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More than start and stop

More than start and stop

The technology of motion control is quite neatly described as the systems which make things go up and down, in and out and round and round, in a precise and controlled manner. Motion control systems will deliver linear movement often backed up by sophisticated motor and control systems to move, position and stop the device in the application.

Consider, for example, the motion control system developed to assist with the precise positioning of components integrated in satellites. Airbus Space and Defence is a world leader in space transportation and satellite systems with some of the most advanced design, manufacturing and test facilities in the industry.

When the company required a custom-designed support structure to automate the positioning of large microwave components for integration testing, calibration and tuning of microwave transmitters integrated on satellites, it turned to LG Motion. The assembly, known as a PCT support system, is used to optimise the quality and consistency within the satellite manufacturing processes. The mobile structure can support and vertically position off-centre loads of up 20kg under operator guided push-button control – over a travel range of 2400mm with pre-set speeds of 0.1mm/sec and 10mm/sec. The structure includes a microstepping motor-driven custom-designed linear actuator with a fine leadscrew drive and two parallel linear rail bearings supporting the large test-piece mounting plate.

The control system is based around the Arcus Technology ACE-SDE series intelligent microstepping drive, pre-programmed for manual pushbutton control. The single-axis controller and drive provide I/O interfacing and RS232/485 or Modbus communication with an easy to use interface and programmable S-curve acceleration profile that suits large load positioning.

In a second case study, Imperial College Non-Destructive Evaluation Group commissioned LG Motion to design and manufacture a novel XYZR gantry scanning solution with force controllable vertical and rotary axes.

The specification for the scanning system identified the main requirements for a horizontal scanning area of 200x200mm with a 10mm vertical travel with rotation that would be used to move and accurately position a small probe assembly on the surface of various components that had been subjected to microstructural damage mechanisms.

The combined linear and rotary axis has a ‘soft land’ function, which allows the force to be finely controlled. SMAC actuators are used for performing extremely sensitive work in industrial applications such as fine thread forming or precision torque tightening for very small components, as well as the critical components for delicate material pick and place systems. The SMAC actuator is combined with low-cost lead screw driven linear slides from its BiSlide range for the X and Y axes, arranged as a lower Y-axis with a parallel linear rail bearing supporting the single X-axis. The BiSlides include microstepping motors with hand-wheels fitted to aid manual pre-setup of the scanner.

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