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In Brief

01 December, 2005

In Brief

The Japanese company Shicoh Engineering claims to have developed the world`s smallest servo motor. The 4mm-diameter device, which can reach speeds of 9,000 rpm, is designed to replace the stepper motors currently used to provide focus and zoom functions for camera lenses. The motor incorporates a sensor to monitor the rotor speed and position. Shicoh expects to be making 10 million motors a month by mid-2006. It says that prices will be similar to stepper motors.

Three German companies, Hyperstone, iAd and Softing, have formed a Real-Time Ethernet Alliance, under which they will combine their products and expertise to provide support for protocols including Ethernet Powerlink, Ethernet/IP, Profinet and EtherCat. Hyperstone will provide processor hardware expertise, iAd will provide the hub and switch design, and Softing will contribute its real-time Ethenet and Profinet knowhow.

• Sensor Platforms, a Californian chip developer specialising in low-cost, off-the-shelf sensor interface and conditioning devices, has secured $6.6m of venture funding to finance its next generation of products. Last year it launched its first Universal Smart Sensor Chip as an alternative to custom chips. The new funds will finance the development of a second generation targeting the global sensor market which is predicted to be worth more than $50bn by 2008.

• SKF has developed a single bearing system for wind turbines which avoids the need for a main shaft, saving weight and costs in the turbine nacelles. The double-row taper roller bearing with a segmented, low-friction cage has a high load-carrying capacity and stiffness.

• ABB has obtained blanket ATEX certification for its industrial drives rated at 4kW and above, and for its flameproof and non-sparking motors for use in hazardous areas. The certification means that combined ATEX-approved drives and motor packages do not need to be tested further on site.

• Adept Technology has signed an agreement with Parker Hannifin to combine Adept`s robotic control and vision guidance expertise with Parker`s linear positioning technology, to offer high-speed, high-payload Cartesian robots. A Web-based configuration tool will help to cut delivery times for customised robots from an average of more than four months to about four weeks.

• AMI Semiconductor has developed a pair of stepper motor driver and controller chips incorporating sensorless stall detection, that will allow the design of silent, accurate position calibration and semi closed-loop operation when approaching end stops. The chips are said to eliminate noise and vibration at end-stops and to improve control accuracy without needing optical encoders, position sensors or software algorithms.

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