Polaris CNC Motion Control System

Polaris Motion provides CNC motion controllers for precision laser micromachining, laser additive manufacturing (LAM), 3D metal printing, and for ultra precision optics manufacturing. We specialize in CNC motion control systems that use laser tools and single-point diamond tools. Many other tools are supported, including metal cutting tools, grinding tools and dispensing. Our platform may be used on XYZ linear stages, XYZABC stages with a combination of linear and rotary actuators, and for robotics.

Custom machines such as hardware in the loop simulators for aerospace and automotive applications are also supported.

For laser processing, our CNC motion controllers use infinite field of view technology (IFOV) for synchronizing stages, Galvo scanners and lasers automatically. In addition, we support laser wobble and 3D scanning.

Fig 1: Polaris Motion Control System using Native Polaris Drives for Best Coordination and Synchronization

Our CNC motion control system supports 3, 5 and full-featured 9 axis coordinated motion. High performance coordination and synchronization is provided for all XYZ-ABC-UVW axes.

The Polaris CNC motion control system includes powerful, easy-to-use software, controllers, drives and peripheral devices with everything you need to control a state-of-the art OEM machine tool.​

The CNC controller and drives are connected using PMDi’s patented Gbps real time motion control network Mercury™. The CNC controller uses Intel processors running standard Linux and real-time electronics to manage all the motion, data acquisition and networking tasks.

A Polaris drive provides power to the actuator, computes its own servo loop, and responds to the controller. A dedicated processor in each drive makes higher order feedback filters possible. Servo rates as high as 100 kHz are achieved. Other Polaris components include digital I/O, analog I/O, pulse & direction, XY2-100 and SL2-100 modules.

The following illustration shows a typical Polaris system configuration for a CNC laser machine. By using all native Polaris drive components, the best possible coordination and synchronization is achieved for optimal infinite field of view, large areas processing performance.

In addition to native Polaris drive technology, we offer an easy interface to third party drives, ac servo motors and third party Galvo scanner systems. Several Polaris modules make this possible including: a four axis pulse/direction module, a 4 axis +/-10V servo module, and for 3rd party Galvo scanners we have XY2-100 and SL2-100 interface modules.

Fig 2: Polaris Motion Control System Interfacing with 3rd Party Drive and Galvoscanner Systems

Performance Motion

The Polaris CNC motion controller features advanced path planning including G-code processing, cubic splines, and jerk control. Setpoint rates as high as 1000,000/s are achieved. The Polaris controller and drives perform double floating point calculations for the highest resolution and dynamic range of any motion control system in the industry.

The servo loop executes in the drive where the loop rate is guaranteed. Polaris drives are used to control demanding actuators, including brushed and brush-less dc motors, voice coil actuators and Galvo scanner motors.

Polaris drives offer high-speed, high-precision synchronization of servos and Galvos with laser and camera triggers.

Powerful Computing

The Polaris motion controller connects to an HMI over standard Ethernet. Gigabit Ethernet is supported with a high bandwidth data transfer mechanism. The controller has a large permanent memory which can be used to store motion programs, G-code files, configuration files and it can be used for data logging. The controller manages all real time motion and real time networking tasks with its powerful Intel processor and fast digital logic.


Polaris’ software is customizable, allowing users to create their own motion control processes,  C programs and user defined G-codes. Custom kinematics may be implemented for serial-chain and parallel-chain robots. Our advanced Servo Processing Unit (SPU) provides customers freedom to develop their own servo loops and digital filters.

Real-Time Network Technology

Polaris uses Mercury™, our patented high speed communication technology between the controller and drives. Data is transferred at Gigabit per second speeds with zero data loss.  Mercury uses synchronous, asynchronous and streaming data transmission. Sharing data among devices make multi-input, multi-output (MIMO) control possible. Mercury technology allows Polaris to achieve the highest control and data acquisition rates in the industry.

Polaris Software

Polaris CNC software makes advanced motion control easy. The G-code standard is used supporting G1-linear moves, G2/G3 arc moves, and G5 cubic splines. A rich code base is available for routers, waterjets, mills, lathes and for all categories of laser-based machines. Our G-code may be used for 5 axis XYZAB machines and there is a mode that supports robots.

MotionTools is a machine setup and tuning utility. It provides for axis configuration, it has a real time oscilloscope, functions for automatic commutation of brushless dc motors, servo loop implementation and more. It can be used to edit, compile and transfer motion programs and G-code part files to the controller.

The Polaris Communication Library makes communication between the client HMI PC and Polaris controller easy. Using Polaris Communication Library, customers can build their own HMIs. Polaris Communication optimizes the speed of data transfer between the client HMI PC and Polaris controller for fast motion command execution, script calls and wide bandwidth data collection.

Polaris Server runs on the controller under Linux and consists of communication and motion control components. This is where the trajectory generator, and custom motion control processes are executed and where the G-code files are parsed.

Polaris CAD/CAM

Polaris CAD/CAM is a control center for your laser machine. You can design your motion path for positioning stages and Galvo scanners, control laser parameters as well as other devices such as power meters, motorized objective lens turrets, I/Os, serial port devices, etc.

Everything can be done quickly and visually. You are welcome to unleash your creativity with Polaris CAD/CAM, because adapting, fixing, changing and creating things is easier than ever.

Main features of Polaris CAD/CAM:

  • Direct control of the machine
  • Automatic generation of paths from a CAD file.
  • WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) window for machining preview
  • Support for XYZ positioning stages, XYZAB five axis CNC machines, and Galvo scanners
  • Support for stitching and infinite field of view with Galvo scanners and stages
  • Import of CAD files (DXF, DWG, STL, Gerber)
  • Ability to write plug-ins to support your hardware

Import 2D and 3D CAD Files

DXF, DWG, STL, Gerber and NC Drill files can be imported to Polaris CAD/CAM and used for laser machining. STL files can be sliced and hatched and used for 3D laser printing and 3D laser engraving. DXF, DWG and Gerber files can be hatched and offsets added for beam spot compensation. Use imported CAD files to prepare complex laser machining recipes.

Draw Objects in Polaris CAD/CAM

Lines, circles, arcs and rectangles are easy to draw in Polaris CAD/CAM. You can draw them by hand and/or add precise parameters for size and position. You can draw polylines and polygon shapes with a special easy to use tool. All closed shapes can be hatched with one of the hatching types (lines, cross-hatching, dots, contours). Select motion speed and laser parameters for each shape, groups of shapes or the whole recipe.

Create Complex Recipes with Recipe Flow Tools

All the parameters in the recipe such as size, position, motion and laser parameters can be entered as variables. It is an easy way to change and control parameters for the entire recipe. In addition, logical commands including “cycle” and “if” could be used to create complex yet flexible and easy to control laser machining recipes. Use mathematical expressions, constants and formulas to create the complex geometries.

Control Positioning Stages and Galvo Scanners

Polaris CAD/CAM may employ Infinite Field of View (IFOV) to combine motion of Galvo scanners and linear stages. Polaris CAD/CAM may control all of the hardware directly.

Control Devices Via I/Os and Serial Port

Hardware in the laser machine can be controlled via digital and analog I/O and serial port commands. Commands can be included to the recipes or added as special buttons in the user interface. Custom support for specific devices, such as laser sources, power meters may be requested.

Control Positioning Stages with Virtual Joystick

Polaris CAD/CAM has a virtual joystick tool, that allows manual control of the positioning stage on your laser machine. There are preset positions e.g. load-unload automatic motion between camera and laser positions, and laser firing control.

Machine Vision and Alignment

PCC seamlessly integrates machine vision for laser machining processes. Use it to see machining results, position your fabrication trajectories on the sample or calibrate your system.

Camera View

Camera view is displayed in the Recipe Preview window. It is calibrated to match the coordinate system of positioning stages and Galvo scanners. Because of that, machining trajectories match the view of the sample, where they will be machined.

PCC supports several cameras, i.e. one camera for a general view of the area and another camera for a high-resolution view of small features.

The camera view can be calibrated to be coaxial to a laser beam or off-axis. In case the off-axis camera view is used, the sample can be delivered between laser and camera by a single mouse click.

Camera can be also used for manual and automatic alignment and finding focus distance.