Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Machine Tool Co., Ltd., a part of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) Group based in Shiga Prefecture, is about to launch a lineup of newly developed ultra-thin precision position detectors that perform machine positioning and feedback digitally. Full-scale marketing of the new offerings, known as the "MPFA Series," will get underway in July. The MPFA Series was developed applying the core features of the company's MP (Mitsubishi Precision) Scale, which has been marketed mainly for use in machine tools. By reducing the thickness of the scale component, a lightweight wind-up tape format has been achieved. Moreover, manufacturing innovations have enabled provision at low cost. Marketing will be accelerated to respond to demand in the industrial machine sector for higher precision and speed than possible until now.
Industrial motors of the kind used to drive material handling systems in warehouses, etc. have conventionally adopted encoder-equipped servo motors that have used ball screws to convert to linear movement. In recent years demand has increased for faster and more precise control not only in such industrial devices and mobile robots, but also in semiconductor and liquid crystal manufacturing systems, food processing equipment, and many other applications. To excel beyond the limitations of this conventional method, today demand is rising for a drive system that combines a coil-and-magnet driven linear motor with a precision position detector.
The MPFA Series is the optimum scale for high-precision position detection of linear motors, achieving a high resolution of 0.1µm and outstanding response speed of 30m/sec. The thickness of the scale unit, which was previously 10mm, has been reduced to 0.4mm through the use of tape, resulting in a thin scale that fits inside the linear motor stage. Also, a totally non-contact structure eliminates precision deterioration normally caused by aging, enabling sustained high-precision position detection over many years.
Because machine tools are required to perform high-precision machining over long periods of time, a position detector is used that offers higher precision than a scale for industrial machines which need to produce continuously over a short time. Also, because cutting dust and oil are produced during the machining process, the detector must be durable to withstand use in such environments. Systems in the MPFA Series retain the core features of existing detectors that respond to such needs of the machine tool industry, while the adoption of an electromagnetic induction system ensures durability in environments involving dust, oil, condensation, etc., resulting in a detector of outstanding precision.
In addition, the newly developed MPFA Series models come with "MP VIEW" as a standard feature; this is a monitoring function that enables numeric display of the current position and the gap between the scale and head, simply by connecting the unit to a computer. This feature is also convenient when making adjustments during assembly or performing maintenance.
Going forward, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Machine Tool will continue to apply its innovative products and expertise to enable the company to propose solutions for an ever-wider range of applications, collaborating with customers to create the future of "monozukuri": the traditional Japanese concept of craftsmanship.