|Motion Control - Case Study: Precision Ground Ball Screw Drives Universal Pipetting
Reaching New Levels of Speed, Lifetime, and Force Sensitivity
Woburn, MA --Motion Control Components Ball Screws - Case Study -
In the area of automated laboratory equipment, servo-controlled pipetting modules are a key component of high-throughput systems. A major, global OEM had been using an off-the-shelf linear actuator to drive the pipette. This actuator had a limited range of capability in terms of speed, positioning accuracy, and force sensitivity. Although it met the minimum technical requirements and was cost-effective, engineers soon were asked to push performance to the next level.
The company decided to develop a next-generation system. Throughput was essential, as it wanted to target the largest hospitals and laboratories handling tens of thousands of samples annually. The pipetting module also needed to have enhanced flexibility to support a greater variety of operations. It should allow for a wider range of speeds and be highly accurate in both positioning and bottom-finding. Engineers were also tasked with achieving a 10-year lifetime with little or no maintenance. This high lifetime was critical because their business model included free field service.
To meet these new requirements, the actuator would have to be redesigned. In particular, the bearing configuration did not support the required accuracy and sensitivity. The supplier was unwilling to modify its design. Company engineers realized that they would have to design a custom actuator.
They came to Steinmeyer for a precision ground ball screw. They knew that Steinmeyer had world-class quality and a very wide selection of miniature screw sizes. For this project, they were able to consider shaft diameters of 5mm or 6mm, with pitch down to 0.5mm! They selected a 6mm screw to meet the challenge. Company engineers conducted extensive performance testing on the first prototype quantities. They put the new module through an exhaustive regimen of motion, and measured positioning, force sensitivity, friction torque, motor current, and other parameters. They verified that their module design met all of the new performance requirements. The company has since achieved FDA approval for the new system and formally launched commercial sales.
Noise minimization is important for laboratory equipment. The next generation pipetting module will look to ensure the quietest possible operation. The OEM will be evaluating our proprietary super-finishing process called optiSLITE. This technology removes the largest irregularities left over from thread grinding of the shaft. The resulting surface yields a noticeably smoother and quieter operation.
To Download a PDF of this Case Study Go To - https://ballscrew-tech.com/2019/05/17/case-study-pipetting-module-driven-by-ground-ball-screw/
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Steinmeyer’s extensive product line is used widely in drive systems for industrial machines as well as precision positioning in optical instruments, medical devices, and other mechatronic applications.
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