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New pocket-sized motion controller for 64 axes provides faster performance

19 June 2023

UK motion specialist Trio Motion Technology has launched a new motion controller for up to 64 axes with high speed EtherCAT control. Trio’s new Flex-X Nano Motion Coordinator is designed to increase machine productivity while optimising motion precision.

Powered by a 1.2GHz, 64-bit Dual Core ARM Cortex A55 Processor, Flex-X Nano runs EtherCAT cycle times down to 125µs. Just 147mm high and 17mm wide, the new pocket-sized Flex-X Nano Motion Coordinator fits within an extremely compact footprint. 

The new motion controller has been designed for applications that demand multi-axis servo control performance, including packaging, manufacturing automation, material handling, pick-and-place, CNC cutting machines, and gantries.  

The Flex-X Nano Motion Coordinator advances on Trio’s existing Flex-6 Nano controller to further enhance machine productivity and quality. Adding a 64-bit chip, the new Flex-X Nano increases processor speed by 20%, raises Ethernet TCP communications speed by 10%, and boosts programme execution speed by 25%. The new controller also features 1.2GHz clock frequency, IEEE 457 Double maths precision, and a motion command execution benchmark of 125lines/ms. These advances achieve faster multi-axis motion coordination, from 2 to 64 axes, with EtherCAT cycle times down to 125µs.  

The Flex-X Nano can simultaneously control machines, robots, and motion axes. The advantages of integrating a single controller, instead of using a PLC plus an additional robot controller or motion controller, include faster set up, reduced space, and increased reliability for the end user.  

Complex programmes can run from Flex-X Nano’s 1GBit DDR3 memory and 1GBit fast serial flash memory, and a Micro SD card slot further extends this capability.  OEMs can also add functionality including I/O and device integration via Trio Flexslice modules that communicate over EtherCAT. These slices ‘plug’ straight into Flex-X Nano, and up to 16 I/O slices can be connected to enable complete machine control. Further I/O slices can also be directly connected with a Trio EtherCAT I/O coupler.  

The controller can be programmed via Trio’s easy to use, Windows-based Motion Perfect software with either IEC 61131-3 languages, PLCopen, or Trio’s core programming option. Trio’s programming option uses native English language commands that help to speed up development. Flex-X Nano is based on Trio’s Motion-iX motion engine that includes an extensive command set developed over 30 years of field experience by Trio’s engineers. These range from single axis moves, through to multiaxis coordination in multiple dimensions, as well as numerous kinematic models.  

Along with the Flex-X Nano controller, Trio offers a complete automation solution, including servo drives and motors. The brand also provides SCARA robots, and ease of control can be enhanced with its range of HMI. 

Trio devices, including Flex-X Nano, are also compatible with communication protocols including Profinet and Ethernet/IP, giving OEMs the ability to integrate high performance motion control with PLC-based systems. 

Flex-X Nano is available to order from June 2023. The new controller is directly interchangeable with Trio’s existing Flex-6 Nano Motion Coordinator and features the same footprint, connections, and features. 

“With a pocket-sized footprint and motion control for up to 64 axes, the original Flex-6 Nano Motion Coordinator has successfully provided OEMs with the speed, accuracy, and precision they need to develop high performance machines,” says Trio’s President, Tom Alexander. “Launching the new FlexX Nano, we’ve retained this format and have enhanced motion coordination performance, giving an interchangeable upgrade benefit to existing users of the Flex-6 Nano Motion Coordinator. For OEMs new to Trio, Flex-X Nano provides an easy integration pathway to increase the productivity and reliability of their machines.”   

For more information on Trio’s Flex-X Nano controller, visit triomotion.com/flex-x_nano

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