Archive Page 2

The Key Components Behind the Robots

DesignNews On Demand Webinar –Duration: 60-minutes

Click on the link below to view this webinar

About the webinar

What’s behind every great robot? A great motor or even multiple motors, for starters. It also involves the bearings, cables, drives, and controllers, and in some cases, linear actuators. Whether your robot is being deployed on a factory floor, in an operating room, or in one of the now-famous drones, it’s these technologies that serve as the differentiators. In fact, robotics can be in applications that range from the very coarse to the very fine. For that reason, the types of motors and other components must also vary widely.

Attend this webinar and learn about:

  • The different components that are available, specifically for robotics applications
  • How the components differ
  • How you can choose the most appropriate parts for your robotic application
  • The efficiencies that can be gained by making the right choice


John Payne
Vice President of Motion
Yaskawa America Inc.

Chad Henry
North American Sales Manager
Staubli Robotics


Rob Spiegel
Senior Editor
Design News, UBM Canon

Click on the link below to view this webinar

New Webinar. Servo Solutions For Mobile Automation Challenges

Live Webinar Tuesday April 21, 2015 11:00am EST, presented by Advanced Motion Controls & Electromate

With automation expanding out of the factory, machine builders are faced with a varying set of new challenges.  Mobile platforms, such as unmanned systems, are expected to operate in extreme environments and carry their own power source; all while being light weight and compact.

To meet the current and future needs of the market, enabling technologies need to be applied and discovered.  At the forefront of the enabling technologies are servo drive controllers.

Servo controllers not only make a robot or mobile platform move, they can also be solutions to the other design requirements.  A servo is an integral component to any mobile solution and can help with power efficiency, communication, agility and dexterity.  This webinar will touch on the challenges presented to robot designers and how servo drives can make them successful.

Webinar Presenter: Shane Beilke, Advanced Motion Controls: Executive Team – Product Strategy

Register to watch the recorded webinar live or any time after April 21, 2015.

Register Online


Tags:  AMC, Electromate, Advanced Motion Controls, Webinar, Mobile Automation, Servo Drive, Servo Amplifier, Servo Controller, robot, mobile platform, servo, automation, motion control

High Efficiency Motors

Reprint of maxon motor USA October 14, 2014 white paper

To understand the concept of high efficiency motors, you must first know how to calculate efficiency and the losses associated with the motor components themselves.

The final measured efficiency of a motor is calculated based only on the elements of the particular application they’re used in.  For the motors themselves, without a load, manufacturers provide ratings based on standard formulas.  To understand high efficiency motors you only need to know what makes them different.

Cutaway of a maxon brush servo motor

Cutaway of a maxon brush servo motor

But first, let’s look at the basic concept used for explaining motor efficiency, which says that efficiency is the ratio between the shaft output power and the electrical input power.  Shaft output can be measured in horsepower or watts. We’ll use watts for the purposes of this article.  The formula most often used is the simple one mentioned above:

ηm = Pout / Pin


ηm = motor efficiency
Pout = shaft power out (Watts)
Pin = electric power to the motor (Watts)

Once you’ve used this formula and found your efficiency – and it’s not 100 percent – it’s time to consider the losses that occurred inside the motor.  Motor efficiency drops based on a number of known factors where power is lost as current through the motor is met with a variety of resistances.  These losses can include the wiring and its resistance, iron losses due to magnetic events, and thermal losses.

The electrical power that is lost in the primary rotor and in the secondary stator windings are called resistance losses (or copper losses, because they are based on the characteristics of the wire used including its diameter and length).  Both primary and secondary resistance losses vary with the load in proportion to the current squared. For example:

Pcl = R I2


Pcl = stator winding, copper loss (W)
R = resistance (Ω)
I = current (Amp)

Other losses include, iron losses, as mentioned above.  These losses are the result of the amount of magnetic energy dissipated when the motor’s magnetic field is applied to the stator core.  Other factors involved include mechanical losses, which involve the friction in the motor bearings and stray losses, which are basically any remaining losses that are left after the resistance, iron, and mechanical losses are calculated.

The largest culprit for stray losses are the result of harmonic energies that are generated when the motor operates under load.  The load affects the shaft power output, which is why it’s impossible to discuss in a general article such as this.  But basically, these losses are dissipated as currents in the windings, harmonic flux components in the iron parts, and leakage in the laminate core.

High Efficiency Motors

The maxon high efficiency motors get their name because they provide efficiencies in the 90 percentiles as opposed to the 50 to 60 percent range for most motors in their class.

The key to high-efficiency for maxon lies in the fact that they have no iron losses. maxon manufactures ironless core or coreless motors designed to the needs of their customers.  This means that the losses associated with the iron components have been eliminated.  By designing coreless and ironless core motors, maxon also eliminated the largest concentration of stray losses associated with motors, which are losses associated with leakage in the laminate core.

maxon incorporates the use of permanent magnets in their motors.  The ironless core brush motors have a permanent magnet, then a rotating winding, and then the housing, which closes the magnetic path.  With this configuration, there is no electricity going through the core of the motor (through the iron parts) to create a magnetic resonance.

The benefits of the ironless winding provides very specific advantages, which include: there is no magnetic detent and there are minimal electromagnetic interferences.  Part of the efficiency, though, is dictated by the type of magnet used in the design.  For example, the stronger magnets, such as NdFe will offer higher efficiencies.  Add to this, the fact that maxon includes graphite brushes and ball bearings in their brushed motors, customers gain long service life as well as high efficiency.

Click on the link below to view the Maxon Motor Product Family.

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


Tags:  high efficiency motor, servo motor, BLDC motor, maxon, maxon motor, Electromate, brush servo motor

VIDEO: Selecting a linear actuator for safe food production

The food industry is fanatical about safety.  Producers want to be known for offering safe and delicious products. I n addition, governments want to ensure their populations against illness caused by contamination and food-borne microbes.

Continue reading ‘VIDEO: Selecting a linear actuator for safe food production’

POSITAL takes rotary encoder programming into the Internet of Things

In this video, Christian Leeser, partner, FRABA Group, talks about rotary and linear motion sensing for industrial and harsh environment applications.  Leeser also introduces the UBIFAST Programmable Encoder 2.0 tool for the IXARC series of rotary encoders from POSITAL, designed to simplify device implementation by designers, maintenance staff and distributors.  Available in North America in early 2015, the tool’s integration of web-based software in mobile devices such as tablets, smart phones and notebooks, and the POSITAL cloud support service, makes it an exemplary example of an Internet of Things hardware deployment.

Click on the link below to download the Posital product catalog.

For more information, please contact:


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


Tags:  Posital, Posital Fraba, Electromate, Encoder, Multi-Turn Encoder, Optical Encoder, Incremental Encoder, Absolute Encoder, Programmable Encoder, UBIFAST, ATEX, ATEX-Certified, Explosion Proof

Brushless servo motors – more control for valves with linear actuators

Reprint of blog posted by Ryan Klemetson of Tolomatic on Tue, Mar 24, 2015 @ 08:03 AM

Many process industry control engineers are looking to more sophisticated motion control solutions for valve automation. That’s because there’s an ever-growing need to improve productivity, increase efficiency and minimize downtime. It’s essential that engineers be able to control the valves that regulate the flow of materials throughout a facility. Continue reading ‘Brushless servo motors – more control for valves with linear actuators’

Service robots use flat motors


Service robots for the disabled must be reliable, safe and easy to use.  The right motion system components are essential for these highly specific applications.

Unlike industrial robots for manufacturing, service robots come with their own specification requirements aimed specifically at the end user, and the most discriminating user at that—a human being.  That’s why designing and manufacturing service robots takes a particular set of skills and engineering expertise.  For example, when Canada-based Kinova Robotics creates designs for this market, the design team brings years of experience in the field.  And although they’ve modified the robots over the years, as new products and systems become readily available, they can produce higher quality and more useable products.  Using the latest technologies allows the designers to continue to advance offerings to the public.

The company’s Jaco2 Robotic Arm provides a lightweight, quiet and easily controlled device to the service industry.  The robotic arm moves around 6° of freedom through the use of six flat motors designed and manufactured by maxon precision motors.

The arm was designed using six joints from a shoulder-type joint through to a functional wrist joint.  The robot can manipulate a maximum payload of 1.5 kg at full extension, as well as a 2.5 kg payload at a mid-range extension.  Both of these payloads are adequate for the needs of most disabled people in the process of living a normal life.  The robotic arm device itself weighs only 5.3 kg, which was an important specification for it to mount to a wheelchair without tipping it over.

Because the first three joints must handle the highest torque for movement of the extended arm as well as for lifting items a user needs, the design team chose to use maxon’s EC 45 flat brushless dc motors.  These motors deliver a maximum continuous torque to 134 mNm (19 oz-in.) in a small, compact 70 W package. And since the Jaco2 needed to fit inside the robotic arm itself, there had to be less heat generated through motor operation—a huge benefit of the flat motors.  Although the motors can operate at very high speeds, that was not a necessary requirement for the application.  For the robotic arm to be manipulated efficiently, the device only needed to move at a speed of 20 cm per second, which translates to about 8 rpm maximum for the actuators’ outputs (about 1100 rpm for the motors).

The second three joints in the Jaco2 arm are also EC 45 flat motors, but are 30 W versions.  Again, they were chosen to help keep heat dissipation at a minimum, since the motors were mounted inside the arm itself.  Further, the flat motors were necessary because of the compact space allocated to the robot joints. The motor efficiencies were a critical point in selecting the EC series for the application.  Plus, according to one member of the engineering team, maxon was open to slight customizations, which allowed the team to fit the motors to the application perfectly.  Through the use of slip rings that were designed and manufactured in-house, each axis on the arm has infinite rotational capability.

Gearing for the arm incorporates harmonic drives translating to a 1:136 ratio for the large actuators in joints one and three, a 1:160 ratio for the large actuator in joint two, and 1:110 ratio for the small actuators located in joints four, five and six.


The Jaco2 Service Robot uses three EC 32, 15 W motors to operate the finger of the robot.  Kinova engineers provided an in-house design for the lead screw mechanisms incorporated inside the fingers. The linear actuators had to be small due to the limited space available.  The actuators were designed in-house because the company’s engineering team found that it was less expensive to design the lead screws they needed than to buy them off the shelf from another vendor.  Although the flat motors have some minor degree of cogging, that did not affect the accuracy or other operations of the robot that would be critical to the user.  Quiet operation of the motors only added to their overall appeal for the application, especially because of the human-robot interaction. The company wanted the device to be as transparent as possible to a user.

All the motors in the arm are daisy chained using a single cable that runs through the system.  The tight form factor dictated the size and type of motor the design team could use.  The Jaco2 uses 18 to 29 Vdc for operation at 25 W nominal power (100 W peak power).  Control of the arm is performed through an RS485 (internal) and CANBUS (external) protocol. The system comes with two expansion card connectors for future use.

The controller features redundant security on each actuator/finger, redundant error check in actuators and control system, position and error calculation performed every 0.01 seconds, Cartesian and angular trajectory control, and force and torque control options.


Each Jaco2 Robotic arm is controlled easily through the user’s wheelchair control or through a user friendly joystick, which provides the precision necessary for the human-robot interaction needed for the disabled person.  All the software required for the system was written by the Kinova Robotics engineering team so that the operation of the Jaco2 met all their in-house specifications and goals.  The software runs on Windows, Linux Ubuntu and ROS, and was written using C# and C++.

maxon precision motors, inc.

Tags:  Maxon, Maxon Motor, flat motor, pancake motor, service robot, Kinova, Jaco, Jaco Arm, BLDC motor, Kinova Robotics

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