Aerotech, a manufacturer of high-performance motion control and positioning systems, is launching a new hexapod, for quality assurance applications. As a smaller brother to the HEX500 and HEX300, the HEX150 with a diameter of 150 mm and a height of 141 mm complements the existing product family diameters of 500 and 300 mm. In addition to its commitment to quality assurance in measurement and testing technology, Aerotech also sees potential applications in the automotive, electronics, mechanical engineering and medical technology sectors.

The unmistakable advantage of the multi-axis, parallel kinematic hexapods is its flexible six degrees of freedom coupled with accurate positioning. With the 132 mm outside diameter moving platform, the HEX150 can manipulate loads of up to 10 kg with travel ranges of up to 55mm linear and 50 degrees rotation and provides a central through the aperture of 35mm diameter.

Highest precision in the submicrometre range

The new 150 series hexapod with its high load-bearing capacity coupled with large movement distances and high positioning speeds of 50 mm/s leaves nothing to be desired in the application specification. The high-precision positioning system impresses with its excellent mechanics: Extremely stiff drive legs with brushless, slotless AC servo motors not only ensure ultimate performance and a long service life, but also maximum precision in the submicrometre range. The AC servo motors are connected directly to the ball bearing spindle, which guarantees high drive rigidity. According to the manufacturer, the HEX150 is currently the most precise hexapod on the market. Fast settling times allow high throughput with a repetition accuracy of fewer than 2 μm, the increments of less than 20 nm in XYZ and 0.2 μrad in Θx Θy Θz also allow a wide range of applications.

Simulation in free space

Due to the complex kinematics, the control effort of a hexapod should not be underestimated. Aerotech counteracts this with the innovative control platform A3200, resulting from years of experience with demanding kinematic applications. The integrated, intuitive simulation software “HexGen Hexapod” enables simple programming and control of the hexapods in any user-defined coordinate system. The user can visualise and simulate the available workspace in order to carry out collision observations. In addition, the user can also select pre-configured models directly from a stored library with standard designs.

In order to be able to simulate the entire work process, the AS3200 accesses the open platform Coppelia Robotics V-REP via a simulation interface. Complete automation processes can be simulated on this platform, and the required robot actuators, linear or rotary tables and tools can be assembled in a 3D environment. “We also support image processing, clamping and vacuum adapter to simulate the entire automation process and to minimise the risk of collisions. This noticeably shortens commissioning and integration”, summarises Simon Smith, European Director Aerotech.

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