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In March 2012, students from the Infinity Math and Science Academy (IMSA) and Glenbrook South High School presented their Illinois Innovation and Technology Challenge solutions to Bison Gear and Engineering. The schools proposed unique ideas for Bison’s Servonow motor, a servomotor that is said to provide easy-to-use motion control integration. It is suitable for lighter load conveying and packaging applications.

Bison Gear and Engineering worked with associates from IMSA and teachers from the participating high schools to bring the challenge to life. Each school was given a $250 (£152) stipend, a Servonow motor and tasked with producing a working prototype solution to a real-world application.

Bison further supported the students by assigning Servonow expert Mike O’Donnell as a technical adviser. While the students took the lead on the project, O’Donnell was able to troubleshoot any issues the schools faced during the design process.

The students had to work quickly to take their designs from initial concepts to working prototypes. Using the Servonow to control the rotation of an extended output shaft equipped with special tooling for cutting, the students from Infinity Math, Science and Technology High School created a flavoured ice maker where users could control the flavour of the ice and the size of drinks made.

The students from Glenbrook South created a gumball machine that uses single- and multi-axis movement, driven by the Servonow, to kick a gumball towards a predetermined point into a waiting cup that was also driven by Servonow.

Both schools proposed their design in a creative, multimedia presentation where they highlighted what factors led to their idea, the challenges each school faced, the data they collected to test and refine their design and finally suggestions on how to market the product.

Key product features

  • The Servonow motor features a closed-loop brushless servomotor with built-in drivers, controllers and feedback devices.
  • The all-in-one design makes Servonow easy to specify, install and program.
  • Set-up time is minutes rather than hours.
  • Servonow can be programmed and monitored through a standard PC via built-in USB port.

Bison Gear & Engineering

Bison Gear and Engineering began in 1960 by designing problem-solving gearboxes and gear motors for their customers.

Bison Gear and Engineering began in 1960 by designing problem-solving gearboxes and gear motors for their customers.

Today, the company has grown into an industry leader for fractional horsepower electric motor, integral gearmotor and gear reducer products by implementing innovative lean manufacturing processes, world-class engineering and customer support teams driven by their Robusticity design philosophy, allowing Bison to consistently expand its product line with new motion control and power transmission solutions.

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