Compressed air can be poorly illustrated, but very well saved: Under this slogan offers Etaopt Airless alternatives for the industry. The award winning suction lift "Etavac-SH-ZPN" gives green-minded companies a more efficient and environmentally friendly alternative to pneumatics and conventional vacuum ejectors. The device is based on the completely new vacuum technology "Etavac". A key component in this development is the new drive system "can Motion" from koco Motion and adlos.
Barely two years old, Etaopt GmbH from Kassel already has the 3. Prize won at this year's Robotics Award. No wonder, because Managing Director Dr.-Ing. Christoph Pohl founded the company as a spin-off from the department "Environmentally sound products and processes" at the University of Kassel. "I developed the patented Etavac technology as part of my doctorate", says the managing director and continues: "Now we want to make airless operation acceptable to the industry and revolutionize the market of compressed air substitution."
Drive platform at the right time"Our central approach is to generate only as much vacuum as needed and as exactly as possible where it is needed - in a decentralized way directly at the application", explains Dr. med. Christoph Pohl. So far, two versions have been developed based on the Etavac technology: the SH-ZPN suction lifting device (SH) and the "BP-30" bellows pump (BP). While the bellows pump device is designed to generate a permanent vacuum flow, for example, to handle leaking workpieces or to lift weights above 10 kg, the suction lifting device represents this approach in its purest form: the Etavac SH ZPN is a 100% complete vacuum gripper that can be mounted directly to the tool flange of a conventional industrial robot using an adapter. It creates a unique vacuum and eliminates it again to settle the workpiece.
"Back when we were looking for a suitable engine, Koco Motion was immediately able to offer us a drive in which the spindle runs through the engine. In addition, the Dauchinger were very flexible in terms of our specific adjustment needs as a control specially made for us, "summarizes Dr. med. Pohl. "The development of our new drive platform Kannmotion came just in time," recalls Gerhard Kocherscheidt, founder and CEO of Koco Motion GmbH. "It was not until late last year that the Dauchinger drive specialist presented its Kannmotion platform together with development partner adlos AG. "The simple drive platform for customer-specific applications can only do what it needs - perfectly," explains Gerhard Kocherscheidt, explaining the product philosophy.
Building a bridge between vacuum technology and electromechanicsIn the suction lifting device based on the Etavac technology, the piston rod, which is moved by an electromechanical linear drive, is connected to a bellows, which is connected directly or indirectly via a hose to a commercially available suction device for vacuum applications. By moving up and down, the volume of the bellows increases or decreases, creating a vacuum all the way to the sucker. The compression of the bellows eliminated, the pulling apart creates the vacuum. This decentralized vacuum is generated directly on site without compressed air. This means that new production plants can be set up without additional compressed air infrastructure or exempt existing plants from compressed air-driven applications.
"Basically, the technology bridges the gap between traditional vacuum technology and more efficient electromechanics," Dr. Christoph Pohl. "Handling can save up to 66 percent of the costs and build self-sufficient production facilities. In addition to economic and climate-related benefits, our technology also improves the work environment of employees by being less annoyed with noise at 30 decibels. "
Redefined state of the art"The Etavac technology with its resulting products suction lift and bellows pump are completely unrivaled in the production of a decentralized vacuum by means of electromechanical linear drive and thus a technological pioneer", describes Dr. med. Pohl the innovation. Currently, the decentralized vacuum in the production plants is usually generated by compressed air with the help of compressed air operated vacuum ejectors, which is energetically disadvantageous. Additional requirements for the existing infrastructure of the production site would have to be complied with and a connection of the production plant to a central compressed air supply network ensured. Capacity expansions in production would inevitably entail an expansion of the compressed air infrastructure in many cases.
However, the attachment of the vacuum generator directly at the place of use brings further advantages: it avoids additional energy losses due to long vacuum lines and possible leaks. The degree of freedom of grippers and industrial robots increases because no more vacuum or compressed air lines can be damaged by over-tightening. The collapse of complete vacuum networks no longer takes place because each application generates its own vacuum. And in a fault, the troubleshooting can be limited to a very small search range, which significantly speeds up the restart.
Component number down - efficiency up"Until then, the drive was a BLDC motor with gearbox. The biggest challenge with this application was for us to completely change this system, as we implement a direct drive and the control technology in the available space, "recalls Olaf Kämmerling, CEO of Koco Motion GmbH. Thus, the Dauchinger have optimized the drive so that they get by with less mechanical components, realize a higher efficiency and thus minimize the costs.
"Our contact person, Olaf Kämmerling, not only implemented our ideas about the required drive with his team, but also created additional added value for our product with his own ideas," recalls Dr. med. Christoph Pohl. "The experts at Koco Motion helped us reliably during development, be it programming or general technical questions."
Characteristic of the drive systemThe engines and bellows are the key components of Etavac products. "The engines significantly influence their performance in terms of maximum negative pressure, service life and real cycle times in production," says Dr. Pohl on the importance of the drive.
This suction lift comes with a Nema 11 Linear actuator It is used on a stepper motor basis, which offers a spindle pitch of 10 mm per revolution. It is controlled by the Kannmotion 17 controller, which has 5 inputs and 2 outputs. The maximum adjustment speed is 68 mm / s with an adjustment force of approx. 30 N. The programs required for the function are stored directly in the control and can be adapted to the specific application.
Because the control unit of the linear drive is integrated into the housing of the suction lifting device, it requires only an 24 VDC / 0,95 A power supply for operation and 24 VDC signals from a higher-level control as travel commands. The connection is made via a standardized 6-pin M8 plug on the housing. The existing power and signal supply can be used for functionality.
Many times longer service life"Our drives offer a much longer service life compared to the original solution," says Olaf Kämmerling. By integrating the motor and controller into the housing, the IP69 device can also be used in sensitive environments. There are many more power reserves available and in this application, the available traction to generate the vacuum is significantly higher than expected. "Our goal was to reach 0,20 mbar negative pressure, it has become significantly more than 0,35 mbar. The system is also plug-and-play-enabled with our included plug, eliminating the need for lengthy parameterization, "says Olaf Kämmerling, summing up the drive's unique selling points.
In addition, the drive can be easily referenced by stepper motor technology. He could drive against a fixed stop and then - depending on the required intake force - be driven almost to any position within the maximum travel path for negative pressure generation. The combination of drive and control allows Etaopt to be more variable in the suppression and travel speeds to be generated than was possible over the previous version.
Applications and prospectsApplications for the suction lifting device sees Dr.. Plenty enough in automated production plants: "Here you will find a multitude of work steps in which the components to be machined or assembled are transported from one working step to the next or must be held in a defined position for processing." One example would be transport of metal blanks in a press shop from blank to presses. Due to its compact design, the SH-ZPN is also suitable for handling smooth and dense components up to a weight of 0,5 kg, such as smartphone displays.
Based on the Etavac technology, both companies will probably be able to jointly implement further products in the future. "We already have initial ideas for further product variants in the two product lines SH and BP. If it comes to concrete implementation, Koco Motion is a preferred development partner for us, "says Dr. Koco Motion. Christoph Pohl into the future. "Basically, we see many other applications everywhere where rotary or linear movements have to be realized. Thanks to the symbiosis of stepper motor and control, the drives can be used at an unbeatable price compared with other brushless systems, provided a certain amount of equipment is behind the development costs, "adds Olaf Kämmerling.
Picture above: Interior of the 100-owned vacuum gripper with Koco Motion drive