STIWA uses FAULHABER micromotors in compact automation system

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STIWA's compact automation system the LTM-CI, which is optimized for small part assembly.

The compact LTM-CI from STIWA is optimized for small part assembly. | Source: FAULHABER

STIWA is an experienced developer of compact mechatronic systems that can perform a series of consecutive product steps autonomously. The Austrian machine manufacturer said its LTM-CI is optimized for small parts assembly. 

Compact automation can be essential for end users that want to automate but don’t have the space for a large system. In addition, these compact systems can excel at handling small components. STIWA designed its system for products with a spatial diagonal of up to 30 mm (1.1 in.). 

“A customer in the west of Austria produces dampers for a well-known furniture retailer that needs millions of these parts every year,” said Roland Schiermayr, head of the Automation Research and Development Department at STIWA.

“The company wanted to buy a new production machine,” he said. “The existing machine was 10 m [32.8 ft.] long – for the production of small components measuring just a few centimeters in length, this was simply too much for the production site in a narrow Alpine valley. This was the impetus for us to fully utilize all miniaturization possibilities.”

For its compact automation systems, the company uses linear and rotating micromotors from FAULHABER to perform key tasks.

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Inside the LTM-CI

Automatic movements within the LTM-CI happen so quickly that the human eye can barely keep up with the individual automation steps. First, the system feeds individual parts from storage containers and separates them using a shaker. It then correctly positions these parts on a conveyor belt so it’s ready for the next manufacturing step. 

Next, the system transports the components to the respective stations. There, delicate grippers pick them up and join them together, or process them in a different way. STIWA compares the movements of the system to a dance, combining the smooth transport of conveyor belts with the rapid movements of grippers. 

This entire system, depending on the configuration and equipment needed, is just 3 to 4 m (9.8 to 13.1 ft.) long. STIWA made the bases of the system from a rigidly linked transport system, and the other system components depend on the needs and specifications of the customer. 

“We can integrate up to 22 function modules, each measuring 90 mm [3.5 in.] in width, for different work steps,” said Christian Mersnik, who was involved in development from Day 1. “These functions include, for example, pick and place, laser welding with up to five degrees of freedom, screw insertion, press-in operations, labeling, as well as testing and measuring processes.”

STIWA compact automation gets customer interest

STIWA said that its compact automation system has been well received by customers. Its customers appreciate the uniform, smooth movements of the system. They also say that these movements don’t come with impacts or vibrations, which guarantees a stable process. 

FAULHABER's BX4 brushless motor series.

The BX4 brushless motor series. | Source: FAULHABER

The company said the LTM-CI can reduce cycle times to almost just half a second, which brings a significant leap in productivity. STIWA noted that the drives used in the FAULHABER actuators make a major contribution to the smooth movement of the machine and its high speed. 

The LTM-CI uses the LM 1247 linear actuator motor from FAULHABER. This actuator performs its task at up to 20 points in the system, including stopper units and grippers. STIWA claimed that one particular strength of the FAULHABER linear motors is its high speed. At just 12.5 mm (0.4 in.) wide and 19.1 mm (0.7 in.) high, the drive can produce a continuous force of 3.6 Newtons. 

The system also utilizes FAULHABER’s brushless BX4 2250 series of motors. In the portal handling of the compact automation, this motor drives the swivel units that move the tools or components to a specific position. 

“At this point in the system, we require an extremely high level of precision and repeatability,” Mersnik said. “This is why it was an important argument for us that FAULHABER was able to deliver this motor with a matching multiturn absolute encoder. The signals from this encoder are necessary to achieve the high production quality and for quality assurance.”

STIWA guarantees its compact automation customers fault-free operation of no less than 60 million strokes. This number has to be achieved by all the moving parts within the system, which is another reason why the company picked FAULHABER as its partner. 

“We subject our own parts as well as additionally purchased components to endurance tests,” Schiermayr said. “In these tests, we attempt to destroy the parts through wear and unfavorable conditions. Only those parts that survive the endurance tests are installed in the machines.”

“The motors from FAULHABER have shown that they can meet such extreme requirements,” he added. “They help us to achieve our own peak values with minimum space requirements and the shortest cycle times.”

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