Keeping Motion and Position under Control

As a system supplier of Quality Assurance solutions Aerotech demonstrated its extensive know-how in the fields of automation, measurement & testing and positioning control, at Control 2019. Aerotech’s solutions can respond to the trend towards more in-process quality testing.

by Alma Castiglioni

Aerotech showcased its automation solutions and components for measuring and testing equipment in addition to its position controls at Control 2019, in Stuttgart. A number of novelties were presented, among which an Integrated Granite Motion (IGM) system with the A3200 automation controller and HyperWire® drive bus, the SMP multi-axis motion platform for surface measurement applications, the ABL 1500 air-bearing linear stage, as well as the new series of ATX cross-roller guided linear positioning stages. Quality in in-process testing is a growing trend. This applies in particular to additive manufacturing processes which are increasingly influencing medical technology, for example. Aerotech offers innovative solutions for their agile process control, including non-destructive quality assurance.

An alternative to tradizional granite-subbase positioning stages
For the first time the Integrated Granite Motion (IGM) system was showcased as an alternative to traditional granite-subbase positioning stages incorporating Aerotech’s latest components: a high-performance XR3 controller, a GL4 galvo controller, and the A3200 automation platform with HyperWire® drive bus. This allows the IGM linear stages, which are tailor-made and unique in terms of stiffness, to be configured to meet the requirements of various applications with greater flexibility. Depending on the intended use, travel distance, payload and dynamic performance can be adapted to the specific application. Compared with conventional positioning stages with a granite base, Aerotech’s systems offer significantly more flexibility, higher rigidity and reduced overall height. The higher stiffness is due to the fact that fewer construction elements have to be integrated. This increases the positioning accuracy as well as the dynamic performance. To demonstrate how high-precision laser technology can also be incorporated into the positioning system, the new AGV-SPO galvo scanner is integrated into the linear axes.
The so-called IFOV (Infinite Field of View) function ensures that linear or rotary servo axes are synchronized with a laser scanner. IFOV significantly improves throughput and eliminates stitching errors that otherwise frequently cause part quality issues due to superimposed and incorrectly aligned laser processing. The manufacturing of optical components in varied sectors like laser material processing, biotechnology, medical technology and semiconductor technology, requires
high-precision surface measurements including non-destructive quality assurance. In order to meet the demands of these applications Aerotech offers the SMP multi-axis motion system.
High-precision optics require high-precision measurements of spherical, aspherical and cylindrical shapes in the nanometre range. This requires flexible 2D and 3D contouring. The measuring device benefits from the performance of Aerotech’s controllers with their advanced motion control and Position Synchronized Output (PSO), enabling very smooth movements even at low speeds.
A generic high-speed electrical interface between motion and sensor control enables axis repeatability in the lower nanometre range by synchronising measurement and position data in real time. This minimizes incremental movement at the nanometre level, supporting the generation of accurate scan or point-to-point motion profiles. Field tests and practical applications have shown that the excellent positioning properties reduce the processing time for surface measurements by up to 40 percent. A further advantage is space saving: an SMP requires up to 60 percent less floor space than Cartesian measuring systems.

Linear stages for high positioning accuracy
Whether air-bearing or mechanical, Aerotech’s linear stages feature a high positioning accuracy. At the fair the company presented the ABL1500 direct-drive air-bearing linear stage and the mechanically-mounted, spindle-driven ATX115SL/SLE linear stage. With its extremely low positioning tolerances, the ABL1500 is especially suitable for high-performance scanning and inspection. The integrated linear encoder feedback reports resolutions in the sub-nanometre range with a travel distance of 500mm. Its high rigidity and excellent guiding and positioning accuracy make the ABL1500 particularly interesting for semiconductor manufacturing. A unique feature is its construction with air-to-air pre-load for the vertical and horizontal planes.
Since the load is distributed over a large area due to the large air bearing surface, the linear stage is extremely rigid and therefore particularly suitable for heavy or staggered loads. The table is powered by Aerotech’s brushless BLMC linear servo motor. A special feature is the non-ferrous linear motor for cog-free operation without attracting forces and very smooth movements. The linear positioning system is practically maintenance-free, because everything is contactless. There is no need for lubrication, which qualifies the ABL1500 for clean room applications and medical technology. Let’s conclude with the new ATX series of linear stages, combining the performance of a high-precision cross roller bearing with the precision of a ball screw drive. Outstanding guiding and positioning accuracies are achieved with this bearing/spindle combination: a cross roller bearing with creep protection (prevents cage migration) and a precision-ground recirculating ball screw is used. The ATX series is suitable for a variety of high-precision tasks, including the vertical positioning of sensors and cameras, optical focusing as well as beam tracking and manipulation. The ATX stage already offers a variety of standard features and options, allowing easy integration into a larger subsystem or machine, but can also be used as a standalone system. Other positioning stages or devices can be mounted on a versatile mechanical interface on the movable slide. Brushless, non-ferrous servo motors with or without position lock as well as stepper motors are available as drives. If you want to reduce the overall length of your table in vertical axis applications where space is often limited, you can optionally install a motor deflection kit. All ATX stages are available with Aerotech’s ThermoComp feature. This integrated temperature compensation solution counteracts thermal fluctuations.