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Low-cost `electric cylinder` makes closed-loop positioning more affordable

23 January, 2013

Festo has developed a compact electric cylinder and controller which, it says, offer the attractions of full servo motion, but at a fraction of the cost. The EPCO cylinder – a ballscrew actuator driven by a stepper motor – is claimed to be as simple as a pneumatic cylinder, but with the precision and speed of an electric drive.

The matching CMMO controller is based on Festo’s existing ServoLite controller, but is smaller and cheaper with improved performance and reduced power consumption. It includes functions such as safe torque-off, and inputs for referencing and Ethernet diagnostics.

“With the new compact electric drive and controller, complex positioning using closed-loop motion is now cost-effective for many automation applications,” says Festo’s electric drives product manager for the UK, Nigel Dawson. “The system is quick to select and easy to connect and commission.”

The actuator and controller are part of Festo’s Optimised Motion positioning system which allows machine-builders and end-users to improve their motion control, boost their profit margins and cut their integration costs.

Electrically operated actuators have traditionally been driven by servomotors, making them commercially viable only for applications with arduous demands in terms of accuracy and load. The new system is driven by a cheaper stepper motor.
 
Commissioning is easy, with no need to buy or download specialist software. The CMMO controller contains a Web server, allowing users to parameterise it via a browser running on any computer. The system can also connect automatically to Festo’s cloud parameter server to ensure that it has the latest parameters for motor, axis and controller. As a result, the tuning is optimised for the application.
 
The actuators come in three sizes with a choice of pitches and stroke lengths, and can deliver forces up to 650N and achieve speeds up to 500mm/s. The integrated motor simplifies installation and reduces the length of the assembly.
 
The IP40-protected electric cylinder is lubricated for life, and the piston rod is prevented from rotating, making it robust and reliable over a long service life. It includes cushioning to absorb energy and noise in the end positions. Smooth surfaces make it easy to clean.
 
The cylinder can be mounted in various ways, including ground, flange and trunnion mounting. It can also be assembled directly onto a machine frame or cabinet with flat back or spine mounting, or on a DIN rail.




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