Q-Sys | News

laser direct imaging

High Accuracy Bespoke system for a R&D laser application

This test system was required for specific R&D tasks in the field of laser direct imaging. It was developed based on customer specifications. For the 2 independent Z axes a repeatability of 1µm was required. These two Z-axes are located above a horizontal 300mm linear stage, which is driven by a linear motor. The stage delivers a speed of 500mm/sec with tracking errors better than 1.5µm. The system is built inside a safety enclosure with a special foil in order to filter light with specific wave lengths.

ESRF motion platform #1

Motion platform with four degrees of freedom

In several beamlines at The European Synchrotron (ESRF) in Grenoble, devices called transfocators are installed and are used for focusing X-rays. The transfocator can be used with other monochromators and/or with other focusing elements. These devices, which consist of a number of co-axial circular lenses, need to be carefully aligned to the X-ray beam. For this particular application, Q-Sys has developed and built a motion platform with four degrees of freedom that enables the precise alignment of these devices. In order to keep the platform very compact while maintaining stiffness and stability, a three-wedge construction has been used. The platform provides two linear movements, one horizontal and one vertical, plus rotation around each of the linear movements. By working in close co-operation with the ESRF engineers and with some imaginative design approaches, Q-Sys was able to provide a solution that met all requirements of both performance and cost.

Z-wedge stage

Z-wedge Lift Stage

To further enhance and broaden the range of standard stages available, we are pleased to introduce the QW-R-10 vertical lift Z-wedge stage. This stage compliments our existing range of linear and rotary stages and allows multi-axis systems to be created for applications requiring height or autofocus adjustment such as visual inspection and laser processing. The datasheet is available for immediate download from the download section of this website.

autocollimator calibration

High Precision Calibration Platform

This 3 axis platform was designed to meet very specific customer requirements and forms the central part of a new autocollimator calibration facility. It has one linear axis and 2 rotary axes, all direct driven. The autocollimator under test is mounted on a long travel linear stage running on air bearings on a precision lapped granite base. Because of the type of instrument being calibrated, angular errors are extremely important. Over its full travel of 1.5m, this linear stage delivers pitch, roll and yaw errors of less than 5μrad. Two reference autocollimators can be mounted on the fixed granite column as part of the measurement system. Finally, a cube shaped optical reflector is mounted on the stacked rotation axes. These enable the reflector to be quickly and accurately positioned with an angular repeatability of better than 0.1 μrad! The system is installed in a clean room at one of Europe’s foremost standards institutes and stands on six vibration isolation feet that are linked to provide a three point support for the granite base. A full controls package and installation service were also provided.


Eurostars project called SHARPeR.

Together with the French company Imagine Optic, Q-Sys is participating in a Eurostars project called SHARPeR. This project aims at developing a new high accuracy automated metrology platform for extremely high quality optical components needed for example in synchrotron beamlines, EUV lithography systems and telescopes. Meter-scale X-ray mirrors will be characterized with a slope error accuracy better than 50nrad rms.

The project will include three main elements:

• A highly stable and repeatable multi-axes motion platform including rotation and tip-tilt stages

• A high precision wavefront sensor with an absolute accuracy of λ/1000 rms

• An advanced stitching algorithm for high accuracy results

Eurostars        Eurostars Eureka European Community

CNC controller

Laser system upgrade extends life and increases functionality

Q-Sys has recently completed an upgrade of the CNC controller for a customer with an existing laser processing machine. In this particular case the existing configuration was a 4-axis machining center which included the integration of three different laser sources. The upgrade to the system was needed to both replace the old motion controller with an up-do-date alternative and to include a fourth laser source and an extra axis controlling a galvanometer head. The project started with a list of needs and wants from the customer – some ‘must haves’ and the rest ‘ wishes’. This was translated by Q-Sys into a full technical solution defining all aspects of the proposed system upgrade. In this case we also included the ability to control the power of any laser as a function of the velocity vector of the axes. In order to maintain the cost of the upgrade within a set budget it was agreed to recycle as many parts of the old system as possible while keeping in mind the need to maximise system reliability. In this way and even though some parts of the system have seen several years’ service, the customer has achieved a new lease of life for the machine with modern controls and increased flexibility at a fraction of the cost of a completely new installation.


Customer helped out of trouble with replica

This XY table is an excellent example of the service Q-Sys offers its clients. This customer was faced with an unexpected redesign of his machine when the existing product became unavailable from the supplier. Q-Sys was able to produce a 1:1 interchangeable XY table to provide continuity of supply with no mechanical changes. This resulted in significant cost and time savings for the client.


Single axis high performance air bearing stage for optical metrology applications

Comprising a granite air bearing beam mounted on a matched pair of riser blocks, the stage delivers just under 1m travel in either constant speed or step and hold modes, with a heat dissipation of around 0.5W. This enables extremely precise measurements to be carried out with the stage sited in a thermally stable enclosure. The special carriage construction delivers the ultimate in smooth motion for the optics assembly. Pitch, roll and yaw errors are all better than 2 arcseconds while straightness and flatness are better than 2 microns. Variations on this design are available, including travels up to 1500mm if required.

RX Solutions

7 axes high precision measurement platform.

This seven axis measurement platform is specifically designed to meet the customer’s exacting requirements. It incorporates five horizontal air bearings axes and two vertical ballscrew stages. Used for a measurement process, the rotary table has a 300kg payload and a through slot in the base to enable measurements to be made both from above and below. The platform is built on a rigid granite structure and uses the high-precision lapped surfaces as bearing guideways to maintain extremely small angular errors, particularly important on a platform of this size with travels between 500mm and 1400mm. Ironless linear motors and non-contact encoders are combined to deliver high levels of precision with extremely smooth motion.


XY platform for laser cutting process development.

This XY platform is going to be used for developing and refining a new laser cutting process. The machine that will evolve from this will enable thicker materials to be cut at higher speeds but still using a relatively low power laser. With travels of 600x600mm, this platform is at the centre of the first full working prototype and reaches speeds of 1m/sec with a 20kg payload, while retaining a positioning repeatability of 1μm. Other specifications of the stages are individual straightness of motion better than 10μm and flatness over full travel better than 15μm. These stages are available in various stroke lengths and can be combined in different ways to suit different applications. They can also be used with a wide variety of motion controls to suit individual user preferences.


3 axis platform for laser machining

Designed in close cooperation with the customer, the system has travels of 600mm on the base, 1300mm along the bridge and 200mm in the vertical. The base plate design also incorporates the facility to add reel-to-reel hardware at a later stage. The axes have a positioning repeatability of better than 1 micron and absolute accuracies of 3.5 microns. The system comes complete with a CNC controller. The finished system will be used to explore various laser processes including solar cell production.


Laser cutting station.

The gantry provides OEMs attractive opportunities especially if they are looking for an XYZ platform with excellent repeatability and absolute accuracy. Use has been made of a granite base which, for aesthetic reasons, remains visible. The design of the gantry beam is on the basis of a structure with internal damping. As a result, very good dynamic properties are achieved. Both the X and the Y-motion is driven by means of linear motors. Depending on the control system, which can be chosen on the basis of customer preference, the integrated Z-axis can perform the function of auto focus.


Laser cutting station.

This laser cutting station uses a bespoke motion platform. After integration with a laser the end user will use the machine for precision cutting of thin material. The CNC controller allows the laser power to be modulated to match the vectored cutting speed. By using a sensor the controller can maintain a constant distance between cutting head and material. This, combined with the controller laser power, ensures a high quality cut. The station has travels of 600x600mm plus 100mm in Z but Q-Sys are able to offer a range of travels to suit individual applications, including part rotation if required.

grasbeemd 15 B


Since the formation of Q-Sys in 2007 we have shared space with NTS-Botech, part of the NTS Group. With both businesses expanding it was time for us to establish ourselves in our own premises and to create the working environment we need for the ever increasing range of motion and positioning systems we are building. We have identified a suitable building in the same part of Helmond, Netherlands and have moved early June 2013. Our new address is Grasbeemd 15-B, 5705 DE Helmond, The Netherlands.

positioning stage

Replacement stage saves time and money.

When this builder of inkjet test systems found their chosen linear stage was no longer available, Q-Sys was able to solve the problem. This linear stage is a core component in the finished test system and, when the old supplier withdrew it from sale, the customer was faced with adapting his machine. But after talking to Q-Sys he now has a 1:1 replacement. Not only is the new stage dimensionally identical including all mounting details but it also has the same electrical characteristics so the control system remains unchanged. This has saved the user a considerable amount in terms of redesign and integration, ensuring he can continue to produce his product.

DESY optical table with five degrees of freedom

Optical table with 5 degrees of freedom

This optical platform with 5 degrees of freedom has been designed and built for precise sample positioning applications. In addition to a large number of threaded inserts, the granite table has 5 full length stainless steel T-slots to give the user total flexibility in the mounting of components. It is supported on three actuator systems which, by a combination of clever design and ingenious kinematic mounting, deliver controlled motion in five degrees of freedom. Using specific combinations of moves of the individual actuators, the table is controlled in both horizontal and lateral positions, plus pitch, roll and yaw. The custom designed actuators also include full protection against overtravel and power loss, including integral dampers and brakes.

upgrade cnc 2000 controller

Controller upgrade

While capital expenditure budgets remain under tight control, more users are finding that a new lease of life can be achieved with an overhaul of their existing hardware combined with replacement of the controls system with an up-to-date alternative. While motion stages have changed little in recent years, control systems are continually evolving. The latest system to receive such attention from Q-Sys is a laser cutting station where the motion stages and laser have many years of service left in them — replacing the Anorad CNC 2000 controller will increase reliability and extend the system usability for some time.

gantry for laser cutting

New gantry system

Using a robust granite base and a novel beam construction with internal damping, the linear motor driven gantry delivers superb dynamic performance for applications as demanding as laser stencil cutting and high speed optical inspection. The integral Z axis is suitable for autofocus use and the gantry delivers XY contouring accuracy better than 10 microns. With repeatability better than 1 micron over travels of 600x600mm and 2g acceleration, this system can be integrated to any of a number of motion controllers to suit new or existing applications.

high accuracy stage for inspection system

High accuracy stage for inspection system

This linear motor driven stage is one of the main parts in a high accuracy optical inspection platform. Among the specific requirements of the motion stage were excellent dynamic performance combined with very good geometric precision and repeatability. To assist with these it was decided to mount the linear guide rails directly to the prepared surface of a granite plate. This meant the stage performance benefitted from the extremely flat surface that can be created on such a plate. The straightness of motion achieved was 5µm and the flatness of motion 3µm.

6 axes laser machining platform

Six axes platform for laser machining.

To meet the desired accuracy and repeatability figures, five of the six axes use air bearings in conjunction with linear motors and optical encoders. Combined with the granite construction, this provides high stiffness and stability for this surface machining system. The Z-axis uses a custom bonded construction to create an axis with low mass and very high stiffness. This counterbalanced axis carries a harmonic drive to which is mounted the laser galvo head. The finished system yields repeatabilities better than 1 micron, absolute accuracy better than 6 microns and angular errors of less than 5 arcseconds.

DLS 5 axes detector positioning platform

Five axes platform for research.

This platform consists of 5 axes and is designed to operate in a confined space. Directly built on granite, the lower axis has a travel of 1500mm. The other four axes are sitting in pairs on top of this long axis. Travels for both pairs 550mm x 300mm. Under the full load of 100kg the achieved accuracy over full working envelope is 100µm and the lowest mechanical natural frequency is 70Hz.

optical metrology bench

High precision optical metrology bench.

The bench was designed for the laser metrology of optical surfaces. The system includes innovative techniques for maximising the stability and repeatability of measurements while reducing angular errors to a minimum. The air-bearing carriages are driven by linear motors and the platform is also designed to input extremely low levels of heat into its environment.

large format gantry

Large format gantry.

This granite based gantry style platform delivers high performance XY motion over the full footprint of the machine. The gantry beam is driven and encoded at both ends to enable full gantry mode control, ensuring optimum performance. This is another example of the custom platform designs available from Q-Sys in The Netherlands, meeting tight delivery schedules and specifications within controlled budgets.

positioning stage for long travel

Long travel stage.

This linear positioning stage provides a solution for users looking for extended travel within an affordable budget, while maintaining good repeatability and dynamic performance. The single axis stage provides a full 2000mm travel within an overall length of less than 2500mm. The combination of a rugged linear motor with optical encoder position feedback and high performance linear rail bearings ensures a low maintenance unit with very high reliability. Housed in an aluminium base, the stage also has a full length rigid waycover to prevent debris falling inside.

positioning platform for laser machining

XYZ positioning platform for laser machining.

This platform was designed to assist with research into laser machining with various combinations of lasers, optics and materials. The challenge was to produce a flexible design in a short time scale while remaining within tight cost constraints. Positioning accuracy and motion dynamics are both important features of the platform, which consists of stacked XY stages on a granite base, plus a vertical Z axis mounted to the fixed granite bridge. The travels of the axes are respectively 1000mm, 750mm and 100mm. The absolute positioning accuracies are within 10 microns and repeatabilities of 1 micron. Although the XY is designed as a stack it still produces a flatness performance of just 3.5 microns. This is achieved by compensating for sag of the upper axis as a result of the moving mass. The system is supplied complete with a 3 axis motion controller and amplifiers.

air bearing system

Air bearing system for calibration purposes.

This calibration system uses a laser interferometer as a comparison standard against measurement devices under test. To optimise the system and reduce detrimental Abbe errors to a minimum, the geometrical accuracies must be extremely good. Flatness and sag of the granite base were key aspects during the design phase, with the end result being extraordinary performance. The air bearings use a vacuum preload arrangement to minimise distortion and also produce very smooth motion.

XY positioning system with hybrid bearings

XY Positioning system with hybrid bearing concept.

The concept is designed around a co-planar air bearing platform. One axis uses mechanical bearings. The saddle shaped carriage of the system is guided and lifted by air bearings and driven by an epoxy core linear motor. The axis using the mechanical bearings uses an iron core linear motor. Innovative design techniques ensure that angular errors are minimal despite the use of mechanical bearings on one axis.

inkjet printhead test system

Printhead test times reduced by factor of 50!

Q-Sys have supplied a bespoke motion system to a manufacturer of inkjet printheads as part of a new test system. The equipment is used to check printheads for correct operation by producing controlled test prints and immediately analysing the resulting pattern with an on-board camera.

The linear motor driven system can very accurately repeat motion patterns. This enables the characteristics of the ink delivery to be accurately assessed in the absence of significant motion platform errors.

The aims of the system were to reduce test cycle times in a smaller footprint machine and at lower cost. By designing a relatively small split axes platform, with the motion integrated directly onto a granite assembly, the system is considerably smaller than normal. Test times have been reduced from hours to just minutes while the system cost is 75% lower!.

Motion and positioning system field support and upgrades

Q-Sys is pleased to announce a service and support facility for owners and operators of high performance motion and positioning systems. Following last year’s closure of Anorad’s European offices, existing owners of Anorad systems have very limited options for technical support – not a satisfactory situation for the large installed base in the UK and mainland Europe.

Q-Sys was formed in 2007 by four senior managers from Anorad to continue the tradition of designing and building high specification motion platforms. Alongside this expertise, Q-Sys engineers are familiar with the majority of system hardware in use in Europe and are able to provide a comprehensive maintenance and repair service. This can range from the occasional call to rectify a system problem - through routine planned maintenance for essential production machines - all the way to full upgrades and refits on older or more heavily used equipment. This can of course incorporate full controller upgrades to take advantage of the significant improvements in hardware and software in recent years. Sometimes this can be the cost effective way to keep a system running longer and delay the need for more significant capital expenditure on whole system replacement.

Service support can be arranged either on an as required basis or through a managed service contract providing scheduled service visits, with emergency call out if required.