The ultimate positioning system
From research to industry: The ultra-compact 6-axis positioning system EASy A3 sets standards in terms of load capacity, precision, modularity and economy. The researches center Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY and the positioning specialists Steinmeyer Mechatronik are going to transfer the prototype into series production for industrial applications together. In addition there are many of them: “the EASy A3 is an ideal choice, wherever very heavy component or parts are aligned with each other with high precision”, says Elger Matthes, responsible for development and product management at Steinmeyer Mechatronik.
Easy Alignment System
DESY and Steinmeyer Mechatronik have been working together for more than ten years now and have developed the EASy family (Easy Alignment System) - a patented series of positioning systems that would control their target via up to six largely decoupled axes. The system has a modular structure to find individual solutions with little effort in the shortest time. For instance, the manually adjustable basic model can be converted to motorize positioning in just a few steps.
Currently, the newest member of the family is the EASy A3, which is particularly interesting for industrial applications, acknowledges to its compactness. Measuring only 350 x 500 mm, the system positions loads weighing up to two tons with accuracy in the micrometer range. This load-bearing capacity and precision are results of a unique, cost-efficient design: "especially the minimalist approach, the elimination of rolling elements and the intelligent combination of an orthogonal structure for the translations and a tripod for the rotations make the difference," explains Roland Platzer from the "Central Design" department at DESY. A further issue is the stack architecture consisting of a few simple, but very rigid positioning, storage and structural elements.
Originally, the innovative concept goes back to systems used in the large accelerator facilities at DESY: for example, the EASy P1 sets high-resolution cavity beam position monitors (detection devices for beam position observation) in a novel plasma accelerator. Therefore, the EASy A3 will be used at DESY to align monochromators weighing several tons, magnetic structures, telescope mirrors or measuring sensors.
Compact, flexible, EASy
Companies increasingly operate their own ring accelerators - for example, semiconductor manufacturers for quality and material testing - in which the EASy A3 could be used as well as there are many other areas of application: from scientific equipment manufacturing and medical technology to mechanical engineering or aerospace technology. Particularly, in the automotive industry, where fully automated processes and highest accuracy requirements determine production, the EASy A3 is able to increase efficiency in enormous manufacturing and assembly. It does not matter if heavy parts are welded, large vehicle components are connected or machines are aligned with each other on a production line - the EASy A3 sets every load with high precision and requires little installation space.
This is also the case with proton therapy, a technique for treating cancer patients by irradiating them with special large-scale equipment. "Although the depth to which the protons penetrate the tissue can be adjusted very well, it is difficult to control their direction," explains Elger Matthes. "Therefore, the focusing units and beam generators, in some cases the patient as well, have to be constantly re-aligned and repositioned." For this reason that the devices for generating the protons - often so-called synchrotrons - are very heavy, this would not be easy task. However it would not be a problem for the EASy A3 - including the necessary high precision. The system even is able to complete the process automatically.
Compared to classical technologies for high-precision heavy-task positioning such as handlebar frame, stacked linear axes and hexapods, the six-axis system of EASy A3 would be more powerful and economical. Additionally, users benefit from the series' modular concept. "To date, commercial universal positioning systems are hardly available," says Roland Platzer. "A modular system is currently available for almost all requirements and applications with the EASy family. Singular solutions, which usually require a lot of time as well as technical and financial efforts, could consequently become a thing of the past".