Motion Control Components Newsletter Signup
Get the IHS Engineering360
Stay up to date on:
News on products designed to precisely control movement of machinery, including motor drives and controllers.

SmartInversion – Forward Motion Through Inversion

Product Announcement from Festo Corporation

SmartInversion – Forward Motion Through Inversion-Image

The Festo Bionic Learning Network has introduced a new innovation in automation technology - SmartInversion. The mechanical principles of rotation and linear motion are the basis of many solutions in automation. Rotary actuators, servo motors, pneumatic and electric semi-rotary actuators work on the principle of rotation. Linear axes and parallel grippers are examples of linear motion. Another new form of motion involves the inversion of a body.

"With our Future Concepts development work, for example the SmartInversion project, we are constantly seeking out new or relatively unknown motion and drive concepts," said Dr. Heinrich Frontzek, Head of Festo Corporate Communication. "Our engineers are working with renowned universities, institutes, and development companies in order to transfer mathematical and scientific principles to industrial applications."


Flying chain with inversion actuator

The SmartInversion Future Concept is a flying object filled with helium, which is similar to a chain and moves forward by inverting itself. The intelligent combination of extremely lightweight design, electric drives and open- and closed-loop control makes endless, rhythmically pulsating inversion in the air possible.

This endless, rhythmically pulsating motion is called inversion and lends the flying model its name. The flying object derives its shape from the cubic belt developed by Paul Schatz. With the cubic belt, Schatz discovered that a third basic type of motion, inversion, was possible in addition to rotation (rotary motion) and translation (linear motion). The Swiss artist and engineer divided a cube into two star shapes and an invertible cubic belt. The cubic belt is a six-member joint ring, which separates from the two interlocking parts at the corners, can be continuously inverted and thus take on different shapes.

This spectacular flying object moves with the aid of a pulsating actuator. The interaction between expansion and contraction in a rhythmic sequence is responsible for the inversion. The helium compensates for the effect of gravity on the chain, thus providing lift for the flying object. Thrust is generated as the object inverts itself and it can thus be described as an inversion actuator.

Condition monitoring ensures adequate safety in flight. Data such as the battery charge and current consumption is recorded and monitored in real time during flight. For Festo, the principle of permanent diagnostics is a guarantee for process reliability in automation technology.

Ideas competition - looking for new solutions

Festo has announced an interdisciplinary design competition. The company is looking for a creative idea for a functional application of the inversion for use in industrial environments. In doing so, Festo is setting the pace for innovation in automation technology. This innovative Future Concept symbolises a new type of drive concept. It represents an ideal starting point for encouraging engineers and inspiring the development of future applications.