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Title:
BREAK AWAY SLIDE MECHANISM WITH ENHANCED POSITIONING ACCURACY
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2011/062686
Kind Code:
A2
Abstract:
An actuator for selectively extending and retracting a probe in a measuring instrument comprises an actuator body, a carriage having a first aperture slidably attached to the body, and a second aperture receiving a probe holder having a probe. The first aperture of the carriage, which surrounds the actuator body, includes a first plurality of magnets disposed around an inner circumference of the aperture. The actuator body includes a lead screw, a round lead screw nut mated with the lead screw, and a second plurality of magnets arranged on a periphery of the lead screw nut, generally aligned with the first plurality of magnets. The magnets are arranged so that the carriage may be displaced with respect to the actuator body a sufficient amount that the magnets do not significantly restrain the further movement of the carriage.

Inventors:
LAWSON, David E. (50 Hawkes Trail, Webster, New York, 14580, US)
STEVENS, William E. , Jr. (6181 Cook Road, Byron, New York, 14422, US)
Application Number:
US2010/051099
Publication Date:
May 26, 2011
Filing Date:
October 01, 2010
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
QUALITY VISION INTERNATIONAL, INC. (850 Hudson Avenue, Rochester, New York, 14621, US)
LAWSON, David E. (50 Hawkes Trail, Webster, New York, 14580, US)
STEVENS, William E. , Jr. (6181 Cook Road, Byron, New York, 14422, US)
International Classes:
H02K41/02; F16H1/18; F16H25/20; H02K7/06
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SALAI, Stephen B. et al. (Harter Secrest & Emery LLP, 1600 Bausch & LombRochester, New York, 14604, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1 . An actuator for selectively extending and retracting a probe in a measuring instrument comprising: an actuator body; a lead screw disposed within the actuator body;

a leadscrew nut mated with the leadscrew; a carriage having a first aperture slidably engaging the actuator body; a first plurality of magnets disposed around an inner circumference of the first aperture; the carriage also including a second aperture engaging a probe holder having a a probe attached thereto; and a second plurality of magnets arranged on a periphery of the leadscrew nut, generally aligned with the first plurality of magnets the first and second plurality of magnets arranged so that the probe holder may be displaced with respect to the carriage a sufficient amount that the first and second pluralities of magnets do not significantly restrain the movement of the probe holder relative to the carriage.

2. The actuator for selectively extending and retracting a probe of claim 1 comprising first and second interengaging kinematic mount members attached to the collar and the actuator body respectively for accurately positioning the carriage with respect to the actuator body when the carriage is in an extended position.

3. The actuator for selectively extending and retracting a probe of claim 1 in which the first and second pluralities of magnets each consist of three magnets.

4. The actuator for selectively extending and retracting a probe of claim 3 in which the first and second pluralities of magnets are equally spaced, 1 20 degrees apart and arranged in a single row.

5. The actuator for selectively extending and retracting a probe of claim 1 in which one of the first and second interengaging kinematic mount members comprises a hemispherical bearing.

6. The actuator for selectively extending and retracting a probe of claim 1 in which the kinematic mount members comprise three

hemispherical balls and three slots.

7. The actuator for selectively extending and retracting a probe of claim 6 in which the kinematic mount members engage before the leadscrew reaches the limit of its travel on the leadscrew whereby the magnets create an axial force urging the members of the kinematic mounts together.

8. The actuator for selectively extending and retracting a probe of claim 1 in which the carriage comprises a non-ferrous tube.

9. The actuator for selectively extending and retracting a probe of claim 1 comprising a ferrous aligning strip disposed on the inner surface of the actuator body.

1 0. The actuator for selectively extending and retracting a probe of claim 1 comprising a motor coupled to the lead screw.

1 1 . The actuator for selectively extending and retracting a probe of claim 1 in which the actuator body comprises a base and one portion of the kinematic mount is disposed on the base.

Description:
BREAK AWAY SLIDE MECHANISM WITH ENHANCED POSITIONING ACCURACY

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0001 ] This invention relates generally to linear actuators and more particularly to a linear actuator having a motorized lead screw or ball screw (as used herein, lead screw is intended to encompass both of these and similar arrangements) driving a positioning element that is magnetically attached to a probe holder and provides improved breakaway functionality and enhanced positioning accuracy at the end of travel.

[0002] Probes of the type used in measuring instruments are known. A desirable type of probe has a mechanism for retracting the probe when not in use. Known mechanisms include a rail and carriage assembly having a probe mounting block attached to the carriage. The mounting block is carried by the carriage and travels along the rail, often driven by a lead screw which is in turn driven by a motor.

[0003] Probes of the type with which this invention is concerned are normally either fully retracted or fu lly extended in use. Intermediate positions are not normally used.

[0004] A known actuator is shown in Patent No. 6,084,326. In this known mechanism, a lead screw is driven by a motor. When the lead screw is rotated, a displacement member such as a lead screw nut coupled to the screw moves longitudinally. A plurality of magnets couples the displacement member to a carriage having a like plurality of magnets arranged around its inner circumference, and the carriage moves with the lead screw nut.

[0005] Known mechanisms of the type described have been widely used but have a few disadvantages. Because of the magnetic coupling, the slider or carriage and probe may be temporarily displaced in a longitudinal direction with respect to the displacement mechanism and disengaged. A rotational displacement and disengagement have not heretofore been possible, however. Furthermore, while known devices are reasonably accurate at the end of travel, they rely on the accuracy of the lead screw threads, the absence of contaminants, and the like for repeatable positioning at the end of travel.

[0006] It is an object of this invention to overcome these and other disadvantages of known actuators.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] Briefly stated, and in accordance with one aspect of the invention, an actuator for selectively extending and retracting a probe in a measuring instrument comprises an actuator body, a carriage having a first aperture slidably attached to the body, and a second aperture receiving a probe holder having a probe. The first aperture of the carriage, which surrounds the actuator body, includes a first plurality of magnets disposed around an inner circumference of the aperture.

[0008] The actuator body includes a lead screw disposed within the inner circumference of the actuator body, a round lead screw nut mated with the lead screw, and a second plurality of magnets arranged on a periphery of the lead screw nut, generally aligned with the first plurality of magnets. The first and second plurality of magnets are arranged so that the carriage may be displaced with respect to the actuator body either longitudinally or rotationally a sufficient amount that the first and second pluralities of magnets do not significantly restrain the further movement of the carriage relative to the actuator body. The carriage and a base portion of the actuator body include first and second interengaging kinematic mount members attached to the base of the actuator body and the carriage, respectively, for accurately positioning the carriage with respect to the actuator body when the probe holder is in a fully extended position.

[0009] In accordance with another aspect of the invention the first and second pluralities of magnets each consists of three magnets.

[001 0] In accordance with yet another aspect of the invention. The magnets in the first and second pluralities of magnets are equally spaced, 1 20° apart, and arranged in a single row.

[001 1 ] In accordance with still another aspect of the invention, the end of one of the first and second interengaging kinematic mount members comprises a hemisphere.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIGURES

[001 2] Fig. 1 is a diagrammatic, partly sectioned view of an actuator and probe in accordance with this invention. [001 3] Fig. 2 is a section taken along line 2-2 of Fig. 1 .

[001 4] Fig. 3 is a detailed view of the first and second interengaging kinematic mount members

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[001 5] Referring now to Fig. 1 , an actuator 1 0, in accordance with one aspect of this invention, for selectively extending and retracting a probe 20 is illustrated in diagrammatic, partly sectioned form. The actuator 1 0 includes a generally cylindrical actuator body or housing 1 00, having a motor 1 1 4 coupled to the cylindrical body 1 00 by a motor mount 1 1 2. A shaft coupling 1 1 6 couples the motor shaft to the shaft of a proportional lead screw 1 06 mounted between bearings 1 1 0 at the top and bottom ends of the housing, respectively. The bearings are preferably ball bearings or other bearings that accurately position the lead screw and support it for rotation by the motor.

[001 6] The housing 1 00 is preferably, but not necessarily, cylindrical and also non-ferrous and may be formed from a variety of materials such as plastic, carbon fiber, or the like that provide sufficient rigidity for accurate operation of the actuator.

[001 7] A movable lead screw nut 1 04 is carried by the lead screw 1 06 and has internal threads corresponding to the external lead screw threads. The lead screw shown is round, but may be another shape. [001 8] The lead screw nut is constrained from rotation by a plurality of magnets as will be described below and moves up and down the lead screw within the cylindrical body as the lead screw 1 06 is rotated by the motor 1 1 4. Preferably the lead screw nut 1 04 has a plurality of magnets 200 , preferably three, spaced equally around the outer circumference of the lead screw nut, for example at angular positions 1 20 ° apart as shown in more detail in Fig 2.

[001 9] The magnets 200 have their north and south poles arranged on a radial line extending through the center of the lead screw nut. The magnets are preferably, but not necessarily, evenly spaced around the circumference of the lead screw nut.

[0020] A probe holder 1 1 8 is coupled to the actuator body 1 00 by a carriage 1 02. The carriage 1 02 (see also Fig. 2) has two apertures extending there through, a first aperture 206 for slidably and rotationally receiving the actuator body 1 00 and a second aperture 1 03 (see Fig. 3) for releasably receiving and holding the probe holder 1 1 8. The carriage 1 02 illustrated in the drawings is rectangular, but other shapes may also be used.

[0021 ] Preferably, but not necessarily as shown in Fig. 2, a second like plurality of magnets 204 is arranged around the inner circumference of the aperture 206 of the carriage 1 02 that surrou nds the actuator body 1 00. The combination of magnets 200 and 204 restrains the lead screw nut 1 04 from rotating. As shown in Fig. 2, three magnets 204 are arranged around the inner circumference of the aperture 206. The magnets are arranged so that opposite poles of the magnets 200 disposed on the outer periphery of the lead screw nut 1 04 and the magnets 204 disposed on the inner periphery of the aperture 206 face each other so as to attract. That is, as illustrated in Fig. 2, the south pole of the magnets 200 are adjacent the north pole of the magnets 204.

[0022] The selection of the number and size of the magnets in the actuator of this invention permits the probe holder to break away from the lead screw nut in both a longitudinal direction and a radial direction. This may prevent damage of the probe if the force on the probe exceeds a predetermined breakaway force.

[0023] The first aperture portion 201 of the carriage, surrounding the body of the actuator 1 00, may also include bearings 1 08 or the like for slidably and rotationally supporting the carriage with respect to the body 1 00, or, alternatively, can simply slide on the housing body.

[0024] Probe holder 1 1 8 is secured to the carriage 1 02 within a second aperture 1 03. Screws 1 20 clamp the probe holder substantially rigidly in the aperture 1 03 of the carriage 1 02. Preferably, the aperture 1 03 frictionally engages the probe holder 1 1 8 with a force that may be adjusted by screws 1 20 or the like as shown in Figs. 1 and 3. This allows the probe holder 1 1 8 to be removed to service the probe as required and also allow for vertical and rotational adjustment of the probe holder 1 1 8 with respect to the carriage 1 02. [0025] Fig. 2 is a section taken along line 2-2 of Fig. 1 . The radial positions of the magnets on the carriage and the actuator body 1 00 may be seen even more clearly in Fig. 2. The aperture 1 03 that secures the probe holder and the tightening screws are not shown in Fig. 2.

[0026] Preferably, to maintain the relative orientation of the actuator body 1 00 and the carriage 1 02 a ferrous strip 202 which is preferably a steel strip is positioned on the inside surface of the cylindrical housing aligned with one of the pairs of magnets to maintain the relative orientation of the lead screw nut and the probe holder with respect to the housing.

[0027] As can be seen in Fig. 2, ferrous strip 202 that aligns the probe holder and the lead screw nut and provides an advantage over techniques used heretofore in that unwanted rotation is controlled without adding friction between the probe holder and is the cylindrical body of the carriage while at the same time providing a desirable rotational breakaway feature.

[0028] Fig. 3 is a detailed view of the first and second interengaging kinematic mount members on the carriage and the base of the actuator body, respectively. A hemispherical ball 304 mounted on the end of each of a plurality, preferably 3, of adjuster screws 302 engages a corresponding locating feature such as a slot 305, planar surface, or cone shaped feature on the base of the actuator housing member 300, which is preferably but not necessarily ring shaped to precisely locate the probe holder with respect to the actuator body when the actuator is in its fully extended position. While three mount members are shown and are preferred, fewer may be used. [0029] The kinematic mount members engage slightly before the end of travel of the lead screw nut on the lead screw, to ensure positive, accurate positioning. The magnetic force between the plurality of magnets 200 and the corresponding magnets 204 created by the slight relative displacement of the magnets holds the balls 304 on the end of the adjuster screws in their respective locating features on the end cap.

[0030] While the invention has been described in connection with a number of presently preferred embodiments thereof, those skilled in the art will recognize that certain modifications and changes may be made, thereto without departing from the true spirit and scope of the invention, which accordingly, is intended to be defined solely by the appended claims.