July 5, 2011 - Using Animatics’ SmartMotor with Combitronic communication resulted in a 49% reduction of parts used and increased capabilities on the Flexitool aircraft skin processing machine for Liné Machines in Quebec, Canada.
When raising or lowering any panel on the Flexitool tooling system, all of the actuators in the machine need to move in sync vertically from any position to prevent warping. Typically either Ethernet, Profibus, DeviceNet or CANopen is used, however none of these networks alone allowed the Flexitool to talk to multiple motors simultaneously. This wouldn’t be a problem with two or three motors but Liné Machines had 160 actuators in just one of its Flexitool systems. This multi-axis situation is the reason Combitronic technology was created: group and global addressing simplicity. Combitronic communication protocol allows for any or all SmartMotors on the Flexitool to simultaneously start and stop synchronized motion from any position.
“We used the integrated SmartMotor because having separate controllers, drives and motors was limiting our capabilities. Now the connection is much simpler, and it’s easier to increase or decrease the number of tooling structures for each Flexitool ordered” said Claude Sven Zurbuchen, Lead Product Development Engineer for Liné Machines.
The Flexitool can exactly match the unique contoured shape of almost any large metal panel (with support equivalent to a hard tooled fixture) for further processing such as milling, inspection and laser scribing. Imagine a supersized bed of nails where every “nail” is actually an electromechanical actuator with a SmartMotor servo attached to its base. Preventing damage due to warping the panels that become airplane wings and fuselages was crucial to Line Machines success in building the Flexitool.
“We’re really pleased to see customers benefitting from Combitronic. We’ve already experienced so much success with the SmartMotor and it’s capabilities, but the added functionality Combitronic brings feels like a secret weapon yet to be brought to its full potential” says Doug Parentice, President of Animatics.
About Animatics Corporation
Animatics Corporation is the global leader in integrated motion control. Animatics is located in the heart of Silicon Valley and designs, manufactures, and markets motion control products and systems, and has over 24 years in the motion control industry.