Mechatronic Tools Enhance Design

June 30, 2008
Machine Builders Accumulate Years of Machine and Application Experience That Represent an Invaluable Portion of the Company’s Intellectual Property

The demand for increased performance in almost every machine market requires optimization of nearly every process and motion control sequence. These machine builders have to be able to implement crucial custom control algorithms, and they must be confident that they’re maintaining their machine knowledge IP secrecy at the same time.

Danaher Motion says it can help with this issue. The company introduced MechaWare 3.0, which it says seamlessly integrates mechanical and control software design for faster design cycles, superior motion system performance, and faster time to market.

“Think of it as a special-purpose toolkit for motion system design,” says Dr. Robert Steele, chief technical officer, Danaher Motion, Performance Controls Group. “MechaWare enables software and mechanical engineers to work together to design, test and modify custom motion algorithms in a fraction of the time and cost of conventional methods. MechaWare 3.0 includes comprehensive capture, logging and visualization tools that allow mechanical, I/O and software data to be integrated into one measurement environment, making interpretation and optimization of machine performance a breeze.”

What previously took months of development time and often had to be outsourced to pricey specialists, adds Steele, now can be achieved internally, often in just hours.

A library of standard function blocks reduces the need for specialized knowledge of control theory, so MechaWare streamlines workflow between control model development and real-time machine testing with simple integration to third-party tools such as MatLab and Simulink.

“In addition it enables direct download of run-time code and test and measurement of real-time machine performance,” says Steele. “MechaWare libraries enable machine designers to take advantage of emerging accelerometer feedback devices, allowing mechanisms to be designed with reduced weight and stiffness, resulting in lighter, faster, smaller and more precise machines.”

“Users can iterate their designs faster, while taking advantage of other advanced tools and technologies—all of which leads to more innovate and successful machine designs,” says Bill West, Danaher Motion’s director of performance controls engineering. “It puts the machine builder in the driver’s seat and allows the designer to use machine and application knowledge to develop custom servo algorithms without the cost, complexity and long development times associated with custom controller hardware and firmware.”

Steele highlights a few specific user benefits, saying, “MechaWare can collect and process feedback from all axes on the controller and issue commands at the same time, which facilitates and simplifies the design of multi-in/multi-out (MIMO) systems. Mechaware could be used to create vibration control algorithms that counteract vibration caused by machine motion. This increases machine reliability by eliminating vibration that can cause premature wear and damage to machine components. It also might be used to model the interaction between axes in a gantry arrangement. By accounting for the effect of one axis’ motion on another, move and settle times can be optimized, leading to increased system throughput.”

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