Archive for the 'Technical Support Information' Category

New Motion Control Technology Handbook

Check out Manufacturing Automation’s MOTION CONTROL Technology Handbook to learn more about the latest products, technologies and solutions shaping the market.


GAM Launches a New Gearbox Sizing Tool

GAM’s new Sizing Tool makes it easy to find the right gear reducer, coupling, or linear mount product compatible with your motor.  Simply select your motor, adjust the ratings based on the application, and narrow down the products that match.

Gam Gearbox Sizing Tool

Gam Gearbox Sizing Tool

Over 9,000 of the most popular servomotors on the market are available for selection.  After choosing a motor, easily narrow down the list of matching products by filtering attributes. 

Other notable highlights of the sizing tool give users the ability to adjust the continuous and peak torque values of the motor based on the actual performance requirements to ensure accurate sizing and a side-by-side product comparison function.  Once a product has been sized, you can get a personalized specification page with instant access to everything you need for your design including:  

*     CAD models tailored to the specific motor available for download
*     Detailed product information
*     .PDF versions of the catalog or individual catalog sections
*     Recommended complimentary products
*     Quick RFQ and online ordering options


Watch the Tutorial

Try Gam’s New Sizing Tool now at the link below.


Tags:  Gam Gear, Gam, Electromate, Planetary Gearbox, Planetary Gearhead, Sizing Software, Sizing Tool, Inline Gearhead, Inline Gearbox, Right Angle Gearbox, Right Angle Gearhead

A Comparison of DC Linear Actuators with DC Linear Motors

New article from maxon motors

Factory automation and robotic application engineers are often faced with the challenge of requiring fast, accurate and powerful linear actuation within a small allocated volume.  The two most commonly available technologies are rotary DC motor driven actuators and linear DC motor actuators.  This article provides details on the advantages and disadvantages with all technologies. 

Click on the link below to download the article.


Tags:  maxon, maxon motor, maxon DC motor, Electromate, servo motor, BLDC motor, brushless motor, flat motor, pancake motor, automation, electric motor, motion control, linear actuator, linear motor



Gearing Products Primer

Gearing products (components or housed gearboxes) are mechanical devices used to increase the output torque or change the speed (RPM) of a motor.  They are also used for inertia matching between a load and a motor.   The most common type of gearing product is a gearbox (or housed gearhead).

Most gearboxes are constructed from steel materials such as iron, aluminum and brass, however spur gearboxes can also be made with plastics such as polycarbonate or nylon.  The orientation of the gear teeth plays a major role in the overall efficiency, torque and speed of the system.  Straight gear teeth gearboxes are typically used in low-speed applications.  These gearboxes can be noisy, and usually have lower overall efficiency.  Helical gearboxes are typically used in high-speed applications.  These gearboxes are quieter in operation than straight gear teeth gearboxes and usually have improved overall efficiency.  In very low noise applications, ceramic gears can be used to replace metal gears.

Gearboxes come in a variety of types:  Planetary, Harmonic Drive, Bevel, Helical, Spur, Cycloidal, etc.

Planetary Gearboxes are constructed with a sun gear, ring gear and planetary gears.  The sun gear is the central gear which is fixed in the center, ring gear (annulus ring) which is the outer ring with inward-facing teeth, and the planetary gears which rotate around the sun gears and mesh with both the sun and ring gear.  Planetary gearboxes are used in applications requiring low backlash, compact size, high efficiency, resistance to shock, and a high torque to weight ratio.

Advantages of Planetary Gears include:

  • High power density
  • Compact design
  • High efficiency
  • High permissible input speed

Disadvantages of Planetary Gears include:

  • Cost
  • Complex design

Harmonic Drive Gearboxes feature precision strain wave gearing which provides zero backlash, high torque, compact size, and excellent positional accuracy.  Harmonic drive gearing is made up of three parts:

Circular Spline – a solid, thick walled ring with internal teeth.

Flexspline – a thin walled, flexible steel cylinder with external teeth machined on the outside.  It is slightly smaller than the circular spline.  The number of teeth on the flexspline is less than the number of teeth on the circular spline (generally 1 to 2 fewer teeth).

Wave Generator – is an elliptical cam enclosed in a bearing assembly.

When inserted within the flexspline, the wave generator transfers its elliptical shape leading to the engagement of the external teeth of the flexspline with the internal teeth of the circular spline at two points between the flexspline and the circular spline.  The constant tooth contact achieved by having the teeth mesh at two different points allows the Harmonic Drive Gearbox to achieve zero backlash.

Advantages of Harmonic Drive Gears include:

  • High power density
  • Extremely compact design
  • Zero backlash
  • High torsional stiffness

Disadvantages of Planetary Gears include:

  • Cost
  • Complex design

Bevel Gearboxes include either straight or spiral teeth gears.  Straight bevel gears have straight and tapered teeth and are used in applications requiring slow speeds.  Spiral bevel gears have curved and oblique teeth and are used in applications requiring high-performance, high speed applications. Bevel gearboxes are mainly used in right angle applications with the shafts in a perpendicular arrangement.

Advantages of Bevel Gears include:

  • Right angle configuration
  • Durable

Disadvantages of Bevel Gears include:

  • Axes must be able to support forces
  • Potential excessive vibration and noise during operation

Helical Gearboxes feature gears that are cut at angles which allow for the gradual contact between each of the helical gear teeth.  This construction provides smooth and quiet operation.  Gearboxes using helical gears are used in high horsepower and high efficiency applications.  Helical gears are often incorporated into planetary gearbox designs.

Advantages of Helical Gears include:

  • Inline or right angle configurations
  • Smooth and quiet operation
  • High efficiency
  • High horsepower
  • Low backlash

Disadvantages of Helical Gears include:

  • Resultant thrust along axis of gear
  • Cost

Spur Gearboxes are made with straight teeth mounted on a parallel shaft.  The noise level of spur gears is relatively high due to colliding teeth of the gears which make spur gear teeth prone to excessive wear.

Advantages of Spur Gears include:

  • Cost-effective
  • High gear ratios permissible
  • Compact design

Disadvantages of Spur Gears include:

  • Noisy
  • Prone to wear

Cycloidal (planocentric) Gearboxes employ eccentric motion to achieve its speed reduction.  It uses noncircular or eccentric motion to convert input rotation into a wobbly cycloidal motion.  This motion is then converted back into a circular output rotation.  During this process, speed reduction occurs.  Unlike Harmonic drives, which employ a flexible cylinder that doesn’t move in its entirety but stretches to mesh with the internal circular spline gear to achieve a type of cycloidal motion, the cycloidal (planocentric) drives will actually move the entire internal gear in an eccentric motion.

Advantages of Cycloidal Gears include:

  • High efficiency
  • Extremely high torque output
  • Low backlash

Disadvantages of Cycloidal Gears include:

  • Cost
  •  Can generate velocity and torque ripple

Search our Gearing Products by subcategory:

Evolution of Ethernet in Control Systems. A New White Paper from Galil

Authors:  Robin Riley, Ann Keffer, Wayne Baron  Galil Motion Control

Ethernet was developed in the 1970’s and was started being used commercially in the 1980’s.   By the end of the 1980’s it was the dominant network technology.  It was initially used to connect computer systems and peripherals in a Local Area Network (LAN) and quickly evolved to be the protocol used for Wide Area Networks (WAN).  Then came the world-wide web and the incorporation of the internet into every aspect of communication.

In the mid to late 1990’s, Ethernet’s popularity spread to control systems.  The engineering team here at Galil Motion Control determined Ethernet was a viable protocol in 1999 and introduced its first Ethernet Motion Controller.  Even today, Ethernet is the most popular method of network communication in control systems.

Before Ethernet

Before Ethernet was considered viable for control systems, several other communication protocols were popular.

  • Bus-based communication was used when the controller lived within the computer. This solution was often cumbersome because the computer had to be large enough to house the motion controller, and the computer had to be and very close to the often noisy, dirty machine.
  • Daisy-Chain serial communication allows for distributed systems. The network was a series of controllers with a master. The master transmitted packets to the first device. The first device read the packet address, kept the packet if appropriate, or sent it on if it was addressed to another controller. This solution was very slow at the typical 9600 baud rate.
  • RS-485 multi-drop allowed data to be received by multiple motion controllers at the same time, but the speed was also slow, and the packet size was small.
  • Various proprietary serial communication networks became popular. These protocols were useful when data was short, repetitive and simple. Some of them are still used in some control systems today.
  • Proprietary serial communication protocols such as CANOpen, Profibus, MultiNet and DeviceNet were developed because motion control systems needed more intelligence than bus-based and primitive serial networks could provide. The protocols needed to be able to take advantage of increasingly capable motion system hardware. Because these protocols were proprietary and part of a ‘turn-key’ solution, they were also expensive and created a barrier to migration. Customers were locked into a single hardware and software vendor and support for these solutions had to come straight from the supplier.

By the 1990’s, Ethernet provided an alternative to proprietary bus communication because it was scalable, affordable, and flexible.  Ethernet became ubiquitous…

Click on the link below to download the entire White Paper.

To view a 57 minute pre-recorded webinar on this topic, click on the link below-


Click on the link below for information on Galil’s Motion Controller Family-

Galil’s Motion Controller Family

For more information, please contact:

Warren Osak
Toll Free Phone:   877-737-8698
Toll Free Fax:       877-737-8699


Tags:  Ethernet, Motion Control, Automation, CANOpen, Profibus, MultiNet, DeviceNet, Deterministic Networks, Non-Deterministic Networks, Electromate, Distributed Control, UDP/IP,  Transmission Control Protocol (TCP/IP), EtherCAT, Ethernet/IP, ASCII


Linear Actuator Selection Tips: Rod or rodless

When you need to specify a linear actuator, you want to do it right.  Some basic decisions come first.  Like electric or pneumatic.  See Tolomatic’s recent blogpost for an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of pneumatic versus electric linear actuators.

If electric is selected, you’ll next need to decide if a rod or rodless linear actuator is the best choice.  Tolomatic offers both types of electric linear actuator, so you can count on us for motion control advice and application expertise.

Selection tips

Here are our tips for specifying the right electric linear actuator for the task.

1.    Calculate size for electric, rather than fluid power  When using an electric linear linear actuator sizing softwareactuator don’t fall into the common fluid power practice of oversizing the cylinder. Pneumatic linear actuators are usually lower cost so a bigger cylinder won’t blow the budget.  However, oversizing can be costly when specifying an electric linear actuator since the purchase price may be higher.  Take advantage of sizing software offered by manufacturers to get the right size linear actuator for your application.

2.    Calculate loads precisely  If you know the weight and size of the load, how far it needs to travel and how fast it needs to move, you can accurately specify actuator components, like screws, bearings and motors.  This is critical because if these components can’t handle the stresses of the application, the system may not operate properly.  Accurately specified components mean longer service life for the linear actuator. 

3.    Factor in the duty cycle  Duty cycle for a linear actuator is the ratio of operating time to resting time.  It’s expressed as a percentage.  Accuracy in calculating duty cycle means you can spec the right actuator – one that lasts. 

4.    Set critical speed limits  High speed may be desirable but in screw-driven linear actuators lead screws have critical speed limits.  If the screw is required to operate at or beyond the limit, it will oscillate, causing noise and vibration.  Long-term effects could be premature wear and even catastrophic failure. 

5.    Factor in the environment  Extreme heat and cold will affect linear actuator linear actuator washdowncomponents. Moisture, dust or corrosive agents can cause problems.  If a linear actuator is in a washdown environment there are special material and design issues to consider. 

6.    When it comes to the drive system, consider more than footprint Reverse parallel motor mounting has the appeal of saving space, but power transmission through belts or gears may make these configurations less powerful and efficient.  Often only an inline motor configuration can deliver the speed and thrust required. 

7.    Match life expectations with actuator capabilities  An electric linear actuator will fail if its drive or carrier bearing system is over-stressed by the load and the speed at which it operates.  Simply put, if the application requirements exceed the actuator’s capabilities, it will die an early death.  Specify a linear actuator that’s suited to the task or be prepared to replace the actuator early and often. 

Special tips for rod actuators

Because an electric rod actuator pushes or pulls a load, there are two special considerations to keep in mind when specifying his type of actuator for an application.

1.    Avoid side loading  Electric rod actuators are prone to damage and wear when they Rod and rodless electric linear actuatorhave to deal with even moderate side loads.  They do not provide much support to a load especially as the rod extends.  The weight of the load can actually deflect the rod, causing wear and tear on seals and bearings.  This deflection can cause accuracy problems as well. (Just look at the worried fish in the cartoon.)

2.    Keep total envelope size in mind.  There’s a difference between the overall length of an electric actuator and its working stroke length.  You’ll have fit problems if you don’t keep both in mind.

Special tips for rodless actuators

A rodless electromechanical linear actuator cariesy loads and is subject to different stresses than its rod-style counterparts. Here are two tips for specifying rodless actuators.

 1.    Calculate moments (torques)  There are three axes to think about.  Since rodless electro-mechanical linear actuators carry loads, stresses will be placed on the bearing system for the actuator’s load-carrying platform.  You can only specify the right actuator for an application if you’ve calculated roll, yaw and pitch.

2.    Mounting makes a difference  Mounting is always critical but especially if you need a long-stroke rodless linear actuator. If this is the case, make sure you factor in enough support points to ensure rigidity. Also, make sure the mounting surface is straight and flat and there is room for the actuator and motor combination.

electric linear actuatorTolomatic solutions

Tolomatic offers a broad selection of both electric rod linear actuators and rodless electro-mechanical actuators.  Click on the link below for additional information on Tolomatic’s line of linear actuators.

For more information, please contact:


Warren Osak
Toll Free Phone:   877-737-8698
Toll Free Fax:       877-737-8699


Tags:  Electromate, Tolomatic, Linear Actuator, Electric Linear Actuator, Rodless Cylinder, Rod Style Cylinder


Groschopp Tech Tips: How Brushless DC Motors Commutate

3 minute YouTube Video from Groschopp

This Tech Tip video offers engineers a quick guide to Brushless DC (BLDC) Motor Commutation.  Understanding BLDC Commutation and how to read a BLDC Timing Diagram for Hall Switches allows engineers to properly control their BLDC motor.

Click on the image below to view this 3 minute video

Tags:  Groschopp, Electromate, PMDC, PMDC Motor, AC Motor, DC Motor, AC Gearmotor, DC Gearmotor, Right Angle Gearmotor, Fractional HP Motor, Fractional HP Gearmotor

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