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Precision motion control with a soft landing

05 December 2016

Motion control components do exactly what they say on the tin – they move things “in and out, up and down, round and round” – to coin the phrase used often by one of the UKs leading manufacturers and distributors of motion control products, LG Motion.

This article looks at just one type of linear motion component and the innovative level of control and accuracy it can achieve. Of course the driving force – no pun intended – to higher degrees of accuracy, speed, control is the endless appetite of industry for high performance components to deal with the increasing challenges manufacturing and process operations demand.

Moving coil actuators

Electric actuators are precision programmable devices based on moving coil technology. Moving coil actuators manufactured by SMAC and distributed by LG Motion are quite unique, in that force, position and speed are totally programmable and therefore can be used at high speeds, or very low speeds with sub-micron accuracy and repeatability. What really sets aside this type of moving coil actuator is the patented “soft land” feature which gives accurate sensing of product location or dimensions. 

The “soft-land” is a routine which allows the actuator rod or gripper jaw to land on the surface of a component with a low programmed force. This is particularly useful for handling delicate or high value components. 

The routine consists of a controlled low force approach in velocity mode, whilst the position error is constantly monitored. Once contact is made the position error builds up until a pre-programmed figure is reached - resulting in the rod maintaining position on the surface of the component.

This makes this type of actuator ideal for a wide range of high cycle positioning, measuring, inspection or pick and place applications, including those cases where 100 percent verification is required.

Topical application - zero defect testing

Automotive industry parts and assembly quality standards have moved from sigma level sampling to zero defect requirements. These more stringent manufacturing results can be achieved through a combination of containment through 100 percent inspections (eliminating bad parts) and correction through immediate feedback and adjustment. Inspection by hand can be reduced or eliminated, parts rejection can virtually be eliminated, and tool wear can be substantially reduced, all while increasing the pace of production.

A programmable moving coil actuator will deliver 100 percent inspection for many critical parts such as screw thread checking quality measurement and displacement testing.

Furthermore, the automation of inspection processes will also deliver SPC data acquisition, increased throughput and process control feedback leading to an overall improvement in quality of product manufactured.

Making the process Lean

In summary, the SMAC technology and devices allow the client to measure, test and verify with a single unit, simplifying the process, reducing components required and save time.

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