Trinamic launches complete EtherCAT slave controllers optimized for real-time

TMC8461 and TMC8462 are the first EtherCAT slave controllers with high voltage I/O and integrated real-time motor control peripherals.

Trinamic Motion Control extends its portfolio of dedicated EtherCAT slave controller ICs with integrated motor control peripherals. The TMC8461 and TMC8462 are the world’s first EtherCAT slave controllers with high voltage I/Os capable of 24V and two integrated switching regulators. The TMC8462 additionally has two integrated Ethernet PHYs for minimized board space. Both ICs eliminate latency by incorporating PWM and Step/Dir I/O peripherals that make routing through the firmware of an application processor redundant, making it ideal for Industrial IoT, automation and other applications requiring real-time response.
“We expect EtherCAT to gain relevance in the embedded automation domain, where tight space constraints drive miniaturization,” explains Michael Randt, Founder and CEO of Trinamic. “To fulfill this requirement, we designed the TMC8461 and TMC8462 as what we call a ‘U-Chip’, that encompasses all components in an embedded EtherCAT slave except for the microcontroller itself, as developers tend to stick with the microcontrollers and programming tool-chains.”
Trinamic - TMC8461 TMC 8462
Extending the feature set of EtherCAT’s core technology, the slave controllers come with a broad array of peripherals and features: an integrated smart-peripherals block accessible from an MCU or EtherCAT master and, in addition to the PWM unit and Step/Dir interface, an SPI master and encoder interface that can be directly mapped to the PDO (Process Data Object) by the memory manager. This unique SPI interface enables latency-free read from an ADC or encoder or write to a DAC.
The ICs include a standalone mode that enables direct mapping of integrated peripherals to bus registers, while in parallel an external MCU can perform higher layer protocol operations. To ensure wide interoperability, the TMC8461 and TMC8462 communication hardware has been verified as 100% compatible with the existing Beckhoff EtherCAT slave controller through extensive interoperability testing.
Like all devices by Trinamic, the ICs benefit from the company’s comprehensive development eco-system called “Landungsbrücke”. This includes evaluation boards, reference designs and, for this new device, sample EtherCAT software stacks for Cortex MCUs. All configuration and parameterization tools are incorporated into Trinamic’s Integrated Development Environment. The device can be used with any MCU that comes with an SPI interface, or standalone in SPI emulation mode.

Features and benefits:

  • Standard compliant EtherCAT slave controller
  • 8 High Voltage I/Os (up to 35V, 100mA)
  • 2x switching regulator for system supply
  • Multifunction block comprises Watchdog, 4 PWM outputs and Step/Dir generator
  • TMC8461: 2 MII Interfaces for external Ethernet PHY
  • TMC8462: 2 integrated 100Mbit Ethernet PHYs
For more information on Trinamic products contact Micromech on 01376 333333 or Email

Meet the team – Sue Glynn

Meet the Team - Sue GlynnHello, I am Sue Glynn.
I joined Micromech at the end of November 2017 as Quality and Compliance Manager.  My experience in the Quality field was gained through my role at my last company where I was employed for 15 years before being made redundant.  I still have lots to learn coming into a new company, but my colleagues here at Micromech have been very patient and helpful.

I am married to Mark and we have one son, Joshua, who is 13 years old and who is at the moment in the process of choosing his GCSE options.  I remember that time many years ago, although they were called ‘O’ Levels then!

In my spare time, I like swimming, going to the gym and cycling.  We have some lovely cycle routes here in Essex which we enjoy as a family.  I also like cooking, baking and reading.  We are members of the National Trust and enjoy looking around the Stately Homes and Gardens around the UK.  We are also members of a local RHS Garden, Hyde Hall.  My husband and son enjoy photography and we find this place ideal for them to practise taking photographs of all the different types of plants and flowers (and also the resident hares if my son can catch them!).

I am enjoying my time at Micromech, long may it continue!

Four Key Characteristics to Help Specify the Right Linear Drive Train

Posted by Electromechanical Team on Wednesday, February 28, 2018, on the Parker Motion & Control Technology Blog

Parker Linear Drive TrainWhen it comes to linear actuators, selecting the right drive technology can be a precise balancing act as there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution.

Due to the breadth of applications – from automated packaging lines and pick-and-place operations to complex machines such as 3D printers – making the correct choice is less about concentrating on a single aspect than finding the optimum balance of performance from a variety of different factors.

Most electromechanical linear actuators rely on one of five common drive train types: ball screws, lead screws, timing belts, rack and pinion tracks and linear motors.

Common Drive Trains

Ball screws are ideal for high duty cycle applications and where high force density, precision and repeatability are required. The rolling ball bearings reduce friction and deliver high mechanical efficiency, even in continuous use. Ball screws can achieve moderate speed.

Parker Linear Drive TrainLead screws are suitable for low duty cycle applications, or those requiring small adjustments. They typically only offer about half the efficiency of ball screws, so require twice the torque to achieve the same thrust output. However, lead screws provide cost-efficient and compact solutions for high-force applications.

Timing belts are simple, robust mechanisms for high-speed applications requiring long life and minimal maintenance, where precision greater than 100 microns is sufficient. They are efficient and easy to operate and can run at 100 percent duty cycle. Timing belts are available in longer lengths than screw drives.

Rack and pinion systems are useful for very long travels requiring high speed but are not known for their precision. They offer high force density but require regular system lubrication. In addition, removing system backlash from this type of drive train is not always possible, and they can be quite noisy in operation.

Linear motors offer high speed, acceleration and precision. Cost is the principal drawback, while force density is also less than other drive systems. The absence of a mechanical connection between the moving and static components of linear motors makes their use difficult in vertical applications.

The PETS principle

The selection options for a linear drive can be grouped into the following categories: precision, expected life, throughput and special considerations (PETS).

Parker Linear Drive Train

For precision, always start with an understanding of needs relative to resolution. The other considerations are repeatability and velocity control. Linear motors and ball screws are typically best in terms of precision characteristics.

With lifespan, mechanical efficiency is the primary consideration, unless the requirement is for a dirty or harsh operating environment. High drive train efficiency is synonymous with long life and reduced energy consumption. Factors such as wear resistance, dirt resistance and maintenance requirements are also important. Due to their high efficiency and limited maintenance needs, timing belts are the go-to option in this category.

Throughput can be considered by first scrutinising the speed and acceleration or deceleration characteristics of each technology – depending on the length of linear travel required. If the need is for longer travel where more of the cycle time is spent at top velocity, speed is the most important. If shorter moves are required, acceleration and deceleration characteristics will take precedence. Linear motors are unparalleled when it comes to throughput.

Some other considerations to take into account when looking at each technology include material and implementation costs, while force density is a further increasingly important factor to bear in mind as machine designs continue to miniaturise, particularly when specifying end effectors or tooling mounted to an axis.

For more information about the four key performance characteristics to consider when choosing a linear drive train from our white paper click here to download.

Parker Linear Drive TrainArticle contributed by Olaf Zeiss, product manager, Actuators Electromechanical & Drives Division Europe.


What is a Linear Actuator?

Article Posted by Jimmy Coleman on 23rd February, 2018 on Kollmorgen’s Blog in Motion



Answer: Quite simply, a linear actuator is a device that moves a load in a straight line.  Linear actuators come in many styles and configurations – our blog post today covers those actuators associated with motion control.



Linear actuators are an important piece of the motion control picture.  There are so many methods of creating motion using rotary motors that I won’t go into all of them.  I probably couldn’t even list all of them in one sitting.  But, linear ballscrew, lead screw, and belt drive actuators offer a unique solution to linear motion applications.  The main advantage, other than converting rotary motion into linear motion, is the fact that they are self-contained.

KollmorgenThere are a few general types of actuators, commonly specified by their primary mechanical components.  Electric cylinders are those actuators that have a cylinder much like a hydraulic ram, which is controlled by an electric motor.  Rodless actuators are those actuators that don’t have the protruding cylinder or ram.  These have a carriage that traverses the length of the actuator.  And precision tables, although basically the same principal as the rodless actuator, have very high positioning precision.  Precision tables are designed to be mounted to a granite table and hold tight tolerances for straightness, flatness, and axial accuracy and repeatability.

The mechanisms usually consist of a coupling or gear reducer, and a lead screw or belt drive system.  Some actuators have the motor directly coupled to the screw shaft, but more often, there is a gear reduction between the motor shaft and the screw shaft.  This can be performed using a set of gears or a timing belt with pulleys.  The gear ratio is typically a speed reduction, which multiplies the motor’s torque.  The overall speed of the actuator’s motion is limited by this gear ratio.

In Part 2 of our blog post on Linear Actuators, we will explore a variety of the mechanism types which are used most frequently in motion control applications.



About The Author

Kollmorgen Jimmy Coleman is a Systems Engineer in the L2 Technical Support team in Kollmorgen Customer Support.  He graduated from Virginia Tech in 1999 with a B.S. in Civil Engineering.  Prior to working at Kollmorgen, Jimmy worked for a small company doing electrical and mechanical design and fabrication of customized instruments for analyzing petroleum products.  Jimmy started at Kollmorgen in 2004.  He is heavily involved in fieldbus communication protocols, along with supporting mechanical, servo, stepper, and programmable products in various applications.  He enjoys the challenge of finding solutions for interesting applications.  Most of Jimmy’s time away from work is spent enjoying time with his family.  Some frequent activities include working on the house and cars, going bowling and roller skating, and going to the beach.  You can reach Jimmy here: Jimmy Coleman

Go big with the TMC5160 controller/driver IC

This single-axis stepper motor driver IC with serial communication interfaces is developed for 2-phase bipolar stepper motors with external MOSFETs for up to 20A motor current per coil.

trinamic_tmc5160It successfully combines our technological innovations into a single device that achieves a new maximum for motor voltage and current specs with external N-channel MOSFETs,” explains Michael Randt, Founder and CEO of Trinamic.“Ease-of-use was the guideline for our designers, as well as cost efficiency. By integrating a powerful stepper motor driver and a dedicated motion controller in one single chip, the TMC5160 directly transforms digital information into physical motion that’s smooth, precise and reliable.”

In fact, it’s so easy to use that you only need the target positions. All stepper motor logic takes place within the TMC5160 itself – there’s no need for software when driving NEMA17 up to NEMA34 and bigger motors. Connected to a host microcontroller through an industry standard SPI or step/direction interface, the TMC5160 performs all real-time position and velocity stepper motion calculations.

Extending the TMC2100, TMC2130, and TMC5130 family to higher voltages and motor currents, the chip packs the company’s successful SpreadCycle™, StealthChop™ and SixPoint™ technologies for microstepping with up to 256 microsteps per full step, silent operation and an advanced ramp generation profile maxing out the motor’s torque characteristics for rapid positioning. Designed for CNC machines, textile machines, lab automation, factory automation and other domains using powerful motors where smooth, quiet and precise motion is required.

To minimize the application development time, Trinamic provides the comprehensive application development package TTAP which includes code examples, EDA libraries, and reference designs. Fast evaluation is realized using Trinamic’s intuitive PC-based software TMCL-IDE and the modular evaluation kit.

The TMC5160-TA, evaluation board (TMC5160-EVAL), evaluation kit (TMC5160-EVAL-KIT) and a breakout board (TMC5160-BOB) is available now. For more information on Trinamic products contact Micromech on 01376 333333 or

Electrak HD is the next generation of electric linear actuators from Thomson – Available with Higher Load Capacity and Synchronization Option

Electrak® HD – Smarter, Stronger, Longer

Thomson Electrak HDThe Electrak HD is a new range of electric linear actuators with onboard electronics, eliminating the need for standalone controls. These new higher power actuators are open to a wider range of hydraulic applications for electric conversion. They also meet the most extreme OEM component environmental acceptance tests, including IP69K.

The Electrak HD offers 50% higher load capacity, 60% longer stroke lengths than previous designs and is faster than the competition at comparable loads. In addition the onboard controls boast advanced control features.

Superior Performance

Higher power and longer stroke lengths enable Electrak HD to tackle applications outside the range of other electric linear actuators.

  • Higher load ranges up to 16 kN (3600 lbs.) are ideal for hydraulic-to-electric conversion applications
  • Stroke lengths up to 1 m (39 in.) for models up to 10 kN / 500 mm (20 in.) for 16 Kn
  • Efficient actuator design, including a high-quality ball screw, reduces current draw by up to 20%

Unrivaled Environmental Protection

Electrak HD is tested to meet and exceed the toughest OEM mechanical and electronic component acceptance tests on the market today.

  • IP69K (static), IP67 (static) and IP66 (dynamic) ratings prove Electrak HD can withstand the harshest environments
  • Capable of operating in a wide temperature range from -40°C to 85°C (-40°F to 185°F)
  • Salt spray tested for 500 hours
  • CE, RoHS and REACH (EU) compliant
  • Rated for IP-X6 (dynamic) during water splash at 10°C ( 50°F) and an equalized actuator temperature of 85°C ( 185°F)
For more information on Thomson products contact Micromech on 01376 333333 or
Thomson Electrak

A Simple Guide to Benefits of Electromechanical Technology

Article Posted by Parker’s Electromechanical Team on Thursday, February 15, 2018, on the Parker Motion & Control Technology Blog

A Simple Guide to Benefits of Electromechanical TechnologyLinear actuators are typically grouped into two principal types: fluid power actuators that operate on differential pressure, and electromechanical actuators driven by an electric motor. Increasingly, electromechanical solutions are providing an attractive alternative to hydraulics in a wide and diverse array of automation systems.

Electromechanical systems offer:

  • Simpler and smaller installation
  • Greater flexibility
  • Quieter positioning and torque control
  • Lower energy costs
  • Less maintenance
  • Potential to provide more ATEX-rated solutions for use in explosive environments

Complete motion control

In complex applications, electromechanical solutions can be particularly advantageous as they provide control over the entire motion profile. Moreover, integral encoders accurately control speed and position, while some solutions can also control and monitor torque. Programmability means that motion and force profiles can be changed using software without having to shut down and reconfigure the machine.

In terms of energy consumption, unlike hydraulics, electromechanical solutions use power only when they are performing work, thus contributing to significant savings. Also, due to their minimal impact on the environment, solutions of this type are strongly preferred in applications where clean operation is important or desired.

An example case for electromechanical solutions is put by Industrie Cometto SpA, an Italy-based designer/manufacturer of trailers, semi-trailers and self-propelled vehicles, which wanted to replace hydraulic systems on its EMT (Electric Modular Transporter) to achieve greater flexibility in terms of speed and control, and make it suitable for use in ATEX classified atmospheres.

A Simple Guide to Benefits of Electromechanical TechnologyReplacing hydraulics

The traction and steering systems on the EMT are now equipped with Parker electromechanical products. Each transporter can have from four to 16 wheels, all of which have to follow a perfect trajectory to ensure coordinated motion. With this in mind, the drive system has to guarantee precision in terms of speed, position and torque control. An AC, three-phase, 2.3kW electric motor is fitted to the traction system on the EMT.

With regard to the steering system, the position of each wheel axle is controlled electronically using an encoder. Here, each suspension unit is linked to the load platform by a rotation system driven by a 1kw electric motor. The motor is controlled by an absolute encoder and managed by Cometto’s central processing unit.

Parker supplies the complete motor and drives packages for both of Cometto’s non-ATEX and ATEX EMT vehicles. For the latter, Parker provides its EX (explosion-proof) servo-motors with AC890 variable speed drives.

The EX series is a range of permanent magnet explosion-proof brushless servo motors characterised by excellent motion quality, dynamic acceleration/deceleration capabilities and high torque output over a wide speed range. Parker’s AC890 is a compact, modular system variable speed AC drive engineered to control speed and position of open-loop and closed-loop, single- or multi-motor AC induction or PMAC motor applications. The AC890 variable speed drive is compatible with any AC motor and many speed/position feedback options.

Ultimately, electromechanical solutions offer engineers a number of potential benefits over hydraulics that are proving difficult to ignore when it comes to new system designs. These can include one or many of quality, reliability, maintenance, performance, cost, ease-of-use, noise levels and operational response.

Learn more

EX-Series Explosion Proof (ATEX) Brushless Servo Motors

AC Variable Frequency Drives, kW Rated – AC890 Series
Article contributed by Edi Gherbezza, electromechanical, motion & drives
application manager & business development manager  for Motion Systems Italy