Innovative actuator case study

Online Editor

ECM and Cone Drive (a Division of Timken) recently partnered to integrate ECM’s printed circuit board (PCB) stator technology with Cone Drive’s harmonic drive technology to create remarkably small, powerful, integrated actuator packages for robotic applications. The two firms are working together to create additional robotic joint actuator designs.

The companies decided to join forces because they each offer technologies that integrate seamlessly into a range of robotic applications to provide compact, efficient, torque-dense solutions. Cone Drive’s Harmonic Solutions, paired with ECM's customer-designed flexible form factor, enables compact, lightweight robotic designs that the companies claim were previously not possible. Combining the technologies increases motor efficiency, improves battery life for mobile applications, and reduces energy costs for stationary ones. Hollow shaft capabilities of both designs add flexibility to the combined technology packages.

“We knew that our technology - which simplifies the geometry of the rotor and stator - could reduce the number of parts within a fully integrated actuator gear drive platform for a wide range of robotic automation applications. We wanted to team up with Cone Drive because it is a recognised leader in this growing field, and its ‘challenger’ culture is totally compatible with ours,” comments Chris Fielding from ECM.


The two companies designed and prototyped a hollow shaft robotic joint actuator that they say is significantly more efficient at half the weight and half the axial length of any previously available integration.

Next steps

ECM is continuing to work with Cone Drive to integrate the combination of harmonic drive technology and PCB stator technology into a variety of robotic applications including medical, manufacturing, and automation. This breakthrough comes at a time when most major manufacturing, food processing, and logistics firms are seriously considering re-engineering their manufacturing and delivery supply chains.


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