← PREVIOUS PAGE || Some customization is to motor cables and connectors, which isn’t as easy as it might sound — as custom connections require testing, which in turn requires the setup of testing arrangements for each wiring iteration.
“In addition, we now have laser-welding capabilities, so can weld custom gears (often third-party pinion gears) onto motor output shafts as a way to provide more complete solutions that more easily integrate with gearboxes or other drive elements,” said McGrath of maxon. Otherwise, OEMs must outsource this work or bond such gears to purchased stock motors.
Gears as value-add components are available for stepper motors as well. “Our customers have always looked to us for components such as planetary gearboxes and encoders. In the last year, we’ve enhanced these offerings with the release of three value-add components,” said Rice. “PE and PH planetary gearheads cover nearly our entire range of motor sizes, from small NEMA 11 motors to larger NEMA 34 and 80-mm motors, and at competitive pricing,” said Rice of Applied Motion Products.
On the encoder side, the manufacturer has partnered with CUI Inc. to introduce a family of capacitive incremental encoders for step motors in NEMA 17, 23, and 24 frame sizes. “Capacitive encoder technology is very attractive from a cost standpoint and inherently resistant to environmental contaminants … making it a robust feedback option,” noted Rice.
maxon also tailors integrated electronics, controls, and encoders to various applications.
“Years ago, most companies used dc tachometers and analog feedback, but over the last decade almost everyone has migrated to the use of encoders. We manufacture and purchases third-party encoders for mounting to motors. Most encoders we integrate are incremental, but we offer some single-turn absolute encoders as well — and we’re seeing increased demand for those,” said McGrath. The manufacturer also offers autoclavable encoders based on magnetic operation for pairing with sterilizable motors and gearboxes. “With this combination, we believe we’re the first to offer a complete setup for medical and laboratory applications.”
A lot of other supplemental engineering doesn’t fall into neat categories. “We specialize in working with engineers who can’t use off-the-shelf product and need value-added features to complete a design,” said Kawaller of ISL. “Internally, it could mean adjusting torque versus speed versus efficiency. Externally it could mean developing an assembly with standard or custom pulleys, cams, blockers, springs, and so forth … even to delivering complete plug-and-play solutions to customers.”
Here, some motor manufacturers offer still other alternatives to help OEMs avoid the difficulty of changing a design’s mechanical system and footprint. One example is a dc coreless motor that delivers various torque levels from a given design package.
“DCP and DCT motors (of the Athlonix dc platform) simplify designs that may require multiple iterations. By providing options for more torque from a given package size, a design’s mechanical configuration needn’t change to test out higher-torque motors,” said Beckstoffer.
Additional options are available with an only slightly bigger diameter to output more torque. Multiple options mean the design engineer’s job to get the optimum motion solution is easier, according to Beckstoffer.
Of course, design engineers also have the option to specify custom motors from scratch. “When an engineer comes to us, it’s typically because they have a motor in their product that’s performing unsatisfactorily,” said Kawaller.
Many such customers are industrial OEMs, and some are Fortune 500 companies. “Our involvement in design projects is more reactive than proactive. Unlike motor suppliers with catalogs of standard product, we partner with a consortium of motor factories in East Asia — each with dedicated capabilities and specialties,” he added.
So, the motors could be anything from simple brushed motors to brushless motors to coreless motors to hybrid stepper motors.