Drives & Controls November/December 2023

n TECHNOLOGY November/December 2023 20 p Niron Magnetics, a US company developing high-performance magnets that contain no rare-earth materials, has raised $33m of funding from backers including GM and Stellantis to expand its pilot production facilities and to scale its manufacturing capacity. Niron’s environmentally sustainable Clean Earth Magnets are based on iron nitride and promise improved temperature stability compared to other permanent magnets. As well as their uses in electric vehicles, they could have applications in industrial motors, pumps and compressors. p The Japanese motor-maker Nippon Pulse claims to be offering the world’s smallest, lightest direct-drive motors. Its MDx AC servomotors with built-in highresolution optical encoders are claimed to deliver a higher torque-to-weight ratio than other similar-sized rotary servomotors. Available in sizes from 13– 70mm, a choice of stack lengths, and standard or hollow-shaft versions, the motors offer good back-driveability for haptic feedback applications. p Ondosense, the German developer of radar-based distance sensors, says it has developed the smallest radar distance sensor, which is capable of high performance, even in difficult environments. The Reach sensor can be used for positioning and object detection with an accuracy of ±2mm, a measuring rate of 100Hz, and a range of 0.2–40m. It has an M30 housing and is 92mm long. p The Californian start-up, Machina Labs, has secured $32m of funding (taking its total to $45m) to develop its technology that combines AI with robotics to rapidly manufacture advanced composite and metal products. Part of the new investment has come from Nvidia. Machina’s technology uses software to configure factories for on-demand manufacturing that can deliver finished metal products in days. The first process enabled by this technology is robotic sheet forming, which is said to outperform methods relying on custom moulds or dies. p Derbyshire-based MasterMover claims to have produced the world’s most powerful electric tug with a model that can move up to 70,000kg. The remotecontrolled PS7000+ tug can be supervised safely by a single operator, who can control multiple tugs using MasterMover’s MulriLink technology. TECHNOLOGY BRIEFS UK-based Trio Motion Technology used the recent SPS show to launch a new motion controller based on Intel multi-core processors, which runs Microsoft Windows alongside its own Motion-iX core, allowingmachine builders to integrate Windows applications with advanced motion functions. The PC-MCAT-2 controller offers high-speed EtherCat coordination of up to 64 servo and robot axes. It runs Microsoft Windows 10 and provides a choice of Intel processors from Celeron to Core i7, as well as up to 256GB of solid-state drive memory. It can integrate with, and control, almost any peripheral device, including vision systems or sensors. Ports include HDMI, USB, serial and generalpurpose digital I/O. Three Ethernet ports allow the controller to deliver high-speed links from host machines to wider factory networks. To enhance network segmentation and bandwidth, each port has its own IP address. A supplied API library can be used in Windows applications, communicating with Trio’s Motion-iX motion control functions via a shared memory interface. This provides a high-speed link to the motion engine and a flexible choice of programming languages, allowing third-party SDKs to be integrated to deliver advanced machine control from a single application. The controller can co-ordinate up to 64 servo or robot axes with 64-bit maths precision, EtherCat cycle times down to 125μs, and motion command execution at speeds of up to 500 lines/ms. Trio’s motion command set includes multi-axis coordination in multiple dimensions, as well as numerous kinematic models. Combining Windows-based machine control and motion coordination on the same device removes the lag created by Ethernet connections to a separate PC. Trio says the PC-MCAT-2 can reduce machine footprints and hardware costs. OEMs can cut development times by removing the integration and debugging needed when using separate hardware. Applications can be written in Trio’s TrioBasic programming language, or in IEC 61131 languages with PLCopen. These languages execute on the Motion-iX core, independently of Windows. The single controller can have benefits for end-users as well, enhance reliability by avoiding communications challenges that may develop after commissioning. The controller is protected by a rugged metal housing that improves heat dissipation, while its fanless design reduces noise and maintenance requirements. “The PC-MCAT-2 motion controller is an advantage for machine-builders who need to deploy Windows-based machine control applications and establish IoT connectivity, alongside high-performance servo or robotic motion control,” says Trio Motion Technology’s president, Tom Alexander. “Combining PC-MCAT-2 with our portfolio of controllers, servodrives and motors, I/O, HMI, and Scara robots, we present machinebuilders with an automation solution that offers the highest performance motion control, with support from a single vendor.” Motion controller marries Windows with multi-axis engine Trio’s PC-MCAT-2 controller can run Windows alongside its own Motion-iX core