Design World’s Motion Control Classroom

Design World Motion Control Classroom

Welcome to the Motion Control Classroom or MC² — a new online reference series for design engineers needing information about motion components and systems. Curated by Design World’s editorial team, each installment is a digital content hub with comprehensive background information, current trends, typical and emerging applications, and FAQs on one motion technology.


Motion control systems can vary from straightforward single-axis direct-drive systems with little wiring to large and complex multi-axis robotic systems with an abundance of cables. Cable carriers are essentially structures designed to house cables.


In this Motion Control Classroom, the editors of Design World present a library of FAQs, technical articles, and videos on industrial power supplies. 


In this Make Parts Fast Classroom, we cover injection-molding processes in detail — as well as the wide range of materials that can be used to make injection-molded parts.

LINEAR GUIDES — Profiled & Round (Spline)

Resources on linear guides and slides to help design engineers choose from the vast array of these linear systems … and satisfy requirements for loading, stroke, speed, accuracy, and design life.


In this Motion Control Classroom, you’ll learn about the different types of linear stages and tables and how to get the highest performance from these linear motion systems in challenging applications.


This classroom covers some basic calculations involved with preload as well as ball screw whip and how to account for shock and vibration in ball screw drives and more...

In this installment of the MC² series, you’ll find resources on integrated motors to differentiate the most common variations of these motion-control mainstays, and details on how to use the motors to satisfy requirements for loading, stroke, speed, accuracy, and design life.

Couplings connect together two rotating shafts in order to transmit motion, or power. For this MC² on couplings, you’ll find resources on the basics of couplings and how to select the right one for your motion system. From technical overviews to selection tips, information is included on the many different kinds of couplings including bellows couplings, flexible couplings, gear couplings, beam couplings, and servo couplings, among others. 


Linear actuators are pre-assembled motion devices consisting of a drive mechanism, a housing, and in some cases, a linear guide. In this Motion Control Classroom, you’ll learn about the many variations of electromechanical linear actuators, get tips for sizing and selection, and see examples of where different actuator types are used.


In this Motion Control Classroom, we’ll cover miniature linear slides guides, sensors, encoders, gears, and motors that lend themselves to tiny designs.

The biggest driver of miniature motion designs is the medical-device industry … a trend likely to grow as COVID demands creative new approaches to medical manufacturing, distribution, and treatment — including more emphasis on automated status-monitoring systems, distributed laboratory operations, and home healthcare.


In this Motion Control Classroom, we detail the most common gear types for motion applications — as well as the contained gear trains known as gearboxes (those mechanical components consisting of a series of integrated gears) and other iterations to simplify integration and servotuning. 

Topics include various gear subtypes and geometries as well as those related to gearing for washdown settings, exceptionally demanding motion designs, shaft-mount designs, and axes needing servogearing customization.

Vibration is mechanical oscillation (regular or otherwise) about some equilibrium — prone to becoming problematic in motor-driven motion designs where there’s looseness, backlash, windup, uneven effects from friction, machine-assembly imbalances, or shock loading. Noise is a manifestation of vibration that degrades the perceived quality of machines … and in many cases is an unacceptable byproduct of motion.

A common way to classify ac motors is based on the magnetic principle that produces rotation. So there are two fundamental types of ac motors; induction motors and synchronous motors. Induction motors are more common in motion control applications, but synchronous motors do find use in applications requiring precise and constant speed.

In addition to some basics of ac motors including motors for harsh environments, cogging, and the use of soft starters, this installment of Motion Control Classroom covers the basics of VFDs as well as various motor control methods including V/Hz control as well as some different motor braking methods.

Conveyor functions are as varied as the applications they complete. Conveyors for discrete product transport benefit from customization to satisfy requirements — including chain and belt size, morphology and material; support frames; controller, drive, and motor or motors; mode of engagement with the drive; encoder, vision, and switch feedback; tracks, bumpers, and gates; and HMIs and plant-level IT integration.

In the conveyor installment of Design World’s MC²  we’ve written and collected more than a dozen references that detail these and other types of material handling with conveyors. 

In this MC² we detail the operation of dc brush motors, also called permanent-magnet (PM) dc motors … as well as the use of these motors in various in motion designs. We also cover brushless dc (BLDC) motors and their application. As this MC² details, caveats and application considerations abound.

Gearmotors combine a gear reducer with either an ac or dc electric motor into one physical unit. In this installment of MC² featuring gearmotors, you’ll find resources covering the basics of gearmotors and gearmotor accessories, but also how to select the right gearmotor to meet your particular application’s requirements. You’ll also find information on gears and gearboxes, including gearbox service factor and service class.

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