Stober supplies compact drives for depowdering system

When automated depowdering equipment manufacturer, Solukon, needed space-saving and robust drive components for its range of depowdering systems, it turned to motion control equipment specialist Stober.

When printed parts are produced using the selective laser mounting process they are full of powder, the removal of which was previously carried out manually by shaking, tapping or suctioning. Solukon wanted to automate the process of depowdering metal parts manufactured using 3D printing technology, as in complex components that have a labyrinth of channels, removing the power can more easily be done using an automated system.

The Solukon SFM-AT350, a two-axis swivel system designed to produce medium sized parts integrates Stober’s Lean bevel geared motors, and its extremely compact Lean planetary geared motor, which solved Solukon’s space and reliability issues. Also, as the encoderless Lean motor series is an inexpensive and rugged alternative to synchronous servo motors, this was an added benefit for the manufacturer.

Solukon’s depowdering systems are based on its ‘Smart Powder Recuperation’ (SPR) technology, where the powder is made flowable by automated swivelling around two axes and systematic vibration excitation. Launched in 2021, the SFM-AT350 is one of Solukon’s latest depowdering system developments. As the system’s turntable can rotate endlessly and the horizontal axis can simultaneously move up to 250 degrees, even complex rotation patterns can be easily programmed. Users benefit from time savings of up to 90 percent compared to manual cleaning processes.

Compact drives for a compact machine

Solukon’s co-founder, Andreas Hartmann explains: “The SFM-AT350 features a particularly low chamber volume and a compact design. This was a major concern for us in order to keep the inerting time and required amount of inert gas as low as possible. To achieve a compact design, we needed particularly space-saving drive solutions during development, both for the endless rotation of the turntable on which the component is mounted and for the horizontally moving swivel arm.”

Udo Cyrol, head of Stober’s south-east sales centre, continues: “Previously, Solokon used servo drives in the depowdering systems, but in order to build even more compactly without losing performance, we recommended our sensorless Lean gear motor.”

The advantages are that a high-precision planetary gear unit and a first-class helical bevel gear unit, combined with an energy-efficient, encoderless and rugged Lean motor are particularly efficient for precisely fitting, compact machine concepts. In addition, the motors have up to 96 percent efficiency qualify for energy efficiency class IE5, which means that Solukon is already at a level of technology that will not to be expanded for several years.

Removing the need for an encoder

With the Stober Lean geared motor, speed and torque can be controlled infinitely from a zero position to maximum speed with full torque control, and it operates completely without sensor elements.

This also means that only a single-shielded standard power cable is required as it reduces installation effort considerably. Lean geared motors are also well-suited to automation tasks that involve rotation and vibration, as is Solukon’s depowdering system.


The encoderless concept of the Lean motor contributes to its high durability. Despite the absence of an encoder in the motor, the speed deviation is less than one percent, and the positioning accuracy is ± 1°. Since there is no encoder, the Lean geared motor series is particularly suitable for dynamic automation tasks.

Efficient double-axis drive controller

The Lean geared motors at Solukon can be controlled with Stober’s SC6, a 45mm wide drive controller with integrated power supply. The machine manufacturer uses this as a double-axis controller with a nominal output current of up to 2 x 19 amps. The compact stand-alone device is ideal for drive-based applications with up to four axes.

For functional safety, Stober developed the SU6 safety module, which is optionally available for the drive controllers. This offers the manufacturer an economically attractive solution for STO and SS1 safety functions via the PROFIsafe safety protocol.

The SC6 is predestined for use in safety-instrumented systems up to SIL 3, PL e, category 4. Designers can, for example, implement an emergency stop in accordance with EN 13850 – or avoid an unexpected start-up in accordance with EN 14118. The functionality of the controller’s communication interface is also Profinet certified.

“The highly dynamic drive controller operates quietly and reliably in the background, even during demanding movements”, explained Cyrol.

An extremely satisfied Andreas Hartmann says: “Stober provided us with excellent support during the development of the 2-axis swivel system. With the components installed, we succeeded in creating an extremely compact footprint with strong performance. And with the low-backlash geared motors, we were also able to improve the tracing of the tracks and created better transitions during the tilting movements. This makes the SFM-AT350 a highly functional workhorse.”

According to Solukon, the processes downstream of 3D printing, such as depowdering, must be increasingly standardised and to do this do this, it is necessary to be able to handle ever higher numbers of pieces. “Our solutions meet the highest functionality and safety standards and are approved for the efficient, reliable removal of difficult-to-handle and reactive materials such as titanium and aluminium,” Hartmann said.

STOBER Drives Ltd

Centrix House
Upper Keys Business Village, Keys Park Road
WS12 2HA

+44 (0)1543 458 858

More news
2 days ago
maxon is giving away a Swiss Army Knife every day in December
maxon has launched its 2023 Advent Calendar, giving away a classic Victorinox Swiss Army Knife every day in December until Christmas Eve. To enter maxon’s Advent Calendar, visit the maxon prize draw 2023 and click on the door for the corresponding day.
3 days ago
Yaskawa commits to UK with state-of-the-art facility
Yaskawa – a global technology supplier in segments drives, motion controls and robotics – is opening a new, state-of-the-art UK headquarters and manufacturing facility in Sunderland.
5 days ago
NSK bearings help pet food plant raise OEE
When a major UK pet food producer wanted better machine utilisation with the aim of raising its OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) by 3 points, it asked experts at bearing specialist NSK if they could evaluate processes and systems to help with this improvement goal.
6 days ago
Beckhoff UK and HepcoMotion’s mechatronics showcase takes centre stage
Automation technology specialist Beckhoff UK, in collaboration with leading manufacturer of linear motion systems, HepcoMotion, hosted a mechatronics showcase at MK7, the home of Oracle Red Bull Racing in Milton Keynes, with several innovations from both companies on display, as well as a brand-new product reveal – the GFX-r guidance system.
6 days ago
PPMA re-brand puts automation at the heart of UK manufacturing
The PPMA Group of Associations has re-branded and has changed its name to AutomateUK to better represent the needs of its membership and their end user customers in the ever-changing manufacturing landscape.
1 day ago
steute Technologies restructures its business fields
steute Technologies, an international technology company offering switches, intelligent sensors and wireless systems, has announced a comprehensive restructuring of its business fields.
2 days ago
Showcasing design, production and process engineering in the food and drink sect
Taking place on 1 May 2024 at the National Motorcycle Museum, Food Manufacturing Live serves the design, production, process and maintenance engineering teams across the UK food and drink manufacturing sector.
2 days ago
Understanding safety and security for the protection of human and machine
How do you master employee protection, liability protection, productivity and data protection? How do you increase your quality and simultaneously prevent manipulation on your machines? How do you protect your data and employees in equal measure? Pilz is hosting a free webinar on 15 December, 9:30-10:30 am, to address just these questions.
2 days ago
Schaffner opens new regional channels for its range of EMC solutions
EMC solutions provider, Schaffner, announces new partnerships with three distributors to further broaden the reach and scope of its product range and support services across Europe. The new agreements with Telerex, CATS and DSL Components will open new supplier corridors and enable customers to have local and faster access to products.
2 days ago
New SCARA robot transforms pick-and-place and assembly operations
ABB Robotics is expanding its industrial SCARA robot portfolio with the addition of the IRB 930. The new robot, compromising three variants capable of handling 12 kg and 22 kg payloads, has been designed to meet the demands of new growth opportunities in traditional and new markets.

Login / Sign up