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PREcession-based drive mechanisms for high-PREcision energy-efficient POSitionining devices

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - PRE2POS (PREcession-based drive mechanisms for high-PREcision energy-efficient POSitionining devices)

Reporting period: 2018-10-01 to 2019-11-30

PRE2POS project is being carried by Phi Drive and Arquimea, two firms engaged for developing innovative projects.
The first one, Phi Drive (coordinator) is an innovative start-up born from the experience of a researcher (Nicola Cau), specialized in numerical analysis and complex mechanisms where it has found the success of the innovation.
The technical excellence of the business concept has been demonstrated by several awards won in national R&D competitions: Start-Cup award Piemonte e Valle d’Aosta regions (2012), Start-up Special award Piemonte region (2012), National award for Innovation (2012), R&I award (2012) by R&I foundation and the Italian Republic Presidency award for Innovation (2013).
ARQUIMEA INGENIERÍA S.L.U. is a multinational company founded in 2005, with Headquarters in Madrid (Spain) and a sister company (ARQUIMEA DEUTSCHLAND) in Frankfurt (Germany). Arquimea develops electronic, microelectronic and electro-mechanic systems and components, including smart actuators and mechanisms, sensing systems, integrated circuits and robotic parts. Arquimea’s products and technologies are suitable for those markets and sectors demanding innovation, quality, high performance and reliability, such as Aerospace, Defence & Security, Industry, Automotive, Medical or Agroindustry.
The project aims to introduce in the space market a new concept of actuators based on the deformation of metallic materials and exploiting superficial surface resistance.
The product will have the following benefits for the industry in relation with the current players:
• Lower weight for reduced launch costs (economics benefit)
• Lower dimensions to move the same space appendages (economic and technical benefit)
• Lower consumption of energy in the lifetime, we will have a consumption of energy only in the moving stage (economics and energy benefit)
• Higher precision (technical benefit)
• No lubricant (economics and technical benefit)
The Consortium has the objective to become a new innovative player in the space market, where Phi Drive could grow their structure and become a case of success for the innovation of their project approach and Arquimea can confirm their innovative R&D focus and product-oriented strategy. Arquimea’s activity is especially devoted to the Aerospace sector and nowadays the company has the opportunity to launch the new concept in European Space Industry, where they have successfully collaborated with the main players.
The consortium has decided to focus in Space Applications of Rotary Actuators: Solar Array Drive Mechanisms (SADM); Deployment Mechanisms (DM); Pointing Mechanisms (PM).
This choice was made by understanding the strengths of the principles that drive technology: robustness, compactness, energy saving. The route has proved to be very different and less complicated by removing or minimizing material that is difficult to carry into space (oil, plastics), all with completely new concepts.
Pre2Pos project has covered a total of 38 months duration, the research and development activities carried out during this time are summarized below:
• Definition of motor and actuator requirements in alignment with space constraints and update of specification requirements
• Study of materials and coatings for use in space applications. Extensive tribological experimental campaigns considering temperature and vacuum conditions to select the best performing contact pair to be implemented in Pre2Pos motors.
• Implementation of 2 different motor layouts (AG-HT and AG-LT) for a wider space application range and market diversification.
• Optimization of Pre2Pos motor layouts through material and coating selection and implementation of FE models for performance assessment. Final motor designs have been obtained, compatible with space applications.
• Manufacturing and testing of Pre2Pos motor components, with qualification campaign successfully passed.
• Development of driving electronics specifically tailored for Pre2Pos motors.
• Integration of Pre2Pos motor components into rotary actuator designs. Functional tests have been already performed, as well as an outline of the qualification plan.
• After functional testing of HT and LT Gimbals, areas of improvement have been identified. Existing design was reviewed by partners and punctual modifications proposed.
• Review and re-design of AG-LT motor core for its simplification from a two-stage to a single-state configuration. The design has been utterly simplified, having very few parts and being very lightweight. Motor performance has also been reviewed arriving to a motor configuration with maximum performance at low cost and without the need of tuning.
• Review and re-design of the LT Gimbal to achieve different advantages such as weight and complexity reduction, as well as design robustness.
• Both motor core and gimbal parts were manufactured and assembled.
• Full functional and qualification test campaign of the prototypes of the LT Gimbal. Results have been compared with specification requirements, achieving compliance for most of them. Some improvements are still necessary in order to reach the most mature state of the technology.
• Three patents obtained and extended to the territories of interest.
• Dissemination and communication activities were also performed continuously during the entire project timeline to increase project visibility and obtain multiple interesting contacts. Intensive commercial activity has also been done for market diversification. Commercial and business activities carried out by the consortium during the project have widely confirmed the relevance of the Pre2Pos innovation for the space market, as players in the field have shown a clear interest.
From the technical point of view the Gimbal has shown characteristics that make it suitable for a wide range of space applications It offers a low weight, a high step resolution, it does not require gears nor lubricants, it does not present backlash and keeps a high holding torque even unpowered. All these features make this technology very promising for space applications where a system with lower complexity than other solutions may be required (pointing, motorization and optical). Although the data up to date is not definitive, it is considered to be at a good development stage given that motor is compliant with most of the specification requirements and areas of improvement have been already identified for the requirements for where there is partial or non-compliance.
Further activities related to the continuation of Pre2Pos foresee:
- Introducing the identified technical improvements into the Gimbal
- Full qualification campaign in order to completely fulfill compliance with requirements
- Continue fostering Gimbal among clients, aiming at closing commercial agreements.
Technically, the project makes a relevant contribution to the state of the art, as it demonstrates the good performances that the innovative Pre2Pos technology can introduce in the space market, as well as in spin-off markets that have shown interest such as medical, optical, metrology, automation, military and precision mechanics. Pre2Pos product outcomes are ideally suited to the space sector industry, as they are oil-free, lightweight, compact, and energy saving, as well as having equal or better technical characteristics than existing alternatives. These factors will result in significant cost savings for the End-Users.