The fascination of superconductors: if you cool them down to their transition temperature, they hover above a permanent magnet as if on an invisible cushion. The principle works exactly the same the other way round; the gap between always remains stable. This enables the contactless positioning and movement of an object – without control technology and without friction losses. As the first provider of automation, Festo is therefore looking intensively into this technology.
Steady hovering thanks to magnetic field
Superconductors include certain metals, metallic compounds and ceramic materials. Once a superconductor reaches its transition temperature, not only does it store the magnetic field – and hence the defined distance parallel to the magnet – but below this temperature its electrical resistance also suddenly drops to zero.
Zero resistance in superconductive state
If voltage is applied, the superconductor conducts the electrical current without resistance. If the current in the superconducting material is put into motion, it flows without any losses in a closed circuit. Magnetic fields generated in this way can be used with very good energy efficiency.
Further development and new technology platforms
Festo presented initial potential and research fields relating to technology for industrial automation back in 2013. The three new exhibits surrounding SupraMotion 2.0 now demonstrate the contactless transport and the handling of hovering objects. In all directions and positions as well as in sealed spaces. In addition, the superconductors on the exhibits are cooled down using installed electric compressors to a constant 93 Kelvin (–180°C).
Linear movement in three spatial planes
Whether it is horizontal, on the wall or overhead, forwards or backwards, the slide on the SupraHandling 2.0 hovers without contact and yet steadily along the magnetic rails.
Contactless handling in a vacuum and clean room
At a set frozen distance, the SupraShuttle moves without friction in all directions – into hermetically sealed rooms and within these rooms.
Transfer of rotation to hovering magnets
With the SupraChanger, an application transfers a rotation onto magnets for the first time – that hover thanks to superconductivity – in a controlled and contactless manner.