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The Fraunhofer IPA in Stuttgart has developed a compensating actuator system based on piezo actuators from Physik Instrumente (PI) to enable industrial robots to achieve the accuracy necessary for machining.

Accurate machining is usually carried out with machine tools or machining centres; this means high costs and workpiece sizes limited by geometrical factors.

As an alternative, the Fraunhofer IPA has developed a separate compensating actuator system for the milling head.

The inaccuracies that occur with robotic milling units are measured online while the machining is in progress and are corrected directly where they occur in real time by the compensating actuator system.

Key benefits of product application

  • The workpiece is gripped by the robot, which guides it as it is machined by the milling head; this means that only one machine is required for handling and machining, reducing investment costs and increasing flexibility.
  • The compensation kinematics, including the actuator technology and mechanical setup, are based on piezo actuators from PI that operate without wear and tear, are friction free and have no slip.
  • They can be accelerated with up to 10G and are suitable for the high frequencies that are required to compensate for the inaccuracies in the robot’s trajectory.
  • The flexures that transfer the power and the motion also operate without wear and tear and require little maintenance; they are said to be lighter, quieter, stiffer, more dynamic and more accurate than conventional compensation mechanisms.

Physik Instrumente

PI is a global manufacturer of high precision positioning systems and products based on piezo technology. Used in markets as diverse as biotechnology, semiconductor, defence and astronomy, PI’s products work to improve the speed and precision of many cutting edge processes. Actuators, sensors and positioning systems with either sub-micron or nanometre level precision; many customised for the end user, are included in the product range.

With manufacturing and subsidiary offices around the world and a workforce of more than 500 PI provides direct local support where it is needed. Products range from component level piezo ceramic assemblies to six axis hexapod positioning robots. PI manufactures its own piezo ceramic material including multilayer devices that incorporate its patented ceramic insulation technology. Lead free ceramic technology is now also included in the company’s product range. With the flexibility and continuity of supply offered by having control of piezo ceramic production comes security and speed of delivery for customers who rely on or are looking to move into this area of technology. PI’s piezo ultrasonic and step drive motor technologies offer unique performance including self-locking capability, high force or high speed and non-magnetic and vacuum compatibility.

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