Nitty-gritty on motors

DN Staff

January 8, 2001

2 Min Read
Nitty-gritty on motors

Torrance, CA -When Oriental Motors started its first motor fairs in the U.S. ten years ago, recalls Engineering Manager Nick Johantgen, only three people showed up. Now the same event, held this past fall in four cities, draws hundreds of engineers, who can get a close look at more than 300 products and attend five workshops.

Most of the engineers who attend realize that they must get more from their motors and drives to improve the performance of the overall application. Many also need advice on motor selection and sizing.

"My motor isn't accurate enough or doesn't run smooth enough" are complaints heard often by the Oriental Motors applications engineers who work the fairs. Many engineers also want to move larger loads faster in order to increase the throughput of automation applications.

Naturally, notes Johantgen, the first tendency is to tweak current equipment to boost performance. Sometimes, programming the drives to boost motor speed may achieve the right result, but often that leads to overheating because of torque limitations and other factors. "In about 50% of the cases, the engineers need new motors and drives to really solve their problem," he adds.

With some 5,000 products, Oriental Motors can offer many solutions to these typical problems. The AlphaStep line, for example, has become the fastest growing product in the company's history. It works like a stepper motor, but has servo-like performance at a cost that is roughly 20% less than servo technology. The closed loop system also ensures accurate positioning, without the use of separate encoders and sensors. Its high resolution and low vibration are particularly appealing for medical devices and semiconductor fabrication.

Other technologies attracting more attention, says Johantgen, are linear motors and a hollow shaft stepper motor especially useful for conveyors.

Johantgen predicts that much of the future innovation will come in drive software. As motor control improves, he believes the performance gap between stepper and servo technology will shrink.

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