Gantry for precision positioning

Paul Boughton

Festo has launched a new compact gantry, the EXCM Mini H Handler, which offers precise, fast positioning. It is the first production, off-the-shelf handling gantry to feature kinematic technology. 

The EXCM Mini H Handler’s parallel kinematic system is energy efficient compared with traditional Cartesian positioning systems in which one motor must transport the weight of the other. Instead, two motors act directly on the load via a common recirculating tooth belt.  By sharing the load in this way, the robotics can achieve higher dynamics, and EXCM realises positioning speeds of up to 0.5m/s with less cost, energy usage and vibration. The Mini H Handler’s closed-loop servo controller can drive the end effector rapidly and accurately to any X-Y co-ordinate position.

The Handlers start from just A4 size with a good ratio of working area to total footprint. Installation height is also minimised, as both motors lie in the same plane. With these compact dimensions, the EXCM Mini H Handlers are perfect for desktop applications, such as those found in electronics, light assembly, and medlab. Their robustness and reliability increases uptime; as neither motor moves, no energy chain is required, which eliminates drag and cable failure - traditionally the greatest causes of downtime.

The Mini H Handler range currently comprises two products; the EXCM-10 and the EXCM-30. The EXCM-10 offers its kinematic benefits in a basic package, while the EXCM-30 supports a higher payload of up to 3kg, and high precision, with a maximum acceleration of 10m/s2, maximum speed of 0.5m/s and repetition accuracy of ±0.05mm with ball bearing guidance. The gantries are available with six X-axis fixed stroke lengths up to 700 mm and a Y-axis stroke up to 360 mm.

The EXCM is extremely easy to install and control. The controller can be driven from any PLC or PC device using digital I/O, Ethernet TCP/IP or CAN bus network. With network-connected devices, users can directly program the Mini H Handler with familiar parameters – X and Y Cartesian co-ordinates, vector speed, acceleration and deceleration. Additionally, all devices can run Festo’s free downloadable Festo Configuration Tool (FCT). This allows a sequence of up to 32 positioning steps to be set up and downloaded to a lookup table stored within the controller.

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