Call us! 512-349-0334 or (877) INDUSOFT

Using X, Y, and Z Axis Control and Display in InduSoft Web Studio

In a previous blog, we demonstrated how to build a rotating indicator display in InduSoft Web Studio. This week, we’ll take that control and add a third axis to the application in order to address operational considerations and instrument display for 3 physical dimensions, and discuss addressing more than 3 axes.

Download the Submarine and Flight Instruments Demo for InduSoft web Studio


Some ideas that could directly utilize the concepts in this application are gantry machine and robotic control, submersible remotely controlled vehicles, various autonomous vehicles, and drones. Here are some pictures that will help you to understand the concepts of the X, Y, and Z Axes, and Roll, Pitch, and Yaw in machines that can travel or move in 3 (or more) dimensions:

xy1 xy

By ZeroOne – self-made using Blender, CC BY 3.0,  (Wikipedia Public Domain)

In order to address the various controls and instruments that might be used when designing an HMI/control system for 3-dimensional travel or movement, we have built a simulated instrument panel for a submarine that demonstrates these concepts.   This just as easily could have been for a drone, helicopter, or model airplane; or a specialized 3-axis (or more) robot or machine. Here is a screen shot of the simulation in Auto mode:


The attitude indicator is built using rotation and position animations and stacking the various objects used in the indicator in the correct order, thus to provide an animation that resembles a typical mechanical attitude display. Correct ordering of the objects in the symbol is achieved using the [Control] + [Num +] or [Num -] buttons when an object in the symbol is selected, in order to move any selected object backward or foreword in the stack on the screen.  The [Tab] key is used to step through each of the objects in the symbol object stack. More details about how to do this are covered in the Help Manual (Technical Reference Guide) for InduSoft Web Studio and in our training videos for InduSoft Web Studio.


Downloading the attitude indicator symbol and opening it for editing will show how the various objects are used and stacked in order to create the instrument. This type of gauge could also find use when displaying simultaneous rotational and X-Y movement of a robotic hand, wrist joint, elbow, and/or arm.

Most of the positional and display gauges and indicators in the application were taken from our library of free symbols in the online store, and modified slightly when needed, in order to display the appropriate instrument required for the task. If you haven’t checked out our online store symbol library lately, there are many new symbols for InduSoft Web Studio that are free for the download and are easily modified for many needs and uses.

To complete the application, a simple documented simulation background script for the application was created in order to display the operation of the various instruments in the demo app:


Discussion of Using 3 or More Axes in Automation Processes and Machine Control

Why would anyone use more than 3 axes in an automation project?

Sometimes it’s necessary to use more than 3 axis in automation, especially when using machine tools or when automatically operating many control surfaces in flying or submerged vessels or machines simultaneously.  An example of this concept is when a flamecutter or laser cutter is being used in material of 1 to 5 cm thick. The material that is being machined or cut usually has an optimum or critical speed that it will allow. In flamecutting for instance, there is a maximum speed, usually calculated in inches or cm per minute that the flame and cutting gas will pass through the material. If the material is thick, then the maximum speed that the material can be cut will be much slower than if the material is very thin, possibly by a factor of 20x or more.

Problems arise when making complex rotary or circular cuts especially with thick material using 3 cutters at varying angles and offset distances.  Using a single torch or laser cutter is a simple vector calculation that determines the X-Y speed needed to achieve the optimum machining speed. When there is a second or 3rd angled cutter involved, then the speed calculations get tricky because the furthest distant cutter contact [e.g., the place where the cut is moving the fastest] is the one place limiting the speed of the entire cut.

The most common example is using a triple torch or plasma or laser cutter configuration with thick material in order to create a beveled edge of varying thickness and angles during the cut. The X-Y directional movement of the vertical cutter is easy to calculate, but if the offset cutters vary in angle and distance to the vertical during the cut, and the whole head holding all 3 cutters also rotates, then precise calculation and control is critical. This situation presents a total of 8 possible vectors or axes that must be summed and precisely controlled in order to prevent the fastest cutter from exceeding the maximum machining speed that the material can tolerate. All the vectors must be summed carefully and the machine displayed and modeled correctly in order to have accurate control of the machine.

Using specifically designed multi-axis gauges and instruments built with InduSoft Web Studio, such as the submarine instruments example discussed above, can assist in making or calculating machine angles and travel speeds so that optimum machining can occur. Additionally, InduSoft Web Studio inherently allows agile and complex machine prototyping so that design changes do not have to wait weeks or months for the software and HMI to be reconfigured or redesigned while a machine is being reconfigured or redesigned.

Comments are closed.