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Assembly line rollers

Georg Berner demonstrates the SupraMotion semiconductors. Image credit: FestoA hovering magnet from Festo demonstrates technology that could be integrated into factories monitored by the the Internet of Things. During a press conference on March 25, Georg Berner, Head of Strategic Corporate Development, Group Holding at Festo, demonstrated the SupraMotion contactless transfer system, two magnetic rollers suspended a few millimeters in the air.

The same type of technology enables Festo's material transfer projects, as well as a rotating conveyor shaft called SupraHelix. In the SupraMotion system, the magnets hover above superconductors cooled below their transition temperature. It’s that temperature, about -180 degrees C, that allows the magnets to float. The superconductors then demonstrate no resistance, free-flowing electrons and their own magnetic field.

This system could be used to convey items including food and medical products, since the surfaces can be cleaned and sterilized. While the magnets can float no higher than about 10 to 15 millimeters, objects such as a sheet of paper can be passed above or below them. The force they give off is not sufficient to hurt a human if their hand slips under the magnets.

"We are now not merely showing impressive levitation effects and the opportunities offered by superconductor technology, but are actively discussing their potential together with the automation industry. We are currently working towards initiating our first pilot projects, " said Georg Berner, Head of Strategic Corporate Development, Group Holding Festo.

The same technology is in place behind Festo’s SupraHelix exhibit, which uses the superconductors to move ring-shaped workpieces from one location to another. All of Festo's new technologies and demonstrations, including bionic bugs and the levitating magnets, will be on display at the Hanover Fair in Germany on April 13 through 17.

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