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STUDIES ON THE BENEFITS OF USING LINEAR MOTORS INSTED TO BALL SCREWS USED IN DRIVE OF THE MACHINE TOOLS

Prof. Dr. Ing. VELICU Stefan, drd. Ing. MIHAI Lucian, drd. Ing. Alexandru Velicu

Abstract: Linear drive technologies are steadily expanded in various applications, especially in industry, where high precision electrical direct drive systems are required. this paper analyzes on the benefits of using linear motors insted to ball screws used in drive of the machine tools Keywords: linear drive, linear motors, kinematic chains, machine tools, ball screw

INTRODUCTION Linear motors are used on a number of machine tools. What are they, where are they used and why? Now we will explain. Machine tool axes are still typically driven via a servo- motor-driven rotating ballscrew that engages with a static ball nut attached to a machine slide/moving element – the conversion of rotary motion to linear motion. A linear motor has no rotating parts, the servo-motor components being effectively unwound such that the coil (primary section or forcer) and the magnets (secondary section) lie flat. The primary section is attached to the machine tool moving element, the secondary to the machine bed/structure. So, the rotary motion of a motor is effectively converted to linear motion by this unwinding.

Figure 1: Most machine axes are still driven via ballscrews, as on this Mazak CNC lathe

NSK offers that its high lead (16–32 mm diameter) design supports linear speeds up to 100 m/min. however. A solution here can be a rotating ballnut and motor assembly attached to the moving slide. It is possible to increase the acc/dec and rapid traverse speed of a ballscrew system by increasing the ballscrew's thread lead (pitch). This problem grows as the length of the screw increases. although you won't see these realised on a metalcutting machine tool.Figure 2: Linear motor diagram Due to their lack of multiple moving parts. as used in machine tools Rotating the ballscrew faster achieves the same end. linear motors hold out the potential for very high acceleration/deceleration (acc/dec) rates and rapid traverse rates. . and that such a solution is applicable to laser profilers and to machines for aluminium cutting. but too high a rotational speed can cause a screw to whip or hit a resonant frequency. Figure 3: A selection of ballscrews. German automation technology firm Siemens says its 1FN linear motor theoretically delivers velocities of up to 300 m/min and accelerations up to 45 G. Bearing firm SKF states that linear speeds of up to 110 m/min are possible here. with the ballscrew remaining static. causing wild instability and vibration. but the mass/inertia of the structure being moved is the limiting factor. this has negative implications for positional resolution. But the rule for machine tool structures is that light ones can be accelerated faster and to higher speeds than can heavier systems.

while there's no wear for repeated travel over the same area – although the linear guides that support the machine table or slide are still subject to wear.Rotating ballnut solutions are not very common. from which it is possible to infer that the acc/dec rate is similarly likely to be double the ballscrew figure. ballscrews also wear. claimed to be unique in the industry. Regarding magnetism. linear motor systems have no backlash.81 m/sec per sec). while backlash exists. In contrast. so ferrous swarf will be attracted to the energised magnets. but one such offering comes from laser profiler maker Bystronic. Announced at an American manufacturing technology show last September was its 1FN6 model. because there is a linear motor option for the CTX beta 500. Profiling machines usually have lower masses to move than metalcutting machine. they are exceedingly common on machining centres. But to continue with further comparison. Figure 4: Siemens 1FN6 model linear motor answers the magnetic criticism A final point to say about linear motors is that. Linear motors generate heat in the primary winding and so typically require water cooling. This offers rapid traverse rates of up to 60 m/min. having a magnet-free secondary track system and air-cooled primary section. they are magnetic. if the same part of the screw is used over and over again. of course. low mass and novel associated technology are important here. a recent development by Siemens gets round this issue. This is because they support not just very fast positional indexing of parts . even where all other axes are ballscrew driven. such as Yamazaki Mazak's µ4800 400 mm2 pallet horizontal machining centre. Switzerland. In the case of Gildemeister. machine accessory and material handling applications". in their rotary table incarnation (torque motors). Acc/dec rates for rotating ballscrew systems on lathes and machining centres tools can be up to 1. but mostly under 1 G (9. The guideways themselves will have to be larger than for an equivalent thrust ballscrew system to withstand this downward force – the attractive force of a linear motor's magnets is typically three times greater than the thrust force. However. because there is no possibility of applying mechanical advantage in the linear motor system. while there is a very strong attraction between the primary and secondary units. such as lathes and machining centres. axis thrusts may be lower or linear motor power must be higher to achieve a similar thrust in any given comparison. which causes extra downward force and so requires the motor to be located as close as possible to guideways. a direct comparison between ballscrew and linear motor performance can be made.4 G. The motors are said to produce thrust forces and velocities "equivalent to competitive models for light-duty machine tool. Weaknesses of linear motors are that. and up to 30 m/min on Gildemeister's CTX beta 500 turning centre (65 mm bar capacity). while rapid traverse rates can be up to 60 m/min on small machining centres. It uses a torque motor (rotary linear motor) to drive a ballnut along a static ballscrew on some of its machines to deliver 3 G acceleration and 120 m/min top linear speed. due to the number of mechanical interfaces between separate elements – seen as reversal error when interpolating a circle in X and Y (the point where motion in X or Y changes from positive to negative).

but also on some turning centres. bulkheads. Japan's Fanuc similarly makes and uses its own linear motors in vertical machining centres and wire-cut EDM machines. say. SPEED IN PROFILE Laser profilers can cut thin material very fast. On its EDM machines. both cylindrical and surface/profile types. the more important this becomes. but also lower maintenance costs/repair requirements have been cited as an advantage. linear motors are employed.on machining centres. thus supporting one-hit machining. in the early 1990s. MAG Powertrain Ex-Cell-O's XHC series horizontal spindle machining centres are an example of a design aimed at this type of work – speed of positioning is the real target here. use linear motors. the latter to provide rapid table movement and reversal. on the vertical Z-axis ram to support high-speed movement over very small distances. It was in the automotive field. in the case of die-sink. mostly on machining centres. because they allowed a fast single-spindle CNC machine to compete with a slower dedicated machine having a product-dedicated multi-spindle head. Machine tool companies such as Germany's Gildemeister AG (sold through DMG) and Trumpf. Maximum simultaneous axis speed (X-Y) is 304 m/min. frames. Sodick's machining centres are aimed at mould toolmakers. and so need high acc/dec and traverses to keep up. boasts axis acc/dec of 2. in 1993. parallel kinematic motion in a given direction involves the simultaneous adjustment of several struts. crankshaft pins orbiting about a centre of rotation. Italy's Prima Industrie has married linear motors to a parallel kinematic axis arrangement. stringers and spars. Y and Z. grinding machines. Trumpf's latest 7040 NEW laser profiler. so the machining of hardened materials with an emphasis on high speed machining. In fact. MAG Powertrain Ex-Cell-O is an automotive-focused machining centre maker. Sliding-head lathes are used to turn long. large gantry milling machines for aluminium machining. The former often to support X-axis following of. Citizen's R04/7 machines (4/7 mm bar diameter) employ them in all axes – X. In contrast. plus punching and bending machines. hence the 6 G achieved. Sodick makes both electro-discharge machines (EDM) and vertical machining centres. accuracy and surface finish. which sees its Syncrono laser profiler's head capable of 6 G acc/dec.5 G in X and Y and 3 G in vertical Z. It buys linear motors in very large volumes and so has higher purchasing power versus some others. Sodick makes its own linear motors. . such as ribs. Ex-Cell-O claims to be the first European company to introduce a high speed machining centre with linear motor technology. plate. unlike Sodick. but sells its technology to third parties. while MAG Cincinnati makes. DMG makes CNC turning centres and all types of machining centres in the main. Elsewhere. In contrast. Such a system can give rise to an amplification effect. which deliver resultant motion in a different direction to that which they themselve move. but also high-speed continuous turning. where linear motors first came to prominence. Traditional machines (ballscrew or linear motor drive) employ serial kinematics – each axis of motion is delivered by one motor/slideway moving in that same axis. Japan's Citizen and Sodick. With shorter product life cycles. the need to be able to reprogram machines/ production lines became essential. Trumpf makes laser profilers. thin parts whose cycle times are just a few seconds and fast slideway movements are helpful in minimising dead time/slashing cycle times – and the smaller the part. and US-owned MAG Group are just a few that apply linear motors in their machines. X-axis lengths in excess of 9 m are supported. with linear motors and lightweight carbon fibre travelling gantry housing the laser head. So. and so owns the technology and has a price advantage over those that don't. Citizen is a sliding-head lathe specialist. MAG Cincinnati's HyperMACH vertical gantry machining centres are aimed at high-speed machining of aircraft components. is aimed at overall performance enhancement in speed. accuracy and superior surface finish. to a few examples of linear motor machines. plus fine position resolution. Gildemeister's use of linear motors. among other machine types.

Fig 5. Instructions from the control takes some time to reach the table. Mechanical structure with linear electric motor Conventional Method Linear Motor Servo Method There are a few intermediates between motor and table. resulting in accurate quick movement. High-speed. high-accuracy and quick response are maintained Thermal expansion Need to replace every 3 years to maintain original accuracy No contact Original accuracy for ever No backlash Quick response . No time loss.Conclusion: Let us consider the feed kinematic chain having as transformation mechanism a ball screw-nut mechanism as figure 5 shows. Chronic deterioration is inevitable No intermediate between Linear motor and table. Feed system driven a by electric motors Fig 6.

the secondary is mounted. the components mechanisms ball screw-nut. they have also eliminated the possibility of scrap parts. high acceleration. nut support. existing the perspective of using them even in heavy machine tools It is strongly recommended the realization of a complete calculation from the static and dynamic point of views. Before the advent of practical and affordable linear motors. all linear movement had to be created from rotary machines by using ball or roller screws or belts and pulleys. On the bed 1. almost zero maintenance (there are no contacting parts) and high accuracy . displaces the slide 11 on the machine guides [2]. there are linear electric motors that cover a great range of speeds having also some limitations regarding the developed forces. Linear motors consist of two parts – a stationary track or “platen” and a moving “forcer”. On the bed 1. Nowadays. The relative motion between primary and secondary leads to the properly positioning of the saddle. The primary 4 is fixed on the saddle 5. on the basis of the technical documentation supplied by the motor producers. reducer and rotary electric motor are removed. The cooling systems specific to these types of driving will be treated also carefully. the ball screw 3 is mounted. on the bearings 2 and 6. by means of support 4. cable track/carrier. The nut 5. ball screws wear creating scrapped parts. limit switches. They can be provided as a stand-alone linear motor assembly or as a complete stage – built with a housing or enclosure with linear bearings. couplings. protective bellows and linear encoder in a wide variety of lengths . and eventual speed reducers.Over time. In case of replacing the above system with one having a linear electric motor. such as very high and very low speeds. mechanism for motion transformation (generally ball screw−nut). linear motors offer many distinct advantages over mechanical systems. the construction of the feed system is simplified by removing the rotary electric motor. For many applications. these methods remain the best solution. However. By using these motors. being formed in this case by two elements 2 and 3. For motor cooling there is a special system 6. but since linear motor drives is no contact system. The achieved mechanical structure is schematically presented in figure 6. for instance where high loads are encountered and where the driven axis is in the vertical plane. It is recommended their using in small and medium machines. The electric motor 7 drives the ball screw (with pitch p) through a reduced composed by the pulleys 8 and 9 and a toothed belt 10. The electric motors represent a modern solution for driving the feed and positioning kinematic chains in new and refabricated machine tools.

. where unnecessary components. any load that is been held vertically would be allowed to fall. Linear motors provide unique speed and positioning performance advantages. this improves the accuracy of the part or operation 4. thus reducing component friction and wear like the sistems with lead screws and gears. This numers can not br achived with lead screws and gears. Highly accurate – to 0.This numers can not br achived with lead screws and gears. Misalignment produces no degradation of performance The disadvantage with linear motors is they are not inherently suitable for use in a vertical axis. Ease of installation – linear motors are designed to allow for alignment tolerances. The rugged mechanical design provides accurate motion and precision positioning for hundreds of millions of cycles. At the end we can say that Linear motors provide the following advantages: 1.1 microns) – this makes sure all parts produced are accurate and identical 2.0001 inch/ft (2. 5. Linear motors provide direct-coupled motion and eliminate mechanical transmission devices They offer substantial improvements over applications using ball screws. etc. timing belts. Higher velocities – speeds to over 300 inches/second (8 meters/sec) – to position the payload faster. etc. Achieving linear motion with a motor that needs no gears. 3. couplings or pulleys makes sense for many applications. – this leads to shortened cycle times and improved productivity. No backlash – direct drive has no backlash such as with lead screws. High repeatability – resolution to 0. There are also no failsafe mechanical brakes for linear motors at present.000004 inch (0. No wear or maintenance – no contacting parts. gears. 8. Long term reliability – only two parts with only one moving part – this leads to simplicity and improves the applications reliability 7. The only solution that some manufacturers have achieved is by using an air counterbalance. can be removed. 6. if the motor were shut down. Linear motors and stages are used in thousands of successful applications worldwide.without backlash. At the end we can do this comparation: . Due to its non-contact operation. Faster acceleration – from 1 to over 10 G’s (98 m/s). that diminish performance and reduce the life of a machine.5 micron/300 mm) – provides precise machine operation for precision parts. This numers can not br achived with lead screws and gears without other desavantages.

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