A new linear actuator system from Alpha Gear consists of a high-precision, rack-and-pinion unit (positioning accuracy: greater than 12 microns) and a rotary actuator which moves the load on this unit. The system was originally developed for high-end, machine tool applications such as feed drives, workpiece handling, machine tool positioning and Cartesian axes or load/unload systems. These applications have traditionally been solved using a ball screw drive or a planetary ball screw, and linear motors are not commonly used due to higher costs. According to Alpha Gear, the linear actuator system can provide up to five times faster travel speeds and up to three times better positioning accuracy in these applications. A high level of constant rigidity in the mechanical system provides consistent performance over the complete travel distance, and energy efficiency saves on electricity costs. For more information on the TPM Linear Actuator System, go to http://rbi.ims.ca/4922-509.
An in-depth survey of 700 current and future users of 3D printing holds few surprises, but results emphasize some major trends already in progress. Two standouts are the big growth in end-use parts and metal additive manufacturing (AM) most respondents expect.
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