You can do some pretty amazing stuff with magnets. According to Festo, one of the things you can do is make objects levitate. For some that’s simply a cool trick; for those of us involved in industrial production, it sounds more like something that could become a vital tool.
Here’s how SupraMotion 2.0, as Festo calls it, works: if you cool a superconductor down to its transition temperature, it will hover above a permanent magnet at a constant level. That’s because once the superconductor reaches that temperature, it stores the magnetic field – and thus the defined distance parallel to the magnet. Its electrical resistance also drops suddenly to zero, meaning that if the current in the superconductor is put into motion, it flows without loss in a closed circuit. Because of that, a magnetic field like this can be used very efficiently.
Festo is in the process of developing applications for SupraMotion including a frictionless transport slide, a shuttle for hermetically sealed rooms, and an application that transfers rotational movement for changing tools quickly. Really, though, the potential uses for frictionless movement are vast. If harnessed properly, it’s a technology that could do amazing things for your production systems.