Let’s talk about the simplest stepper motor. You can buy stepper motors on Amazon, right? How do they differ from a high performance stepper motor that may actually be the same price, or a slightly higher price?
When a manufacturer makes a high quality motor, they want to go ahead and have the air gap between the rotating part and the stator as small as possible. We’ve all played around with magnets and the strength of a magnet is a function of the air gap. But if you want more torque output out of a motor, you want that air gap to be as small as it can be in order to get more torque out of a smaller package.
Here’s an example—by applying the idea of a 20,000 line encoder, by applying control algorithms in the same frame size, I can literally increase my torque capacity by 85%. It’s kind of like what’s the difference between buying a 200-hp motor versus 370-hp. That’s the difference. If you go to Amazon, yes, you can get the 200-hp motor, but in the same package would your customer base have a higher performance solution from you, as a supplier, in a small package that’s more reliable?
That’s why these advancements in motion control really are taking machines that, if you were to look at a typical 3D printer, many of them, if you open them up, look like the copier in your office. There are belts, plastic pulleys, things like that, and they run 30% of the time. The yield that comes off the printer is one out of three. If you were to go ahead and say, “I’m going to sell you a mill or lathe and, you know what, one out of three parts is going to be good,” you’d be laughed out of the factory. Yet that’s kind of the historical norm in the world of some of these additive manufacturing platforms—actually embracing what we’ve come to know and expect in the industrial world, where people value quality, speed, reliability.