Actuation in precision machines
The actuation design in mechatronic products makes all the difference in terms of added value for the customer. The mechatronic architecture of a system drives the actuation requirements and specifications concerning technical aspects such as accuracy, throughput, heat dissipation, building volume, reliability, as well as other aspects such as manufacturability, testability and costs.
Often this exceeds the performance of Commercially Off-The-Shelf (COTS) motors, and a (semi-)custom actuator design is needed. By adding an experienced and skilled actuator design team to the project team, the overall system design will benefit. Cost-effectiveness is ultimately the goal of making the trade-off between the level of customization and complexity.
Whether off the shelf or (semi-)custom actuation, we make sure the customer requirements are captured in a cost-effective design and in a robust supply chain. Therefore our designers are directly cooperating with the actuator supply chain thoughout the entire project.
- Ivan van der Kroon, Actuator Design Competence Team
Often in the case of demanding specifications, using our experience and creative solution finding, we are still able to apply COTS or redesigned motors. For instance, when a linear motor might prove infeasible in a particular system design, a cogging-free servo motor with a long-life, limited-play spindle could be a good design alternative, provided that the mechanical coupling fits within the dynamical requirements. But sometimes, custom designs are inevitable, and the first project team assignment is finding all solutions and making a thorough trade-off including a risk assessment.
Download our whitepaper "Design and identification of a thermal actuator"
In today's positioning systems, especially semiconductor processing and inspection equipment, move and settle times have to be short to enable high throughput. Jitter values during standstill have to be low to achieve good positioning performance and process quality. In this whitepaper, our experts:
- aimed to find the limitations in actuation speed of a commonly used thermal actuator style
- did a second iteration to obtain a relatively fast but accurate system.
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Engineering and manufacturing in house
NTS accommodates a large set of actuation engineering and manufacturing disciplines in house, and teams up with our supply-chain partners as well. NTS covers the necessary expertise in precision engineering, dynamics, electromagnetic and thermal analysis, electrical power, high voltage, EMI/EMC and product compliancy (CE). Machining and treatments of various nickel cobalt-iron alloys such as Invar, Inconel and Mu-metal, are done in-house, as well as potting, sealing and applying suitable joining techniques. NTS is vertically integrated as a one-stop shop, which reduces risks as well as total cost of ownership.
Types of actuators
NTS is able to incorporate rotary, linear and planar actuators. Piezo-electric, pneumatic and hydraulic actuators are acquired from selected partners. NTS recently developed a special micro-scale motor: a thermal actuator for micro-manipulation applications. Another example how we constantly push knowledge boundaries and drive the technology and cost roadmaps of our customers and partners.
An example of our ability is to design and implement an optimal actuator qualification strategy, and by doing so, enable root-cause analysis of issues that pop up during qualification, at design time or during volume manufacturing. Other competences are standard embedded in the design process, such as:
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