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Improved torque levels for maxon Brushless DC motors.

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.

A strong impression.

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.

Here comes a new servo control kit for robotics.

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.

The hero of Notre Dame.

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.

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.

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.

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