A3200Aerotech’s ground-breaking motion, vision, PLC, robotics and I/O platform, the A3200 (or Automation 3200), is used in many applications in semiconductor, data storage, medical laser processing, automotive and machine tool industries.

  • 1 to 32 axes of scalable, synchronized motion
  • Utilizes the power of the PC to eliminate the motion control card
  • Runs brushless servo, brush, stepper or voice coil
Model Peak Current Control Supply Type Motor Style Additional information
Ndrive Hpe Up to 200 A 85-240 VAC; 50/60 Hz PWM Brush, Brushless, Stepper View source
Ndrive CP Up to 30 A 28-240 VAC; 50/60 Hz PWM Brush, Brushless, Stepper View source
Ndrive MP 10 A 24-80 VDC PWM Brush, Brushless, Stepper View source
Ndrive HLe Up to 20 A 85-240; 50/60 Hz Linear Brush, Brushless, Stepper, Voice Coil View source
Ndrive CL 10 A 85-240; 50/60 Hz Linear Brush, Brushless, Stepper, Voice Coil View source
Ndrive ML 10 A 18-36 VDC Linear Brush, Brushless, Stepper, Voice Coil View source
Npaq MR 10 A 100-240 VAC; 50/60 Hz PWM/Linear Brush, Brushless, Stepper View source
Npaq Up to 30 A 100-240 VAC; 50/60 Hz PWM/Linear Brush, Brushless, Stepper View source


Model Axis number Driver Type Compatibility Additional information
Nservo 4 ±10 VDC View source
Nstep 4 5 VDC View source
Nmark SSaM 3 ±10 VDC View source
Automation 3200-OEM/Nservo-OEM 32 ±10 VDC View source


The A3200 digital automation platform represents a revolutionary advancement over traditional PC-bus-based motion controllers. The A3200 is software-based (no PC slots required) and marries a robust, high performance motion engine with vision, PLC, robotics and I/O in one unified programming environment. The A3200 utilizes the industry standard FireWire® (IEEE-1394) network to provide from 1 to 32 axes of synchronized control with no degradation in performance as the axis count increases.

The integration of multiple common automation tools into a single platform provides users the ability to integrate, develop and maintain the system faster, with lower cost than ever before. For instance, coupling the vision module with the motion system that coordinates a cutting process (laser, drill, mill, etc.) provides the ability to identify the workpiece and its position, and to adjust the position and signal to the cutter all within one system. This integration dramatically reduces wiring and the necessary components, which not only lowers integration and setup cost but also increases reliability.

The Automation 3200 addresses a major shortcoming of today’s multi-axis controllers: as axes are added, performance markedly degrades as either the servo update time or program execution time increases. The Automation 3200 utilizes a distributed control architecture that enables it to maintain performance independent of the number of axes being controlled. It accomplishes this by avoiding the processing bottleneck caused by today’s common single processor control architecture. Position, velocity and current loop closure are handled by Aerotech’s Intelligent Network Drive. Trajectory generation is done on the PC using a real-time operating system that runs with higher priority than Windows®. The PC executes programs and sends the position commands to the Ndrive via the FireWire® high-speed serial bus.

All of the external signals including encoder and I/O are fed directly into the drive, allowing one cable to be used between the PC and the drive. Drives are networked together with a single cable.

In designing the Automation 3200, Aerotech decided that its next generation controller had to overcome the shortcomings of the traditional ±10 V network interface. While still viable for many applications, ±10 V has shortcomings, particularly when complex motion control is involved such as is common in many Aerotech applications. For example, noise coupling onto the analog signals can cause instability in the servo loop that prevents high system bandwidth. Also, with the ±10 V command, the controller doesn’t have knowledge of how well the current loops are tracking. With these and other shortcomings, it was decided that the next generation controller had to utilize a high-speed serial interface.

Digital networks, such as Ethernet and RS-232, are widely used in many different industries. Other newer networks such as FireWire® and USB are becoming increasingly popular. For example, nearly all new computers now have these interfaces as standard.

With a variety of digital networks available, Aerotech developed a list of criteria that the Automation 3200 network interface had to possess. The following list details the key criteria we used to ultimately select FireWire® and why those criteria were considered important.

A3200 Automation Controller

The A3200 Automation Controller provides a rugged, compact panel-mount computer, or rack-mount configuration (1U or 4U), designed for industrial environments. The A3200 Automation Controller offers easy front and top connections to simplify installation with panel-mount devices, while the compact enclosure offers a convenient space-saving package.

EtherCAT FieldbusEtherCAT Fieldbus

EtherCAT I/O is tightly integrated into the A3200 automation machine controller. Devices are configured with the card setup tool that generates the Fieldbus network topology definition. The user can then map the I/O with meaningful tag names that are available for use in the AeroBasic™ programming language directly, as well as in any of the applications such as the Scope or Motion Composer.


A3200-OEM/Nservo-OEM packages Aerotech’s flagship Automation Machine Controller software with an OEM-style control card for a cost-effective solution in high-volume applications.

A3200 Applications

The A3200 is used in a variety of high performance motion applications on the production floor and in the R&D lab. Below are a few examples of applications using the A3200 platform.

  • Ion Beam Welding
  • Fiber Bragg Gratings
  • Fiber Optic Alignment
  • Image Duplication
  • Holographic Mastering
  • Electronics Assembly and Inspection
  • Mask & Memory Repair
  • Mask Alignment
  • Electron Microscopes
  • Smart Vision Systems
  • Inertial Sensor Testing
  • Non-Destructive Testing
  • Seismic Data Collection
  • ABS Testing
  • Head Gimbal Assembly (HGA) & Inspection
  • Head Stack Assembly (HSA) & Inspection
  • Motion Simulators
  • Thin-Film Manufacturing
  • Sensor Pointing

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