New pocket-sized motion controller for 64 axes provides faster performance.

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UK motion specialist Trio Motion Technology has launched a new motion controller for up to 64 axes with high speed EtherCAT control. Trio’s new Flex-X Nano Motion Coordinator is designed to increase machine productivity while optimising motion precision. Powered by a 1.2GHz, 64-bit Dual Core ARM Cortex A55 Processor, Flex-X Nano runs EtherCAT cycle times down to 125μs. Just 147mm high and 17mm wide, the new pocket-sized Flex-X Nano Motion Coordinator fits within an extremely compact footprint.

The new motion controller has been designed for applications that demand multi-axis servo control performance, including packaging, manufacturing automation, material handling, pick-and-place, CNC cutting machines, and gantries.

The Flex-X Nano Motion Coordinator advances on Trio’s existing Flex-6 Nano controller to further enhance machine productivity and quality. Adding a 64-bit chip, the new Flex-X Nano increases processor speed by 20%, raises Ethernet TCP communications speed by 10%, and boosts programme execution speed by 25%. The new controller also features 1.2GHz clock frequency, IEEE 457 Double maths precision, and a motion command execution benchmark of 125lines/ms. These advances achieve faster multi-axis motion coordination, from 2 to 64 axes, with EtherCAT cycle times down to 125μs.

The Flex-X Nano can simultaneously control machines, robots, and motion axes. The advantages of integrating a single controller, instead of using a PLC plus an additional robot controller or motion controller, include faster set up, reduced space, and increased reliability for the end user.

Complex programmes can run from Flex-X Nano’s 1GBit DDR3 memory and 1GBit fast serial flash memory, and a Micro SD card slot further extends this capability.  OEMs can also add functionality including I/O and device integration via Trio Flexslice modules that communicate over EtherCAT. These slices ‘plug’ straight into Flex-X Nano, and up to 16 I/O slices can be connected to enable complete machine control. Further I/O slices can also be directly connected with a Trio EtherCAT I/O coupler.

The controller can be programmed via Trio’s easy to use, Windows-based Motion Perfect software with either IEC 61131-3 languages, PLCopen, or Trio’s core programming option. Trio’s programming option uses native English language commands that help to speed up development. Flex-X Nano is based on Trio’s Motion-iX motion engine that includes an extensive command set developed over 30 years of field experience by Trio’s engineers. These range from single axis moves, through to multi-axis coordination in multiple dimensions, as well as numerous kinematic models.

“One of our well-known pharmaceutical clients needed to transfer packaged bottles from a conveyor into cartons that would then be stacked and made ready for shipping. The company was handling the process manually, but we could offer them a comprehensive, accurate, and precise solution with Trio Motion Technology,” says Prashant.

Along with the Flex-X Nano controller, Trio offers a complete automation solution, including servo drives and motors. The brand also provides SCARA robots, and ease of control can be enhanced with its range of HMI.

Trio devices, including Flex-X Nano, are also compatible with communication protocols including Profinet and Ethernet/IP, giving OEMs the ability to integrate high performance motion control with PLC-based systems.

Flex-X Nano is available to order from June 2023. The new controller is directly interchangeable with Trio’s existing Flex-6 Nano Motion Coordinator and features the same footprint, connections, and features.

“With a pocket-sized footprint and motion control for up to 64 axes, the original Flex-6 Nano Motion Coordinator has successfully provided OEMs with the speed, accuracy, and precision they need to develop high performance machines,” says Trio’s President, Tom Alexander. “Launching the new Flex-X Nano, we’ve retained this format and have enhanced motion coordination performance, giving an interchangeable upgrade benefit to existing users of the Flex-6 Nano Motion Coordinatorr. For OEMs new to Trio, Flex-X Nano provides an easy integration pathway to increase the productivity and reliability of their machines.”