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Motion Control Card Lets Refrigerator Makers Chill

Photonics Spectra
Dec 1997
Ruth A. Mendonsa

People don't give much thought to how or why their refrigerator doors open and close the way they should. It is pretty much taken for granted. But at Whirlpool, one of the leading manufacturers of home appliances, testing refrigerator doors is an important part of the job. The engineers must ensure the reliability of new designs, and a two-axis motion control card from Precision MicroControl is making the job easier and safer.

Technicians at Whirlpool were using a pneumatic-based system that was found to be unreliable, inflexible and "bordering on dangerous," according to Scott Hellmer, a senior computer applications engineer at Whirlpool. With 10 products, or 20 axes, in each test room, the company needed a safer, more cost-effective solution that would minimize the risk of failure.


The company chose a system that uses the DC2-PC series motion control card because it provides the required flexibility and reliability. It helps test the refrigerator doors by simulating consumers' opening and closing patterns -- gently, firmly or harshly.

The company chose a system that uses the DC2-PC series motion control card because it provides the required flexibility and reliability. It helps test the refrigerator doors by simulating consumers' opening and closing patterns -- gently, firmly or harshly. Each appliance can be set to open at specific times during the testing period. The closed-loop control system allows the system to "feel" when the door is closed.

The DC2-PC110 is a two-axis card that can stand alone or be networked to share a single serial line. The two-axis design minimizes the risk of associated board failure and also allows control of 10 boards from a remote PC. The system can test different product sizes and provide different testing methods.

Whirlpool also is working on a portable version of the test device that can be mounted on a cart and has an enclosed amplifier and power supply.


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