'Trinamic Surfing 'Automation' Wave' Part 2 of 2
This is part 2 of a 2 part series. View part 1 here.
The building block approach was also necessary for semiconductors since manufacturing processes for logic and power components are fundamentally different.
How the company got here - But it’s been a long road for Trinamic – which initially had no experience designing ICs – to get where it is today.
Before Trinamic became Trinamic Motion Control in 2004, Randt started a business in the early 1990s that became Trinamic ESD in 1996. The venture morphed into Trinamic Microchips in 1998, the year Randt decided to design his own chips for motion control.
“We first went to Siemens, thinking that they could help us.” That didn’t work out well. Designing a motion control IC without intimate knowledge of motors turned out to be a tough assignment. A Siemens engineer came back and confessed to Trinamic, “I’ve never seen a motor before.”
That’s when Trinamic decided to take matters into Randt’s own hands. “We were driven by the power of innocence,” he said. The company rented a facility for designing chips at night, trying out FPGA, digital and analog technologies, eventually devising its first motion control chip. It was “super huge – as big as 60 mm² – manufactured on 4-inch wafers,” said Randt.
By 2004, the company learned to turn the prototype into viable, commercial motion-control drive chips. Based on its own architecture, Trinamic offers chips for a variety of motors ranging from automotive to medical, with its solutions complete with state machine and hardware IP blocks that can sync acceleration and deceleration appropriately.
Trinamic today is a privately-held company of 40 employees. With $50 million in revenue last year, it anticipates 20-percent sales growth in 2017. Randt estimates that 3 billion motors are being driven by chips. “It is a huge market and motors are everywhere,” he noted, from drones, security cameras and medical equipment to factory automation, lighting, scanners and 3D printers.
A big challenge for Trinamic is that it’s “not yet on the radar” for potential customers, explained Randt. Now that it has signed up Digikey as its distributor, Trinamic is hoping for more exposure.
“Trinamic’s differentiator is “we know the physics of motors and we know all of the motor applications well,” stressed Randt.
Trinamic’s product portfolio is not limited to chips. It includes board-level products designed for real-world industrial embedded applications. These include evaluation boards, reference designs and sample software stacks for MCUs.
Cultivating a new generation of customers is also a priority. A good example is the company’s active investment and participation in the development of EtherCAT, a real-time Industrial Ethernet technology originally invented by German company named Beckhoff Automation. With EtherCAT, designed for control automation technology, the Ethernet packet is no longer received, then interpreted and copied as process data at every connection. Rather, the Ethernet frame is processed on the fly.
Trinamic in 2015 became the first company in the world to offer an EtherCAT-compliant slave-controller IC to integrate real-time, latency-free I/O peripherals. Such efforts are paying off as China’s drone vendors invest in EtherCAT, develop advanced applications and push for brushless motors, Randt said. Trinamic is positioning itself to offer lower-cost, high-speed performance motion control solutions for such motors, he added.
For additional Trinamic product information or technical support, contact Symmetry Electronics, and authorized distributor of industry leading wireless, audio/video and embedded chips modules and development tools, call (877) 466-9722.
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