Thingap's CEO Noling: Bigger motors
in-store for his company.
In 2002, ThinGap Motor Technologies
introduced a novel motor that employs a stator fabricated out of rolled copper sheet treated with a polyamide resin and glass fiber. This, in effect, forms a freestanding stator, with no iron components that can cause cogging and hysteresis. With high power density and efficiency, the motor is getting high interest from engineers designing portable electronics. And the fact that the motor is autoclavable has been a plus in applications such as medical devices. But up until now, the largest motor size ThinGap has been able to offer is 2 inches in diameter, with a peak torque of 600 oz-inch. "Lots of engineers keep asking us to go bigger," says CEO Rick Noling. Thanks to a contract with DARPA, the technology is about to get a whole lot bigger—more than 4X, as a matter of fact. ThinGap engineers have been working to develop a motor to drive the lift fan on a small UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle). The first phase of the program calls for a working prototype by second quarter of this year. At the Medical Design Show in Anaheim in January, ThinGap had on display one of the initial designs, which boasts an 8.25-inch outer diameter. Noling is confident that his team will be able to meet DARPA requirements, but admits that moving up in size presented some major challenges in keeping performance consistent and dealing with tooling. ThinGap plans to develop a large-diameter motor for the industrial market.
According to a study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, one of the factors in the collapse of the original World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001, was the reduction in the yield strength of the steel reinforcement as a result of the high temperatures of the fire and the loss of thermal insulation.
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Robots are getting more agile and automation systems are becoming more complex. Yet the most impressive development in robotics and automation is increased intelligence. Machines in automation are increasingly able to analyze huge amounts of data. They are often able to see, speak, even imitate patterns of human thinking. Researchers at European Automation
call this deep learning.
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