Machinedesign 1379 0212 Galil 0 0

Design by Objective: Size and weight

Feb. 1, 2012
Designing within stringent size and weight envelopes is a top design objective in many industries, from sensitive medical applications to the factory

Designing within stringent size and weight envelopes is a top design objective in many industries, from sensitive medical applications to the factory floor. To help streamline your next project, we present some of the latest components and research aimed at trimming the space and weight budget.

Compact motion controller fits tight spaces

The DMC-300xx Pocket Motion Controller Series is designed for single-axis motor control applications where space, cost, and remote locations must be taken into account. It combines a high-performance motion controller and 800-W sine drive in a 3.9 × 5.0 × 1.5-in. package. The DMC-300xx is also available as a controller-only model, which can be connected to a stepper or servomotor amplifier of any power range. Using a 32-bit RISC processor and improved power technology, the new series provides higher speed, better power efficiency, and smaller size than previous generations.

Galil Motion Control
(800) 377-6329

Servomotors pack performance into petite design

Pittman 8540 Series brush-commutated dc motors are suited for applications requiring a small package, such as medical devices, lab instrumentation, and precision automation machinery. The new design features improved power density through the use of bonded neodymium magnets, offering twice the continuous torque rating of previous motor generations. Motors feature a 1.18-in. diameter and are available in lengths of 2.114, 2.585, and 3.057-in. Continuous torque ranges from 2.5 to 8.3 oz-in. without using a heat sink. Motors are available with eight standard windings from 9.55 to 48 V.

Pittman, AMETEK Precision Motion Control
(330) 673-3452

Tiny linear motor replaces ballscrews, belt drives

The 4-mm Linear Shaft Motor, model S040, is designed for applications where small scale and precision are key design objectives. It can replace traditional linear motor systems such as ballscrews and belt drives. With stroke lengths to 40 mm, the motor provides 0.98 N continuous force, 0.6 Arms continuous current, and 3.8 N acceleration force. Regardless of winding size, the S040 has a width of 10 mm and forcer length to 79 mm. The compact motor is now used in nanoscale manufacturing, processing, and metrology in the biomedical, life sciences, and pharmaceutical industries.

Nippon Pulse America Inc.
(540) 633-1677

Mini conveyors suit space-constrained designs

New versions have just been added to the configurable Miniature Conveyors series, which now includes 21 models, plus eight standard flat belt types and seven crosspiece grooved flat belts. Models SVKA and SVKB feature a flat belt, single-track head drive with a pulley diameter of 30 mm and five different belt widths from 50 to 250 mm. Length is configurable from 300 to 3,000 mm. Models CVSFA, CVSFB, CVSFC, and CVSFD feature a full-width belt, single-track head drive, and two or three-groove frame type with a pulley diameter of 30 or 50 mm. Belt width is configurable from 60 to 300 mm, with length configurable from 280 to 2,000 mm.

Misumi USA Inc.
(847) 843-9105

Cables minimize bend radius

Chainflex CF11 and CF211 continuous-flex data cables feature a smaller bending radius than before for tough flexing applications on automated machinery. Cables were tested for two years and more than 30 million cycles. Engineers reduced the minimum bend radius of CF11 cables by 32% percent (from 10 times the diameter to 6.8 times) and reduced the minimum bend radius of CF211 by 25% (from 10 times the diameter to 7.5 times). CF11 cables feature an oil-resistant TPE-blend outer jacket, while CF211 cables come in a lower-cost PVC version.

igus Inc.
(800) 521-2747

Energy harvesting powers tiniest warriors

Imagine a bug wearing a backpack full of sophisticated sensing devices and heading into a burning building, collapsed mine, or dangerous battlefield to gather intelligence about what's going on. This exact scenario is now one step closer to reality. New research being conducted at the University of Michigan College of Engineering, Ann Arbor, may lead to the use of insects to monitor hazardous situations such as these before sending in humans. Professor Khalil Najafi, chair of electrical and computer engineering, along with doctoral student Erkan Aktakka, are discovering ways to harvest energy from insects, and then use that energy to power various reconnaissance devices carried by the bugs in miniature backpacks.

“Through energy scavenging, we could potentially power cameras, microphones, and other sensors and communications equipment that an insect could carry aboard a tiny backpack,” explains Najafi. “We could then send these bugs into dangerous or enclosed environments where we wouldn't want humans to go.”

The concept involves harvesting the insect's biological energy from either its motion or body heat. The device being developed converts the kinetic energy from the insect's wing movements into electricity, thereby prolonging the battery life. The battery could be used to power small sensing devices implanted on the insect (for example, a small camera, microphone, or chemical sensor) in order to gather vital information from the hazardous environment.

Here's how it works: A spiral piezoelectric generator maximizes power output by employing a compliant structure in a limited area. The technology developed to fabricate the prototype includes a process that machines high-aspect ratio devices from bulk piezoelectric substrates with minimum damage to the material itself by using a femtosecond laser.

In a paper titled “Energy scavenging from insect flight” published in the Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering, the research team describes several techniques to scavenge energy from wing motion and also presents data on power measured from the beetles.

The Hybrid Insect Micro Electromechanical Systems program of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is funding the research. The university is now pursuing patent protection and seeking commercialization partners to help bring the technology to market. For more information, visit or

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