The German sensor manufacturer Micro-Epsilon has developed a displacement measurement system for that is small enough to fit inside the spindle of high-speed milling and grinding machines to measure thermal and centrifugal force extension of the spindle. These measurements can be output to a CNC system as correctional values, allowing the machine to compensate for any spindle positioning errors.
Cognex has developed a technology for reading 2D matrix and DPM (direct part mark) barcodes even when they do not have visible perimeters. The texture-based PowerGrid location algorithm takes “a unique, inside-out approach” to reading codes, and is claimed to increase read rates “dramatically” in applications where a part’s geometry, poor lighting or print-registration errors make it difficult to capture an image of the entire code.
German researchers have developed an electric axle module for commercial vehicles that integrates a high-speed motor, gearbox and power electronics, and is claimed to be smaller, lighter and more cost-effective than most alternative technologies.
SKF has developed a bearing with a built-in encoder designed to provide smooth, accurate motor control for the next generation of electric and hybrid motor vehicles, including starter-alternators for stop-and-start duties.
Toyota is starting to road-test two electric vehicles in Japan that are using silicon carbide (SiC) power semiconductors in their motor controls and voltage converters. It says that SiC devices could lead to significant efficiency improvements in hybrids and other vehicles with electric powertrains.
The US motor manufacturer UQM Technologies has been granted a US patent for an electric and hybrid electric vehicle motor design that uses non-rare earth magnets and is claimed to deliver a similar performance to motors that use rare-earth magnets. The patent covers a “unique” rotor design and magnet geometry that enables the use of non-rare earth magnets and avoids the demagnetisation issues that would occur with these magnets if used in conventional motors. It also covers a motor manufacturing method.
By adding new track shapes to its linear-motor-based XTS (eXtended Transport System), Beckhoff says it has opened up many new potential applications for transporting items on production lines. For example, the new sections, with radii of 22.5 degrees, can be used in combination with the existing straight and curved modules, to create tracks in the form of circles, squares with rounded corners, or S shapes.
The German motors and drives manufacturer Nanotec, claims to have developed the first sensorless control for stepper motors. It uses a “virtual encoder” to determine the speed of the rotor, allowing the stepper motor to be operated as a servomotor, with no lost steps, no resonance and no risk of overheating.
Pepperl+Fuchs has developed a new type of magnetic rotary encoder that, it says, “redefines the boundaries of magnetic encoder technology”. The ENA58IL absolute encoder, designed for use in tough conditions, is claimed to achieve accuracies better than 0.1 degrees, and single- or multi-turn resolutions of up to 16 bits.
The Japanese motor-maker Nidec claims to have developed the first motor-drive system in which a magnet-free switched reluctance (SR) motor is powered by an inverter incorporating silicon carbide (SiC) semiconductor devices.
At the recent SPS IPC Drives exhibition in Germany, the Italian software developer Progea was demonstrating a prototype version of a virtual reality application that uses Google Glass to view the parameters of an automation system in real time, via WiFi or a mobile broadband connection.
Festo has developed a hand-like flexible gripping system that uses opposable “thumbs” to adapt to a variety of objects. The MultiChoiceGripper, aimed at robotic and assembly tasks, combines two developments: adaptive fingers using Festo’s Fin Ray technology; and a mechanical linkage that changes the position of the fingers from “opposing” to “surrounding”.
After using an in-house-developed operating system in its industrial PCs for many years, Siemens has moved to the VxWorks real-time operating system (RTOS), developed by Intel subsidiary, Wind River.
Yaskawa has unveiled a new generation of its high-efficiency matrix converter drive technology with integrated energy regeneration, harmonic suppression and a high power factor. The company is hoping that the new version will be used much more widely than earlier models, especially in applications involving large amounts of braking energy.
Mitsubishi Electric has developed a capacitor-based system that stores regenerative energy from servomotor installations and allows it to be re-used later. The company demonstrated a pre-production version of its Energy Assist Unit (EAU) at the recent SPS IPC Drives show in Germany.