Physik Instrumente Hexapods – making the business of positioning more affordable.

Written by: PI (Physik Instrumente) Ltd | Published:

The demand for parallel kinematic positioning systems, such as the Physik Instrumente (PI) Hexapod, has taken the technology into market areas such as precision machining, medical engineering and electronics fabrication. Many of these applications require a level of precision and cost that weren't best served by the company's product range, until now.

The introduction of the new H-820 Hexapod offers a low cost solution to companies, with a resolution and repeatability in the range of 20µm.

PI have been developing and producing Hexapod designs since the early 1990's. Many of the Company's products are used in demanding astronomy applications where the products are used in remote locations around the World. One application where the Company provided a number of Hexapods was the ALMA telescope array project, the most complex ground based telescope in the world, which went 'live' in March this year.

Where multi-axis alignment is needed in handling systems and machining tool control Hexapod technology can provide a solution, especially where features such as a programmable pivot point and minimal inter-axis crosstalk are beneficial. The H-820 provides these features along with a linear velocity of up to 20mm/s and a load handling of up to 20kg. The mechanics can be orientated in any direction which provides design flexibility. Brushless DC torque motors are used to drive the legs and the controller provided with the system includes TCP/IP and RS-232 interfacing.

Control is simple with only three commands commonly used:
• Position definition using a six axis Cartesian co-ordinate convention,
• Pivot point definition and
• Speed.

The Hexapod is supplied as standard with a compact controller and a suite of software tools which include libraries for Windows and Linux as well as LabVIEW; an optional collision avoidance package for safety critical applications is also available.

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