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Folded-belt actuator challenges ballscrews

21 May, 2008

The Californian integrated motor developer, Animatics, has entered the linear actuator market with a novel belt drive that, it claims, offers high accuracy and low cost without needing a brake or gearhead, even in vertical applications. The company has applied for patents in more than 30 countries for its "harmonic linear drive" (HLD) which it describes as "the most cost-effective alternative to mid-to-long-stroke ballscrew actuators available".

Animatics HLD

Instead of using a fixed belt to move the load, the HLD (shown above) uses a recirculating belt, folded back upon itself and routed over pulleys with slightly differing diameters to provide a gear reduction using the harmonic drive principle, without the cost or backlash of a separate gearhead.

The HLD, which will be sold by Animatics’ OEM Dynamics Linear Division, is available in stroke lengths from 100–3,200mm and equivalent pitch ratios from 2.5–12.5mm/rev. Custom strokes can be produced to order.

The drive provides near-zero backlash with a bidirectional repeatability approaching 60µm and a unidirectional repeatability of less than 20µm. It produces a thrust of up to 450N, with an average moment loading of up to 150Nm.

The drives use Animatics’ patented SmartMotor technology which integrates a closed-loop brushless servomotor, drive amplifier, encoder, I/O, belt actuator and bearing support. The actuators will be available in several bearing load configurations including internal rollers, and single or twin external profile rails. Fieldbus options include Profibus, DeviceNet, CANopen, and Ethernet.

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