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21 September, 2023

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IE5 motors for hazardous areas are a ‘world first’

12 September, 2023

ABB has launched what it claims is the world’s first IE5-efficiency motor designed for use explosive environments. It says that the hazardous areas version of its IE5 SynRM (synchronous reluctance motor) will cut energy losses by up to 40% compared to the IE3 motors that are commonly used in hazardous area applications.

Compact, magnet-free motor uses inductive transmission

04 September, 2023

The German automotive technology supplier ZF has developed an electric motor which needs no magnets but is claimed to deliver a similar performance to permanent-magnet synchronous machines. Unlike other magnet-free concepts, such as separately excited synchronous motors (SESMs), ZF’s I2SM (In-Rotor Inductive-Excited Synchronous Motor) transmits the energy to produce its magnetic field via an inductive exciter in the rotor shaft. It says this makes the motor “uniquely compact with maximum power and torque density”.

UK dual-arm robot is sensitive enough to handle a crisp

29 August, 2023

UK researchers have developed a dual-arm robot system that is so sensitive that it can safely handle fragile items such as individual potato crisps. The AI-guided bi-touch system, devised by scientists at the University of Bristol, is claimed to display a tactile sensitivity approaching that of humans. The researchers believe it could revolutionise delicate applications such as picking and handling fruit, and could help to create a sense of touch in artificial limbs.

Stepping on a graphene mat could power sensors

07 August, 2023

Scottish researchers have produced a pressure-sensitive mat containing a graphene-based material that generates power when humans walk on it. They suggest that the low-cost, energy-efficient technology could be used to power sensors, to monitor building occupancy, or to reduce energy use by, for example, controlling temperatures as people or enter or leave a room.

PCB-stator pump motor is much lighter and more efficient

28 July, 2023

A US company that has developed a technology that uses PCBs (printed circuit boards) to create electric motor stators, has joined forces with a pump-maker to apply the technology to a “next generation” 3hp (2.2kW) pump motor that, they claim, is much more efficient, lighter and shorter than existing motors.

3D-printed motor delivers more torque than expected

20 July, 2023

Researchers from the University of Sheffield in the UK, working with colleagues from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US, have developed an electric motor using 3D printing technology that they believe could lead to more powerful motors that use less material.

UK-developed 28kg motor delivers 650kW and 398Nm

14 July, 2023

A British electric drive developer – Milton-Keynes-based Helix – has produced an electric motor that weighs only 28kg, yet is capable of delivering 650kW of continuous power and 398Nm of continuous torque. The 261mm-long and 206mm-diameter motor has a maximum speed of 25,000 rpm.

Sensorless motor control is ‘as good as using an encoder’

12 July, 2023

Germany’s KEB Automation has developed and patented a sensorless method for controlling motors that, it claims, is “in no way inferior to operation with an encoder”. The field-oriented vector method can control permanent magnet synchronous, IPM (internal permanent magnet) and synchronous reluctance motors over their entire speed range, with less susceptibility to faults, reduced wiring effort and lower costs than encoder-based systems.

Software EtherCat motion control is ‘transformative’

11 July, 2023

The Taiwanese edge computing specialist Adlink Technology has announced a software-defined EtherCat motion controller that, it claims, overcomes the limits of hardware-based controllers, extending maximum axis counts from 64 to 128 axes and achieving cycle times as short as 125μs. The company says that its SuperCat technology marks “a significant advancement in EtherCat control”, enhancing performance, and streamlining the integration of automation processes, while offering cost-effective hardware and “effortless” software configuration.

New link modules can create twin-armed modular robots

28 June, 2023

Beckhoff has enhanced the flexibility of its Atro modular robotic system by introducing new link modules that open up new possible topologies, including multi-arm robots. It unveiled the new modules at the Automatica show in Germany where it demonstrated a T-shaped link module with two junctions being used to create a two-armed robot with four motor modules – or joints – in each of the arms. There are also L- and S-shaped link modules.

Mobile welding robot ‘raises productivity and cuts costs’

28 June, 2023

Two Italian companies – the robot-maker Comau and the shipbuilder Fincantieri – have unveiled a mobile robotic welding system at the Automatica exhibition in Germany. They say that the MR4Weld (Mobile Robot for Welding) could deliver a three-fold increase in productivity compared to manual techniques. Although the system is being designed and deployed initially to weld steel structures in shipyards, the developers believe that it could be reconfigured easily to address other applications and industries.

Twin-robot bin-picker achieves ‘record’ 2,700 picks an hour

27 June, 2023

The German vacuum technology specialist Schmalz claims to have set a new speed record for automated bin-picking using a pair of Scara robots that were able to perform 2,700 picks per hour. For this pilot application, Schmalz worked with the German systems integrator Körber to integrate a robot cell into an existing logistics installation at Schmalz’s headquarters.

UK-developed 1MW motor will power hybrid aircraft

19 June, 2023

Collins Aerospace’s UK operation is developing a 1MW motor for use in a hybrid-electric aircraft propulsion system that aims to achieve a 30% improvement in fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions compared to today's best regional turboprop aircraft. The 1MW motor will deliver four times the power and twice the voltage of Collins’ most advanced electric motor generators flying today, with half the heat loss and half the weight.

Plastic magnet rotors ‘could revolutionise’ high-speed motors

16 June, 2023

The Japanese manufacturer IHI has developed a “breakthrough” prototype high-flux plastic magnet rotor for use in ultra-high-speed motors, that would be would be efficient, lightweight and compact. IHI says these motors could revolutionise the production, performance and economy of electric aircraft and automotive propulsion systems.

Automated bin-picker works with any make of robot or gripper

14 June, 2023

The Italian robotics and automation manufacturer Comau has developed a bin-picking technology that can be used with any make of robot, bin or gripper to recognise, locate and grasp up to 40 randomly placed items every minute. The MI.RA Picker uses two high-resolution laser sensors and a central camera, combined with virtual simulation tools and predictive algorithms, to optimise path management and achieve collision-free trajectories, while lowering costs and potential risks.

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