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Did You Know? Labeling Drives and Controllers

by Jason Jones

Our ST5 and ST10, STAC5, STAC6 and STM stepper drives with Q programming are well suited for labeling applications. A product sensor can be tied to one of the digital inputs, triggering a WI (Wait Input) command when the product nears the labeling position. To prevent wrinkling or tearing, the label must be applied at the same speed the product is traveling on the conveyer.

The drive measures the conveyer speed using a “master encoder” whose AB quadrature signals feed into the X1 and X2 inputs. The FE (Follow Encoder) command automatically ratios the label speed to the master encoder frequency, and monitors the label sensor, positioning the label at exactly the right location on the product. The Q programming’s powerful math capability can provide additional customization and control.

Another option for labeling is to use a basic step & direction drive like the STR2, STR4, or STR8. In this approach another controller in the machine, usually a PLC or proprietary controller, provides the control and synchronization with the master encoder, and commands the motion of the stepper system through step (pulse) and direction signals.

Whether you choose a drive with Q programming or a basic step & direction drive, Applied Motion Products offers another major benefit in labeling applications. Our proprietary anti-resonance algorithm provides excellent smoothness and increased useable torque over the entire speed range. When step motors run smoother and with more available torque, it ultimately means faster line speeds and higher throughput on the labeling machine. The anti-resonance capability is available on all Applied Motion stepper drives and integrated steppers.

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