F-206 Hexapod Automated Fiber Optic 6-Axis Alignment System &
6D MicroMotion Robot

F-206 HexAlign Hexapod Automatic Optics Alignment System with Digital Controller (figure shows model F-206.SD with display and keypad). PI's Hexapod controllers perform sophisticated six-space coordinate transformations and path planning internally, automatically. This makes the systems very easy to use, as the unit speaks in terms of familiar X,Y,Z, Theta_X , Theta_Y, Theta_Z coordinates with millimeter and degree units (4-decimal-place precision).


  • Compact, Ultra-low Inertia Low-Profile, Six-Axis MicroMotion Robot
  • Low Cost, High-Precision Hexapod
  • PivotAnywhere Fully Virtualized Center of Rotation About any Point in Space
  • Automatic Alignment (Transverse and Angular) 
  • Alignment Routines for Collimators and Arrayed Fibers/Components
  • Digital Controller with Built-in Photometer,or Compatible with External Metrology
  • High Speed,Fast Settling 
  • No Moving Cables, for Improved Reliability, Easy Setup, Reduced Friction
  • Automatic Path Planning
  • Open Source LabView
  • Drivers, DLL Libraries...
Application Examples
  • Photonics Packaging
  • Optical Device Testing
  • Collimator Alignment
  • Arrayed Component Alignment
  • MEMS Positioning/Alignment
  • Fiber Alignment
  • Micro-Machining
  • Micro-Manipulation (Life Sciences)
  • Semiconductor Handling Systems
  • Microsurgery

A newer Version of the F-206 is now available as the H-206 Photonics Alignment System

More PI Hexapods

M-810 Miniature Hexapod

2 Decades of Hexapod Experience

6D Alignment Capablilities Backed by Hexapod Experience Second to None
The F-206 Hexapod 6 Axis MicroMotion Robot is based on PI's ultra-high-resolution Hexapod technology, developed for aligning optics in astronomical telescopes in the early 90's. It provides six degrees of freedom, minimum incremental motion on the sub-micron level, for a six-axis move(!) and the unique PivotAnywhere capability. PivotAnywhere allows the user to define the center of rotation (pivot point) anywhere, inside or outside the F-206 workspace envelope, with a single software command.

Compact , Plug & Play
The F-206 Hexapod is considerably more compact and accurate than conventional multi-axis stage stacks. Its parallel kinematics design and powerful, all-digital 6D controller has a vector based design. The constant length struts and flexures allow for higher precision than conventional cardanic joints.

Orthogonality and crosstalk issues, which can be a formidable assembly and service concern for stacked multi-axis units, do not affect parallel-kinematics systems. There are none of the servo-tuning and dynamic setup procedures necessitated by the widely varying effective loads on individual stages in a stacked assembly. The F-206 is truly a plug-and- play motion system that requires no servo adjustment or tuning. Its operation is fast and crisp, with uniform dynamics, regardless of the direction of motion. Another advantage of the F-206 design is that there are no moving cables to limit repeatability with friction and no cable management issues to be resolved when integrating the unit. 

Low Inertia = High Speed
Parallel kinematics of constant-strut-length Hexapod system shows how little mass (basically only the top platform)has to be supported and moved by the six drives. This explains why the F-206 is considerably faster in terms of step-and- settle than standard “stacked ” multi-axis systems ,where each stage has to support and move it's own platform and the mass of any other stages above it. Also ,note that ,unlike serial kinematics systems ,there are no moving cables to cause friction, tension or torsion to limit accuracy and repeatability.

Working Principle 
The basic operating principle of the F-206 is related to the Hexapod principle (PI also offers a variety of other Hexapods from 5 Kg load to 1000 kg load. Unlike hexapods with variable-length struts (“legs”) the F-206 features constant-length struts. This concept provides the following additional advantages over “classical ”variable-strut-length Hexapods: Reduced size Reduced inertia for improved dynamic performance Independent, modular,  identical drive/strut units,  simplifying assembly and service. All six struts are driven with individual industrial-class servo-motors and encoders 

PivotAnywhere Virtualized Rotation
A highly useful feature is the F-206's PivotAnywhere fully virtualized rotation capability .Since its motion is not defined by fixed bearings but rather by sophisticated realtime,  6-space control algorithms,  you can define any point in space to be the center of rotation with a single software command. This is ideal for angular alignment of collimators or fibers,  since it is easy to set the pivot point to prevent “walking” of the fiber as its tip/tilt orientation is optimized.All commands and operations are high-level,  using human-readable units (mm,   degrees)and coordinates (X, Y, Z, Theta_X , Theta_Y, Theta_Z ).The F-206 automatically manages its path planning and coordination of its six motors. 

HexControl software.Display shows an optical device scan

Hex-Control software:manual operation.3-D view of F-206 platform in space in reference to origin and pivot point.


F-206 HexAlign™ 6D alignment robot combines long-travel, high-precision, six-degree-of-freedom motion and linear/rotary alignment automation. Optional highspeed 100x100x100 µm, XYZ PZT scanning & alignment module achieves nanometer resolution (see P-611, p.8-16);F-206.MHU force limiting platform (optional)protects equipment.

F-206 software even supports manual pre-alignment. The windows show: YZ position, intensity distribution in Y and Z directions and the photometer read-out “thermometer ” with peak detector. 

F-206 HexAlign 6-DOF MicroMotion robot deployed as a photonics alignment subsystem for automated assembly of fiber pigtailed devices. Courtesy Aries Innovations 

Two F-206 in a waveguide alignment application


Optical Metrology 
Optional photometer cards (e.g. for array alignments)and automatic alignment procedures add to its power in photonics packaging applications. 

Software Architecture
Control of the F-206 is facilitated by the controller's software architecture providing a variety of high-level commands for minimized communications overhead & bandwidth. 

Other F-206 features are: 

  • Integrated Scan &Automatic Alignment Functions 
  • LabView ™Drivers and DLL Libraries Simulation 
  • Tools Terminal Software 

LabView™ drivers for automated fiber-array 
alignment are provided with the F-206

F-206 provides ultra-precise motion in all six 
degrees of freedom with rotation about any 
point in space (pivot point set by user)


  • Digital Six-Axis Servo-Controller (6 Axes, +2 Axes Optional) 
  • Optional Photometer Cards IR and Visible for Array Alignment) 
  • Built-In High-Speed Analog Input 
  • Wide-Range Power Supply 
  • Optional Interactive Controls (Front Panel Keyboard/LCD Display) 
  • Optional Interactive Control Pad with Programmable Step Size 
  • Easy Firmware Update 
  • Well-Documented, Compact, High-Level Command Set 
The F-206 HexAlign™ controller performs sophisticated six-space coordinate transformations and path planning internally, automatically. This makes the systems very easy to use, as the unit speaks in terms of familiar X, Y, Z, Theta_X , Theta_Y, Theta_Z coordinates with millimeter and degree units (4-decimalplace precision). Furthermore, the F-206 controller features a 6+2 architecture, with 6 channels dedicated to control the Hexapod platform. The other two channels (optional)are available for control of other PI motorized equipment, e.g. M-531 long-travel translation stages, rotation stages, or other actuators for flexible automation. 

Optical Metrology Boards 

F-206 systems can be equipped with optical metrology boards (model number F-206.VVU 2-Channel Photometer Card, (Visual Range), F-206.iiU 2-Channel Photometer Card (IR Range) for applications such as fully automated fiber-array alignment.

F-206 Controller, rear view, showing optical fiber input, connectors for motor out, analog in (A/D), power out (servo-amplifiers)and optional monitor out.

Sensitivity of the IR photo detector in the F-206 optical metrology board 

Sensitivity of the visible range photo detector in the F-206 optical metrology board

Other Upgrades and Options


F-206.MHU Magnetic kinematically clamped force limiting platform 

F-206.NCU Rapid NanoAlign upgrade for F-206, consisting of the NanoCube™ rapide alignment module and the E-760 controller.

Integrators may be interested in  insetting the F-206s into a TMC isolation table.  This improves ergonomics, vibrational stability and thermal stability.


F-206.MHU, F-206.MFU Force-Limiting, Force-Sensing Platforms
In some applications it may be useful to limit the forces on or from the F-206 platform to protect the mechanics or components mounted on the F-206 from damage. Two platform options are available: F-206.MHU is a magnetic kinematically clamped add-on platform that is automatically released when a certain force or torque is exceeded. This platform also makes it easy to exchange complete setups mounted on different top plates. Additional top plates are available as part number F-206.TMV. F-206.MFU is similar to F-206.MHU with additional force sensors. The sensor output voltage can be monitored for enhanced safety. 

F-206.NCU Rapid NanoAlign Upgrade 
For applications where alignment with nanometer-range resolution is required, or where rapid mapping of the entire cross-coupling area is desired, the F-206.NCU Rapid NanoAlign upgrade is recommended. It consists of a P-611.3SF closed-loop XYZ Ultra-Low Inertia NanoCube ™alignment module (p.8-16), the E-760 controller board (p.6-14), which plugs into the F-206 controller, and special alignment software. 

F-206.MC6 6D Interactive Control Pad Upgrade 
The F-206.MC6 option is a useful addition for simplifying test and setup procedures.It consists of a board that plugs into the F-206 controller and a control pad with six digital “potentiometer ”knobs (one for each degree of freedom). The interactive control pad allows manual step-by-step operation of the platform with a programmable step size. External positioning input (via the computer interface)can be intermixed with manual positioning input. Both inputs operate on the same position registers of the F-206 controller.The control pad comes with a 3 m cable. A 3 m extension cable is available as part number C-815.MC6. 
For Additional Options, see Ordering Information 

The F-206.MCU Interactive control pad upgrade allows fully i
ndependent manual moves in each Hexapod axis with 
software-feedback and variable step size.
Works similar to fly-by-wire control in aircraft. 


Technical Data


F-206 interferometer test. X-axis accuracy and repeatability of 20 consecutive 100 nanometer steps in both directions.  Note this is a 6-axis system!


Ordering Information
Hexapod 6-Axis Precision Alignment System / Manipulator with 6 DOF Hexapod Controller

Hexapod 6-Axis Precision Alignment System / Manipulator with 6 DOF Hexapod Controller, Built-in Display and Keypad

Options and Accessories

Upgrade for 2 Additional Servo-Motor Control Channels on F-206 Controller

Force-Limiting Mounting Platform, (included with F-206.SD)

Upgrades: Rapid Nanopositioning Upgrade for F-206.S. Consists of P-611.3SF NanoCube(r) and E-760 Controller Card

6D Interactive Manual Control Pad

2-Channel Photometer Card, (Visual Range)

2-Channel Photometer Card (IR Range)

Absolute-Measuring Optical Power Meter, 1000-1600 nm Wavelength



Talk to one of our PI Application Engineers 
for your custom or standard solution! 
USA: Call: 
508-832-3456 (EAST)
949-679-9191 (WEST)
PI International
 or see our More PI Photonics Alignment  products

More PI Hexapods

© 1996-2010 PI (Physik Instrumente) L.P. All Rights Reserved. Specifications subject to change without notice.