Drives and Controls Magazine
€8,000 Scara arm will help to ‘democratise’ robots

A French start-up company has developed a Scara robot that it is selling for prices starting at around €8,000 ($8,500), rather than the €20,000 typical of horizontal-arm robots of this type. MIP Robotics says that, at this price, payback periods can be as short as six months.

Drive-on-a-chip is first to support digital and analogue sensors

Texas Instruments (TI) claims to have developed the first drive control system-on-a-chip (SoC) that supports both analogue and digital position sensors. It says that its TMS320F28379D and TMS320F28379S microcontrollers (MCUs) will eliminate the challenges of interfacing with position sensors in industrial AC inverter and servodrive applications.

Carbon fibre linear guides are up to 60% lighter

The German plastics engineering specialist igus has developed a linear guide system that is made entirely of carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP), making it up to 60% lighter than traditional steel rail systems, and 40% lighter than aluminium rail. As well as saving weight, the drylin W guides are said to be stiffer than metallic guides, and to be non-magnetic. They need no lubrication, and are therefore maintenance-free.

Demo of rope-free linear motor elevator system is unveiled

One year after the German lift manufacturer ThyssenKrupp announced a rope-free elevator system that uses linear motors to move passenger cabins both horizontally and vertically, it has demonstrated a third-scale working version of its “game-changing” technology.

Two-armed robot uses sensitive three-finger grippers

The Italian robot-maker Comau is the latest company to develop a two-armed humanoid robot for industrial applications. At the recent EMO machine tool exhibition in Milan, it demonstrated a concept version of the robot with the two arms working together to assemble complex objects.

US trio develops assembly platform using linear motors

Three US engineering companies – the conveyor system manufacturer, MagneMotion, the automation specialist, Tek-Matic, and the engineering designer, Accelerated Machine Design & Engineering (AMD&E) – are developing a flexible platform for assembling products that is powered by MagneMotion’s QuickStick linear synchronous motor (LSM) technology.

Fruit-sorting robot ‘will disrupt the industry’

A British design and development organisation has produced a robotic gripper and vision system that can distinguish and selectively pick fruit of different varieties, shapes, sizes and colours. Cambridge Consultants says its system paves the way for robots to take on complex picking and sorting tasks involving irregular organic items –  such as sorting fruit and vegetables, or locating and removing specific weeds from a field of crops.

UK start-up will sell six-axis collaborative robot for $4,600

A British start-up is developing a six-axis collaborative robot which it aims to sell for around £3,000 ($4,600). London-based Automata Technologies was set up earlier this year by two architects who spotted a gap in the market for affordable, easy-to-use robots while they were working on advanced manufacturing and construction techniques for the renowned architect, Zaha Hadid.

Hepco and Beckhoff collaborate on linear transport system

The British linear motion specialist HepcoMotion has joined forces with the German automation giant Beckhoff to offer a version of Beckhoff’s linear-motor-based Extended Transport System (XTS) that is suitable for heavy-duty applications. The combined system made its debut at the recent Motek handling exhibition in Germany.

Box will link industrial users and OEMs to the cloud

At the SPS IPC Drives automation show in Germany next month, Siemens will be unveiling a gateway that transmits machine and industrial system data easily and securely to the cloud. The Connector Box (which is based on a Simatic industrial PC) will be able to extract and transmit data from control and drive systems from Siemens and from third-party vendors. These functions will also be integrated into Siemens’ portfolio of industrial communications products.

Transport system allows individual mass production

Festo is developing a modular palletising system that will transport workpieces independently and simultaneously to different assembly stations, allowing different processes to be carried out on each item, and resulting in individually customised products. The system, called Motion Cube, has won the Automation and Robotics category of the 2015 Handling Awards announced at the Motek show in Germany this week.

Researchers recover rare-earths from old EV motors

American researchers have developed a method for extracting rare-earth materials from the drives and motors of discarded electric and hybrid vehicles. Their aim is to help develop a sustainable domestic supply of rare earth-elements in the US, and to reduce the nation’s dependence on China for materials that are vital to the production of high-efficiency motors, wind turbines and other technologies.

‘Re-invented’ fan motor cuts energy use by up to 80%

A US company claims to have developed a new class of high-efficiency motor that that can cut energy consumption by up to 80%, while improving power quality. Missouri-based QM Power says that its Q-Sync smart synchronous motor – aimed initially at refrigeration fan applications – will also improve reliability and allow energy-saving retrofits at a similar cost to conventional motors. QM is planning to expand the technology into other applications.

Free online tool helps to choose motor bearings

The bearing manufacturer Schaeffler has released an online tool that helps users to choose the best rolling bearings for motors and generators, based on mechanical and electromagnetic field loads. The free Bearinx-online Easy EMachine tool can perform calculations for motors and generators in any orientation, and allows users to compare various bearing support options.

US awards $22m to support next-generation motors

The US Energy Department is awarding $22m in funding to five projects aimed at merging wide-bandgap (WBG) semiconductor technologies, such as silicon carbide (SiC), with advanced large-scale electric motors, to boost efficiency in high-energy-consuming industries, products and processes. The projects, funded through the Department’s Next Generation Electric Machines programme, aim to cut energy waste by up to 30% and to reduce the size of megawatt-scale motors and drive systems by up to 50%.