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FEATURE LINEAR MOTION


COMPACT SOLUTIONS guide the way


Aruj Abbas, product manager at Festo, explains why pneumatic guided drives are getting smaller and explores how the latest compact solutions have the capability to deliver the high performance needed, opening up new application possibilities


Right: The new range of


compact cylinders and guided cylinders from


Festo includes the DGST, the shortest slide unit currently available


P


neumatic guided drives and slides are workhorses of industrial


automation. They provide greater stability and precision where a standard drive may not, which is critical in many pick-and-place functions. Furthermore, these devices are adaptable to a growing range of applications where the particular benefits of adding guidance result in superior performance. As more engineers become aware


that it is easier and more convenient to buy a single product which combines the benefits of linear movement and guiding than buying both functions separately, the market for guided drives and slides is growing. In an increasingly automated


world, the ability to deliver greater functionality in the same, or smaller, space is a continuing challenge. Compactness is key, for example, in electronics assembly, medical and laboratory automation, testing and analytical applications. The market for handheld electronic devices and growing demand for desktop laboratory automation are just two examples which are driving customers’ demands for smaller and lighter pneumatic solutions in their assembly and testing processes.


In an increasingly automated world, the ability to deliver greater functionality in the same, or smaller, space is a continuing challenge


SIZE MATTERS Device selection can play a key role in meeting customer specifications regarding compactness. To select the right slide unit for the task, designers need to consider


the basic requirements. These parameters include stroke length and force required (for vertical or horizontal movements), as well as the static and dynamic requirements of the application, such as perpendicularity, parallelism and linearity. The ability to cope with the moments


acting on the guides is critical: particularly for axis combinations typical in horizontal and vertical X-Y and Y-Z applications where tolerances stack up. Too frequently, this essential part of the selection process is skipped by over-sizing, but the knock-on effect in terms of additional space, moving mass and increased air consumption make this an expensive omission. As with any linear bearing system the combination of torques, particularly during the de-acceleration, cushioning phase, has a strong influence on the life-time performance of the slide. Device manufacturers also have a key


role to play, by developing pneumatic drives and slides that are physically smaller than ever without compromising on quality or reliability. For maximum performance, the new generation of smaller, lighter, pneumatic drives should offer a combination of compactness, precision, accuracy and reliability.


COMPACT, YET ROBUST Festo has recently introduced a new range of compact cylinders and guided cylinders which has been developed to provide the ideal drive combination for compact assembly systems. This includes the industry’s shortest slide unit to date – the DGST – which sets a benchmark for compact, yet robust and precise drives, to provide engineers with a complete solution for compact handling systems. DGST mini-slides feature an integrated


guide unit driven by twin pneumatic cylinders. In addition to standard cylinders they provide a smooth, precision guided, non-rotating platform, ideal for the


mounting of tooling or other actuators. The guidance is particularly important where side or pressing/insertion loads are present. The slide and end plate are manufactured from a single part, eliminating torsion and misalignment issues and so providing extremely precise movements. Impact shocks at the end of stroke are reduced by the integrated cushioning elements, seated within the body length. With in-built stroke adjustment, the DGST eliminates the need for additional parts and ensures top performance in a compact footprint. Symmetrical mounting interfaces enable


easy installation to other actuators without the need to design or machine additional mounting plates, saving time and cost. This is very useful in pick and place applications where the DGST slides can be placed in different orientations and mirrored on either side of a robot arm or conveyor belt. The DGST’s high load carrying capacity and accuracy for its size are the direct result of the integral recirculating ball bearing guide and mounting within the aluminium housing. This innovative mini-slide is available in a twin piston design with diameters of 6- 25mm and stroke lengths of 10-200mm.


HIGH PERFORMANCE LINEAR DRIVES New linear drives, such as Festo’s DGST, have the capability to deliver the high performance that customers need in a smaller footprint than ever, opening up new application possibilities. However, a carefully considered design specification is key to fully realising the potential of pneumatic drive technology to save space, save energy and deliver optimum lifetime performance.


Festo www.festo.co.uk


The Festo White Paper ‘Considerations for choosing pneumatic guided drives and slides’ provides a more in-depth insight into the selection process and can be downloaded free via this link: http://www.festo.co.uk/whitepaper_guidedcyl


10 FEBRUARY 2020 | DESIGN SOLUTIONS 


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