16 March 2012

Aerotech's new digital control board facilitates cost effective A3200 Automation Platform integration for OEMs

Aerotech has expanded its A3200 Automation Platform PC-software based multi-axis motion and automation control system with the introduction of new 2 and 4-axis digital control boards that will enable high volume users the ability to interface the advanced performance capabilities of the A3200 with virtually any size and type of servo or stepper motor drive technology. The combined software and hardware of the Automation 3200-OEM and the Nservo-OEM control board also offers Aerotech's volume customers a lower price point and improved timescales through faster machine development and simplified series production when using third party drives.

The Nservo – OEM includes +/-10V current or velocity command outputs, which can be used to drive both traditional and piezo motor amplifiers, and three-phase servo commutation signals with high resolution encoder feedback. The NServo-OEM also includes general purpose and machine I/O interfacing that will accommodate most automation system requirements. Requiring only a single Firewire® connection to the host PC running the A3200 Motion Composer software, machine systems of up to 32 axes of high performance and totally synchronised motion and machine control may be configured. The new control boards include a choice of electrical interfacing to match the customers preferred drive combination - which may be freely mixed and matched with Aerotech's own range of advanced servo and stepper drives if required. The control boards accommodate all of the advanced functions available on the A3200 Automation Platform through its Dynamic Controls Toolbox and Motion Composer options. The Nservo – OEM is essentially a board based cost-reduced version of the fully packaged Nservo digital controller module which offers users additional features that are most relevant for existing machine upgrades and lower volume applications. The controller card is available with or without a power supply for further system cost reduction.

The A3200-OEM Automation Platform features the software-only Motion Composer controller that harnesses the power of the PC and the high-speed FireWire® (IEEE-1394) network to provide from 1 to 32 axes of decentralised and tightly synchronised motion and I/O commands that are individually directed to each axis drive. With no degradation in performance as the axis count increases, the A3200 motion engine combines modules for vision, PLC, robotics and I/O in one unified programming environment with extensive tools for program development and machine set-up as well as advanced optional modules that offer much improved precision and faster throughput rates when compared to competitive motion controllers.

The A3200 software consists of both development and runtime environments. Programming capability is extremely flexible with native RS-274 G-code, AeroBASIC™, C, C++, VisualBASIC™ or LabVIEW™. The extensive Motion Controls Toolbox includes options for five axis contouring, galvo control, and the enhanced throughput module – a separate sensor-based base cancellation device. Motion Composer options include time and frequency-based tuning tools with iterative learning capabilities, loop transmission and harmonic disturbance reduction tools as well as the MotionPAC PLC and development environment; which is IEC61131 and PLCopen standards compliant. The Nservo-OEM is also configurable for dual and triple axis PSO (Position Synchronised Output) with the A3200 - where high speed position encoder pulses, from combined multiple axes in motion, may be used to trigger an external device such as a laser. This feature provides the basis for exceptional levels of precision in laser welding and micromachining processes or where data collection needs to be synchronised with uncompromised precision such as non destructive testing and optical surface profiling.

The A3200 is used extensively for individual automation system integration and multi-axis micropositioning based research projects as well as by OEMs for production machinery and test equipment in semiconductor & electronics, laser welding & micromachining, MEMS & sensors, medical and biotechnology, nanotechnology, automated packaging systems and many more.
Aerotech's capability includes the design and manufacture of precision mechanical systems which are combined with its advanced motion controls to form complete motion sub-systems that provide an important enabling technology role for today's demanding industrial and research applications. Aerotech motion sub-systems are characterised by sub-micron and nanometre level precision together with exceptional levels of dynamic performance - plus the ability for users to develop and produce their products and applications both quickly and cost-effectively.

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