IMTS innovations: 6-axis servo system, micro CNC, robotic cell, machine sensors, easier programming, large servos

Diverse product introductions, targeting greater machine tool efficiency, accuracy, speed, and ease of use included 6-axis servo system, micro CNC, robotic cell, machine sensors, easier programming, large servos with peak power output as high as 530 kW (710.74 hp).

October 11, 2010

The International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) remains one of the largest exhibitions of technology in North America, despite the business downturn that has affected all aspects of the economy. IMTS 2010 filled all four exhibit buildings of Chicago’s McCormick Place, Sept. 13-18, 2010—albeit not to 100% capacity. Visitors and busy booths appeared to be as plentiful as during the last IMTS in 2008.

To encompass the truly wide scope of “Manufacturing Technology,” nine pavilions were in play within the various buildings. Besides traditional manufacturing processes, coverage included sensing/gauging, finishing operations, electronic discharge machining (EDM), friction welding, and waterjet cutting, along with control systems needed to coordinate it all. Services included motor rewinding and machine tool refurbishing—even ranging to reverse engineering and dimensional analysis.

Diverse product introductions, targeting greater machine tool efficiency, accuracy, speed, and ease of use included 6-axis servo system, micro CNC, robotic cell, machine sensors, easier programming, large servos with peak power output as high as 530 kW (710.74 hp). New products follow from Mitsubishi Electric Automation, Bosch Rexroth, Etel Inc., Yaskawa Electric America, Heidenhain, Siemens Industry, Fanuc CNC America.

Mitsubishi Electric Automation Inc. showed a wide range of CNC and automation products. An example in the latter sector was a 6-axis servo system designed for general automation and packaging applications. For the CNC sector, Mitsubishi featured two standalone controllers: M700VW with Microsoft-Windows operating system (OS) and M700VS with a proprietary OS. Another controller, C70 Series, a PLC-rack-based unit integrates multiple functions. It performs traditional CNC, PLC, and servo functions, as well as interfaces with a robot directly from the PLC rack. Also featured in Mitsubishi’s booth were small robots, some incorporating vision guidance to enhance their capabilities.

Bosch Rexroth displayed its several technology areas that address CNC and machine tool automation. One highlighted product was IndraMotion MTX micro compact CNC, incorporating an IEC 61131-3 based PLC and all necessary controller and drive elements to automate up to four feed drives for turning and milling machines. Machining accuracies are reportedly “down to the nanometer,” enabled by a 32-bit processor with short controller cycle times. Other IndraDrive units can be used to expand the CNC system via SERCOS III Ethernet connections.

Variable-speed hydraulic pump drives were among other products on exhibit. In Bosch Rexroth’s version, these drives are based on a fixed displacement motor (and electric drive) rather than a variable displacement pump and motor in conventional drives. This approach and placing of the closed-loop control into the converter are said to provide energy savings and other benefits.

Etel Inc.—U.S. subsidiary of Swiss-based Etel S.A., a manufacturer of direct-drive (DD) motion technology—exhibited a variety of rotary (torque motor) and linear motor systems. DD linear systems compete with ballscrew-based motion systems, and are replacing them in growing numbers in high-tech applications, particularly in Europe, according to Etel. Besides DD technology, two other core businesses of the company are motion control (position and motion controllers) and motion systems (linear and rotary).

Dynamic demos illustrated the important role of robots in manufacturing technology as part of Yaskawa Electric America’s (YEA) large exhibit. “Perfect Edge” was the theme of a YEA/Motoman robotic cell that deburrs and chamfers complex part profiles such as teeth of helical gears. Another application demonstrated robot positioning of a large ring gear (approx. 80 in. diameter) for induction hardening of internal gear teeth and the ring’s outside diameter. The ring gear is used for pitch control of large wind turbine blades.

Various motion controllers and servo motor series complemented Yaskawa’s exhibit. First North American showing of a machine controller module, MP2600iec, was at this show. The controller module is fully integrated into the company’s latest Sigma-5 series servo amplifiers, noted Neil Koepke, manager of marketing communications at YEA.

Among Heidenhain Corp.’s display of numerous linear and rotary sensors that provide measurement feedback for precise control of CNC and automation systems was increased length capability of absolute linear sensors. Absolute linear encoders have the advantage of not needing prior traverse to measure a current position. A recent development allows absolute linear scales to measure up to 28 m (91.8 ft), using a special type of code to make it possible, according to Scott Warner, Canadian regional manager for Heidenhain. These linear sensors work with both glass and stainless steel tapes.

Siemens Industry Inc. showed a wide cross section of products, including CNC systems, integrated operator interfaces, induction motor drives, servo motors, and associated CAD/CAM/CNC software. An underlying theme of the exhibit was celebration of the 50th anniversary of Siemens’ Sinumerik CNC—said to be the world’s first numerical control.

A new Sinumerik model, 828D CNC, made its U.S. market introduction at IMTS. Compact 828D combines a CNC and PLC and targets multi-axis control of complex turning and milling machine operations. It is suitable for single-part/small-batch as well as large-scale production in a job shop setting. 828D controller is mated with Sinamics S120 drive and Sinumerk Operate operator interface (OI), which was also launched at the show. The highly-graphical OI offers advanced HMI features and various user programming interfaces and tools.

Fanuc CNC America displayed its product diversity via CNC, electric drive systems, and motor offerings. Its spindle and synchronous servo motors ranged to especially large sizes: 45-200 kW for spindle motors and even physically larger servo motors up to 530 kW peak power output. For closed-loop system accuracy these large servo motors include a 1 million ppr encoder (standard) or a 16 million ppr encoder option. Fanuc recently reported that it has produced more than 10 million servo motors of all sizes worldwide—with 40,000 of them comprising large motors in the 100-3,000 Nm continuous torque range. Direct-drive rotary and linear motors complemented Fanuc technology that serves manufacturing systems and machine-tool automation.

– Search IMTS at for related coverage.

– Frank J. Bartos, P.E. for Control Engineering,