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Enhancing Precision While Reducing Size, Weight and Cost

Kollmorgen Helps a Laser Cutting Machine Manufacturer Take Performance to the Next Level

Challenge

Machine builders win in the marketplace by consistently taking on new challenges and solving them. A major manufacturer of advanced laser-cutting machines engaged Kollmorgen in the early 1980s, recognizing the importance of precision motion to meet the unique and varied requirements of the machine builder's customer base. The company has leveraged Kollmorgen's co-engineering approach to design new iterations of drives and motors for the most challenging applications ever since.

To cite just one example of this iterative progress, the company needed to design a very high-speed, compact machine—essentially two laser-cutting machines in a single machine footprint—in order to meet a customer’s extreme high-speed throughput requirements. Achieving the required production throughput in a compact machine was the first challenge. Helping the company create a second version of the same machine that offered nearly the same performance at a substantially lower cost to reach a wider market was the second challenge.

Solution

The initial machine design would require ironless linear motors to meet the project’s goals for speed and precision. But having already established the design footprint for the motors, the engineering team discovered that motors to fit that footprint couldn’t provide the power required for the application. Kollmorgen designed a customized winding that worked with a specialized, high-density magnet material to deliver the needed power with no need to change the installation footprint.

Building on that achievement, the machine builder engaged Kollmorgen to help with further innovation that would open new markets for the machine and redouble its success. Kollmorgen helped engineer a lower-cost version using ironcore motors instead of the original design’s ironless motors. For a high-precision laser cutter, the challenge with ironcore motors is that the inherent attraction between the magnet way and the coil creates a cogging effect that can compromise positional accuracy.

To maintain cut quality while using ironcore linear motors, Kollmorgen developed an anticogging software algorithm, built into the AKD family drive. The algorithm reduces cogging by 90%. Critical to the success of the project was Kollmorgen's willingness to place one of its engineers on the builder's site. This motion expert made sure the engineering team understood the motor and drive requirements needed to achieve the design goals, iterated the design quickly, tuned the solution and helped get the new machine version completed on schedule.

Results

With the lower-cost ironcore motors and Kollmorgen’s anti-cogging solution, this version of the laser-cutting machine soon became the company’s biggest seller. It’s just one example of how Kollmorgen has helped this partner grow its capabilities, performance and leadership in the laser cutting industry over many decades. Other selected examples include:

  • Enabling jet engines to be manufactured with hundreds of thousands of tiny laser-cut effusion cooling holes to revolutionize fuel efficiency.
  • Helping the company move to a real-time EtherCAT bus architecture.
  • Developing a Gantry Mode algorithm to simplify tuning motion for gantry arms that must move in sync.
  • Providing tuning and filtering capabilities that double velocity loop bandwidth compared to the partner’s own controls, resulting in greater machine stability and throughput.
  • Enabling 0.0005-degree resolution in the motor’s SFD (Smart Feedback Device), Kollmorgen’s most affordable feedback solution, used in the company’s cost-effective, flexible laser cutter designed for both prototyping and production use.

Kollmorgen continues to provide expertise, tools and support to help the company improve machine designs and speed time to market. As customers bring unexpected and difficult new challenges, Kollmorgen helps modify and tune machines to work optimally with new processes and materials, ensuring top performance. And now, Kollmorgen is working with this laser cutting partner to explore opportunities for achieving greater torque and power density in a more compact footprint using the next-generation 2G Motion System.

“We admire our partner’s ability to adapt over many decades to help aerospace, automotive, medical device, electronics and other customers achieve new capabilities. We’re proud to have been a part of it all, delivering the motion capabilities needed for each application requirement.” - Josh Bellefeuille, Motors Product Director, Kollmorgen

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About Kollmorgen

Kollmorgen has more than 100 years of motion experience, proven in the industry’s highest-performing, most reliable motors, drives, linear actuators, gearheads, AGV control solutions and automation platforms. We deliver breakthrough solutions that are unmatched in performance, reliability and ease of use, giving machine builders an irrefutable marketplace advantage.