside the abdomen. To achieve this goal, the engineers are pushing components to their limits and beyond.

In the world of medtech, there are many astonishing new developments these days. The world of surgical robots could soon be disrupted: In summer 2018, the Hong Kong-based startup NISI announced that they have successfully performed a series of gynecological operations on live pigs. This may not sound like anything special at first, however: The essence is that the surgeons used a small robot that had been inserted rectally. This is a world’s first in medical history, according to the company.

NISI was founded in 2012 and works with the universities of Hong Kong and Cambridge to develop a robotic system that enables complex, minimal-invasive surgeries in the abdominal and pelvic area without leaving visible scars. “We want to become the world’s leading expert in non-invasive surgical robotic technology,” says Dr. Corinna Ockenfeld at NISI. The successful surgeries in the summer of 2018 have given the medtech start-up a lot of momentum. Initial surgeries on humans are planned for 2021.

The idea behind the NISI’s novel surgical system is as follows: The surgical robot is inserted through a natural orifice, usually the anus or the vagina. By doing so, only a small cut inside the body is necessary to get multiple robotic instruments inside the abdomen. Current systems require several incisions, one for each instrument. The new technology has obvious benefits: Less blood loss during surgery, less wound related complications, shorter recovery time for the patient, and no visible scars.

The robot itself has two small arms that unfold inside the abdomen and can be controlled by the surgeon using a control panel. The two robotic arms are directly controlled by micromotors from maxon and have up to eight degrees of freedom. The system also has a high-resolution 2D and 3D camera and delivers haptic feedback, so that the surgeon is able to feel what is happening at the other end and can work with even higher precision.

Bringing surgical robots to the next level requires more than outstanding technicians and engineers: Quality components are a key element. NISI is therefore testing various concepts and combinations of components. “We want to push the boundaries of medical and robotic technology,” says Dr. Corinna Ockenfeld. With regard to the motors, this requires an extremely small size and extremely high power density. “We are working closely with maxon and have a weekly exchange of information. We really appreciate the support we’ve received over the past years. The collaboration with maxon is highly productive and extremely valuable for both sides.”

The prototypes of the NISI surgical robotic system currently use various brushless DC motors from the EC series, with diameters ranging from 4 to 8 millimeters, complemented by matching customised gearheads. Both partners are pushing the precision drives to their limits, sometimes running them outside the nominal specifications. However, the BLDC motors are customised for the application’s specific needs. They require high power density, must fulfil extremely strict quality standards and be sealed against body fluids. In the future, the drives will also be biocompatible.

The next steps are to make the entire system even smaller, to make the motors even more dynamic and to expand the working range of the robot. “We take care of every little detail and take innovative approaches to solving problems,” says Dr. Corinna Ockenfeld. Step by step, NISI is coming closer in fulfilling its vision of making non-invasive surgery without scars a commonplace reality.

For further information please contact maxon Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477.

e-mobility is changing our world.

The latest issue of maxon’s driven magazine looks at developments and trends in e-mobility.

50 years ago, it wouldn’t have been dreamed of that a family could go on a trip in their car without burning a drop of fuel. Or that inexperienced cyclists could tour vast mountain ranges. Or that robots pull weeds, not humans. These are three, of many, examples that show the influence of electric drive systems on our daily lives and our mobility.

In addition to e-mobility developments, readers get an insight into the battery development at maxon and meet a friendly superhero with a disability. For inquisitive minds, there is an in-depth technical article about inductance in iron-core DC motors.

For more information or to download your free copy of driven click here. Contact maxon motor Australia for application assistance tel. +61 2 9457 7477.

driven, the maxon magazine, appears twice 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, free of charge.

DC motor drive systems at 30,000 feet.

The new look edition of maxon’s driven magazine discusses the role DC motor and drive systems play in passenger aircraft.

The new look issue of maxon’s driven magazine focuses on five exciting trends in the aerospace industry and poses the question, “what will travel look like in the future?”. Air travel usage has increased immensely over the years. Prices are at a record low and planes are becoming even more efficient – in part due to electric drive systems, which are replacing outdated hydraulic systems. Several hundred drive systems are installed in every modern long-haul aircraft.

Also discussed are critical features of high-precision insulin pumps and a technical report on sensorless control of brushless DC motors.

To download a free copy visit magazine.maxonmotor.com

driven, the maxon motor magazine, is printed twice a year in three languages and is full of interesting stories, interviews, and news from the world of drive technology. The current issue is now available online and can be ordered in print, free of charge.:

maxon motor Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477.

New fast brushless DC motor with diameter of 6mm from maxon

Introducing the new configurable ECX SPEED 6 M brushless DC motor that accelerates from 0 to 100,000 rpm in 5 milliseconds.

The ECX SPEED 6 M is a new brushless DC motor from maxon. With an ironless winding suitable for speeds up to 100,000 rpm and available in 3, 6 or 12 V nominal voltage.  With the option of two power ratings, the High Power version delivers approximately 25% more torque than the standard version. The brushless motor is offered with Hall sensors or as a sensorless version. It is configurable and can be combined with matching gearheads and encoders.

This particular DC motor is useful in applications with space constraints that require high precision positioning tasks such as those found in medical and lab automation and robotics industries.

For more information please contact maxon motor Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477.

maxon motor new Innovation centre is now open

In November 2018 after 2 years of construction, a new centre for the manufacture of microdrives in the medical technology industry officially opened in Sachseln, Switzerland.

To keep up with demand maxon motor built a new Innovation centre for continued collaboration of various R&D departments as well as state-of-the-art cleanrooms to produce microdrives for use in the medical technology industry. These DC motor drives are used in insulin pumps, medication delivery systems or surgical robots and the cleanrooms enable maxons’ continued fulfilment of highest quality standards.

The new building is the fifth building at maxon headquarters. A solar panel system on the rooftop provides up to 180 megawatt-hours of energy every year. More than 1200 employees currently work at maxon headquarters. The Innovation centre cost approximately CHF 30m and represents an important part of maxon’s growth strategy. “With this step, we are strengthening our Swiss headquarters and our ability to focus even more on individual markets worldwide,” says maxon CEO Eugen Elmiger. The measures include establishing a global R&D team and continuous expansion of the eight production sites. With more than 2600 employees worldwide, the company is set to focus on complete drive systems and their integration into a wide variety of applications.

For more information on drive system solutions particularly in the medical field please contact maxon motor Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477.

2017: a year of record growth for the maxon motor group

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.

Design considerations for an exoskeleton for children

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.

Saving the lives of preemie babies.

Paul is a robotically simulated training model of a 27 week old preemie baby. Created by an Austrian paediatrician to help train medical practitioners, maxon motors replicate the breathing movements of the baby.

Meet Paul. The smallest and most advanced high-end patient simulator in the world. Paul is a 27 week old preemie. He is 35cm long and weighs 1kg. He breathes on his own with a consistent heartbeat. His chest gently moves up and down, veins and arteries are visible under his thin skin. Paul needs artificial respiration and will sometimes turn blue.

Born to train medical staff in emergency situations that occur every day in neonatal intensive care units, the creator of Paul is Jens-Christian Schwindt, an ex-paediatrician in the Division of Neonatology of the Vienna General Hospital. In 2015 Schwindt started his company SIMCharacters, that arose from a need where “Critical situations in preterm care have to be trained time and time again, under as realistic conditions as possible, to ensure that everything goes equally smoothly in a real crisis” says Schwindt. With the ability to evoke emotions and cry, the baby looks exceptionally lifelike and is full of high-technology on the inside. His skull hosts a Linux system, he is charged cordlessly by induction using a customary charging pad. Paul can be operated for up to two hours. When he has difficulty breathing or the oxygen saturation drops, his head turns blue. Sophisticated hardware and software fit into a silicone skin.

maxon DC motors, gearheads and sensors ensure that the thorax and abdomen move in accordance with the programmed test scenarios. Three DCX 12mm motors with gearhead and sensors are used – two for Paul’s thorax and one for the abdomen. Another maxon DCX 6mm motor moves a valve in the lung of the simulator, with a total of 40 motors installed. The motors were selected for their torque, density and quiet running. The robust design and the ironless maxon rotor make these motors a perfect fit for this unique application. Maxon’s DCX motors are brushed and available in sizes from Ø 6 – 35 mm. They can be easily configured online and customer can select from graphite and precious metal brushes, sintered and ball bearings, and many other components.

For more information please contact maxon motor Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477.

maxon DC motors drive natural beauty treatments.

A recently patented technology uses maxon DC motors to help people look their best.

endermologie® is a beauty therapy, cell stimulation procedure, created by French company LPG nearly 30 years ago. Initially developed to treat scar tissue and aid in the skin’s healing process, it became apparent that this treatment served twofold. Use of the instrument led to tighter, supple skin, and a reduction in cellulite and fat cells in the hypodermis. Today, approximately 200,000 people in 110 countries undergo treatment with LPG technology every day. Recently LPG launched a new version of this technology announcing the Endermolift method. Organically reactivating skin cells’ processes, this 100% natural, non-invasive, non-aggressive mechanical skin stimulation technique works by applying suction to the skin by the head of the device. Stimulation is brought about by two pulsing flaps, whose beat frequency can be adjusted by the therapist. In the machine is a maxon brushless DC motor and planetary gearhead. The gearhead was customised with the addition of plastic parts to minimise the noise level. The DC motors were selected for their quiet operation, reliability, torque, speed and long service life.

For more information please contact maxon motor Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477.

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