ACS Motion Control, an international
manufacturer of advanced multi-axis motion and machine controllers, has developed a
fully integrated machine control solution that provides superior performance while
reducing the footprint and cost when compared to many network based multi-axis
solutions. Optimized for machine automation, the MC4U includes the motion controller,
drives, power supplies and high speed PLC in 9”, 11” and 19” units.
The MC4U can directly drive up to eight highly coordinated axes with network
extension capability of 64 additional network nodes for a total of up to 72 axes. The
integrated universal amplifiers can directly drive any stepper (in open loop or as closed
loop servo with sinusoidal commutation), DC brushless, DC brush, or AC induction motor
(as closed loop servo with sinusoidal commutation) from 100W to 5kW with standard
digital quadrature or Analog Sin/Cos encoder. The MC4U’s integrated architecture
utilizes dedicated servo processors on the controller board to provide real time servo
control of each axis including position, velocity, current servo loops, and sinusoidal
“The integrated methodology is at the heart of the industry-leading motion control
performance achieved with ACS products, as it enables the most advanced servo
algorithms such as true gantry with decoupling of center of gravity and yaw, Cartesian
cross axis compensation, and adaptive multi-axis control, which often requires access to
servo data of multiple axes instantaneously,” said Jason Goerges, Account Manager and
Application Engineer at ACS Motion Control. “Compare this to a typical network based
control solution that requires costly intelligence at the controller for motion programs,
profile generation and user interfacing as well as at each drive node for servo loops,
commutation, additional user interfacing. In addition, drive nodes on a network do not
generally have real-time access to servo information of one another, severely limiting
multi-axis performance in the most demanding applications.”
The dedicated motion programming language (ACSPL+) that runs on the MC4U
controller provides a simple environment for users to program motion. Some of the
standard motions available include 3rd order vector point to point moves (one to eight
axis), two and three dimensional geometric shapes, electronic multi-axis camming, non-
Cartesian kinematic structures (hexapod, delta robots, SCARA robots), complex eight
dimensional paths and splines, multi-axis master/slave and much more.
In addition, the standard software package features a full motion controller
simulator that allows users to develop application code and a host front end, all from the
PC, without hardware. The MC4U also supports the five standard IEC-61131-3 languages
running on a high speed virtual PLC, allowing programmers who are familiar with this
environment to easily develop PLC programs. Full transparency between the PLC and
ACSPL+ environments provide users with the opportunity to utilize the strengths of both
languages to develop an entire machine control application quickly and efficiently.
“Network based solutions that rely on a PLC or PLC-like software environment
alone are limited in terms of capability and ease of use when it comes to programming
multi-axis motion. Many motion paths are very difficult or nearly impossible to
implement using IEC61131-3 function blocks,” said Cameron Sheikholeslami, Control
and Applications Engineer at ACS. “This lack of a dedicated multi-axis motion
environment makes developing the multi-axis application much more demanding and
time-consuming, increasing cost and time to market.”
Applications involving demanding requirements for multi-axis motion
coordination and servo control, as well as high speed PLC functionality can benefit from
the integrated MC4U architecture. Some applications where the MC4U can successfully
improve performance and throughput include large format gantry inspection systems (flat
panel display, solar, Inkjet, Web handling), small to large scale imaging machines
(nuclear, magnetic, interferometric, and ultrasonic), semiconductor and PCB assembly
(printed circuit boards, wire-bonding, wire-EDM, pick and place robots), biomedical
laboratory stations (DNA handling/sequencing, surface patterning, molecular printing) and
general industrial automation (load-cell testers, food packaging, document sorters, etc.)
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