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Single-axis motion control chip is ‘world’s cheapest’

20 August, 2013

Trinamic Motion Control, the German developer of motion control technologies, has developed what it claims to be the world’s lowest-cost single-axis motion control chip. The TMC4210 motion controller IC, which costs just over $2 in quantities of 1,000, performs real-time position and velocity stepper motor calculations, simplifying the design of software to implement motor control on host microcontrollers.

“The total cost of ownership for a motion control system includes the initial software development cycle, as well as reliability testing for any subsequent system revisions,” explains Dr Stephan Kubisch, Trinamic’s head of r&d. “The new TMC4210 eliminates hundreds of lines of code development – often as many as 1,000 lines – and hundreds of hours of reliability testing for new and evolving systems, while also offering cost-sensitive applications a highly competitive unit cost.”

Motion control chips that support multiple axes and complex acceleration profiles are more than many applications need, raising system costs unnecessarily. The single-axis TMC4210 implements a trapezoidal acceleration profile, which is less computationally complex than sinusoidal or S-shaped profiles. This helps to cut its complexity and costs, while delivering performance that meets the needs of most motion control applications.

The chip is compatible with many Trinamic and third-party motor drive ICs with a step/direction interface. It incorporates an SPI interface to communicate with a host microcontroller, which issues high-level motion commands that the TMC4210 translates into a series of micro-step and direction instructions.

The TMC4210 is software-compatible with Trinamic’s TMC429 multi-axis motion control chip. The new device implements a subset of instructions for single-axis operation and trapezoidal acceleration profiles.

Stepper motors are cost-effective for applications that need high torque at low speeds and precise control of motor axis rotation. Trinamic estimates that more than a billion stepper motors are shipped every year.

Volume production of the new chip will start later this year. To support product development and prototyping, Trinamic is offering TMC4210 design kits with evaluation boards.

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