A data network with intrinsic immunity to noise comes in handy for a 14- m-long carbon-fiber winder used to make components for challenging applications such as rigging for racing yachts.
Baldor Electric Co.
The winder, from Swiss company Carbo-Link GmbH, uses an Ethernetcompatible Powerlink motion-control network and controller, as well as motor drives from Baldor Electric Co., Fort Smith, Ark. The machine winds carbon fibers into lightweight yet ultrastrong tubes or rods up to 14-m long. A 50-m-long machine is also in the works.
The winder has five axes of motion. Using Powerlink minimizes cabling complexity, which is important because part of the motion control system moves along a 14-m carriage as the tube or rod forms.
A Baldor NextMove e100 controller manages as many as 16 interpolated axes, along with all other machinery I/O components. Two servomotor axes provide synchronized winding action that can be configured to create ropes and solid rods, or wind tubular shapes around a mandrel former. The moving tool has two servomotor axes of movement. One provides lateral movement to accurately position fiber with respect to the structure being created. The second provides rotational control of an “eye” that guides fibers as they wind. The last axis controls linear motion of the tool along the machine.
The machine can be programmed to make a wide range of different components. In one case, it manufactured carbon-fiber ropes for rigging on “round the world” racing yachts. It has also fabricated small-diameter tubes with ultrathin 0.15-mm walls for structural use in advanced aerospace applications.
The Baldor controller and drives sit in a small enclosure at one end of the machine. Programming is via a Basic-like language that includes high-level keywords for common motion-control tasks. Some keywords provide a means of moving all the axes simultaneously, synchronized with each other but at defined gearing ratios.