US Digital: Enabling 21st Century Robotics Innovation
The robotics industry is no longer only about traditional industrial robots: an explosion of innovation is happening throughout the robotic industry. Learn how US Digital is enabling this intellectual gold rush.
By Robotics Trends Staff - Filed Aug 02, 2012

There is a revolution occurring in today’s robotics industry. It is no longer only about heavy-duty industrial robots the world is accustomed to seeing. What was once limited to the pages of science fiction is becoming reality, thanks to a host of technological advancements, especially within motion control. Whether it’s military, medical, service, or consumer robots, these applications are finding compact optical encoder solutions to be the perfect fit at all stages of development.
Modern-day robots have to perform in a variety of environmental conditions and must be flexible, high performance machines while still drawing minimal power - and meet a price point lower than their industrial counterparts. Achieving the right balance among these competing requirements is a daunting task, but the right building blocks make it easier. US Digital has been designing and manufacturing motion control components such as encoders and inclinometers for over 30 years. A vertically integrated factory provides tight control on quality and lead times, allowing a large variety of encoders to be sourced for quick prototyping and testing situations. Once the application is ready for the production stage, the same encoders can be used for more rigorous operational requirements.


Speed Control


US Digital encoders address multiple motion control needs and requirements. For speed control, an optical rotary incremental kit encoder can be used. The E4P or the E5 series encoders are small but robust, perfect for applications where robot size can make the difference between market acceptance and just another idea on the drawing board. At the same time, these encoders offer the high resolutions needed for precise speed control.


Position Control


For position control of robotics end effectors, absolute encoders are the most reliable solutions, allowing the robots to be fully functional immediately at power-up without the need for calibration. Additionally, if there was any slight change in position during power-off mode, that change will be instantly detected. Traditionally absolute encoders have been too complicated and expensive to be used in the new robot applications; however, US Digital offers various magnetic absolute encoders like the MA3 and the MAE3 specifically designed for this kind of application. The advantage is a small, compact size with high performance and low price point.


Commutation Solutions


With the push for more efficient robots that consume less power, brushless DC motors are gaining popularity in robotic designs. The EC35 optical commutation encoder was specifically developed for this type of motor. The EC35 encoder provides a seamless integration of the traditional encoding functionality as well as the commutation control in one package, ensuring an easy and accurate way to control the BLDC motors while keeping costs down.

US Digital’s technical support, vertical integration, quality control and best-in-industry lead times have resulted in design wins for some of the top new products on the market today. If you have a specific need or just want to learn more about optical incremental and absolute encoders, visit us at for comprehensive specs, tutorials and industry videos.

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