3-D Imaging Spindles For High Speed European Rail Inspection

ABTech designed a set of three high speed air bearing spindles which were synchronized for the 3-dimensional image scanning and inline inspection of the European high speed rail system. These spindles are mounted on a dedicated rail car traveling at 75 mph creating a 3-D image every 10 cm   (less than 4″) of the rail to inspect the track, switches, tunnels and bridges for potential maintenance issues.

This application specific design incorporated individual direct drive brushless DC servo motors and encoders on each of the ultra-precision air bearing spindles to achieve rotational speeds of 18,000 rpm. The spindles were tested included vibration testing to 10 G’s, storing in a  freezer overnight and then run at 180°F continuously for over 8 hours to simulate the most extreme conditions.


  • Synchronized ultra-precision air bearing spindles
    • Aluminum construction for low inertia
    • Individual direct drive brushless DC servo motors
    • High resolution rotary encoders
    • 50 mm clear apertures through the spindles
    • 45° fold mirrors
  • Vibration isolation platform
  • Multi-axis controller
  • Capacitance probe monitoring system
Thanks a lot for your help. Your rapid, informative correspondence was invaluable. Hopefully I won't be bothering you with any further questions, but it's good to know you're willing. (following remote technical support provided for system installed at the South Pole) Morgan HedgesPost-doctoral Research Associate
Princeton University
Made in the U.S.A.

Every product we sell exemplifies our company-wide commitment to "Pride in Precision" craftsmanship. To that end, all of our products are designed, manufactured, and tested exclusively by ABTech at our New Hampshire facility.

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