Seeing is believing and one disappointment from the string of trade show cancellations due to Covid-19 is that more people must wait longer to see Planar Motor Inc’s fascinating magnetic levitation system for automation applications. The company develops magnetically levitated planar motors, designing and producing them into its XBOT smart conveying robot systems.
An XBOT is composed of one or more Movers and a stationary surface called Flyway made of modular Stators. Each Mover is independently controlled and suspended on the Stator with 6 degrees-of-freedom motion capability. The system does not require any lubrication nor generates any contamination.
They have startling flexibility, speed and precision with complete re-configurability, scalability and traceability. The system has typically drawn crowds of intrigued attendees at recent packaging and automation shows.
Multiple movers can work in groups, yet each mover is uniquely identifiable at all times and can move anywhere within its specified range. Each mover is enabled with built-in intelligence including obstacle avoidance and automatic routing, so they can be controlled to avoid collisions with other movers and deftly cross crowded stator surfaces with many movers. They come in numerous sizes with a payload capacity ranging from 0.6 kg to 14 kg. Planar Motor has developed several sizes of turnkey systems that range from 2 movers up to 36 movers, each configured ready to use for new machine development. Application-specific turnkey systems are also available.
It is ideal for applications requiring high cleanliness such as food, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical manufacturing as well as industries with harsh environments such as those that require water and dust proofing. The stators are made from identical modular tiles and are fully extendable and reconfigurable. Thanks to the versatile motion of the movers, many traditionally needed robot arms can be eliminated. Based on advanced technology, the system’s powerful planar motor controller manages the whole planar motor system and supports all standard industry communication interface such as EtherCAT, Ethernet, EtherNet/IP, POWERLINK, PROFINET RT/IRT.
“This new planar motor technology is incredibly promising for many manufacturing applications. It will enable new manufacturing methods in domains from conventional to ultraprecision, and in environments from factory floor to clean room. The ability to simultaneously and independently control six degrees of freedom across multiple magnetically-levitated stages is a remarkable achievement!” commented David L. Trumper, professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a recognized expert in the field of magnetic levitation.
“Our system offers incredible flexibility for a production line,” commented Xiaodong Lu, president. “With full freedom of motion on the stator surface, buffers and diverters are no longer needed, and changing the plant layout is as simple as rearranging the module stators and adjusting the program.”
To see it in motion for yourself, go to: https://youtu.be/Zh6Q4F5tvm0.
Planar Motors is headquartered in Richmond, BC, near Vancouver, with skunk-works sites in Toronto, Boston and Shanghai. For more info and more videos, see www.PlanarMotor.com.