Amidst speculation in the motion control community, Heidenhain Corp., the German-based encoder company, confirms that it is closing in on a U.S. launch date for a new line of products featuring an all-digital, bi-directional serial interface. "By 2005, there should be several products available, starting with a linear scale in mid-2004, followed by angle and rotary encoders," says Product Manager Tom Wyatt. The high-speed serial interface, known as EnDat 2.2, follows EnDat 2.1, which was introduced 8 years ago. The availability of a purely digital encoder interface has enormous implications for motion control engineers, who will be able to take advantage of clock frequencies of up to 4 MHz over cable lengths up to 100m. Further, position encoders with this type of interface will be able to transmit data, including position data and other parameters, in either direction. "We wanted to give engineers the luxury of having absolute feedback without having to sacrifice speed," Wyatt explains. He says that the products will be backward compatible with the existing 2.1 technology, and that the company plans to offer the EnDat 2.2 for the same price as EnDat 2.1. For more info on EnDat 2.2, visit www.heidenhain.de/pressetexte/english/endat.htm.
New versions of BASF's Ecovio line are both compostable and designed for either injection molding or thermoforming. These combinations are becoming more common for the single-use bioplastics used in food service and food packaging applications, but are still not widely available.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This radio show will show what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.