Control Solutions for Winding & Spooling

Spooling is the most effective way for OEMs to conveniently package materials of exceptionally long length such as thread, film, wire and thermoplastics.  Moog Animatics has been a long-time solution provider for winding and spooling applications, and recently developed new commands specifically for the winding industry. Contact us today for assistance with your motion control application or read more about our customer’s success in winding and spooling applications.

The integrity of a spool of any material is primarily based on the wind pattern and proper tension control used throughout the winding process. Typically, the spooling material is fed at a certain rate while a guide traverses the material back and forth corresponding to a desired pattern. The position accuracy of a traversing guide is best maintained when it's linked to the rotational velocity of the winding spool. Selection of proper traverse type for different materials is crucial, especially for profile materials that can’t twist or tolerate excessive stress.

Common Problems in Winding & Spooling

  • Material tension control 
  • Setting proper dwell points 
  • Over-travel and under-travel (“dog-bone” spools) 
  • Inadequate or excess stress on the spooling material 
  • Tapered patterns with low friction material 
  • Tapered patterns wound onto cylindrical cores

The SmartMotor Solution offers

  • Closed loop system control 
  • Reduced total cabling costs 
  • Write and test your program before the machine is built
  • Easily add additional axes
  • Auto-reversing electronic gearing

In addition, Moog Animatics’ newest firmware has the ability to define absolute or relative position control settings for

  • Traverse points
  • Spool widths 
  • Dwell points 
  • Slew

Smartmotor Control Offer Gapless Material, Uncompromised Traverse End Points

OEMs can use the closed-loop PID (proportional, integral, derivative) control of their integrated motion control systems to set and maintain a critical tension level while taking advantage of new commands created specifically for winding and spooling applications.

Knowing the challenges of winding applications, we added the ability to dynamically phase adjust incoming master signals. This enables real-time offsets for variations in material width without sacrificing positioning accuracy at the traverse point, and allows for a complete, precise fill of material with no gaps or overlays.

Take a one-inch wide ribbon, for instance. With each turn of the spool, the ribbon must move one inch across the spool surface. But what happens if the ribbon varies in width throughout its total length? Previous industry solutions required dynamically changing the electronic gear ratio of the traversing motor or offsetting its traverse speed on the fly. By utilizing a sensor to feed back material width, the effective gear ratio can be dynamically compensated within the SmartMotor to ensure there are no gaps in the material wound onto the spool, and without compromising traverse endpoint locations.

Tapered Wind Patterns onto Cylindrical Cores

ProblemOften companies need to create a wind pattern where the exterior shape of the finished spool is tapered while the core was straight. In this situation, traverse points are often difficult to program and control, resulting in a poor-quality wind.

Tapered wind patterns prevent the material from getting hung up while unwinding when it can only be pulled from the spool in a direction parallel to the spool’s core. Tapered steel cores cost more than cylindrical cores and complicate the winding process due to material slip. If you do use a tapered core for winding low-friction material, the material tends to slip to the smallest end of the core regardless of the tension level.
SmartMotor SolutionA program must be written that will first build a taper pattern onto the straight spool. As material is built up, the wind width is decremented in from one end to create the base taper layer. Once the taper pattern had built up, the material is traversed the full length of the spool. Since each wire revolution sits in between the grooves of the previously wound layer, the tapered pattern will remain intact without the material slipping.

The solution can be accomplished with an encoder to track angular position of the main spool, a screw-driven actuator to traverse the wire guide, and Moog Animatics Class 5 SmartMotors enhanced with the latest firmware. The Moog Animatics motion control system can be programmed to calculate the traverse speed by electronically gearing the spool encoder to the traverse axis.

Over- and Under-travel

ProblemIn winding towards one end of the spool, the traversing mechanism decelerates as it nears the flange to prevent collision. This deceleration causes material to build up faster on either end than across the middle, creating a dog bone shape that’s wider at the two ends of the spool than it is in the middle.
SmartMotor SolutionTo avoid a dog bone spool, traverse points are set slightly less than the length of the spool between the flanges. Dwell distance can also be set to cause the traverse mechanism to wait a certain amount of time at each end before heading back the other direction. This allows material to fill into the gap between the flange and the set spool length.

Further Reading ...

Download Winding Industry Solution Brochure

Industries & Applications

Spooling Pattern

Case Study

Application Notes

Textile Traverse Take-Up Winding (Spooling)
  • Improper traverse points
  • Over travel
  • Tension control between feeder spool and winding spool
Download PDF of this Application Note here.


Spooling is the most effective way to conveniently package materials of very long length, such as thread, film, labels, cable and thermoplastics. Material is fed from a large spool at a certain rate onto another spool, with a traversing mechanism between the two spools to create the desired pattern or evenly wind onto an flanged spool or cylindrical core despite the core shape. The integrity of the spool is often based on precise patterns and proper tension control throughout the winding process.


Selection of proper traverse type for different materials is crucial, especially for profile materials that cannot twist or tolerate excessive stress. Creating a wind where the exterior of the wind is tapered even while the core is a straight, cylindrical spool is a common problem with spooling where traverse points are improperly set and over travel occurs within the winding spool.


Traversing position can be electronically geared to the rotational velocity of the winding spool. The SmartMotor uses customizable electronic gearing dwell control to achieve the desired spool shape, and closed-loop servo control ensure no over travel. Real-time monitoring of the position error with advanced PID control maintains high speed precision winding.

In addition, multiple nodes of complex winding machines are easily networked together with SmartMotor Combitronic communications.

Sample Code

The next example demonstrates the use of the MFSDC (Mode Follow Slew Dwell Control) command. This example shows how the MFSDC command can be applied to a spool winding program to automatically perform a profile back and forth across a spool with a user defined dwell at the end for a specific span of input distance. This will continue as long as the master encoder signal from the main spool is moving or until the motor is told to stop.

a=1000  'ascend and descend distance in slave counts
b=200000'spool width in slave counts
c=4000  'one rev of spool in master counts
s=b-(a*2)      'calculate MFSLEW distance
m=1000         'gear ratio multiplier
d=1000         'gear ratio divisor
MFMUL=m        'set ratios for gearing
MFA(a,1)       'set ascend into ratio distance
MFD(a,1)       'set descend out of ratio distance
MFSLEW(s,1)    'set slew dis. btwn the accel and decel points
MFSDC(c,1)     'set dwell for "c" cnts, auto rev. after dwell
MFR            'set mode to electronic gear ratio
G              'start following the external master encoder

Note: Once set up, the firmware controls the winding operation in the background, allowing user programs to be running completely separate from the motion profiles. This is SmartMotor multitasking at its best.

Since gearing can be run in the second trajectory move generator, you can also make position or velocity moves on top of traversing to allow for lap and step winding as well.

Command Overview

Sample Codes

Download code in sms file
ECHO			'ECHO on to allow auto addressing downstream				
a=1				'set default variable for address 1							
WAIT=2000		'wait for boot up time differences							
PRINT(#128,"a=a+1",#13)	'each motor prints downstream a=a+1					
WAIT=2000				'wait for response time variations					
ADDR=a					'Set motor address 									
IF CADDR!=ADDR 			'Verify Can Address									
	CADDR=ADDR 			'Set if not same as motor address					
	Z:0					'reset all motors to make can address take effect	
'Set up parameters															
	rr=-1			'Home Direction												
	vv=100000		'Home Speed													
	aa=1000		'Home Accel														
	ee=100		'Home Error Limit											
	tt=1500		'Home Torque Limit											
	hh=4000		'Home Offset												
	mm=90000	'max stroke with room

a=1000 	'ascend and descend distance in slave counts
b=60000 	'spool width in slave counts
c=4000 	'one rev of spool in master counts
s=b-(a*2) 	'calculate MFSLEW distance
m=1000 	'gear ratio multiplier
d=1000 	'gear ratio divisor
MFMUL=m 	'set ratios for gearing
MFA(a,1) 	'set ascend into ratio distance
MFD(a,1) 	'set descend out of ratio distance
MFSLEW(s,1) 'set slew dis. btwn the accel and decel points
MFSDC(c,1) 	'set dwell for "c" cnts, auto rev. after dwell
MFR 		'set mode to electronic gear ratio
G 		'start follwing the external master encoder

'Home routine  (Home to Hard Stop)											
PRINT("HOME MOTOR",#13)															
VT=vv*rr				'Set Home Velocity									
ADT=aa					'Set Home Accel										
MV						'Set to Velocity Mode								
ZS						'Clear any prior Errors								
T=tt*rr					'Preset Torque Values								
G						'Begin Move towards Hard Stop