Hannover Fair 2004: Festo’s novel pneumatic linear actuator in the spotlight

Fluidic Muscle MAS—an unusual pneumatic linear actuator from Festo AG & Co. KG—commanded its own dynamic display arena in the company’s huge exhibit at Hannover Industrial Fair in Germany (April 19-24, 2004).


Two opposing Fluidic-Muscle actuators per unit produce undulating movement in banks of artistic displays to show motion control capability of Festo’s novel pneumatic linear devices. Industrial applications comprised the rest of the Fluidic-Muscle arena at Hannover Fair. (Photo by Control Engineering .)

Fluidic Muscle MAS—an unusual pneumatic linear actuator from Festo AG & Co. KG —commanded its own dynamic display arena in the company’s huge exhibit at Hannover Industrial Fair in Germany (April 19-24, 2004). Based on 'membrane-contraction' of flexible hose (with nonelastic fibers) wrapped in a special 3-D rhomboidal grid pattern that deforms when actuated by compressed air, Fluidic Muscle MAS delivers precise, repeatable linear motion similar to that of human muscles. It offers an alternative to standard pneumatic cylinders with size, weight, and output force advantages.

Numerous dynamic displays demonstrated the speed and power that Festo’s Fluidic-Muscle MAS can deliver for industrial applications. In a high-force, short-stroke example, a 40-mm diameter (1.57 in.) Fluidic Muscle was used as a 'drive' for a toggle-lever press to develop stamping forces up to 1,200 kg (2,6246 lb) with a stroke of 2 mm. Improved stamping quality and reduced press noise resulted from the device’s motion that’s free of stick-slip.
In an industrial tricycle, a '4-cylinder' Fluidic-Muscle motor (four devices working in parallel) provides the propelling torque, with a 600-liter (158 gal.) compressed air tank serving as the fuel supply. By the way, the Chancellor of Germany, Gerhard Schröder, was keen enough to try out the novel 'trike' during his official visit to the fair.
With 90% less air consumption and 40% less weight compared to metal air cylinders of like size, says Festo, other applications of Fluidic-Muscle motors include driving peristaltic processing pumps. In a discrete part-sorting application, Fluidic Muscle teamed with a Festo MHE2 high-speed valve to demonstrate its speed capability, driving the sorting pin at frequencies up to 50 Hz.

Fluidic Muscle MAS also was winner of Control Engineering ’s Editors’ Choice Award for 2002 product introductions. Festo’s U.S. headquarters is in Hauppauge, NY.

For more on Fluidic Muscle, see Motion Control E-Newsletter (Feb. 2002) .

—Frank J. Bartos, executive editor, Control Engineering, fbartos@reedbusiness.com

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