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FEATURE MOTION CONTROL Moving precisely into the future


different axes and the high level of co- ordination offered will enable complex curvilinear motion – an essential tool in precision automation. Multi-axis synchronised control is a process beset with complex challenges. Part of the difficulty is that the errors introduced by friction, inertia and gravity are compounded with each additional axis. The ACS control software has been honed to counteract these disturbances, and maintain a smooth and accurate movement in multiple co-ordinated dimensions. The ability to move precisely in multiple dimensions, delivering finely controlled curved motion, offers a new precision toolset to many rapidly developing sectors, such as photonics automation, including laser processing and metrology, and the burgeoning realm of additive manufacturing. A prime benefit of this merger is that PI


Physik Instrumente (PI) has recently acquired the majority of shares in ACS Motion Control, a partnership that promises to bring with it an exciting expansion of the companies’ sophisticated motion control portfolios


P


hysik Instrumente (PI) is known for its precision motion and positioning


systems for nanoscale up to ton-bearing applications, and particularly for its stage technology. The company’s products have been incorporated into some of the most demanding positional and metrological applications, from scientific instrumentation to automated industrial processes. ACS Motion Control, with over 30 years of experience in the sector, is a global company providing high- performance control systems for motion-oriented applications, with the potential to use multiple synchronised axes. ACS has seen its advanced systems applied across a wide range of sectors, intersecting with those spanned by PI. The partnership will allow PI to actively


combine the highly complementary technological expertise of ACS engineers with that of its own staff, working together to integrate ACS’ control technology into the PI mechatronics. In so doing, the company will be able to offer enhanced functionality to existing customers and provide solutions to tackle challenges in new areas. The merger of the two companies


allows for a very natural incorporation of the ACS product line into the PI portfolio.


16 MAY 2017 | DESIGN SOLUTIONS


To date, most PI controllers have been standalone ‘plug & play’ systems. These give clients ease of use, but not always the flexibility required for more complex tasks. PI’s more flexible (modular) controllers offer the possibility of enhanced functionality. However, they are either very high end, such as the E- 712 Digital Piezo Controller, or more entry level, such as the C-885 PIMotionMaster. In between, there existed a natural gap, which the ACS control systems fit very comfortably into. Combined with recent developments to PI’s linear motor and air bearing technologies, the ACS control systems help to fully round out the PI technology spectrum. Although the ACS controllers do not currently have piezo support, PI is working with the company’s engineers to make them piezo compatible, thereby enhancing the range further. Multi-axis synchronised control – an


area in which ACS excels – is perhaps the most important functionality gained by the integration of the ACS control technology into a PI motion solution. Integration into PI’s mechatronics will allow for more sophisticated applications than are currently achievable. The synchronisation between


PI’s acquisition of ACS brings together expertise in precision nanopositioning technology and high-end controllers to deliver extended flexibility for complex applications


can now offer complete solutions to its customers. Previously, customers who wanted the precision motion offered by PI’s products and multi-axis functionality would have had to assemble the multiple components themselves, which is both time-consuming and requires some considerable expertise. Now, customers who want an advanced motion control or positioning system, and the versatility of a bespoke product can get a PI system with the ACS control components professionally integrated. This allows customers to benefit from the proven reliability and excellence of a PI product and the enhanced functionality of ACS controllers, without having to engineer the multicomponent integration themselves. Customers can combine the advantages of a bespoke product with the ease of an off-the-shelf system, all under the umbrella of a single supplier. Using a single supplier, whose knowledge and responsibility extends over the entire piece of kit, helps to avoid the many pitfalls of maintaining complex equipment composed of components acquired from multiple sources. Every client’s need is unique, and


around 90 per cent of PI products shipped are customised in some way. The partnership with ACS will enable PI to tailor its products even more specifically, and will undoubtedly also prompt new research and development in other areas of the business, expanding the available product range even further. PI’s aim is to develop technology that its customers are not yet aware they will need.


Physik Instrumente www.physikinstrumente.co.uk


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