At IMTS, the usual focus is on machines. A closer look, however, shows that “the guts” of the machine – the components – display considerable innovation. Here are a few highlights of the trends visible at IMTS.
Vendors are introducing technology that helps eliminate components as well as the need for continuous operation. For example, Hawe displayed a zero-leak seated valve that eliminates the need for pumps to continually charge a hydraulic system.
The choice of electromechanical over pneumatic echoes this trend too, eliminating many components traditional with pneumatic systems.
Electromechanical devices are enjoying new attention lately, especially as an addition to a pneumatic line or as an alternative to pneumatics in some applications. Schunk, for example is demonstrating servo grippers. These grippers use servomotors, rather than pneumatics, to control the gripping force, enabling a gentler, more precise hold.
Bosch is also demonstrating a line of electromechanical cylinders that handle higher loads and travel at faster speeds.
Research and development is paying dividends in increasing the speed of components. THK has several demonstrations in its booth that showcase the research its engineers have done on linear motion. There is a 3 m belt drive system that can travel at speeds to 12 m/sec.
Both THK and NSK developed solutions to reduce roller passage vibration, which increases motion accuracy.
Weight reduction to enhance speed is another big story at IMTS. Targeted use of other metals, such as aluminum, in parts of a design not only reduce the weight, it also reduces inertia, enabling guides and other components to move at faster speeds.
And sensors show that they can play a larger role. Renishaw uses high-accuracy strain-gage sensing and frequency-hopping spread-spectrum radio transmission in its touch probe used to measure 3D parts.
Lastly, for now, with a huge display, “the next big thing” might be the new manufacturing communication protocol, MTConnect that is debuting. Turn in tomorrow for more on this protocol.
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