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Linear actuators provide alternative to screw or belt driven designs

20 April 2011

Aerotech's new ACT series linear actuators offer a cost-effective, uncomplicated design featuring ultra smooth brushless linear servomotors, sub micron level encoder feedback and heavy duty linear guide bearings for demanding high-throughput/high accuracy positioning applications. Available in widths of 115mm, 140mm and 165mm, and with travel range from 100mm to 1.5m, the modular ACT series provides an alternative to ball-screw and belt driven systems.

A choice of options allows users to select a complete positioning system with price and performance matched to requirements. These include uncertified, certified or HALAR interferometer calibrated accuracy grades and a choice of power performance through a forced air cooled motor option. There are also alternative cable management systems and flexible mechanical interfacing options ranging from single and  X-Y axis configurations through to multi-axis systems with dual parallel axes in gantry positioning styles as well as Z and theta axes selected from other Aerotech positioning stage lines.

The ACT series linear actuator uses Aerotech's direct-drive U-channel linear servomotor technology which brings smooth performance with no cogging due to its non-magnetic forcer coil. With zero backlash, zero friction and none of the windup associated with screw driven actuators, the 320 VDC linear motor permits outstanding performance plus smooth velocity and positioning control; and with no contacting parts to wear the motor requires almost no maintenance.

A further benefit of the U-channel design is that the linear motor's magnetic field is totally self-contained and perfectly suited to high-performance applications that cannot tolerate the stray magnetic fields that are typically generated by flat magnet track alternatives.

The high performance linear encoder, located  within the stage and close to the motor for maximum protection and exacting positional accuracy, helps to deliver an outstanding bi-directional repeatability of up to +/- 1 micron for calibrated stages with encoder resolution below 0.1 microns. Encoder resolution ranges from 0.005 to 1.0 micron and calibrated HALAR accuracy can be up to +/- 5 microns for the 1.5 metre travel version.

Robust and durable linear motion guide bearings with dual seals are used throughout the ACT series in graduated sizes to suit increasing load and dynamic performance. For the 165 mm wide stage, maximum horizontal load is 60 kg with a 30 kg side load rating. Across the range, the low maintenance/long life design is rated for 20,000 Hours MTBF.

The new ACT series can be delivered as a part of a complete motion control sub-system  with Aerotech's advanced motion controls and servo amplifiers to ensure optimum performance. The range includes the PC based A3200 Digital Automation Platform , the new MotionPAC programmable automation controller,  or the Ensemble and Soloist stand-alone motion controllers with integrated drives.

Through the range users can choose PC-based  software-only control or standalone solutions in rack or desk mounted options to match application requirements. Aerotech controllers offer a very wide choice of machine controls and sophisticated motion commands that can include IEC61131-3, Microsoft .NET Framework and LabVIEW programming capability with advanced software and analytical functions that are designed to optimise machine performance, increase precision and improve throughput.

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