What at first glance looks like something from a science fiction film are the exhibits for SupraMotion 3.0, which demonstrate the fascinating properties of superconductors.
As the first provider of automation technology, Festo is researching the potential of this technology and will showcase three possible applications once again at Hannover Messe 2015.
SupraCarrier: bearing and moving on hovering rollers
Two cryostats with superconductors are fitted on an electric axis, above each of which two magnetic transport rollers hover. A flat workpiece carrier lies on the rollers. The axis is used to move the superconducting elements in a horizontal direction. Between them and the hovering rollers is a cover with openings, through which the rollers disappear by lowering the cryostats; the workpiece carrier then rests on the cover.
Potential use in a flat working space
Such hovering transport rollers can be used to move flat, non-ferromagnetic products of any size. The transport unit is free of lubricants and very easy to clean – the cover protects the automation modules from contamination and the passive rollers can easily be removed and cleaned separately from the installation. Added to this, there are other positive properties of superconductor technology: the application is almost maintenance-free, very robust, works silently and the air gap has an insulating effect.
Integrated products from Festo
SupraHelix: transport on a hovering conveyor shaft
In the case of the SupraHelix exhibit, two cryostats with superconductors are attached next to each other on a semi-rotary drive. Cooled down below their transition temperature, they cause a shaft suspended underneath with integrated permanent magnets to hover and hold this at a gap of eight millimetres. With the help of the semi-rotary drive, the shaft is made to incline by 40 degrees.
Contactless drive by means of superconductivity
An integrated, permanently energised stepper motor makes the shaft rotate without contact so that it is able to move individual metal rings upwards via its spiral-shaped thread. The exhibit shows how ring-shaped workpieces can be conveyed from one processing station to the next. Thus the spring-driven shaft could also be used to polish or sand non-ferromagnetic materials.
Integrated products from Festo
SupraCycle: contact-free transfer of hovering magnetic pucks
The SupraCycle shows the active transfer of a hovering permanent magnet from one superconductor automation module to anotherfor the first time. Three cryostats with superconductors, which can be rotated by 360°, are installed on a baseplate. Two magnetic object supports are frozen in the cryostats with a levitation gap of a few millimetres to the superconductors and then transferred in turn from one cryostat to the next. A device on the cryostats provides the necessary integrated intelligence in this case.
Possible applications can also be derived from the SupraCycle: it is conceivable to transfer the object support without contact between two systems or beyond system limits, as is shown on the exhibit by the example of glass vials. This makes process chains of any length possible for the first time.