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Technology tackles stepper motor hum

The German motion control specialist, Trinamic, has developed a technology which, it claims, will cut stepper motor noise levels “significantly”. The patent-pending technology, called stealthChop, is expected to be particularly useful for stepper motors that are used close to human operators, or where many steppers are operating together.

Integrated EV motor-inverter frees 7 litres of space

Siemens has developed an integrated motor and inverter for electric vehicles which, it says, will save space and weight, and cut costs. The key to the development is the use of a single water-based cooling system for both components, ensuring that the inverter's power electronics don't get too hot despite being next to the motor, and avoiding the need to reduce the drive’s output or service life.

Tiny piezo-hydraulic actuator delivers 150N

Researchers at Siemens have developed a powerful small actuator that combines piezoelectrics with hydraulics to produce a 9cm-long device that can apply a force of more than 150N and movements of up to 2cm. They say that the piezo­hydraulic actuator could be used to operate valves and flaps, to drive aircraft ailerons, and in robotic, medical and cleanroom applications.

Ping-pong robot plays extended rallies with humans

The Japanese automation manufacturer Omron has developed a ping-pong-playing robot which is capable of performing extended rallies with human opponents. It was demonstrated at a recent advanced technologies exhibition in Japan where it won a Grand Prix award for innovation.

Nanotube windings could revolutionise motor designs

Researchers in Finland have built an electric motor that uses a carbon nanotube yarn instead of conventional copper windings. They believe that the development could lead to lightweight motors with much lower losses than traditional designs, which could revolutionise the motor industry.

Real-time technology predicts when cylinders will fail

The US actuator and motion control manufacturer Bimba Manufacturing, has announced a “breakthrough” technology that delivers real-time performance data on pneumatic cylinders, and can predict when a cylinder will fail. Bimba says that it will allow users to users to be proactive about maintaining and optimising their pneumatic systems.

Third-order algorithm optimises multi-axis controls

ACS Motion Control has announced an advanced third-order look-ahead trajectory generation algorithm designed to optimise the efficiency of multi-axis motion control systems. The company says that, compared to second-order systems, the new algorithm will maximise system throughputs by increasing acceleration, smoothness and velocity, while minimising motion-induced vibrations and disturbances.

Robotic fabric combines sensing and actuation

Researchers in the US are developing an elastic fabric embedded with sensors that moves and contracts and could lead to a new class of “soft” robots with sensory skins. The fabric is a cotton material made from a flexible polymer and threadlike strands of a shape-memory alloy that return to a coiled shape when heated, causing the fabric to move.

Robotic ‘cheerleaders’ perform synchronised dances

The Japanese electronics manufacturer Murata has developed a team of tiny robotic “cheerleaders” which perform synchronised “dances” using advanced sensing, communication and group control technologies.

Rare-earth-free motor for dual-clutch systems is ‘world’s first’

The South Korean components manufacturer, LG Innotek, claims to have developed the world's first motor for powering dual-clutch transmission (DCT) systems which contains no rare-earth materials. It is due to enter production next year in Mexico.

Robotic wiring centre will save up to 15 hours per panel

Following five years of development, a German company is about to launch what it describes as “the world’s first robotic wiring centre” for control and switchgear panels. By eliminating the need to wire mounting plates by hand, and by making connections between devices automatically, Kiesling Maschinentechnik says that its Averex machine will cut the time needed to produce a panel by up to 15 hours.

Electrostatic motor ‘out-performs standard designs’

An American start-up company is developing a novel motor technology that harnesses electrostatic forces instead of electromagnetism. Wisconsin-based C-Motive Technologies predicts that its technology could produce the lightest, most reliable, energy and cost-efficient electric motors, and non-contact power transfer devices, on the market. It adds that its C-Machine motors will produce high torque at a lower cost than any other motor available or under development.

Two-armed robot represents 'a new era in automation’

After several appearances of prototypes at trade shows, ABB’s two-armed collaborative robot has been given a name – YuMi – and a launch date – the Hannover Fair next April. ABB says that the robot represents a new era in automation.

Tough engineering plastics are ‘first for 3D printing’

The German engineering plastics specialist igus claims to have developed the world’s first tribo-filament materials for use in 3D printers. It says that the iglidur filaments are up to 50 times more resistant to wear and abrasion than products made from conventional 3D printer materials, such as ABS1 and PLA2.

Ball-shaped gripper adapts to objects with different shapes

A novel balloon-shaped gripper for robots will make its public debut at the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) in Chicago this month. Unlike conventional grippers, the Versaball, developed by Boston-based Empire Robotics, can grasp a wide variety of objects without reprogramming, and can pick-and-place objects ranging from heavy bricks to delicate light bulbs — all in the same cycle without any changes to the application.