Case study: PCB stator technology integrated into powerful robotic actuators
ECM recently recently integrated its printed circuit board (PCB) stator technology into remarkably small, powerful actuator packages for robotic applications. Most notably, the company recently partnered with a large, high-tech precision gearing firm to prototype two impressive robotic joint actuator designs: one design with a hollow shaft and one without.
The PCB stator platform can integrate seamlessly into a range of actuator technologies to provide highly efficient, low-volume solutions ideal for robotic automation, exoskeleton technology, robotic assisted surgery, machine tooling, satellite communication, and other defence applications.
PrintStator, a PCB stator design and optimisation software developed by ECM, considerably reduces design cycle and motor development costs while enabling considerable flexibility in specifying operating characteristics and form factor restraints. With PrintStator, transforming exact system requirements into a unique PCB stator motor, ready for rapid prototyping and commercial production, is only a matter of hours.
The flexible form factor of the stator design and the software’s ability to design a motor as a thin ring allows for compact integration with a variety of torque multipliers (strain wave, planetary gear, etc.). Using this technology creates motors with high power density and minimal axial length, enabling compact, lightweight robotic designs that were previously not possible. Increased motor efficiency improves battery life for mobile applications and reduces energy costs for stationary ones. Additionally, the ease of hollow shaft designs adds to the technology’s flexibility.
ECM’s actuator designs allowed for compact integration with harmonic gear torque multipliers, and in the first iteration, without compromising the design advantage of a hollow shaft. The hollow shaft robotic actuator was found to be more efficient at half the weight (1.63 kg), and half the axial length (43mm) of many existing solutions. The 40W solid shaft integration reduced the volume and weight of the actuator package even further (Length: 61mm, OD: 101mm, Mass: 0.97kg). In comparisons with some existing integrations, this actuator is up to 65% lighter while delivering an equal or greater torque.
ECM is in the process of expanding PrintStator and PCB stator technology into a variety of robotic applications including medical, manufacturing and automation. Rapid prototyping, form factor flexibility, increased efficiency, and a large weight reduction are a few of the benefits.
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