Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Mechatronic Portfolio Optimises Machine Designs

Rockwell Automation has introduced a mechatronic-solutions portfolio consisting of software tools, motion-control products and support. The portfolio provides a common forum where design input from mechanical, controls, software and electrical engineers can be more easily gathered and evaluated. This helps engineers to better collaborate and reduce machine costs and development time. Mechatronics is a collaborative venture between mechanical, electrical and control design engineers to optimise machine design.

Mechatronics has traditionally proven challenging for machine builders to integrate into their design process, due to high costs and lack of easy-to-use tools associated with virtual prototyping. The mechatronic solutions portfolio features updated motion-analyser software used by machine builders to help select the best-suited drive-motor-actuator combination for their application, and now provides interoperability with Solidworks 3D CAD software.

This interoperability helps shorten lead times and delivers a graphical environment for designing machines and sophisticated motion profiles. The Motion Analyzer software can transfer motion profiles directly into Rockwell Software RSLogix 5000 software, helping to reduce programming time. The portfolio's Allen-Bradley RDD-Series direct-drive rotary servo motors offer rotary direct-drive technology that minimises the need for power-transmission devices and can help reduce machine complexity, system compliance and energy consumption while delivering high dynamic performance, fast settling times and better overall control of the load.

Its Allen-Bradley LDC-Series and LDL-Series linear servo motors provide machine builders with precise, linear-motion capabilities at a cost-effective price. They have no 'wear items' such as bearings, gears or belts, minimising the need for routine maintenance and replacement parts for improved reliability over other linear-actuation methods. Allen-Bradley MP-Series and TL-Series electric cylinders offer machine builders a quiet, clean and energy-efficient alternative to pneumatics and other nonservo methods for linear-motion actuation.

They also offer improved flexibility and repeatability with less mechanical vibration. MP-Series integrated linear stages simplify machine design and are well-suited for a variety of applications that require loads to be supported and moved with precise linear positioning and velocity control. Available in single and multiaxis configurations, the pre-engineered stages deliver high-performance linear motion in an easy-to-use mechanical package. One Rockwell Automation customer recently used the Rockwell Automation mechatronic solutions portfolio to identify stability and throughput improvement opportunities on the rotary saw used in its packaging machine.

By replacing the motor, gearbox and timing belt used to drive the saw with direct-drive technology, the machine was more stable, met the parts per minute needs and saved eight hours of assembly time.

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