New Nikon Absolute Encoder Improves FA Equipment

Nikon Corporation has released MAR-M700MFA, the first*1 multi-turn external battery-free absolute encoder*2 to use an all-solid-state battery. Specifically, an absolute encoder is a type of sensor device used commonly in industrial robots on automobile manufacturing lines, machine tools, and many other applications. It detects absolute values for robot-arm rotational displacement and similar measurements.

MAR-M700MFA multi-turn external battery-free absolute encoder with an all-solid-state battery

Nikon’s latest absolute encoder, MAR-M700MFA, offers an increased guaranteed operating temperature range compared to the company’s previous multi-turn external battery-free absolute encoder. This is a result of utilizing the all-solid-state battery, which also allows this model to be maintenance-free. Furthermore, it comes with new features, including a predictive maintenance feature and an angular precision self-correction function. Specifically, it enables an expanded range of possible usage environments for industrial robots along with improved operational consistency and greater precision in motion control.

The company will start receiving orders for the new encoder beginning June 2024.

Nikon pursues to become “A key technology solutions company in a global society where humans and machines co-create seamlessly”. This was laid out in their Vision 2030 Medium Term Management plan. Accordingly, it will continue to incorporate environmentally friendly new technologies into its products while contributing toward further advancements in industrial robots.

Nikon plans to showcase their new models at the International Robot Exhibition 2023 (iREX 2023) from Nov. 29 to Dec. 2, 2023, at the Tokyo Big Sight.

*1Among multi-turn external battery-free absolute encoders that Nikon could confirm were on the market as of November 20, 2023

*2This type of encoder is capable of saving information on the previous stop position at the time of power shutoff, as well as multi-turn detection and rotational count data, in nonvolatile memory. Because nonvolatile rather than volatile memory is used, an external power source (from a battery or similar) is required to continuously provide power. Nikon encoders supply the necessary power using an all-solid-state battery embedded in the encoder.

Development Background

Declines in working populations have led to rapidly accelerating introductions of industrial robots in various fields. Furthermore, market expansions have led to increasingly challenging customer demands regarding industrial robots. They create pressing needs for more advanced features and greater precision in the absolute encoders, which are key components in said robots. Nikon has responded by developing absolute encoders with improved operating-environment resistance and more accurate motion control.

Main Features

1. MAR-M700MFA is the first multi-turn external battery-free absolute encoder with an all-solid-state battery. It offers a maximum guaranteed operating temperature of 105°C and is maintenance-free.

Nikon removed the need for external battery usage by embedding within their encoder an all-solid-state battery developed by Maxell, Ltd. Consequently, this has enabled Nikon to increase the maximum guaranteed operating temperature to 105°C, which offers greater freedom in motor and equipment design than ever before. Furthermore, this latest model is maintenance-free.

2. Predictive maintenance feature

A new predictive maintenance feature compatible with A-format® communication standards*3 is also incorporated into this model. This enables advance detection of precursors to breakdowns as well as advance notification of approaching part-replacement and maintenance deadlines for industrial robots, which mitigate the risk of sudden equipment stoppages due to breakdowns.

3. Inclusion of a proprietary angular-precision self-correction function

Moreover, MAR-M700MFA comes equipped with a proprietary angular-precision self-correction function. It does not require the use of a reference encoder*4 and enables precision corrections to realize better operational consistency and motion-related precision.

*3A-format® is a registered trademark of Nikon Corporation

*4A type of master encoder used to guarantee encoder precision (related to positioning information)

4. Designed with consideration for existing-model replacement compatibility

The design of MAR-M700MFA was made considering its compatibility when installing it as a replacement for existing Nikon absolute encoder models. As such, there is no need for users to redesign equipment installation points where the new encoder is installed.