Commercialization Readiness Program project with Arnold Engineering Development Complex

DSM has begun a Commercialization Readiness Program (CRP) project in conjunction with Arnold Engineering Development Complex (AEDC) to further the development of a remotely controlled cryogenic valve actuator.  In this application, the actuator will be coupled with a valve to control the flow of gaseous helium at temperatures as low as 15 Kelvin.  The actuator must also be compatible with conditions of an ultrahigh vacuum, at pressures down to 10-8 Torr.  In order to achieve this level of vacuum, the actuator must be designed to have extremely low outgassing.  DSM expects that the final design iteration of this actuator will meet NASA’s low outgassing requirements.

The simplicity of the actuator technology makes it a suitable application for high vacuum and low temperature applications.  It is especially appropriate for valve actuation as the technology is capable of zero power hold. DSM has developed a closed loop controller capable of positioning the actuator output to within 0.001 inch accuracy (dependent on the stroke and size of the motor).  Another advantage inherent to this technology is the limitless amount of stroke possible.  Because the sizing of the motor is determined per application, the cryogenic valve actuator is capable of actuating under a wide range of load conditions and for large amounts of stroke.

This effort with AEDC stems from a previous 3 year SBIR program which ended in 2015.  In the previous SBIR program, DSM aimed to develop its patented impact motor actuation technology from a concept to a working product.  The program resulted in three working prototypes, each a different size.  By creating a “family” of sizes, DSM was able to characterize the technology and extrapolate the performance of a theoretical motor of a specific size.  The largest prototype’s specifications are seen below:

The impact motor actuation technology is scalable per application based on the required actuation stroke and output force.  Currently DSM is scaling the technology to meet AEDC’s needs.  DSM is designing both the actuator and the valve.  Two prototypes are expected to be tested at AEDC in 2017. APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE

The impact motor actuation technology is scalable per application based on the required actuation stroke and output force.  Currently DSM is scaling the technology to meet AEDC’s needs.  DSM is designing both the actuator and the valve.  Two prototypes are expected to be tested at AEDC in 2017.


Remotely Operated, UHV and Cryogenic Valve Actuator


DSM has recently completed the second phase of an SBIR effort to develop reliable, low cost cryogenic actuators. Three prototypes, Delta, Beta, and Gamma, were designed and manufactured.

Abstract of Problem
Fluid handling applications in cryogenic and extreme environments require reliable actuation technology. A novel EM hammer drive technology has been developed by DSM for use in cryo-propellant fuel storage and regulation valves/devices. In addition to high force, the new drive technology offers potential advantages for miniaturization, heat load reduction, and lower cost than traditional electromagnetic and piezoelectric actuators. In the second phase of this SBIR effort, DSM has taken this technology and implemented its functionality into usable actuators. The end goal is for the actuators to operate from approximately 4 K to 400 K and to provide very low or no out gassing as well as operational capabilities in hard vacuum. The technology will be used in cryo fluid management, pressure and flow control, and driving operational equipment and instruments.

Project Highlights

·         Force range up to 250 lbf verified
·         Unlimited stroke length
·         Up to 0.5 in/s velocity
·         Resolution at a micron level

·         Endurance testing confirmed >1000 cycles of life

 Project overview
During this research effort, DSM fabricated three prototypes; each a different size. Each prototype included its own set of closed loop electronics.  The technology has been validated down to temperatures of liquid nitrogen, approximately 77 K.  Furthermore, the largest of the three prototypes was successfully mounted and tested on a prototype NASA valve.

The specs of the largest prototype, mounted to a valve, can be seen in the table.  The actuator boasts impressive output velocities relative to load and operating temperature, making it a very competitive cryogenically rated actuator for its size. Although this technology is still in development, it has shown promising results in testing. The actuator has output precision as accurate as approximately 0.002".  This can be adjusted and the motor is capable of a higher output velocity if a less accurate output position is desired.

If you are interested in the development of this technology, please
contact us.

A New Take on Ultrasonic Motors

Ultrasonic motors are a specific type of piezoelectric motor that use resonance effects to generate high direct drive torque in a small package. These motors work by using the rapid response of piezoelectric elements to generate resonance patterns which transfer torque to the output. Because of the high direct drive torque, many applications do not require gear reduction. Ultrasonic motors also boast zero power hold and zero backlash. Customers have found that zero power hold eliminates the need for an external brake and greatly reduces power consumption on low to medium duty cycle applications. These advantages further simplify system integration.  When used as an alternative to an electromagnetic motor, they can provide higher precision in a lighter and smaller package. 

The SUM-40

DSM is proud to unveil the SUM-40, a fully integrated motor and controller which utilizes ultrasonic technology.  The SUM-40 is an ideal solution for micropositioning applications that call for a high torque in a small form factor, zero backlash, zero power hold, simple implementation, and quiet operation.  The product will be officially released in the summer of 2016, however a Beta testing program is ongoing and DSM is taking inquires.

Click here to view product details

- Integrated driver
- Integrated closed-loop control electronics
- Integrated high-resolution optical encoder
- USB-C / RS-232 communication protocols
- External digital I/O connections
- Intuitive software for easy system integration
- Nonmagnetic versions available

Some of the many potential industries and applications include:

- Robotics
- Aerospace
- Medical devices
- Optics actuation
- Gimbals
- Proportional valves
- Instrumentation


Control Your Stäubli Robot

Robots in Automation and Research
Industrial robots such as the Stäubli TX60 increasingly find roles outside traditional industrial automation.  The same attributes that make them suitable for industrial assembly (repeatability, speed, reliability) are attractive for scientific applications, but the supervisory schemes can be very different for these different applications.  In an industrial environment, a sequence of motions is typically loaded onto the robot controller, with outside interface perhaps from a PLC.  R&D scientists and engineers are more likely to implement supervision from a PC, with flexible routines written in high-level programming languages.  Adapting the robot interface so scientists can program it like other lab control and data acquisition hardware promotes the use of industrial robots in these non-traditional applications. 

The LabVIEW Library
DSM has written a software library to be specifically compatible with the Staubli CS8C controller and 6-degree-of-freedom, absolute-position based robotic arms. Other controller/arm combinations may be possible; contact DSM for compatibility information with your system. The Staubli robot controller should be connected to the host PC via standard network cabling. Both the host PC and the robot controller must be on the same subnet.  LabVIEW communicates with the controller by first opening a connection by specifying an IP address, a network port, and a username and password. The functions that open this connection will return a reference to this connection. 

Connect to robot
Disconnect from robot
Robot Power Control
Edit Tools Dialog
Check if Cartesian Move is Possible
Get Cartesian Position
Get Robot Joint Position
Move to Load Sample Position
Protected Move
Reset Motion
Set Cartesian Position

Set Joint Position
Set Robot Speed
Stop Current Motion
Wait until Move Completed

Example of an Application
DSM developed a robotic goniometer for NIST using a Stäubli TX60 robot with CS8C controller and the “calibrated arm” option.  In addition to the mechanical and electrical integration tasks such as the design of end-of-arm tooling and integration with a safety circuit, this deliverable required software integration.  The end user wanted to be able to control the robot directly from the LabVIEW programming environment.  This allows a single program running on a host PC to simultaneously take input from the operator through a GUI, plan and coordinate the sequence of moves for the robot and other positioners used in the system, and log data from instruments at specified points in the motion sequence.  LabVIEW contains high level functions that can be used for data analysis, as well as specialized functionality such as EPICS integration.  The freedom to command the robot from a PC running LabVIEW increases the flexibility for high level control and opens programming to a wide range of developers who are fluent in this graphical programming language.

LabVIEW Consulting Services

DSM is now offering LabVIEW consulting services, specializing in motion control.  LabVIEW is used very often by DSM in many of the projects we are involved in. Our design portfolio includes piezoelectric actuators and flexure-guided positioning systems as well as more common motion control components including stepper motors, linear motors, harmonic drives, air bearings, controllers, and brushless DC motor drivers.

In order to build our motion control products and pursue other internal development efforts, DSM maintains a staff that can efficiently program PCs, motion controllers, and embedded logic.  DSM also hosts a team of very experienced mechanical engineers who are knowledgeable in a wide array of topics.  LabVIEW services can be combined with our expertise in electronics and mechanical design or offered separately.

Labview motion controller which controls a robot positioning arm
Labview test station monitoring and controller

Our LabVIEW consultants are based in Tennessee.