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Mint now comes in a multitasking flavour

01 October, 2001

Mint now comes in a multitasking flavour

Baldor has developed new versions of two of its flagship product lines - its MintDrive brushless servo drive, and its Mint motion programming language.

MintDrive II combines motion control with a comprehensive fieldbus capability to provide a relatively low-cost way of implementing distributed motion control; while the new Mint MT introduces a multitasking ability and many other enhancements including improved ease-of-use.

Part of the reason for introducing the upgraded MintDrive was to simplify Baldor`s product range which previously consisted of several families (FlexDrive, LinDrive, 26M and MintDrive), partly as a result of acquisitions made by the company in recent years. Now there will be just two versions of FlexDrive, and the new MintDrive II. A separate product for linear motors will no longer be needed.

Since Baldor launched its first MintDrive three years ago, shipments have been growing annually by around 150%. The new version is intended to open up even larger markets, by offering three-phase operation for the first time. This raises the top power rating from 6kW to 19kW.

The drive is said to be up to five times faster than its predecessor. It incorporates a new embedded motion controller, based on a digital signal processor combined with a conventional microprocessor. Baldor says existing users will be able to boost the performance of their machines, simply by upgrading their drives.

The on-board processing power is said to eliminate the need for external PCs and to allow complex movement profiles to be programmed. Fieldbus connections are provided via plug-in daughterboards, initially for Profibus-DP and CAN, with others in the pipeline. There are also plug-in interfaces for resolvers, incremental encoders, and EnDat absolute encoders. The on-board I/O has been re-engineered to include two 12-bit analogue inputs, two eight-bit analogue outputs, 18 digital inputs and nine digital outputs.

There are now two versions of the simpler FlexDrive range. The basic FlexDrive II does not have built-in support for the Mint programming language, but the enhanced Flex+Drive II does. This means that it can be programmed to perform positional and incremental moves as well as functions such as homing.

The new version of the Mint language offers high-level modular programming using functions and routines similar to Microsoft`s Visual Basic language. MintMT, which is said to be twice as fast as the previous Mint v4, is also said to offer improved programming clarity and error-checking, faster start-up times and the ability to compile programs on PCs.

Whereas previous versions of Mint relied on programs flowing sequentially, the new multitasking version allows tasks to run in parallel. For example, the motion, HMI, communications and I/O functions are separate modules and can be programmed separately and simultaneously by experts in each discipline. Libraries of re-usable code routines can be created, cutting development times.

Another possibility is that different machines - such as pick-and place robots operating side-by-side - can be operated from a single controller.




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