Shorter drive targets growing motion control market

Paul Boughton

The market for motion control experienced a 6% rise in 2014, reaching a revenue of $12.2bn, according to a recent survey by the IHS.

Similarly, the industrial robotics market is growing by 6.2% annually and is currently worth $28.9bn. Expecting this growth to continue for the rest of 2015, Harmonic Drive has developed a new, shorter, SHD drive targeting the trend for smaller, lighter rigs. A hollow shaft has been incorporated into the centre of the unit.

With a diameter ranging from 11-40mm the hollow shaft allows original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to feed through cabling, supply lines and other services. This feature opens up new possibilities for operators, allowing the articulating arms to rotate a full 360 degrees, continuously. In broadcasting this is useful for panoramic time-lapse footage and in industrial robotics environments it saves on costly cabling harnesses and improves efficiencies within production environments.

Available in six sizes, from 14-40 with equivalent weights of 0.33-3.09kg, the SHD-2SH series units are available with a repeatable peak torque from 12 to 453Nm and reduction ratios of 50, 100 and 160:1. This enhanced power-to-weight ratio is complemented by a shorter Flexspline and heavy duty output bearings.

The SHD-2SH series has been specially adapted to incorporate heavy-duty cross roller output bearings to minimise the overall length. The bearing can withstand both high axial and radial forces as well as high tilting moments.

"Robots and motion control rigs are often put under lots of physical strain," explained Graham Mackrell, managing director of Harmonic Drive UK. "Axial, radial and tilting forces can greatly hinder performance of the gear unit as well as causing undue wear on the components and reducing product life.

"The ability to withstand such high forces also means that the transmission of external loads is easily achieved without compromising accuracy. Additionally, with the SHD-2SH, external bearings are not required. The integration of output bearings offers a significant reduction in design, manufacturing and assembly costs." 

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