Alternative drive force

Whether it is linear drives type Copac or swivel drives type Copar and Sypar –pneumatic drive technology from Festo is entering the area of process automation. However, the manufacturer of automation technology not only provides complete system solutions from the area of standard pneumatics and industry-specific components: Festo in Esslingen also develops state-of-the-art automation ideas. The latest example is a concept product: the so-called muscle motor.

In a nutshell, the operating concept can be described as muscle power instead of pistons or cylinders. The Fluidic Muscle MAS is the centrepiece of the slowly revving motor with high torque. Compared to conventional pneumatic cylinders, this drive made of elastomer membrane has serious advantages in terms of design: it is fast and the initial force is ten times higher than with a conventional compressed air drive with the same cross section, and it facilitates completely uniform movements without a stick-slip effect. When it is supplied with compressed air, the nominal length is reduced – the same applies inside the muscle motor. A cam and a free-wheeling bearing transmit the linear movement, caused by the muscle contraction, onto a shaft and thereby transform it into a rotating movement. When the pressure is released, the fluidic muscle returns to its initial length. Thanks to the unlocked free-wheeling bearing, this movement is not transmitted onto the shaft. If there are several pneumatic muscles on the shaft in a delayed arrangement, a slow and uniform rotating movement can be achieved.

Lightweight and sturdy

The pneumatic motor lives up to the requirements of process automation in several respects: relatively slow movements, which are frequently required during the opening and closing of fittings, can be perfectly executed with this drive concept. Moreover, the muscle motor is especially suitable for application in critical environmental conditions. It is virtually resistant to moisture, dust and dirt. Another advantage is the low maintenance requirements and its energy-saving, silent and reliable operation – even when in continuous use. The muscle motor does not blow or jam in stop/start mode – it keeps running freely by itself. The frictionless drive design moreover guarantees uniform movements.

Promising potential

All in all, the pneumatic motor provides the ideal conditions for use during transport and for the handling or disposal of fluids – for example as an auxiliary drive for handwheels. Shut-off valves or weirs could also be automated with the muscle motor, since it is much lighter and more silent than the solutions currently available on the market. A further potential field of application is the metering or conveying of fluids with a hose pump, for example during water treatment or in the food, pharmaceuticals or paint industries. In this respect, the slow rotational speed of the muscle motor is a special advantage since it allows for infinite adjustment to the differences in viscosity.

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Actuators, Assembly Systems, Automation, Controlling and regulating, linear modules, Linear techniques, Pneumatics

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