Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Aerotech Introduces Pro Series Linear Stages



Aerotech has completed and launched its low-cost Pro series linear stages. It can now offer a total of 68 standard models with travel from 50mm to 1,500mm in a choice of four stage widths from 115mm to 280mm for high-throughput, medium-precision positioning. The modular range features Aerotech's hard-cover/side-seal system that provides entire stage protection for arduous manufacturing environments such as laser machining.

With high-load-capacity linear-motion guide bearings and servo-motor-driven precision ballscrews, available in normal or 'faster' pitches for speeds of more than 1.4m/s, the range is suitable for demanding multi-axis-positioning applications across manufacturing and test. The Pro series has been designed as an adaptable family of positioning stages that allow original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and system integrators to select and mix models to match their machine-building requirements.

For typical applications, the 115mm and 165mm narrow-width stages may be used for upper axes and the wide-base 225mm- and 280mm-wide stages fulfil load bearing support in lower axes. According to the company, almost any combination for multi-axis positioning is possible with X-Y combinations from just 50mm x 50mm and gantry-style multi-axis designs to beyond 1.5m travel. Longer, custom-designed travel options for each width are also possible where flat mounting and adequate stage support can be maintained.

Aerotech claims that the modular range has similar accuracy, repeatability and environmental specifications throughout, as well as a consistently neat and stylish visual appearance. A choice of a standard 5mm-pitch and higher-speed 20mm- or 25mm-pitch ballscrews also offers the possibility to increase throughput speeds in applications where positional specifications are less demanding. Across the range, repeatability is within +/-1 micron for 5mm-pitch ballscrews and +/-2.5 microns for 25mm-pitch variants.

Positioning resolution, with a 2,500 line encoder, is 0.5 microns for the 5mm-pitch ballscrew version, with custom encoder options available for higher resolutions if required. For applications where the Pro series maximum speeds and/or positional-accuracy characteristics are a limiting factor, the range may be mixed with linear-motor-driven alternatives that utilise the same hard-top/side-sealed design. Aerotech's ALS series direct-drive technology stages include linear encoder feedback and yield an increased acceleration and top-speed performance along with augmented accuracy and precision.

The company also plans to introduce form-fit alternatives across the Pro range using its direct-drive linear servo technology. To manage overall costs and match the customer's budget requirements, each Pro series stage is offered with a number of options, including a tabletop hole pattern to suit X-Y or rotary-stage mounting or not to have a tabletop fitted at all. Comprehensive alternatives also extend to NEMA 23 or 34 servo-motor selections and orientation options include space-saving fold-back motor designs.

Multi-axis alignment, test specifications, limit switches and Z-axis brackets are also available and are priced on a request basis. The Pro series' one-piece hard-cover and vertical side-seal arrangement protects and naturally deflects debris away from the internal stage mechanics, offering an advantage over traditional bellows or sliding top-seal designs, according to Aerotech. Additionally, an optional brush cleaning strip may be fitted to the moving carriage to remove the build-up of machining waste and to prevent debris from accumulating on the hard cover.

The improved level of protection is intended to extend working life and to reduce downtime and maintenance while maximising production throughput and uptime. The Pro series stages may be supplied as standalone variants, with matching Aerotech servo amplifiers or as a part of complete 'ready-to-run' systems with a choice of motion controllers.

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