Drives and Controls Magazine
AI helps to slash motor design times from days to hours

Two Japanese companies – Mitsubishi Electric and Toshiba Mitsubishi-Electric Industrial Systems Corporation (TMEIC) – have developed an AI-based electric motor design support technology that, they claim, can cut typical motor design times from as long as three days to just three hours. They say that the technique will reduce lead times for future motor developments.

Cross-cutting function run on servodrives reacts faster

The German drives-maker Baumüller has integrated a cross-cutting function into one of its servodrives, thus achieving faster response times and greater precision.

Aussie motor ‘doubles speed record’ and cuts rare-earths

Australian researchers have built a high-speed electric motor that, they claim, is much more robust that other IPMSMs (interior permanent magnet synchronous motors), while using far fewer rare-earth materials and being cheaper. The prototype motor has achieved speeds of 100,000 rpm, more than doubling the previous speed record for laminated IPMSMs, according to the developers.

Automatic robot configuration system cuts times by 80%

The Danish robotics developer OnRobot has demonstrated what it describes as the first software platform for configuring robotic applications automatically. It claims that the system, called D:Ploy, can cut the time it takes to deploy robots by up to 80%.

Vision sensor has a 1km range – ‘the world’s longest’

A Californian company has announced a machine vision sensor that, it claims, can operate over a range of more than 1km – further than any other device of its type. SiLC Technologies says that its “4D+” Eyeonic vision sensor can perceive, identify and avoid objects over long distances, with potential applications including robotics, autonomous vehicles, biometrics, security, industrial automation, warehousing and drones.

Four-year project delivers Ethernet-APL for process users

After almost four years of collaboration, four industrial communications organisations – FieldComm Group, ODVA, OPC Foundation, and Profibus & Profinet International (PI) – have announced the availability a two-wire, IS (intrinsically safe) physical communications layer for process applications called Ethernet-APL (Advanced Physical Layer), capable of transmitting at speeds of up to 10Mbit. The development tackles numerous barriers that have previous limited the deployment of high-speed Ethernet in hazardous process automation facilities.

Hybrid ball-bearing extracts more power from smaller motors

SKF has developed a low-friction deep-groove ball-bearing for electric motors that supports high rotational speeds and enables higher power densities, leading to higher power outputs from the same-size motor. The high-speed hybrid bearing is aimed at applications such as electric machines and drives, as well as railway traction motors.

Electric craft will ‘fly’ a few metres above the waves

A US company called Regent is pioneering a new category of electrically-powered vehicle called the seaglider that uses the ground effect to fly on a cushion of air a few metres above bodies of water. Regent says that the vehicle will dramatically cut the time and cost of moving people and goods between coastal locations.

Cogging-free PCB motor helps to control cameras remotely

A Los Angeles company that develops equipment for the film industry has used a motor with a stator formed from a PCB (printed circuit board) to solve a problem with hand-wheel systems used to operate film cameras remotely.

Novel two-part ball bearings cut noise, even at high speeds

The German engineering plastics specialist igus has developed a plastic ball bearing that unusually combines two materials to make it wear-resistant and dimensionally stable and quiet, even at high speeds. This design makes the xiros 2K bearing suitable for use in applications such as fans and blowers.

Rare-earth-free 15MW generator ‘eliminates risks’

A UK wind turbine specialist has teamed up with a US developer of high-performance rare-earth-free magnets to design a 15MW generator for use in offshore wind turbines. Middlesborough-based GreenSpur Wind and Minneaopolis-based Niron Magnetics say that the high-efficiency low-mass generator will generate power without needing costly and environmentally-dubious rare-earth magnets. Their claims have been backed by the ORE Catapult, the UK’s technology innovation and research centre for offshore renewable energy.

New ballscrew technology could double service lives

NSK has developed a ballscrew technology that, it claims, can double service lives compared to standard ballscrews in some applications. The new ballscrews are aimed, in particular, at high-load applications such as injection moulding machines and servo presses which are switching from hydraulic to electric drive operation using servomotors and ballscrews to save energy.

Linear motors with magnet-free tracks cut costs

UK-based Motion Control Products (MCP) has announced what it claims are the first linear motors that do not have any magnets in their tracks, thus reducing the need for rare-earth materials and cutting costs, especially for long travel lengths. The motors are also said to be easier and safer to assemble, without the usual strong magnetic attraction between the track and the moving forcer.

First motor-driven energy-chain can travel more than 1km

Igus claims to have produced the world’s first driven energy chain, almost eliminating limits on travel distances, which can stretch to well over 1km. The technology also delivers high dynamics and long running times because there are hardly any push/pull forces acting on the chain.

Al-cage SR motor pairs IE5 efficiency with low costs

The Japanese motor manufacturer Nidec has developed a new design of electric motor which, it claims, combines the high efficiency of a synchronous reluctance (SR) motor with the low cost of a cage-type induction motor. It says that the IE5-efficiency SynRA (synchronous reluctance motor with aluminium cage rotor) machine is the world’s first SR motor with an aluminium cage. It does not need an electronic controller and can be connected directly to a mains power supply.