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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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Mechatronic systems for small collaborative robots

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.

Engineering, robotics and a great cup of coffee.

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.

maxon collaborate in a world first: mining on the moon

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 moon@spaceindustries.com.au

We are maxon

From July 1, 2019 maxon dropped the word “motor” from its name.

maxon is evolving from a manufacturer of motors and components into a specialist for precision drive sys-tems. Known simply as maxon from 1 July, the company is changing its corporate structure to position it-self as a powerful group with a worldwide presence and the capability to respond to specific local de-mands. With a focus on five core markets – medical technology, aerospace, industrial automation, trans-portation & e-mobility and robotics. maxon drives are used wherever the requirements are particularly high, for example, in NASA’s Mars rovers, surgical power tools, humanoid robots and in precision industrial applications. maxon’s expertise beyond drive technology consists of mechatronics, battery management systems and software & cloud services. At maxon Australia, a fully integrated service is on offer with the introduction of Dr Carlos Bacigalupo who is an expert in controller integration, system analysis and configuration assistance.

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

Update on the InSight rover on Mars

maxon DC motors are currently on Mars, helping collect vital information on the Red Planet.

On November 26, 2018 NASA’s InSight rover touched down on Mars. maxon DC motors went straight into action to unfold the two solar panels, securing the energy supply that operates the all-important probe. There are two main instruments onboard InSight, a seismometer to measure potential quakes on Mars and a heat sensor designed to drill down five meters into the ground. The sensor was developed by German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR). Its rod digs into the hard soil using a hammer mechanism, driven by a DCX motor from maxon. The rate of boring down strongly depends on the composition of the soil, which hasn’t been ideal, the rod hit an obstruction in the very first hammering cycle. However, the engineers at DLR are confident these complexities can be overcome and that the sensor will reach the projected depth.

To efficiently drive the penetrometer into the ground, the DC motor needed to withstand forces in excess of 400 g – and more than 100,000 times. It took a number of variations and failed tests to find the right solution. The result is a standard DCX 22 motor, greatly modified with additional welding rings, bearing welds and specially shortened brushes. The GP 22 HD gearhead, on the other hand, only needed Mars-specific lubrication.

InSight’s mission is to carry out several measurements over a period of two years and provide insights into Mars and the formation of Earth. The mission is being conducted by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for NASA.

For more information on DC motors and gearheads that withstand exceptionally harsh environments, strong vibrations and extreme temperatures contact maxon motor 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.

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.

maxon takes another step toward being a provider of complete drive systems

maxon motor is excited to announce the acquisition of British gear motor manufacturer Parvalux Electric Motors Ltd. This expands maxon’s product portfolio and introduces new capabilities within the medical technology and industrial automation fields, amongst others.

maxon motor acquired the British-based Parvalux Electric Motors Ltd. Parvalux has been in operation for more than 70 years and offers brushed DC motors, AC motors and gearheads. Covering three production sites across the UK and with more than 185 employees, Parvalux generated revenues of £23 million annually with exports reaching approximately 40% worldwide.

The new technologies available to maxon include AC motors, worm gearboxes and DC drives with power ranges up to 1.5 kW. maxon is also better placed to serve the industry (robotics and transport systems) and medical technology (stair lifts, electric wheelchairs, etc.) markets.

In turn Parvalux benefits from maxon’s global sales network for its continued growth, and plans to expand the business’s workforce. The management board of Parvalux remains unchanged and an agreement to keep the price of the acquisition will remain confidential.

Another alignment between maxon and Parvalux was their vision to provide highly customised solutions tailored to individual customer requisites. maxon’s strategy of long-term sustainable growth is evident in this partnership. “We want to be a long-term market leader in the drives market and offer our customers the best service possible,” says maxon CEO Eugen Elmiger. Chairman of the board of directors Dr. Karl-Walter Braun adds: “I’m confident that Parvalux will contribute to this goal with its know-how and high quality products, and that the company will prove to be an outstanding addition to the maxon world.”

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

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