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Planar motor system: free-floating movers with six degrees of freedom

16 April 2019

Beckhoff is opening up new avenues in machine design with XPlanar. This is made possible by planar movers that float freely above arbitrarily arranged planar tiles and enable extremely flexible, precise and highly dynamic positioning.

For machine builders this results in maximum flexibility and simplification in the design of machines and plants.

The XPlanar system combines the individual arrangement of planar tiles with the multi-dimensional positioning capability of the planar movers floating above them. The movers can be moved jerk-free and contact-free in two dimensions at up to 4m/s with 2g acceleration and 50µm positioning repeatability – and noiselessly and without abrasion at that.

The planar motor system is highly scalable to suit individual needs and considerably simplifies the design of machines and plants. Due to the maximum flexibility in mover positioning and the very high dynamics it is possible, for example, to divide product flows very simply and individually, so that previously necessary robots or inflexible mechanical devices can be efficiently replaced. The contact-free mover travel also eliminates wear, emissions and the carryover of contaminations.

Flexible and versatile motion functions

The basis of the XPlanar system is the planar tiles, which measure 240 x 240mm and can be arranged in any desired geometries that are precisely adapted to the application at hand. The tiles contain the entire electronics and support EtherCAT G communication. A freely selectable number of planar movers float above them, made possible by integrated permanent magnets. The movers can be used not only horizontally, but also vertically and even upside down. There is a choice of four different planar mover types:

1. the 95 x 95mm small mover for payloads of up to 0.4kg

2. the 155 x 155mm standard mover for payloads of up to 1.5kg

3. the 155 x 275mm long mover for payloads of up to 3kg

4. the 275 x 275mm big mover for payloads of up to 6kg

The two-dimensional X/Y positioning of the movers is supplemented by further motion functions:

• lifting and lowering by up to 5mm, optionally incl. weighing function

• tilting by up to 5° for transporting and handling liquids

• rotation by up to ±15° or up to 360° above special planar tiles

The collision-free and synchronised movement of several movers with automatic path optimisation are further features provided by the TwinCAT automation software. The movement of several movers together in a group, for example, allows the maximum payload to be increased.

Suitable for the widest range of applications

XPlanar is suitable for use as a highly flexible transport system in general machine building, especially for the automation of packaging, assembly, sorting and order picking processes. The free choice of surfaces – easy-to-clean glass, stainless steel in hygienic design or plastic film – enables the use in the clean room, and in the pharmaceutical and food industry as well as in a vacuum.

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