Technology news: April 2011
April News in Brief
♦ igus’ 2011 manus award for innovative applications of plastic bearings has been won by a Spanish designer, Carmelo Lagunas, for a machine that produces 1,800 potato omelettes an hour. The machine incorporates lubrication- and maintenance-free plastic plain bearings which can cope with the temperatures up to 175°C and the greasy environment. FDA-compliant plastic plain bearings are also used in areas where there is direct contact with the food. There were 301 entries from 28 countries for the award, which includes a €5,000 cash prize.
♦ A US robot integrator, RobotWorx, is recycling old robots into affordable workcell components. So far, it has retrofitted almost a dozen positioners salvaged from old robots which, it says, offer a similar performance to new servo-positioners at half the cost. It has also turned robot bases upside-down and fitted them with table-tops to serve as servo positioner tables to move parts so that robots can reach them. Again these re-purposed systems cost half as much as new ones.
♦ The Hong Kong-based motor manufacturer Johnson Electric has developed a range of high-performance brushless motors for power tools which, it says, set new standards for power density and efficiency, resulting in longer battery run times and fasater job completion. For example, in a drill application, the electronically commutated motors can deliver 100% more work from a battery charge than a standard DC motor. Productivity is improved by 15% because the drill turns faster, and battery life is extended because the working and in-rush currents are lower.
♦ The compressor manufacturer Boge has launched an iPhone app that allows compressed air users to view compressor data such as temperatures, pressures, and operating and idling times, remotely. Users can log in anywhere and at anytime to monitor their compressed air systems, and the app will alert them of any faults or warnings. The app is available for download from the Apple Store.
♦ The Californian integrated motor specialist Animatics has developed a compact servomotor which can deliver more than 900W of peak power from a Nema 34 frame that combines the motor with an amplifier, encoder and motion controller. An eight-pole segmented stator is used to achieve a high energy density and efficiency.