What Is NI Motion Control?

Contents

Motion systems typically consist of application software, a motion controller, drives, motors, and mechanical components such as gearboxes and stages. Learn more about each of these components in the sections below.

Architectures

The following pieces of the motion control architecture are implemented at different hardware component levels depending on the application: application programming, supervisory control, trajectory generation, trajectory interpolation, and control loops (position, velocity, torque). They are traditionally split between a development machine, a real-time motion controller, and drive firmware. Components below the application programming level are typically executed deterministically to meet the control and I/O requirements of the motion system. NI has two separate architectures for deterministic execution of these components: (1) plug-in motion controllers and (2) LabVIEW real-time targets as motion controllers through the LabVIEW SoftMotion Module.

 

SoftMotion Architecture

 

 

The SoftMotion architecture blurs the lines of these traditional components, giving you the flexibility to design a custom motion system.

 

Plug-In Motion Controller Architecture

 

The plug-in motion controller architecture follows a traditional well-defined model for the placement of the components.

Software and Features

The two different motion architectures offered by NI (see Architectures section) are programmed with different software. Applications using NI plug-in motion controllers are programmed with the NI-Motion driver and the Motion Assistant, whereas applications using NI real-time controllers and FPGA targets are programmed with the LabVIEW SoftMotion Module.

 

LabVIEW SoftMotion Module

SoftMotion is an implementation of software-defined motion control, where the various motion control components, such as supervisory control, trajectory generation, and the control loops, are modularized. Each component is then targeted to the most appropriate part of the motion system (development machine, real-time processor, or FPGA) as suits a particular application. You can use SoftMotion to develop advanced applications out of the box, or customize it at the application code, real-time SoftMotion Engine, or FPGA IP level. With SoftMotion, use the LabVIEW project to quickly configure motion axis settings, simulate axes, bind axes to hardware, and test and tune a motion setup before developing an application. After an application is developed, you can run it on the development machine connected to a real-time controller executing the SoftMotion Engine, or deploy it to an NI real-time controller to run stand-alone or through communication to a human machine interface.

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SoftMotion Drive Interface

Easily integrate third-party EtherCAT motor drives into your SoftMotion application with the SoftMotion Drive Interface (SDI). Download existing SDI plug-ins from the LabVIEW Tools Network or create your own using the LabVIEW project template provided by SoftMotion. With the SDI, you have a standardized method for integrating any EtherCAT drive into your application.

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NI-Motion Driver

Use the legacy NI-Motion driver to program PCI and PXI plug-in motion controllers (NI 7330, NI 7340, NI 7350, and NI 7390). This driver consists of LabVIEW VIs and examples to help you quickly create motion control applications using the plug-in controllers on either LabVIEW for Windows or LabVIEW Real-Time.

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Controllers

The two fundamentally different motion architectures offered by NI (see Architectures section) use different controller options as well as different software. Applications using NI plug-in motion controllers are programmed with the NI-Motion driver and the Motion Assistant, whereas applications using NI real-time controllers and FPGA targets are programmed with the LabVIEW SoftMotion Module.

 

LabVIEW Real-Time Targets Using SoftMotion

You can use any LabVIEW Real-Time target as a motion controller with SoftMotion, including PXI, CompactRIO, Single-Board RIO, and NI industrial controllers. The LabVIEW project is used to configure motion axis settings, test configuration, and tune motors. SoftMotion provides the supervisory control and a powerful trajectory generator, which are automatically deployed to the real-time controller alongside your motion system settings and application code. With a LabVIEW Real-Time target as a motion controller, you can customize motion functionality and deterministically integrate with measurement I/O or vision for force feedback or vision-guided motion applications.

 

Drives, Interfaces, and Motors

You can pair many third-party drives, interfaces, and motors with NI embedded controllers in a variety of power ranges and form factors. You can then seamlessly integrate integrate motion control with your I/O and vision applications.

Third-Party EtherCAT Drives

The SoftMotion Drive Interface (SDI) allows plug-and-play integration of third-party EtherCAT motor drives with SoftMotion. Download and install SDI plug-ins for a variety of third-party drives from the LabVIEW Tools Network to get started on your motion application.

SoftMotion Drive Interface | LabVIEW Tools Network