• What is Mechatronics?

    Oktober 04, 2017, by Bob White

    Mechatronics is taking a holistic look at a complete machine solution, taking account of all elements that make up that system that are part of the machine, including mechanisms, motors, drive electronics, controls, interfaces, and ergonomics.  A variety of disciplines are involved when considering a machine design utilizing a mechatronics approach. It is a melding of the physical expectations of a motion system whether mechanical, electronic, hydraulic, pneumatic or any hybrid of technologies used to accomplish a physical task. Often, these systems are trying to duplicate, simplify, or assist a human function, most often a repetitive motion that a machine can do better.

  • In our last blog related to decentralized drives, we indicated several key customer benefits tied to using this approach.  First, you can reduce your cable costs significantly in machine configurations with lots of axes spread apart throughout the machine.  Second, a reduction in cabinet space and cooling requirements since you’ve taken a number of heat producing elements (Servo drives) from the enclosure.  Thirdly, you increase flexibility in design. In this blog entry, we will explore what is meant by flexibility and how this offers several advantages.

  • Less Cabling, Smaller Cabinet, Less Heat…More Flexibility!  Less Cabling, Smaller controls cabinet, Less heat…wow, that’s all great stuff.  I can achieve this all with a decentralized solution?   Absolutely – and even more! Decentralized Control Architecture means shifting the motion control drives from the crowded cabinets, and moving them near to the motors – out on the machine where the action is.  Immediately you can see that this can reduce the size of the controls cabinet, moving all of those drives out onto the machine – but how do I see these other advantages?

  • Linear motors fill an important role in providing a robust and high precision direct drive solution in many high performance applications.  In order to achieve the highest level of performance, the linear motor system must be commissioned properly.  This blog post addresses key areas to consider when setting up and commissioning a linear motor system.  It is always important to refer to the installation and set -up instructions provided by the manufacturer.

  • Never sized a servo before? Well, we want to share with you some of the best practices we have found over the years. Over the next few months, we will continue this series with a variety of tidbits that will help you become more comfortable with the job of sizing a servo. In this post, we’ll start with the basics of good preparation.

  • Today’s blog is part of a Throw Back Thursday post – about an article I wrote for SubNotes magazine back in 1988. At the time we had completed a number of submersible motor applications for some very unique and tough environments. Applications with interesting names like Alvin, Jason Jr, or Robin – the first, a manned research vehicle at the time operated by Woodshole Oceanographic Institute, the other two, remotely operated submersibles used to explore the wreck of the Titanic, among other adventures.


  • This blog was originally posted back on June 18, 2012 - I wanted to update this with some new activities regarding our work with Universities since that date...

    There has been a long standing cooperation between Industry and Academics throughout the recent centuries. Just look at the companies that pop up near Universities - like the Route 128 corridor near MIT, or Silicon Valley's influence by Stanford, UCB and UCSF. Every major research university houses a "technology park" filled with start-ups incubating their new ideas and inventions. But it's not just the entrepreneurs that latch on to collaboration with academics. Established firms also find it beneficial to work with universities on various projects of interest, especially where an emerging industry may be getting ready to take off.

  • Among the simplest and least expensive feedback devices are Hall-effect sensors.  These are digital on-off devices that detect the presence of magnetic fields.  Made of semiconductor material, they are rugged, can be operated at very high frequencies (equating to tens of thousands of motor rpm), and are commonly used to provide six-step commutation of brushless motors.

  • In our previous post of this series, we learned that the selection of a feedback device is critical for precise motion applications, and that where it's located is important as well. Today's post covers some additional information regarding the difference between absolute and incremental feedback and why should I care, as well as a few other considerations.

  • A critical element of any servo system is the feedback device - after all, that's what makes it a servo to begin with! How about a very simple example to start off with: I have a bow and arrow, a target 30 feet away, and I left my glasses at home. So while I do see a large round "thing" in the distance, I have trouble making out the edges of the rings on the target. My feedback is not very accurate at the moment - so I'm likely not going to hit the bull's-eye. I discover my glasses in my pocket, slip them on - and now I can see the target much better, and I at least have a better chance now of hitting the target. Yes, there are other factors, environmental, arrow construction, etc., but you get the point (pun intended)!

  • Quick recap form our last post: In 1948, the company called Inland was formed by an out-of-work immigrant whose net worth was approximately $4000. Six employees ran the facility in the basement and garage of the Unruh home. The company's first employee, Tom Bain, described conditions there as "quite crude". He recalls the cold triple garage and the problems posed by a leaky basement after a spring rain. Just about a year later - Hugo moves to Pear River and by 1957, the plant is bursting at the seams with 60 employees and a growing workload. Now let's continue…

  • So up until now, we've seen how a couple of German immigrants came to America and turned their dreams into a reality. Fredrick came to America at the turn of the Century, Hugo a few decades later, and now Otto Kollmorgen had the reins of Kollmorgen firmly in his hands. Just how did these two companies come together? Here is a first hand account from Herb Torberg (Chief Engineer, Kollmorgen). "In the late 1950's, Kollmorgen was very busy updating submarine periscope features capabilities. Submarines were going deeper, faster and the capabilities of the periscope were greatly expanded. Included was the need to take better photographs, including sextant navigation, provide Passive electronic countermeasure, and to aid the operator in training (turning) the periscope."

  • There is a nostalgic group out there thinking about when they first were introduced to the BASIC language. BASIC? What is that? Kind of like today when you say album or 45, or even vinyl – certain “younger” folk will look at you and say “whhaatt?” – after they pull the ear buds from their ears and pause there MP3 players. BASIC – Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instructional Code. I first used Basic to program a computer back in 1976, and it had already been around for over 10+ years at that point.

  • While all of this work by Fredrick Kollmorgen was going on another immigrant, named Hugo Unruh, was growing up in Germany. About the same age as Frederick’s son Otto, Hugo faced the harsh conditions in post WWI Germany with its rampant inflation and struggling economy. His family encouraged him to emigrate to the United States so he could realize his dreams.

    Hugo was partially educated in Germany, but finished high school and two years of college while in the US. To help get through school, Hugo worked as a repairman at an X-Ray company.

  • Prior to leaving Europe, Fredrick became the proud father of a baby boy – Ernest Otto. This would be the first of three children, the other girls (Hildegard and Dorthea). From various records, I can only piece together a few bits of information regarding the early 1900’s. It appears Frederick’s wife (Agnes Hunt), an English woman, whom he married in Italy, traveled back and forth to the United States from England, bringing the children over at certain times. Otto was born in 1901 and came to the US in 1907, two years after Fredrick immigrated. Hildegard, was born in 1903 and followed to the US in 1910. Finally, Otto’s youngest sister, Dorthea, was born in 1914 in Italy –right in the midst of World War I.

  • Over the next few months, we will be publishing a blog series about how Kollmorgen evolved from its humble beginnings to today. Follow us on this journey and learn about the visionaries that built the foundation of our company.

    Turn back time – to the 1900’s, the turn of the century, the industrial revolution in full force. A young man who was skilled in optics left his homeland of Germany to work under the auspices of optics pioneer, Karl Reichert in Vienna. Frederick Kollmorgen decided to bring his skills to America, passing through London with a brief stint with Ross, Ltd. Kollmorgen settled in New York, providing optic skills for Keuffel & Esser, who manufactured drafting and surveying instrumentation.

  • Noise, and I'm not talking about that terrible band you heard at the summer fest last year, but electromagnetic interference (EMI) noise. There are 8 key steps to consider when trying to eliminate EMI noise issues. If you follow these guidelines, you are much less likely to have problems with electrical noise in your application.

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