Make complex motion profiles simple with Physik Instrumente’s hexapods

Hexapods are becoming increasingly common for industrial applications, particularly for alignment and testing tasks that require rapid, simultaneous motion in multiple degrees of freedom. They offer a practical and user-friendly alternative to stacking individual stages together, which are more complicated to control and have inherently higher errors; each stage has its own errors, and these add up, compounding any problems. In contrast, hexapods have a parallel-kinematic structure, with six drives acting together on a single moving platform to provide rapid, precise movement and positioning. This allows alignment and displacement of varying loads in all six degrees of freedom, with just one potential source of errors, helping to minimize deviations. Typical applications of hexapods include the alignment of a lens or other optical component being mounted within a photonics assembly, or shake/stability compensation testing of cameras or other devices.

Physik Instrumente (PI) offers a broad portfolio of hexapods that can be combined with absolute measuring sensors, motion controllers and software to make even the most complicated motion profiles easy to coordinate. The scalability of these hexapod systems enables positioning of loads ranging from a few grams to several tons, in any spatial orientation. Precise positioning can be achieved rapidly and reliably – essential in a 24/7 production environment – and the compact design is ideal where space is frequently at a premium.

Effective software control is crucial to implementing hexapods in an industrial environment, and PI’s advanced digital controllers and user-friendly software are designed to complement the company’s elegant hexapod designs. This ensures easy integration with other software packages – such as Python, C, MATLAB and LabVIEW – and allows direct interfacing with EtherCAT for straightforward connection to CNC controls or PLC networks. Advanced software features such as virtual pivot points – enabling fully automated rotation around a fixed point in space – further expand the potential applications for hexapod integration, offering reliable and scalable coordination and control without the instability inherent in other positioning technologies.

For more information about the PI’s hexapods, visit