Programmable encoders enable new applications

Paul Boughton

Many linear and rotary motion control applications, such as laser cutting, biological cell analysis, and DNA sequencing, require ultra-precise motion.

Applications that used to require 0.1µm of motion feedback resolution now require 20nm or 10nm, and many machine designers seek to enter new markets that demand resolutions of 5nm to 1nm.

At the same time, machine designers have to contain costs. A new optical encoder architecture with programmable resolution and noise filtering fills these needs.
Programmable resolution saves motion system development time by allowing engineers to try different levels of resolution in their prototype systems, and determine exactly how much encoder resolution is needed. This enables them to specify the lowest-cost encoder that performs their application. Later, design changes or field upgrades are a simple matter of changing a programmable setting through downloadable software. XY stages and focusing optics for laser cutting, welding, and marking machines, as well as semiconductor wafer inspection equipment, wire bonders, SEM stages, micro-machining and medical equipment all can benefit from programmable resolution. Additionally, fewer unique parts are required in many multi-axis applications.
Programmable noise filtering in the encoder makes motions at high resolution smoother, and velocity control more constant - critical application requirements for biological cell analysis, DNA sequencing, and focusing optics in laser machining. These applications achieve faster throughput and process times, and perform more consistently, with smoother linear velocity control. In many situations, an encoder with programmable noise filtering can replace conventional encoders costing 3-5 times more, saving thousands of Euros with no loss of performance.
The key to programmable encoder technology is integrating high-fidelity optics, an ASIC, and the latest FPGA technology within the encoder. Integrating these components achieves the best combination of performance, cost and small size. With programmable features, this new class of encoders enables engineering managers to address dozens of new applications and enter new markets.
Enter X at
MicroE Systems is based in Bedford, MA, USA.

Recent Issues