SMAC to Present 1st Direct Drive Robotic Finger
SMAC has been making mechatronic actuators for 20 years. These are based on moving coil linear motors and have some unique capabilities. The units can touch surfaces - recognize this - then push / pull and feedback information.
2 years ago the company decided to develop direct drive fingers and eventually hands.
The key component is a small and very powerful direct drive rotary motor. At this time a 25mm motor running on 48 vdc with 135 mnm torque (at 1.5 amps) has been produced.
2 of these have been integrated - along with a 3rd 35 mm motor - into a finger assembly.
This assembly is now in test - "sliding" open an Apple I phone for example. (Apple phones are assembled and tested by SMAC's standard actuators).
The motor development is continuing with the next iteration target being an increase of torque by 40% and a drop in heat of 25%.
The finger will be presented at the Robotic show in Chicago this March, and then in Germany and Japan.
The Company aims at commercialization at the start of 2016. We have several Beta site opportunities - at Toyota, Foxconn, and Apple.
SMAC has had little contact with Universities. We did spend some time with the University of Eindhoven - they did not think a small direct drive motor was possible and so developed a proto mag gear which we decided not to use.
We are interested in possible co-operative efforts with US universities. Tracking of hand movements is one area. That would be quite useful in rapidly automating assembly processes. We also have a concept for a prosthetic hand using off the shelf easy to use programming tools.
Since SMAC president, Ed Neff, went to Michigan many years ago - he thought he might run this by Robotics.org people to see if there is any interest.
SMAC President, Ed Neff, will talk in person on the development of the robotic finger at Automate 2015, Monday, March 23rd, during the seminar, “A Look at Leading Robotics Research.”
For more on SMAC, please visit www.smac-mca.com