Real-time Networking Technology

Providing fully coordinated multi-axis motion control with fast move and settle times for large mass gantry systems, ACS Motion Control, an international manufacturer of advanced multi-axis motion and machine controllers, has developed a unique real-time networking technology that controls up to 32 fully-synchronized axes of motion.

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Based on the EtherCAT protocol, ACS’ MC4Unt system connects multiple MC4U units to integrate up to 8 axes into single network nodes, improving performance and reducing costs.

The MC4Unt system was recently implemented for a large format solar panel scriber machine that required support of true multi-axis control algorithms to increase performance and throughput. The MC4Unt system, built entirely of standard components, replaced a previous generation control system that was custom-built and housed three independent eight axis controllers, all of the drives for the motion axes, and all of the power supplies for high power and logic voltages.

The MC4Unt system is optimized for complex machine control and supports high density of axes with superior performance. Providing control of the 17 motion axes of the solar panel scribing machine along with several nodes of distributed I/Os from a single master controller, this control system is comprised of:

• 1 MC4Unt – Integrated EtherCAT master controller chassis with 4 axes of integrated drives and power supplies

• 1 MC4Udc – Integrated EtherCAT slave chassis with 7 axes of integrated drives and power supplies

• 6 third party EtherCAT slave drives

• 4 third party EtherCAT slave digital I/O nodes

"The solar panel scriber machine’s previous control rack required more than a year of design and development work, and was limited in terms of throughput and efficiency, as it relied on the host computer to coordinate motion of the three independent controllers," said Jason Goerges, application engineer at ACS Motion Control. "The MC4Unt is ideal for large format solar panel scribing, as it requires complex machinery with many axes of high-performance coordinated motion. It provides fully coordinated multi-axis motion, third party EtherCAT device support, and full host programming support; all of which are standard features of MC4Unt control systems,"

The MC4Unt network system also enables the most advanced servo algorithms such as true gantry with decoupling of center of gravity and yaw, Cartesian cross axis compensation, and adaptive multi-axis control, which often requires access to servo data of multiple axes instantaneously.

The capabilities of the MC4Unt system can be expanded using the ACS SPiiPlus UDMnt single/dual axis network Universal Drive Module, the SPiiPlus PDMnt four axis network Pulse/Direction Interface Module and the SPiiPlus IOMnt Input Output Module for adding nodes of additional axes and I/Os.

ACS’ dedicated motion programming language (ACSPL+) that runs on the MC4Unt controllers provides a simple environment for users to program motion.

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