After several years of intensive research work, Festo presented initial potential applications of superconductors in automation technology in 2013. These ideas were developed under the heading SupraMotion 2.0 and presented with three other exhibits at Hannover Messe 2014. The focus here: the linear and rotational movement of hovering objects in all directions and all spatial planes.
SupraHandling 2.0: linear motion in three spatial planes without contact
In the case of SupraHandling 2.0, a superconductor slide hovers along two magnetic rails without contact and yet steadily. At the same time, the whole system can be rotated about its longitudinal axis by up to 180°. This means that the slide glides horizontally on the ground, vertically on the wall and suspended overhead.
Small plastic vials are also transported on the slide. Their mounting system is flexibly designed. Even if there is a change of plane, they always remain vertical with the opening facing upwards.
Besides movement in all spatial planes, the SupraHandling 2.0 demonstrates how to transport objects without friction loss. The cooling system for the three superconductors alone requires 36 W altogether.
SupraShuttle: hovering in all directions, handling in a vacuum and clean room
The SupraShuttle demonstrates how hovering objects can be moved into hermetically sealed rooms and within these rooms. For this purpose, a dome made of Plexiglas is placed over the magnetic support and forms an enclosed space around it, without the need for lock gates, rails or guide systems.
Festo also uses the SupraShuttle to show the movement of a hovering object in all spatial directions for the first time. To do so, a superconductor module is attached under the baseplate. A magnet, on which the carrier with the vials is fitted, hovers above the module and hence above the baseplate.
Steady hovering in all directions
The magnet follows the module with every movement in the stored hovering distance. If the module moves to the back wall using the rotary drive, the magnet also glides seamlessly from the horizontal to the vertical plane – without touching the floor or being mechanically handled.
SupraChanger: transferring controlled movement across hovering magnets
With the SupraChanger, this is the first time an application can transfer a rotational movement onto magnets – which hover thanks to superconductivity – in a controlled and contactless manner. For this purpose, on the baseplate there are three different stations, on each of which a rotary application is attached: one centrifuge, one mixer and one rotary indexing table.
A superconductor module with a stepper motor is fitted underneath the baseplate. The baseplate automatically rotates through 120°, so that one of the three applications is always positioned above the module.
In each station there is a magnetic disc, whose hovering distance has been frozen above the actively cooled superconductor module. As soon as a station is over the module again, the disc reacts on the superconductor and begins to hover.
Superconductive control for quick tool change
The stepper motor and a magnetic coupling under the baseplate set the magnetic disc in the station, and thus the respective application, rotating in a specific manner. The applications therefore do not have to be electrically controlled or manually adjusted, which makes it easy for tool to be quickly changed.