High performance drive in a small package

maxon's NEW brushless EC4mm motor and gearhead

maxon’s NEW brushless EC4mm motor and gearhead

maxon sets new standards in micro drives

maxon’s smallest DC brushless motor is only four millimeters in diameter and comes in two different lengths. Certified in accordance with ISO 13485, the new brushless micro drive is ideal for medical applications.

The EC 4 brushless DC motor is maxon motor’s ultra-compact solution to the market’s needs. As the smallest micromotor to come from the Swiss manufacturer, the EC 4 is only four millimeters in diameter. It is available in two lengths, with power ratings of 0.5 and 1 W. Equipped with an ironless maxon winding, the EC 4 stands out for its robust design, high power density, and energy efficiency.

EC4 measuring tool

EC4 measuring tool

maxon has the matching gearhead

Combined with the GP 4 planetary gearhead, the EC 4 becomes a compact drive for use in micropumps, analytic and diagnostic devices, and laboratory robots. Precise and reliable, it can adjust lenses, dispense fluids, or position sensing devices. All units meet the ISO 13485 medical standard, which makes this maxon micro drive the perfect choice for applications in medical technology.

maxon offers a complete line of dc motors, gearheads and controllers. Contact us to help find the right solution for your application. info@maxonmotorusa.com

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Circulatory Support without Surgery for Heart Failure Patients

The cardiac pump is a mere 6 millimeters and 6.5 centimeters long. Image ©Procyrion

The cardiac pump is a mere 6 millimeters and 6.5 centimeters long. Image ©Procyrion

Intra-aortic pump powered by miniature brushless DC motors provides heart failure patients an aid to help hearts rest and heal.

Chronic heart failure patients draw hope from a new technology. A team of life science entrepreneurs in Houston, Texas has developed the first catheter-deployed circulatory assist device intended for long-term use. Procyrion, Inc.’s Aortix™ provides a minimally invasive treatment option for the more than two million chronic heart failure patients in the USA alone who are too sick for medication. This pre-clinical cardiologist tool dramatically reduces risks associated with circulatory support devices and enables treatment of younger, healthier patients before progressive damage occurs.

Assisting the natural function of the heart, the intra-aortic pump has been thoughtfully designed as an alternative to large, cumbersome surgical devices currently providing full circulatory support. Unlike these devices, Aortix provides minimal procedural risk. Measuring approximately 6 mm in diameter and 6.5 cm long, a cardiologist can deliver Aortix via a catheter in the femoral artery to the descending thoracic aorta. Once the catheter sheath is retracted, the self-expanding nickel-titanium anchors deploy to affix the pump to the aortic wall.

Aortix accelerates a portion of the body’s native blood flow within the pump and pushes it through fluid entrainment ports directed downstream. The jets entrain native aortic flow, transferring energy to the cardiovascular system and increasing blood flow to vital organs such as the kidneys. Additionally, in a model of chronic heart failure, Aortix decreased energy consumption of the heart by 39 percent, allowing the heart to operate more efficiently, encouraging cardiac rehabilitation and recovery.

The cardiac pump is a mere 6 millimeters and 6.5 centimeters long. Image ©Procyrion

The cardiac pump is a mere 6 millimeters and 6.5 centimeters long. Image ©Procyrion

Procyrion has been working with maxon for almost two years to develop a motor for this unique and demanding application. The basis for the Aortix device is a maxon EC6 motor with some customization including the electrical lead, shaft length, and bearing assemblies – all designed to make the pump durable and biocompatible. maxon also designed a high efficiency motor core for this application, which extends battery life and produces less heat so it doesn’t adversely affect the circulating blood. In addition, maxon is working closely with Procyrion to implement a magnetic torque drive, so the motor could be mounted inside a hermetically sealed chamber. This configuration eliminates the possibility of blood entering the motor core. The magnetically coupled pump arrangement is a method sometimes used for giant pumps in the oil field, but because of maxon’s breadth of experience across multiple industries, the company was able to help the Procyrion team successfully transfer this technology to a miniature scale medical application.

Each Aortix device consists of a small, continuous flow pump mounted within a self-expanding anchoring system. The anchored pump attaches to a flexible power lead, which can be tunneled to a desired transdermal exit site or to a Transcutaneous Energy Transfer (TET) system for subcutaneous implantation without an indwelling power lead.

Presently, the device can operate for over eight hours on a single battery pack. The external battery pack and control unit have been designed to be “hot swappable”, meaning the battery can be changed without needing to stop the device. A variety of charging devices can be used.

“Aortix reduces the heart’s energy consumption by 39 percent.”

The Procyrion team has also built a TET charging system that enables the battery to be charged wirelessly. This design has the potential to significantly reduce the risk of infection, common with other implantable heart pumps.

Because traditional assist devices replace heart function rather than support it, device failure can be fatal. With Aortix, a partial support device which doesn’t obstruct native blood flow, failure is not life threatening. Should the pump fail, the device can easily be retrieved and replaced in another minimally invasive, catheter-based procedure.

They gliding over water – on solar power

Image © TU Delft

Image © TU Delft

At the world’s biggest solar boat regatta in the Netherlands, everything revolves around sustainable high technology. This year, maxon motor benelux supported two of the leading teams and has thus become part of a completely new technology in the boating industry.

The Netherlands is developing into a hub for solar boat technology. This summer, the world championship for solar boats was hosted there for the fifth time. The DONG Energy Solar Challenge takes place every two years. Starting out as a local initiative, it has developed into a global competition. In 2014, 40 teams from around the world faced the 240 km challenge. The companies and universities that participate are specialists in innovation and sustainability. All are battling from June 28 to July 5 for the first place in several races.

maxon motor benelux supported two of the leading teams in the top class: the CLAFIS Private Energy Solar Boat Team with the boat Furia III and the TU Delft Solar Boat Team of the Delft University of Technology. Both teams have won the race in the past. The CLAFIS team was victorious in 2010. TU Delft won the first race in 2006 and repeated this feat two years later. This year, the TU Delft team built a spectacular boat with a completely new approach that makes use of hydrofoils.

Principles from aircraft engineering
For the TU Delft boat, maxon motor helped to engineer the front hydrofoil. This technology makes use of principles that are common in aircraft engineering. By means of a height sensor combined with a maxon RE 25 spindle drive, the lightweight boat is kept at the optimal elevation above the water as it speeds along. The part of the boat that is underwater is so small that its drag is roughly equal to that of a human hand.

Team spokesman Lenny Bakker does not really know where to start when he is asked about the biggest challenge during the development of the boat: “Our goal was to develop, build and test a boat that had the potential to win and was as easy to handle as a bicycle – with a team of 29 students from different disciplines, all within just a year.”

A setback and an award
The race was indeed a challenge. On the first day, all hydrofoil boats had problems, as they got caught in the seaweed. After that, all went well for the TU Delft team – up until the last day, when a gust of wind capsized the boat just 1000 m from the finishing line. The skipper was rescued quickly. However, the water damaged some of the electrical systems and it was no longer possible to monitor the battery power. Unfortunately just at this time the battery was almost empty. These complications caused the team to lose second place; instead, they came in fourth. Yet TU Delft’s new concept with the special hydrofoils won the Design Award. “It’s a radical new and unique concept with innovative technologies and an elegant design,” praised Douwe Huitema, chair of the jury for the Design Award.

The CLAFIS Private Energy Solar Boat Team, on the other hand, had a very successful race: Their boat won by a long stretch, winning them the World Champion 2014 title.

“It’s a radical new and unique concept with innovative technologies and an elegant design.”
Douwe Huitema, member of the Design Award jury

Work whets the appetite for adventure
Gerwin Geukes, managing director of maxon motor benelux, has a positive view of the experience: “Participating in these high-end projects gives us the opportunity to take a look at new technologies and to learn what’s going on in the minds of the next generation of engineers. Things that are commonplace for our engineers might be new for the students, and vice versa. Apart from that, the fun is of course important too. Solving technical challenges in a team and taking part in events like these not only helps us discover our inner inventor, but also our inner adventurer.”

Inked to precision

Image ©maxon motor/Philipp Schmidli

Image ©maxon motor/Philipp Schmidli

The tattoo scene is driven by younger artists who have little in common with the old stereotypes. They create true masterworks using the latest technology. And they all know the maxon “Swiss motor”.

The age of rockers and sailors is over. The tattoo scene has developed, away from ill-lit chambers with burly, bearded men scratching hearts onto biceps, to well-illuminated studios where young and talented artists do their work. The Swiss tattoo artist Alena Lizier, age 24, already has her own tattoo studio in St. Gallen, Switzerland. “Please take off your shoes when you come in”, she says. Hygiene is a must. Welcome to the new tattoo world.

Kitsch reigns supreme in Alena Lizier’s shop. The colorful decorations filling the studio include an old metal cash register, a large statue of the Virgin Mary, and a gold-plated sofa with blue velvet upholstery. The large windows offer a view of the city. Clients from all walks of life come here – policemen, hairdressers, and even bankers. Tattoos have become socially accepted and are regarded as hip and cool. That’s fine with Alena Lizier. She is a part of the new tattoo era, where the drawings are finer and more detailed than they used to be, and look more like works of art. New technology has played a role in this development. Traditional coil machines are increasingly being replaced with rotary devices driven by small electric motors. These models make it easier to draw fine lines. They are also lighter and much less noisy than earlier models. The motors created by maxon are regarded as the measure of all things. Tattoo machine manufacturers worldwide like to list the “Swiss motor” by maxon in their specifications. It is synonymous with longevity and reliability, very important factors for tattoo artists who use their tools daily and demand that they perform reliably for many years.

The first cordless machine
Enrico Friedli of Swisstattoomachine was among the first to recognize these advantages. His tattoo machines have been on the market since 1998 and enjoy a very good reputation. Right from the start, he chose to use quality motors from maxon. This proved to be a recipe for success. “The motor was what really set it apart from all of the other machines out there. It allowed us to stand out from the competition”, says Friedli. Even today, customers still send in first-generation devices that need only minor maintenance before being put back into service in the tattoo studio.

Today, Swisstattoomachine supplies devices worldwide, from China to the US. Even though other manufacturers have also started to use maxon motors, Enrico Friedli still stands out from the crowd. After three and a half years of development, he introduced the first battery-powered tattoo machine this summer. This widely acclaimed innovation, the “Unchained”, is equipped with a maxon RE 13 motor. This DC drive with precious metal brushes provides 2.5 W of power. Its energy efficiency makes it perfectly suited for battery operation. The low-noise drive is also practically vibration-free. In addition, the drive is lightweight. This is an important factor, as the tattoo machine is frequently held in the artist’s hand for many hours at a time. At 140 grams, the “Unchained” is only 20 grams heavier than its predecessor model, “Heidi”, which has a power cord.

“The motor allowed us to stand out from the competition.”
Enrico Friedli, Swisstattoomachine

More freedom of movement for artists
Alena Lizier is excited when she picks up the new machine for the first time. “Awesome. I have a lot more freedom of movement and don’t have to be careful about the power cord.” Hygiene is another benefit, as the cord of a tattoo machine has to be wrapped in a plastic hose before each work step. The tattoo artist turns her attention back to her customer, on whose leg she is completing a flower pattern. She dips the needle into ink and carefully draws a fine line. The needle carries the ink into the middle layer of the skin, where it will stay for the remainder of the customer’s life – to the satisfaction of everybody involved, hopefully. Alena Lizier has realized her dream: “I am merging my art with real people every day. What could be better?”

Kenshiro: Strong robot with 160 muscles.

Kenshiro humanoid robot, maxon motor ag © 2013

Kenshiro humanoid robot, maxon motor ag © 2013

The tendon-controlled humanoid robot created by the University of Tokyo has more than 160 artificial muscles and is the result of many years of experience. Around 100 brushless maxon motors ensures that the only 1.58 m tall robot has humanlike movements.

The University of Tokyo has developed a tendon-controlled humanoid robot that is capable of very realistic humanlike movements. He is called Kenshiro – named after a well-known Japanese hero who was made famous in the 1980s manga comic series. During the development of the robot, the Japanese scientists used the human anatomy as its focus to create an artificial human that looks as natural as possible. “We wanted to understand the movements and appearance of humans and replicate it as closely as possible in Kenshiro,” explains Professor Kei Okada. At a height of 1.58 m and weighing 50 kg, the robot matches the stature of a 12-year old Japanese boy.

To imitate the very complex human anatomy made up of approximately 640 muscles, the scientists equipped Kenshiro with the most important human muscles: 50 in the legs, 76 in the torso, 12 in the shoulder and 22 in the neck. This robot has the greatest number of muscles ever installed in a humanoid robot. Kenshiro’s 160 individual tendon-controlled “muscles” make many humanlike movement patterns possible. Kenshiro can move his arms, legs and torso. He still has to learn how to walk properly. How does a robot learn humanlike movements? It’s simple: demonstrate a movement, he will then imitate it.A simple learning method, implemented by means of open source intelligent software and a mechanical interface. Learning how to walk requires more.

Kenshiro’s “bones” are made of aluminum and, as is the case in the human body, are movably connected to each other. The biggest challenges to the scientists, led by Professor Masayuki Inaba, was the robot’s weight at 50 kg. A replica with the size of an adult would weigh approximately 100 kg which means a higher load, higher energy requirements and slower movements.

93 motors for 160 muscles
The researchers from the Jouhou System Kougaku Laboratory (JSK) of the University of Tokyo decided on a drive system by maxon motor. Kenshiro’s 160 muscles use 93 maxon brushless DC motors. For those special muscles as in the abdominal and thoracic, only a single motor provides the necessary drive and it is that of the maxon brushless EC 16 and EC 22 motors. These electronically commutated servo motors stand out with excellent torque characteristics, high dynamics, an extremely wide speed range, and their very long service life. Strong brushless motors are required for the muscle movements, therefore 60 W to 100 W maxon motors are used. Another important criterion for the motor selection was the temperature development of the motor. It is not possible to install a cooling system in the robot. According to Professor Kei Okada, it was therefore very important that the motors dispense very little heat.

JSK has been building various service robots and industrial robots since 1980 and today are focusing on their work with humanlike robots like Kenshiro. Just a

Service Robots Use Flat Motors

The Jaco2 service robot was designed and engineered by Kinova Robotics. Here, the robot shows well it handles fragile household items.  © 2014 Kinova Robotics

The Jaco2 service robot was designed and engineered by Kinova Robotics. Here, the robot shows well it handles fragile household items. © 2014 Kinova Robotics

Service robots being designed for the disabled must be reliable, safe, and easy to use. Having the right motion system components is essential for these highly specific applications.

Unlike industrial robots for manufacturing, service robots come with their own specification requirements aimed specifically at the end user, and the most discriminating user at that—a human being. That’s why designing and manufacturing service robots takes a particular set of skills and engineering expertise. For example, when Kinova Robotics (Quebec, Canada) creates designs for this market, they bring with them years of experience in the field. And although they’ve modified their robots over the years, as new products and systems become readily available, they are able to produce higher and higher quality and more useable products. Using the latest technologies allows Kinova to continue to advance their offerings to the public.

The company’s Jaco2 Robotic Arm has benefited from the company’s prior designs and forward thinking. Because of available technologies, the robotic arm provides a lightweight, quiet, and easily controlled device to the service industry. The Jaco2 robotic arm moves around six degrees of freedom through the use of six flat motors designed and manufactured by maxon precision motors (Fall River, MA). The arm was designed using six joints from a shoulder-type joint through to a functional wrist joint. The robot can manipulate a maximum payload of 1.5 kg at full extension, as well as a 2.5 kg payload at a mid-range extension. Both of these payloads are adequate for the needs of most disabled people in the process of living a normal life. The robotic arm device itself weighs only 5.3 kg, which was a very important specification for it to mount to a wheelchair without tipping it over. To maintain such a light weight, the company incorporated the lightweight and efficient flat motor series manufactured by maxon.

The Jaco2 easily mounts to a wheelchair and stays out of the way.  © 2014 Kinova Robotics

The Jaco2 easily mounts to a wheelchair and stays out of the way.
© 2014 Kinova Robotics

Because the first three joints have to handle the highest torque for movement of the extended arm as well as for lifting items the user needs, Kinova’s engineering team chose to use maxon’s EC 45 flat brushless DC motors. These motors provide an impressive maximum continuous torque of up to 134 mNm (19 oz-in) in a small, compact, but powerful 70 Watt package. And since the Jaco2 needed to fit inside the robotic arm itself, there had to be less heat generated through motor operation—a huge benefit of the EC flat motors. Although the EC 45s can operate at very high speeds, that was not a necessary requirement for the Jaco2 application. In order for the robotic arm to be manipulated efficiently, the device only needed to move at a speed of 20 cm per second, which translates to about 8 rpm maximum for the actuators’ outputs (about 1100 rpm for the motors).

The second three joints in the Jaco2 arm are also EC 45 flat motors, but are 30 Watt versions. Again, they were chosen to help keep heat dissipation at a minimum, since the motors were mounted inside the arm itself. Further, the flat motors were necessary because of the compact space allocated to the robot joints. The motor efficiencies offered by maxon motors were a critical point in selecting the EC series for the application. Plus, according to one member of the engineering team, maxon was open to slight customizations, which allowed the team to fit the motors to the application perfectly. Through the use of slip rings that were designed and manufactured in-house, each axis on the arm has infinite rotational capabilities. The arm incorporates Harmonic Drive® gears translating to a 1:136 ratio for the large actuators in joints one and three, a 1:160 ratio for the large actuator in joint two, and 1:110 ratio for the small actuators located in joints four, five and six.

The Jaco2 Service Robot uses three of maxon’s EC 32, 15 Watt motors to operate the finger of the robot. Kinova engineers provided an in-house design for the lead screw mechanisms incorporated inside the fingers. The linear actuators had to be very small due to the limited space available. The actuators were designed in-house because the company’s engineering team found that it was less expensive to design the lead screws they needed than to buy them off the shelf from another vendor. Although the flat motors have some minor degree of cogging, that did not affect the accuracy or other operations of the Jaco2 that would be critical to the user. Quiet operation of the motors only added to their overall appeal for the application, especially because of the human-robot interaction. The company wanted the device to be as transparent as possible to the user.

All the motors in the arm are daisy-chained using a single cable that runs through the system. The tight form factor dictated the size and type of motor the company could use, and they were able to match their needs to maxon devices. The Jaco2 uses 18 to 29 VDC for operation at 25 W nominal power (100 W peak power). Control of the arm is performed through an RS485 (internal) and CANBUS (external) protocol. The system comes with two expansion card connectors for future use. The controller features redundant security on each actuator/finger, redundant error check in actuators and control system, position and error calculation performed every 0.01 seconds, Cartesian and angular trajectory control, and force and torque control options.

Each Jaco2 Robotic arm is controlled easily directly through the user’s wheelchair control or through a user-friendly joystick, which provides the precision necessary for the human-robot interaction needed for the disabled person. All the software required for the system was written by the Kinova Robotics engineering team so that the operation of the Jaco2 met all their in-house specifications and goals. The software runs on Windows, Linux Ubuntu, and ROS, and was written using C# and C++.

Please smile with maxon motors.

© dannas - Fotolia.com

© dannas – Fotolia.com

Digital SLR cameras can deliver extremely sharp photos – regardless of whether the photographer is a professional or a hobbyist. Not only does the skill of the photographer, but also the technology inside the camera play a key role. maxon drive systems help to create lightning-fast images.

With its Leica S system, camera manufacturer Leica offers a unique combination of performance features for digital photography. It combines the image quality of a medium-format camera with the handling, speed and flexibility of a small-format camera. The lenses used in the Leica S system have a built-in dedicated processor for controlling the auto focus. The lenses are also available with a central shutter for maximum flexibility when using a flash. Besides the focal-plane shutter, which is integrated in the camera, the central shutter is one of two common designs. The central shutter is typically located at a “central” position in the lens assembly, between the optical lens elements. It consists of several blades arranged around the optical axis in a concentric pattern. When the shutter release of the camera is pressed, the blades snap back from this axis synchronously and let the light fall on the sensor.

With SLR cameras, the central shutter first closes after the shutter release, because all the settings were made with an open shutter. The mirror swings up, then the central shutter opens for the duration of the exposure before closing again. Finally, the mirror swings back into the path of light, and the shutter opens. Even though it employs the classic solution of mechanical springs for the efficient storage of potential energy, the central shutter is a piece of cutting-edge technology. The tensioned-spring principle contributes significantly to the extremely compact dimensions.

Small motor for high tension
The springs are tensioned by a specially developed maxon motor with a high-precision overrunning clutch and release their stored energy to activate the shutter blades when the shutter release is depressed. A specially constructed solution prevents the blades from rebounding when the shutter is opened or closed. A microprocessor-controlled pawl and ratchet mechanism controls the shutter cycle via two electromagnetically activated plungers.

The gear motor of maxon motor is used for tensioning three springs that store the energy for the central shutter. A maxon A-max 12 motor is used as the base motor. The gearhead is an all-new development and is adapted to the available space. This presented a special challenge to the gear motor in the central shutter of the Leica lens. What was needed and developed was a very compact, enclosed and sealed custom version of the gearhead with perpendicular power transmission to toothed gear of the central shutter through a crown gear, for a life span of more than 100,000 releases.

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