ALIO Industries provides optimal motion control solutions for its customers by constantly focussing on nanometer-level precision and repeatability. There is much debate about the validity of claims made in the area of motion control when it comes to extreme accuracy, and the differences between claims of nanometer-level precision and repeatability and its actual attainment are a hot topic today.

Ultimately erroneous claims lead to customer dissatisfaction and failure of often critical industrial applications, and it is because of this that ALIO Industries is at pains to prove its nanometer-level motion control credentials, and also to move the conversation on to facilitate the better understanding of how the motion control world needs to accommodate and understand true nano-precision.

To help in this endeavour, ALIO Industries has been busy redefining the language that the most accurate of motion control systems should use, and has backed this up by registering brand names that it alone can use to demonstrate the company’s unique status in the sector.

Bill Hennessey, CEO at ALIO Industries explains, “First off, we have registered the phrases True Nano Positioning® and True Nano®. Nano has become the new buzz word in the motion and manufacturing sectors in recent years. Most stage companies have recently started to claim “nano” as a marketing hook for their products. ALIO has focused on building nano precision stages for nearly 20 years and we felt it necessary to protect our long-term IP and commitment with trademarks. Companies offer nanometer-resolution or large nano errors with uni-directional planar numbers which are actually micron errors on true stage performance. Resolution means absolutely nothing in the True Nano® world.”

ALIO Industries has also registered the phrase 6-D Nano Precision®. ALIO designs, builds and tests stages in all 6 degrees of freedom, believing a nano precision stage most importantly must have sub-micron straightness and flatness as well. Some motion companies claim nano repeatability and accuracy (which are a planar numbers) knowing the customer application needs ultra-precise straightness and flatness to succeed. Customers’ assumptions of nano precision are mostly based on 2 D planar precision without focus on 6-D. ALIO wanted to define a term that represented the higher levels that its products could attain, and therefore set itself apart from companies that make unproven data sheet claims of accuracy.

Walter Silvesky, VP Sales continues, “Another area that we consistently drive the message is in the area of how accuracy should be validated in the nanometer-level world. So saying, we registered the phrases 6-D Point Precision® and Point Precision®. These trademarks are an extension of the “True” and “6-D” references to performance specifications to a point in space, not the planar methodology current standards use. ALIO’s focus on nano precision position of stages at a point in space is the basis of the new ASME standard for measuring motion systems that NIST is collaborating with. This new standard and ALIO’s long-term focus on nano precision motion systems plus our trademarks strongly position us for all future ultra-precision or nano precision motion systems. Point Precision® and 6-D Point Precision® both define bi-directional repeatability of all 6 degrees of freedom (linear, straightness, flatness, pitch, yaw and roll) to a single point of precision in space for a single motion stage. In ALIO’s case we push this singular stage approach even further with our monolithic XY stages which have combined 6-D point precision at the nanometer precision level of the both axes combined.”

ALIO Industries also owns the trademarks Nano Metrology® and Nano Z®. Nano Metrology® was registered in deference to the evolution and novel designs of metrology sensors which created a need for better stages to move the sample or sensor. ALIO introduced the novel idea of nanometer precision of straightness of travel to reduce the uncertainty of measurement, and has the ability to measure at the nanometer level of uncertainty which include motion and sensor combined error quotients.

The Nano Z® trademark was born out of work that ALIO undertook in the semiconductor industry on a planar XY air bearing and an air bearing Z stage for wafer manufacturing and metrology. The Z lift stage design was so novel that ALIO trademarked its name, and it reinforces the company’s ability to move in Z, vertical, or lift a part with nanometer precision.

Hennessey concludes, “With the recent trademarking of the now well-known and ground-breaking Hybrid Hexapod® which is two orders of magnitude more precise than legacy hexapods, ALIO Industries exhibits an ability to think ahead in its developments in the nanometer-level motion control sector. The company is consistently redefining the language, understanding of, and standardization of nanometer-level motion control solutions to ensure that OEMs attain the levels of accuracy required for project success.”

Leading nanometer-level motion control technology innovator — ALIO Industries — is continuing to advocate the examination of the impact of 6D repeatability testing and performance on single and multi-axis motion control systems. Advancements in manufacturing processes and metrology sensors along with the continuing demand from industry to create innovative technologies and products is driving a greater need for motion systems that are both highly accurate and repeatable at the nanometer level.

All motion systems operate in 3-dimensional space and have errors in 6 degrees of freedom (6-DOF). However, motion systems are often only characterized by performance data of a single or subset of these 6-DOF. This practice leaves several error sources unaccounted for in performance data and specifications. ALIO suggests that repeatability performance for metrology inspection and manufacturing systems must now be analyzed and specified using a “point repeatability” method that accounts for 6D spatial errors in order to provide true representation of nanometer-precision performance.

Traditional systems and test methods — plane repeatability. Many traditional stage and motion systems specify repeatability as a single number representing the variation in linear displacement along an axis of travel, i.e. plane repeatability. Historically, this practice was valid as the repeatability specifications were large enough that other error factors were only a small percentage of the total error and could be ignored.

The repeatability of the plane position along the axis is effectively measured over many cycles at a target position. The intersections of this plane with the axis is a point on the axis line and the collection of these points results in 1D repeatability performance.

This test method makes a critical assumption, namely that the plane only moves in one dimension and the axis is perfectly straight. At the nanometer-level, this assumption is not realistic.

6D nano precision — point repeatability. In nanometer-level precision systems, “other” errors that were previously ignored in less accurate systems often become equal to or greater contributors to the 6D repeatability performance. At the nanometer-level, the axis of travel should actually be shown as bending and twisting through three-dimensional space and thus plane visualization becomes meaningless as it will tip, tilt, and twist as the stage moves along the axis. The stage moves in 6D space, therefore neglecting these additional error sources can result in a misrepresentation of actual stage repeatability performance.

Each linear (or angular) direction the stage moves (or rotates) in results in a positional error in that direction. That motion, which must not be neglected when nanometer-precision is desired, will have an associated repeatability of that error motion. Each point on a stage mounting surface will move in 3D space as of a result of this error motion in 6 degrees of freedom. It is the point repeatability of an infinite number of points attached to a stage, that must be characterized by testing and specification data. Thus, each point repeatability will result in a spherical repeatability range.

Measuring 6D point repeatability. To accurately characterize repeatability, X, Y, and Z components must be measured in a systematic process to characterize the point repeatabilities of a stage along the entire axis. Additionally, a process must be implemented to test the influence of pitch, yaw, and roll errors of the axis and their influence on repeatability. In order to have a high confidence in integrated system performance the motion subsystems must be correctly characterized for 6D performance accounting for all error components of stage motion. Without this, claims of accuracy and repeabality are at best pointless, and at worst knowingly misleading.

ALIO Industries has just announced the availability of its new AngularesTM Hybrid Hexapod®. The 60-degree tip/tilt travel of the AngularesTM Hybrid Hexapod® is by far the most angular travel range available from any 6-Degree-Of-Freedom (6-DOF) positioner on the market and offers the same unmatched positioning performance found in any of ALIO’s full-line of Hybrid Hexapod systems.

The AngularesTM features precision crossed roller bearing guides, optical incremental or absolute encoder feedback on all axes, linear motor and/or servo ball screw drives, unlimited programmable tool center point locations and coordinate offsets, and zero backlash on all axes. The design makes the AngularesTM capable of unlimited XY travel, Z travel for 62 mm which can be increased to 208 mm using other tripod models, tip/tilt travel of 60 degrees (+/- 30 degrees) with continuous 360 degree Theta-Z, XYZ bidirectional repeatability of less than +/- 0.6 arc-seconds, velocity up to 100 mm/second XY and Z, and less than 10 nanometers linear and 0.1 arc-seconds angular minimum incremental motion.

The Hybrid Hexapod® was developed by ALIO Industries to address the inherent performance limitations of conventional hexapods. ALIO’s Patented 6-DOF design seamlessly blends and takes advantage of the strengths of serial and parallel kinematic structures while avoiding their weaknesses. The Hybrid Hexapod offers far greater functional versatility, nanometer-level accuracy, repeatability, and superior 6-DOF trajectories than is possible with any traditional hexapod or stacked stage configuration.

Standard hexapods satisfactorily service applications where micron motion tolerances are required, but as the demand for nanometer requirements expands, standard hexapods struggle. This is because there are performance limitations inherent in all “conventional” hexapod designs.  They operate within 3-dimensional space, and have errors in all 6 DOF.  However, hexapod motion systems have typically only been characterized by performance data of a single degree of freedom.  This practice leaves error sources unaccounted for in several degrees of freedom, especially in the areas of flatness and straightness, which are critical precision needs at the nanometer-level.  The hexapod’s best flatness and straightness of travel is still no more precise than more than 2 orders of magnitude (2 decimal point less) for basic XY motion.

Because hexapods have six independently controlled links joined together moving a common platform, the motion error of the platform will be a function of the errors of ALL links and joints.  Hexapods are known to have optimum precision when performing Z-axis moves, because all links perform the same motion at the same relative link angle.  However, when any other X, Y, pitch, yaw or roll motion is commanded, precision and geometric path performance of the hexapod degrades substantially because all links are performing different motions.  In the case of conventional hexapods built with non-precision joints, bearings, and motion controllers that are not capable of forward and inverse kinematics equations, the source of error is even more pronounced.

The unique design of the Hybrid Hexapod® is comprised of a parallel kinematic tripod to deliver Z plane and tip/tilt motion. This tripod is integrated with a monolithic serial kinematic stage for XY planar motion. A rotary stage integrated into the top of the tripod (or beneath depending on application needs) provides 360- degree continuous  (Theta-Z) rotation.

In this hybrid design, individual axes can be customized to provide XY travel ranges from millimeters to virtually unlimited ranges while maintaining nanometer-levels of precision. Novel forward and inverse controller kinematics provide an unlimited number of programmable tool center point locations plus unmatched path precision and performance.

The 60 degree tip/tilt travel of the AngularesTM Hybrid Hexapod®, by far the most angular travel range available from any 6-DOF positioner on the market, is perfectly suited for applications including aspheric and freeform optical metrology, silicon photonics packaging and probing, laser micro processing (non-planar substrates and taper control), wafer metrology, camera module alignment and assembly, sensor/image stabilization testing, and optical element and fiber alignment.

To find out more about ALIO’s AngularesTM or its full range of Hybrid Hexapod systems, contact a member of the team today.

The World’s First and Only 6 Degree-of-Freedom Nano-Positioner with +/- 30 Degrees Tip and Tilt Travel

At the recent Photonics West show, San Francisco, CA, USA,  ALIO Industries released the all new HH-30D Hybrid Hexapod® — the industry’s only 6-Degree-Of-Freedom (6-DOF) nano positioning device with +/-30 degrees tip and tilt travel. 

The Hybrid Hexapod® was developed by ALIO Industries to address the inherent performance limitations of conventional hexapods. ALIO’s Patented 6-Degree-Of-Freedom (6-DOF) design seamlessly blends and takes advantage of the strengths of serial and parallel kinematic structures while avoiding their weaknesses.

The Hybrid Hexapod® offers far greater functional versatility, nanometer-level accuracy, repeatability, and superior 6-DOF trajectories than is possible with any traditional hexapod or stacked stage configuration. The unique design is comprised of a parallel kinematic tripod to deliver Z plane and tip/tilt motion. This tripod is integrated with a monolithic serial kinematic stage for XY planar motion. A rotary stage integrated into the top of the tripod (or beneath depending on application needs) provides 360-degree continuous yaw (Theta-Z) rotation. In this hybrid design, individual axes can be customized to provide XY travel ranges from millimeters to virtually unlimited ranges while maintaining nanometer-levels of precision. Novel forward and inverse controller kinematics provide an unlimited number of programmable tool center point (TCP) locations.

The HH-30D’s +/- 30 degree tip/tilt travel is by far the most angular travel range available from any 6-DOF positioner on the market, and offers the same unmatched positioning performance found in any of ALIO’s full-line of Hybrid Hexapod® systems. Such a large travel range is unprecedented, and it must also be appreciated that this angular range is the full conical motion of the device and NOT just the available angles from the primary pitch (Theta-Y) and roll (Theta-X) axes. 

Furthermore — and as is the case on any Hybrid Hexapod® and completely the opposite of any legacy 6-legged Hexapod — this large angular range does not consume any notable XY travel when the TCP is set at the default 0,0,0 location (top center).  Compare this with any alternative traditional hexapod design, and users of the ALIO solution have at least double the amount of tip and tilt range while still having the full XY and Theta-Z travel available.  

The new HH-30D Tripod design leverages ALIO’s experience from the field proven Mini Hybrid Hexapod® by using precision ballscrews driven by frameless servo motors.  What makes this travel possible is an all-new upper joint design that provides the exceptional travel range in an innovative self-nesting package which keeps the profile extremely low and stiffness very high. Future iterations with this innovative joint can easily incorporate ALIO’s linear motor driven / pneumatically counter balanced links.   

The travel range of the tripod is 62mm, which for applications where only a few degrees of tip/tilt are needed would provide a significant amount of remaining pure vertical (Z) travel. Applications that would directly benefit from the large tip/tilt angle include freeform and aspheric optics metrology, taper angle control in laser micro processing, and additive manufacturing. ALIO has also recognized some precision assembly/packaging applications where large offset angles are needed to “reach” into or around complex spaces. 

The HH-30D Tripod can be supplied with virtually any ALIO XY stage to provide a wide range of XY travel options – again, something that is not possible with a standard hexapod.  While any XY stage can be used, the company has currently released models for three configurations including the 60mm XY Ballscrew Driven XY from the Mini Hybrid Hexapod®, the LM100XY Monolithic Stage, and the CM200XY Low Profile Monolithic Stage.  The two latter configurations come with an umbilical cable management system.

The HH-30D with 60mm XY, 62mm Z and unlimited Theta Z starts at $44,900 (€40,000) with controller, which means the unit is comparably priced with industry alternatives but with features and performance they cannot match. The larger (LM) Linear Motor Driven version that was exhibited at the Photonics West show starts at $50,950 (with controller).  With 100mm XY travel range andthe throughput available from linear motor drives this unit essentially has no meaningful competition. 

ALIO Industries is synonymous with best-in-class nanometer-level motion control solutions, and is well known as the only motion control technology supplier that offers true nanometer-level accuracy and repeatability.

Back in 2001, ALIO started by creating solutions to meet demand from U.S. based technology providers and manufacturers for nano-precision robotics. From that day to this the company has consistently pushed the boundaries in the achievement of ultimate precision in motion control.

It is within this context that ALIO Industries has just announced another innovative nanomater-level precision positioning solution, its new Asymmetric XY stages.

ALIO CEO Bill Hennesey picks up the story. “Over many years, ALIO has been developing precision positioning solutions for applications that do not require identical travel lengths on both the X and the Y axes. All the company’s XY solutions are standard monolithic ones, as regardless of the requirement for X and Y travel lengths to be different, the alternative — stacked stages — will always compromise performance.”

“Take a look at what some alternative suppliers do. Frequently they will offer an XY stack  comprised of a single axis crossed roller stage which results in poor static and especially poor dynamic performance related to tuning challenges. In these stacked configurations, the lack of lower axis torsional stiffness and the bending moments of the upper axis greatly limit the dynamic responsiveness of the stage. It’s kind of like trying to find stable footing on a diving board that is sitting on a tightrope!”

Before the recent launch of its Asymmetric XY stages, when confronted with the need to work with applications that required the accommodation of X and Y axis travel that were not the same, ALIO would sometimes limit travel on the upper axis of its monolith XY stages. This would save on the overall moving footprint, but the square body of the stage would still be larger and heavier than it would need to be based on the required travel for the application.

Hennessey continues, “ALIO’s Asymmetric stages provide a solution with identical performance, lower moving mass, and a smaller static and dynamic footprint compared to their square-body designed, monolithic-series counterparts. They also offer a lower working height than traditional XY stacks and without the tuning limitations of stacked assemblies. They provide customers with the exact X and Y travel ranges needed for their applications without the cost of excess travel that is not required and will never be used.”

Three Standard versions with asymmetric body designs / travel lengths are now available with customized versions offered for OEM Programs.

The company offers an array of best-in-class precision motion control solutions which it sees as enabling technologies, used by its customers to make products previously deemed impossible. By working with ALIO, customers are able to manufacture innovative, bleeding-edge products that ensure leadership positions in their respective industries. The recently introduced Asymmetric stages fit well within the overall stable of ALIO’s nanometer-level motion control solutions, and removes some limitations that manufacturers have had to put up with when they require different X and Y axes travel.

ALIO Industries has spent 2019 working with numerous customers from across industry that are exploiting the ability to innovate through the use of true nanometer-level motion control solutions.

2019 has been a pivotal year for established nanometer-level motion control solution provider ALIO Industries. Throughout the year, news and coverage of ALIO’s Hybrid Hexapod® has reached every corner of industry globally, and the momentum that has been gained has been exciting as ALIO has helped existing and new customers reach new levels of precision in motion control.

Bill Hennessey says, “In many ways, the ultra-precise end of the motion control market is quite a confusing place to be, as the handful of extremely precise motion control suppliers tend to use non-consistent and often illusory ways of describing the levels of precision that they can attain. ALIO has always worked in the area of nanometer-level motion control, and as such has a unique perspective on what really works when looking for this level of precision. Because of this, during 2019, and with the Hybrid Hexapod® very much front and center, we have focussed on educating the customer base to navigate alternative solutions, and give them the tools to interrogate solutions providers in such a way that they can secure a motion control technology suited to their specific applications.”

In the area of hexapods, this has required ALIO Industries to identify where the usefulness of conventional hexapods expires, as it is here that the Hybrid Hexapod® finds its unique niche.

Hexapods are motion control technologies that operate with 6 degrees of freedom (DOF), and the standard hexapods that abound on the market today satisfactorily service applications where micron motion tolerances are required, but as the demand for nanometer requirements expands, standard hexapods struggle somewhat.

This is because there are performance limitations inherent in all “conventional” hexapod designs.  They operate within 3-dimensional space, and have errors in all 6 DOF.  However, hexapod motion systems have typically only been characterized by performance data of a single degree of freedom.  This practice leaves error sources unaccounted for in several degrees of freedom, especially in the areas of flatness and straightness, which are critical precision needs at the nanometer-level.  The hexapod’s best flatness and straightness of travel is still no more precise than in the order of magnitude of tens of microns per axis. 

Because hexapods have six independently controlled links joined together moving a common platform, the motion error of the platform will be a function of the errors of ALL links and joints.  Hexapods are known to have optimum accuracy and repeatability when performing Z-axis moves, because all links perform the same motion at the same relative link angle.  However, when any other X, Y, pitch, yaw or roll motion is commanded, accuracy and geometric path performance of the hexapod degrades substantially because all links are performing different motions.  In the case of legacy hexapods built with non-precision joints and motion controllers that are not capable of forward and inverse kinematics equations, the source of error is even more pronounced.

Furthermore, it is generally accepted that hexapods have relatively good stiffness compared to serial stacked multi-axis systems.  However, it is often only the hexapod’s “Z” (vertical) stiffness that is considered.  Geometric design stiffness has a critical impact on and hexapod’s platform repeatability and rigidity.  A lack of design stiffness relates directly to a weak XY plane stiffness with the conventional hexapod working platform.  Moreover, this inherent design flaw of the conventional hexapod negatively affects XY axis performance, especially with thermal bonding or machining applications that require more force to be performed accurately within the XY plane.

The Hybrid Hexapod® was developed by ALIO to address the critical weaknesses of conventional legacy hexapod designs, as well as the weaknesses of stacked serial stages, and to achieve nanometer -level accuracy, repeatability, and high-integrity flatness and straightness during motion.  It utilizes a tripod parallel kinematics structure to deliver Z plane and tip/tilt motion, integrated with a monolithic serial kinematic structure for XY motion.  A rotary stage integrated into the top of the tripod (or underneath it depending on application needs) provides 360-degree continuous yaw rotation.  In this hybrid design, individual axes can be customized to provide travel ranges from millimeters to over one meter, while maintaining nanometer-levels of precision. 

Hennessey continues, “Engineers working at the cutting edge of what is possible must be stimulated to ask more as they see that this technology reaches places others cannot, has the potential to promote innovations, and can optimise efficiency and cost-effectiveness in manufacture. The Hybrid Hexapod® is orders of magnitude more precise than traditional hexapods, being 100 x stiffer, 30 x faster, and with 10x the usable work envelope of industry standard options.”

ALIO is always eager to discuss how the Hybrid Hexapod® can be used to benefit customer applications, and the company will work to customize specific solutions for particular customer applications.

As the demand for more and more exacting motion control increases across numerous industry sectors, it is vital that before investing, customers are informed enough to make sure that they select the right solution for their specific application.

The motion control sector is characterized by an array of vendors in many ways saying the same things, sometimes in subtly different ways. But statements of competence often flatter to deceive, a bald statement about accuracy, for example, obscuring enormous differences between the capabilities of vendors in terms of repeatability, and motion control solutions being fit for purpose.

Starting with the premise that if a good motion control solution is expensive, how much more expensive is a bad one (with all this implies in terms of time delays and costs of re-investment in a suitable motion control solution) in this piece, we attempt to arm manufacturers with the questions that they need to ask their short-listed motion control technology providers to ensure that the motion control solution option chosen is right first time and up to the job.

Questions need to be asked that delve into motion control vendors’ capabilities and their values.

Customer Focus. Ideally your chosen motion control technology vendor should sell solutions to customers not just products. The key is to be able to customize motion control solutions to specific customer applications. When working in the area of nanometer-level motion control, your chosen vendor should have extensive experience working in the nanometer world. The vendor should also have a demonstrable passion about — and absolute focus on — precision. A vendor supplying nanometer-level motion control solutions should be able to prove its credentials and demonstrate that it has provided a significant number of best-in-class, efficient, and cost-effective motion control solutions for an array of different industry applications. Ask your chosen vendor for evidence. All claims made should be able to be substantiated and this will prove whether your short-listed vendor is equipped to operate at the nanometer-level of accuracy or just the micron level.

What is Motion Control? This may seem like an odd question to ask a motion control technology provider, but it does actually get to the heart of the difference between vendors. Most vendors sell off-the-shelf solutions and leave their customers to align them with their specific applications. In a way, this demotes motion control to a necessary evil, a link in a process chain that is expensive and complicated. But when your vendor provides truly cutting edge nanometer-level accurate and repeatable motion control solutions, it elevates motion control from a necessary evil to an enabling technology. If a vendor provides the best-in-class, most accurate, and most repeatable motion control solutions on the market, they will be able to push the boundaries of what customers may see as possible, and will therefore promote the ability to manufacture innovative, bleeding-edge products that stimulate competitiveness. Try and assess your short-listed vendor’s view of motion control. Do they see obstacles and problems, or opportunities and solutions?

Partnership. Your chosen vendor should place an emphasis on being your strategic partner in product development. It is only by doing this that you can be confident about achieving your challenging motion control and manufacturing goals. Key is early stage engagement with you chosen vendor, and a feeling that they want to truly become embedded in the development of your end-use products and allied motion control solutions. Once again, the difference is between a vendor that sells off-the-shelf solutions (which is not that concerned about your product development process), and one that is dedicated to providing you with customized solutions (which will necessarily want to help you navigate the inherently complicated area of nanometer-level motion control solutions optimized to specific applications). You want to feel that if you don’t engage fully with your chosen vendor that you will compromise quality of outcomes, speed of outcomes, and cost of outcomes. Also, check out the warranty that your vendor is willing to extend. This is a sure-fire way of understanding the level or confidence they have in their own solutions.

Vertical Integration. When working in a world where nanometer-levels of accuracy are the norm, it is vital that motion control products are manufactured in one facility. Ask your vendor whether they have design, machining, metrology, manufacturing, and assembly under one roof. The cross collaboration between product development teams is vital to the achievement of reliable and repeatable ultra-precise motion control solutions, and vertical integration is disproportionately important as the demands for accuracy move from micron-level to nanometer-level precision.

Team. Drill into the experience and technical know-how of your short-listed vendor’s team. Especially when your demand is for nanometer-level motion control, you need to make sure that your vendor has a dedicated focus which will translate into innovative and cutting-edge motion control solutions. Much of this is about the culture you will see in a vendor company. Assess whether you detect a “can do” attitude and whether your vendor seems to nurture a collaborative environment. But above all see if you can feel a passion running through your vendor’s team. If the passion is there, honesty and integrity will often follow, and with that will come trust. And it is ultimately trust that you need to bottom out when choosing a vendor. You need to trust that the motion control solution that you buy fits your requirements, and is not just another unit shifted by the vendor to hit a sales target regardless of ultimate customer satisfaction.

Solutions. If your short-listed precision motion control technology provider is really credible, it will be able to show you a series of innovative solutions that redefine the motion control market. Here you should be looking for evidence of next-generation “blue ocean” technologies, not variations of legacy traditional motion control technologies. This is like the difference between vendors selling hexapods and a company like ALIO Industries that sells the Hybrid Hexapod®, which overcomes process limitations in traditional hexapods, and exhibits orders-of-magnitude improvements in precision, path performance, speed, stiffness, and larger work envelope. Nanaometer-level repeatable motion control is achieved by pushing the envelope, not tweaking years-old technologies to squeeze out ever decreasing increases in accuracy. Check out your vendor’s portfolio of products, the customized solutions they have provided, and the level of innovation that is evident in creating new solutions.

Interrogate precision claims. Pinning down motion control vendors over statements of precision is a minefield. Ultimately, claims on nanometer-level precision is meaningless unless this nanometer-level precision is achieved repeatably. Vendors that cannot achieve repeatable nanometer-level motion control often need to resort to at worst false, and at best illusory claims that muddy the waters. Some vendors even go as far as to publish “typical specifications” and “guaranteed specifications”, typical specifications showing what “could” be possible in a motion control solution, which is greater precision that can actually be guaranteed. In other words, they show what they would like to be able to do, and then demonstrate that what they actually can do is much worse. This takes lack of clarity to a whole new level, and is extremely confusing for customers. Again, look for evidence of vendors that are trying to move this conversation along. ALIO Industries, for example, now talks in terms of Point Precision® referencing performance specifications to a point in space at the single digit micron or nanometer level, and is working with NIST to move on from the planar methodology that current motion control standards use.  It is vital that you interrogate precision claims diligently before a making motion control technology purchase. It is also critical that ASTM and/or other internationally registered standards are followed by vendors, instead of methods developed to flatter a particular vendor’s products and which provide flattering data calculations which give a false illusion of precision.

In essence the choice of a nanometer-level motion control solutions provider is based on a number of factors, and is a mix of not just technological competencies but also core values and what “makes a company tick”. Investment in an ultra-precise motion control solution is expensive, and customers need to be certain before nominating a motion control vendor that they will have a best-fit solution that is right first time.

For nearly 20 years, ALIO Industries has been working at the bleeding-edge of nanometer-level motion control. The company has set the standard for ultra-precise and repeatable motion control solutions, including the Hybrid Hexapod® which has less than 100 nm 3-Dimensional 6 axis Point Precision® repeatability, making it an essential technology for mission critical applications in the laser processing, optical inspection, photonics, semiconductor, metrology, and medical device sectors, and indeed all micro-machining projects.

However, it is the company’s ability to truly customize its core motion control solutions that sets it apart from alternative solution providers, offering significant value added by exactly matching OEM customers’ needs as well as pushing the envelope for new world nano-precision applications. ALIO’s on-going focus on exceeding OEM requirements helps its customers become leaders in their respective industry sectors.

Customers approach ALIO for unique applications due to the company’s long track record of successfully delivering complex prototypes that meet or exceed specifications the first time.

The company’s unwavering focus on honesty and integrity help customers understand the complex nature of precision applications. ALIO informs the customer of what they need to know and not just what they want to hear.

CUSTOMIZED SOLUTIONS FOR SPECIFIC APPLICATIONS WITH VIDEO

Laser Gimbal® Five-Axis Positioning Workstation. ALIO’s Laser Gimbal® Five Axis Positioning Workstation is the world’s only positioning system with 5-D vector path laser triggering. The system provides a novel solution for engineers and manufacturers that are using additive and subtractive laser processing techniques on cutting-edge materials to produce a variety of next generation products. (See video of workstation in action: VIDEO).

Additive Manufacturing – Phone Antenna Direct Printing. ALIO is capable of programmable path and contour control using its novel forward and inverse kinematic algorithms. This Hybrid Hexapod® operates at 100mm/sec 3D path velocity and is capable of micron-level path accuracy.  In this Hybrid Hexapod® system the nozzle proximity is kept to within 5 microns of surface and was designed for a 24/7 production environment. (See video of ALIO smart phone antenna printing: VIDEO).

Optical Camera Module Assembly/Test. ALIO’s MINI Hybrid Hexapod® is ideal for automated lens alignment/bonding to CCD arrays.  It has been helpful in building camera array modules, translational OIS, telescopic integrated lenses for miniature cameras used in every day products like cell phone cameras and drones.  Any application requiring 6- degrees of freedom positioning with nanometer/arc-sec levels of incremental motion and repeatability is a good fit for this product where product sensor resolution improvements are driving the need for higher precision. (See video of ALIO Mini Hybrid Hexapod in action: VIDEO).

Sensor Metrology. ALIO has experience providing systems to many of the world’s largest metrology companies for their internal measurement systems.  The company can provide solutions for even the most precise targets. (See video of ALIO Nano precision 6-Axis Nano Metrology® System: VIDEO).

Hybrid Hexapod® For Wafer Metrology. ALIO has supplied a 5-axis, open frame Hybrid Hexapod® design for wafer metrology.  It’s precision comes from precision crossed-roller bearings, and integrated frameless DC servo motors driving ballscrews.  It has a cubic travel range of 350mm “X” x 350mm “Y” x 75mm “Z” and tip/tilt travel ± 2 degrees.  ALIO was able to provide ± 0.1 micron bidirectional XYZ repeatability. (See video of ALIO’s Hybrid Hexapod® Large Open Center 5-Axis Platform in action: VIDEO).

Wafer Metrology Low-Profile XY-Theta With Large Open Aperture. ALIO’s vacuum expertise and broad selection of stages allowed the opportunity to couple four HV (10-7 Torr) stages to provide a nano-precision® solution. This R-XY-Z stack once again uses a pure linear based Z solution vs. the legacy Z-wedge design. (See video of ALIO’s semiconductor metrology XYR 300 mm open center system in action: VIDEO).

Application: Fiber/Optical Assembly (Private Label). ALIO’s metrology grade XY stage is the foundation for an exceptional three-axis alignment platform. ALIO’s unique design of the Z axis provides a completely linear based vertical solution with near air bearing performance. The Z stage with a high force linear motor, linear encoder, linear high-precision crossed roller bearings and integrated linear air counterbalance exceeds any mechanical based vertical axis on the market as well as some air bearing options. One major advantage to this unique solution allows for the customer’s payload to be mounted directly on the top of the stage in-line with the motor, encoder, bearings, and counterbalance thus minimizing overhanging brackets and greatly reducing potential Abbé errors. ALIO’s linear Z axis is 5 times order of magnitude more precise than old school z-wedge solutions.

Application: Nano Metrology. ALIO has taken its industry-leading, near air-bearing performance open center metrology stages, to the next level. This crossed roller bearing 300mm XY Nano Metrology® stage is DC Servo linear motor driven with 300mm open center, has unmatched motion performance with 3-Sigma, 6-D (linear, straightness, flatness, pitch, yaw and roll) and bi-directional repeatability of less than +/- 250nm. In other words, the volumetric bi-directional repeatability of any XY point is within a sphere of 500nm or less.

ALIO Industries is synonymous with best-in-class nanometer-level  motion control solutions, and is well known as the only motion control technology supplier that offers true nanometer-level accuracy and repeatability.

Exemplifying the company’s grip on the ultra-precise motion control sector, ALIO Industries recently introduced its market-leading Hybrid Hexapod® technology, which out performs any other hexapod solution available to industry. The Hybrid Hexapod® is a game-changer in the field of motion control, and stimulates innovation as an enabler of next-generation manufacturing processes.

However, with upwards of 20 years working in the area of nanometer-level motion control, ALIO Industries has also developed TRUE NANO® precision rotary stages to meet and exceed today’s demand for high precision rotary motion. ALIO’s line of rotary stages continues to expand as the company works with each customer on a one-to-one basis to provide customized motion control solutions, not off-the-shelf mass motion control products.

Mechanical Rotary Stages

ALIO’s mechanical bearing rotary stages have been designed with crossed roller bearings for improved stiffness for offset loads and rotational precision. Integrated with servo torque frameless motors, these stages can handle applications where the mass and acceleration needs are extreme, while still maintaining nanometer-level precision performance.

ALIO’s focus on materials and machining is absolute in the manufacture of its rotary product line, just as it is with its linear products, ensuring the bearings and metal are located in ultra-machined parallel surfaces as shown by the machined lands on all stages.

Standard ALIO rotary stages have 0.2 arc-second repeatability using ALIO supplied motion controllers. Standard mechanical crossed roller bearings are rated at 13 to 20 microns of radial and axial run-out, with optional run-outs of certain models below 5 microns.

The mechanical bearing rotary stage family has multiple motor sizes to meet duty cycles as well as mass and acceleration needs from 80 mm to 300 mm in diameter. Vacuum rotary union options are available on the inner diameter for mounting a vacuum chuck.

Low Angle Mechanical Rotary Stages

ALIO has also designed mechanical bearing rotary stages with angular contact bearings representing the most compact design on the market. Integrated with servo ironless motors, these stages best fit metrology applications where small angular adjustment is needed with nanometer-level precision performance.

Air Bearing Rotational Stages

When ultra-tight run-out precision motion is needed, manufacturers can choose from ALIO’s continually growing line of air bearing rotary stages. Whether it is exceptional stiffness or cost-effective motion that is the priority, ALIO Industries can offer a variety of options to meet the needs of today’s nano-precision applications.

Dual Axis Rotary Systems

ALIO’s two-axis systems are designed around the customers’ mass with variable counterbalance, cable guidance, and cable and air feed-through capabilities.  With hard-stops allowing for ± 110 and ± 170 degrees of rotation for nearly unlimited part access on the horizontal axis, ALIO’s dual axis rotary systems exhibit angular travel ± 180 for the rotation about the vertical axis.

Two-Axis Gimbal

Incorporating ALIO’s industry-leading torque ratings, the company’s two-axis gimbal rotary systems are capable of high rotational speeds while maintaining the stand-out precision levels expected from ALIO Industries’ systems. Metrology, laser processing, additive manufacturing, and many other industry sectors have benefited from these ALIO products., and air purge is incorporated for contaminant protection and longer life.  Internal cable and air line routing provide an extremely clean finished product.

AZ-EL Rotary Assembly

ALIO Industry’s AZ-EL rotary assembly systems also incorporate the company’s exceptional torque-ratings and are capable of high rotational speeds while maintaining the precision levels synonymous with any ALIO motion control systems. As with the two-axis gimbal system, the AZ-EL rotary assembly systems are used in metrology, laser processing, additive manufacturing, and numerous other industry applications.

Any company interested in ALIO’s nanometer-level motion control solutions are advised to contact the company, and discuss the ways in which bespoke solutions can be designed to precisely fit with specific application requirements.

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