Nikon’s Latest C3 eMotion Actuators

July 29, 2022 by Gunner Scott

Nikon’s new series of actuators used in robotic joints and collaborative mechanical arm applications extend the options for peak torque and rotational speed, among other key performance characteristics.

Showcased in March at the International Robot Exhibition in Toyko prior to release, Nikon's latest set of actuators expand upon their lineup of intelligent actuator units (IAUs) used as robotic joints for collaborative mechanical arm applications. Now offering the IAU-30 and IAU-300, Nikon has four IAU’s, including the IAU-60 and IAU-200. This article teaches about the C3 eMotion system and how Nikon’s new series of actuators extend the options for peak torque and rotational speed, among other key performance characteristics.  


Nikon's C3 emotion actuator with robotic arm

Nikon C3 eMotion actuator and robotic arm. Image used courtesy of Nikon


Nikon’s C3 eMotion System

An unexpected name in the robotics and controls industry, Nikon has made their mark by developing robotic vision systems to increase production and develop more complex manufacturing techniques. The C3 eMotion system continues Nikon’s work to establish automated controls paired with their vision systems for industrial and media applications. 

The three C’s in the eMotion system stand for Connect, Control, and Cooperate, which are accurately represented by Nikon’s focus on delivering collaborative robotic equipment, both in function and appearance. 

Their design strives to provide a robot that seems more than just gears and screws but attracts people by expressing softness and friendliness. The C3 eMotion provides any engineer with a comprehensive system of built-in encoders, motors, speed reducers, motor drivers, and brakes, allowing for the easy creation of a collaborative robot without specialized knowledge. 


IAU-30 & IAU-300 Actuator

Using their existing intelligent actuator unit design, Nikon has developed the IAU-30 and IAU-300. A comparison of the size and design to the already available IAU-60 and IAU-200 can be seen in the image below.


Nikon's C3 eMotion lineup

From left to right, C3 eMotion (IAU-30), C3 eMotion (IAU-60), C3 eMotion (IAU-200), C3 eMotion (IAU-300). Image used courtesy of Nikon


A typical design for robotic joints involves the motor driving the shaft using a speed reducer, various drivers, and sensors. In most joint layouts, an encoder is present only on the motor end of the structure. 

Nikon’s actuators operate with a double-encoder arrangement. Nikon uses two encoders in their actuators, one on the input accelerated shaft and an encoder on the decelerated output shaft. The two encoder systems detect slight differences in rotational speed between the input and output shafts, meaning that human users can directly teach commands to the robotic arm by simply manipulating the arm to desired points.

As a compact option, the IAU-30 can provide a peak torque of 30 Nm with a rated torque and speed of 10 Nm and 30 min-1, respectively. As a robust option, the IAU-300 is a larger-hollow and larger-torque type, which can reach a peak torque of 400 Nm with a rated torque and speed of 130 Nm and 15 min-1. Compared to the existing IAU-60 and IAU-200, the IAU-30 and IAU-300 extend the options for engineers to address more specific applications. In the future, Nikon plans to develop more models that increase the available range of torques and rotational speeds to address market demand.


Nikon's IAU Lineup

Manufacturers and engineers expect increasingly more complex and cooperative actions from their robots that work in dynamic settings. In many cases, developing a robotic arm would require sourcing actuators, encoders, and brakes from various companies and then incorporating them into one system—a more complex process that requires more robotic experience and sophisticated skills. Nikon’s IAU lineup of package actuators can help to simplify incorporating automated control in many industrial, manufacturing, and media applications.