PI (Physik Instrumente), a manufacturer of precision parallel kinematics motion control systems, has released a miniature hexapod. Two versions are available for standard conditions and for vacuum applications.
The new M-811 miniature hexapod measures only 130mm in diameter and 115mm in height. It can handle loads to 5kg and position them in all six degrees of freedom with sub-micrometer precision. The actuator resolution is 0.04µm with repeatability of ±0.5µm, while velocity of 10mm/s is possible.
Like all PI parallel kinematic hexapod positioners, the miniature vacuum hexapod comes bundled with software and a highly specialised digital controller with high-speed Ethernet connectivity. Programming and commanding the hexapod is simple and straight-forward, as all positions are conveniently given in Cartesian coordinates (XYZ, Theta X, Theta Y, Theta Z).
Parallel-kinematics positioning systems have several advantages over conventional stacked multi-axis positioners. All six actuators directly affect one common platform, significantly reducing mass and inertia. Moreover, there is no accumulation of the lateral and angular run-out errors of the individual axes. Unlike rotation stages and goniometers, which come with a fixed centre of rotation, the PI hexapod concept lets the user set and change the pivot any time via software.
Hexapod applications are found in all technology fields: medical engineering, X-ray microscopy, photonics alignment, semiconductor test and metrology, astronomy, precision machining, aeronautics, and high-energy physics, among others.