Maxon Releases New Digital EtherCAT Controller

Maxon Motor has released a new compact digital controller with EtherCAT that allows for real-time positioning and high-speed synchronization of multi-axis systems, including robotics, automation, and mechantronics, according to the company.

Switzerland-based precision drive and system provider Maxon designed the
EPOS3 70/10 EtherCAT to fit seamlessly as a slave device into real-time EtherCAT protocol-based networks with a nominal power-supply voltage range from 11V DC to 70V DC, the company said. A slave device in a master/slave communication model takes direction from the system's master device.

Specifically, the new controller features a continuous output current of 10A and can deliver up to 25A during acceleration and deceleration for DC and EC motors with a power range up to 700W. It also supports a broad number of encoders and servos, featuring built-in motor filters with motor chokes for EMC-conform operation. Additionally, the controller comes with prefabricated cables and other accessories for fast and easy deployment, according to Maxon.

The company has optimized the EPOS3 70/10 EtherCAT's motion control functions with additional features such as speed control and the ability to define mechanical positioning. The controller also eliminates the need for an extra EtherCAT I/O module because of its number of inputs and outputs. Specifically, the controller has 11 digital inputs and five digital outputs, with two analog inputs and one analog output.

The controller also offers a number of protections against temperature or voltage problems, with circuitry against overcurrent, excess temperature, undervoltage and overvoltage, as well as against voltage transients and against short-circuits in the motor cable, according to Maxon. It also has an adjustable current limitation to protect motor and load, as well as protected digital inputs and outputs.

EtherCAT -- short for Ethernet for Control Automation Technology -- is an open-standard, high-performance fieldbus system based on Ethernet that's used in industrial environments, especially for robotics and other automated assembly-line technology. The technology processes Ethernet frames on the fly within an EtherCAT network, which are being adopted more and more as the standard for industrial environments as a way to unify the factory floor with front-office functions.

Companies more and more are integrating EtherCAT support into microcontrollers to support the automation and control of multiple connected motors and devices in an industrial network. Aerotech, for example, recently
added EtherCAT to its machine controller to allow engineers build high- and low-power digital and analog I/O into a system that includes performance motion, motion tools, and diagnostics all in one.

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