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Last time in our Block and Tackle Series on “What is a Linear Actuator?” we identified the general types of mechanisms that are used to move loads in a straight line.  Today’s blog expands on that just a bit with a few more details on the different types used in the motion control world.
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.

Question: What is a linear actuator?

Answer: Quite simply, a linear actuator is a device that moves a load in a straight line.  Linear actuators come in many styles and configurations – our blog post today covers those actuators associated with motion control.

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?

Question: What does TENV, or Totally Enclosed Non-Ventilated mean in regard to a servo motor?

Answer: Well – the answer is simply the motor is Totally Enclosed, and Non-Ventilated. Based on NEMA (National Electrical Manufacturers Association) definition, TENV states that the motor housing is fully enclosed and is not ventilated with a fan.

The FSMA evolution is ongoing and Kollmorgen continues to enable innovators to meet the requirements of making food production and packaging safer.  Kollmorgen’s White Paper “Food Safety Regulatory Requirements”  explains the background of FSMA as well as the implications on machine design.  We recognize that not all facilities have the ability to build a completely new plant from the ground up.
Collaborative robots are designed to work safely with and next to their human counterparts.  A subset of collaborative robotics has innovative safety techniques that completely eliminate the need for a safety barrier between the human and the robot.  This enables a wide range of applications to deploy and benefit from this collaborative robot technology.

Question: I need to operate a servo motor in a vacuum, what are some considerations? 

Answer: In a word?  Outgassing.  You might think that proper motor sizing is a big issue, it always is, however if you can't conform to the other process requirements, there is no point to attempting to size the motor.  The biggest issue for any given motor selection to be run in a given vacuum for a specific process is the outgassing requirement, or rather, the avoidance of materials that would affect the process being performed and/or the life of the motor.

Over the years there have been discussions about the 1.8 degree step angle versus 0.9 degree step angle of industrial hybrid stepper motors.  Most stepper motors today have the standard step angle of 1.8 degrees, resulting in a 200 step per revolution.   However, in the early days of stepper motors, before microstepping, low end resonance played a significant role in many applications.  Most application engineers suggested either increasing the load, to lower the bandwidth frequency, or simply avoiding this low end resonance region altogether.


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