ANCA Motion’s LinX linear motor overcomes many longstanding problems related to flatbed linear motor to deliver superior performance at a lower cost.

ANCA Machine Tools celebrated its 40th anniversary of operations at the end of 2014. Founded by Pat Boland and Pat McCluskey 40 years ago in Melbourne, ANCA has grown into a truly global organisation with manufacturing sites and branch offices all around the world. Today, ANCA is a market leader in quality CNC grinding machines. ANCA’s success is a result of its continuous development of cutting-edge technology and a focus on innovation. Continuing in that tradition, ANCA has recently launched a number of new machines and products aiming at strengthening the value proposition the company can offer to its customers.

One particularly significant addition to the ANCA range has been the FX Linear and MX Linear machines. Both machines are powered by LinX linear motor (international patent pending) developed by ANCA Motion, a sister company of ANCA. Prior to the introduction of the FX Linear and MX Linear machines, ANCA had been a silent observer on linear motor technology for many years.

“ANCA was aware of the benefits that can be brought by linear motors. Over time the ball screws can wear even on the best machines and you have to consider backlash and the loss of preload,” says Simon Richardson, ANCA MX Platform Product Manager. “When installing and aligning a ball screw on a machine, tighter tolerances are required over the entire length of the ball screw when compared to fitment of linear motors.”

However, ANCA had resisted using linear motors for quite a long time. Philip Wysocki, Electrical Systems Engineer in ANCA, explains: “The traditional linear motor is flat in construction, which creates a lot of issues when implementing these motors on machines.”

Machines with flatbed linear motors typically require a separate chiller for thermal stability, and the attractive force between coil and magnet bed creates tremendous downforces on the bearings, making everything wear faster and hence decreasing efficiency. In addition, flatbed-style linear motors used in grinding machines typically have a back-iron in their magnetic circuit, which further increases the downforces and creates cogging.

Consequently, the arrival of ANCA Motion’s LinX linear motor represents a breakthrough innovation, overcoming all the problems related to flatbed linear motor and delivers superior performance thanks to its state-of-art cylindrical design. ANCA Motion’s LinX Linear Motor consists of a shaft containing magnets and a forcer containing wound copper coils. The symmetric design results in zero attractive forces between the forcer and shaft, greatly reducing the loading requirement on support bearings. The thermal barrier design separates and removes heat from the motor, eradicating thermal growth for the machine. Indeed, ANCA felt sufficiently confident in the technology that it has adopted it into their tool grinding machines.

“Thanks to its excellent standalone thermal stability, ANCA’s machines don’t require a dedicated chiller for the LinX linear motor!” says Richardson. “This is a huge advantage over competitors’ flatbed motor based machines, significantly reducing the power usage and space occupation.”

With LinX’s simple construction, its non-critical air gap and the absence of physical contact between shaft and forcer, machine manufacturers can greatly simplify installation, reduce maintenance and extend machine life. The LinX’s design makes it easy to replace ball screws in existing machines and makes the machine design a lot easier.

“Due to its simple construction, only one or two supports are required at the shaft ends depending on its orientation,” adds Wysocki. “Not only has the axis installation time been significantly reduced by more than 200% when compared to ball screws, but the installation of LinX motors is much safer than flatbed linear motors.”

The LinX motor’s ironless design and even force over entire stroke bring out unprecedented motion performance, and because of its direct drive nature the motor can track motion commands more accurately and repetitively to achieve better surface finish.

“With the LinX linear motor, we don’t need to worry about cogging, backlash or reversal error,” says Wysocki. “The tool’s surface finish ground by a LinX powered machine is significantly better than the result from a best performance ball screw machine. You can see the tangible difference easily. This is just unbelievable when you are talking about microns!”

In addition to the improved surface finish, the LinX linear motor also enhances the cycle time due to its higher acceleration and faster traverse speed. Overall, ANCA Motion’s innovative LinX linear motor provides improved performance at lower cost with excellent efficiency when compared to ball screws and flatbed linear motors. The standalone thermal stability, high speed and acceleration, zero down forces and the ability to achieve IP69K protection make LinX an ideal solution for machine tools.

After the launch of FX Linear and MX Linear machines, LinX-powered machines have been installed at various regions all around the world, and ANCA’s customers have reportedly been very satisfied with the performance of these machines.