Now SmartMotors can be used with CAD/CAM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Now SmartMotors can be used with CAD/CAM. Animatics the producer of the SmartMotor™, which is a combined motor controller, amplifier and servo motor, has been under intense pressure from its customer base to make the product do circular interpolation for applications such as milling, turning, laser and water jet cutting, glue dispensers, etc.
Historically, machine builders could enjoy the benefits of the SmartMotor's extreme integration only in applications with predominantly linear motion. The hurdles to overcome this were two fold. The first hurdle was to make a group of two to five SmartMotors operate from an RS232 or RS-485 network to perform highly complicated coordinated motion. The second hurdle was to create a host computer utility that would interpret G-Codes and play a role in coordinating the small SmartMotor network.
Enhancements in the firmware of the SmartMotor™ as well as in the communications accomplished the coordination tasks. The most important part of the package was the G-Code interface to make the capability accessible to the typical user. This host level utility looks much like a word processor where G-Codes can be loaded from the output of CAD/CAM software, or simply typed in. The software can be configured to talk with 2 to 5 SmartMotors and will automatically address the chain. Also configurable is the scaling of each axis to account for ball screw pitch and any gear ratios between the SmartMotors and the final linear motion. Once configured, the user simply presses PLAY and the multi-axis system executes the contoured motion flawlessly.
There are even provisions to choose vertex behavior. For example, it is often desirable when machining that no deceleration exists between command blocks for the best possible finish. The user can program vertex behavior to exclude deceleration, include it or even include a deceleration that is proportional to the sharpness of the angle. This proportional behavior is by far the most popular, especially in surfacing where there are thousands of tiny segments used to describe curves. These segments need to be executed at full speed, but at the end, it is desirable to have a gentle transition for abrupt changes in direction such as lifting the tool for another pass.
Finally, with this technology, people can create fabrication equipment without a cabinet full of controls and without being subjected to down time or expensive service calls. A spare SmartMotor can eliminate field service and a damaged SmartMotor simply gets put in a box and sent out with the mail.
The new contouring capability and G-Code interface connect SmartMotors to CAD/CAM allowing them to perform linear and circular interpolation and convert any manual machine tool into an automated work cell. The invention affords fabrication machine builders and users unprecedented advantages:
1) A CNC machine control is available now for half the previous cost.
Building a milling machine used to include a large cabinet full of controls. First the cabinet had to be installed and loaded with controllers, amplifiers and power supplies and then wired internally and to the rest of the machine. This forced the controls to be installed at a location other than the customer's facility with added labor and unnecessary cost. Because SmartMotors can now take G-Codes, such machinery can be made with no controls cabinet and without the associated cost.
2) The requirement of field service for a CNC machine can be eliminated. Historically, CNC equipment controls have been complicated enough to require a field service technician to be paid to respond to any machine failure. Such field service calls are expensive and the dread of any machine owner. Since SmartMotors have the control system built in, anyone who can turn a wrench can remove a motor and send it back to the factory for immediate repair and return.
3) Down Time can be eliminated.
Keeping a spare SmartMotor can eliminate down time. In the unlikely event there's a problem, the suspect motor can be swapped with a spare as soon as the problem is discovered, resulting in almost zero down time. With the SmartMotor's higher than average MTBF, failures will occur seldom if at all leaving plenty of time for the problem motor to be sent back for repair and then reinstalled or kept in reserve when it's returned.
4) CNC retrofitting is now an option for 3rd world countries.
Developing nations have enormous infrastructures of manual machine tools but little or no access to automation because of cost and complexity. These are the two key advantages of the G-Code compatible, contouring SmartMotor™ solution. SmartMotor™ technology is now positioned to be a tremendous facilitator for the retrofit of such machines, which number in the tens of thousands.
Accomplishing coordination in SmartMotors:
To accomplish the coordinated motion over a network with comparatively slow bandwidth (38,400 baud) the task of trajectory generation had to be split. The SmartMotor™ firmware was enhanced with the capability of taking buffered position-time packets. This information dictates to each motor where it has to be and at what time. The SmartMotor™ then contours its own velocity and acceleration to make its intermediate motion and arrival as smooth as possible. This results in continuous motion between the intervals where it gets its new information. Software resident to a host P.C. also plays a role in the trajectory generation by calculating and dispersing the position-time packets while monitoring the SmartMotor™ buffers to maintain continuous motion and synchronization. All of this is done with host level drivers and made available to the machine operator through a user interface.
Animatics is Defining the Future in Motion Control!
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