Technology Blog

Covering tools and technology for motion control engineers designing for electrical and mechanical systems.

Outsourcing Engineers: When is it Right for You?

Bill Saunders | October 17, 2018

The 2008 global downturn changed the economics of manufacturing. To stay in business, companies slashed budgets and cut staff to operate as leanly as possible. Now that the economy has recovered, the focus is shifting from survival mode to market leade …

Design Essentials: How to Size a Motor Properly to Avoid Oversizing

Carlos Gonzalez | August 31, 2018

One of the challenges that face motion-control engineers is how to properly select a motor. If the motor is undersized or too small, it will not handle load. If the motor is oversized or too large, the motor will be too expensive in terms of purchase p …

Fundamentals of Motion Control

Jeff Kerns | August 31, 2018

Recently I came across a simple infographic from Power Jack Motion that did a nice job of visualizing the difference between alternating current (ac) and direct current (dc) motors. This article will follow and present the information contained therein …

The Truth About Manufacturing

Travis Hessman | August 3, 2018

In America today, truth has become a particularly slippery asset. This goes beyond the usual political hot topics, cutting deep into the fabric of basic reality. Because, despite our unfettered access to unlimited troves of data, statistics, forums, an …

Addressing STEM’s “Skills Gap” by Closing the “Interest Gap”

Jennifer Shupp, Jennifer Champion | August 3, 2018

Over the next decade, nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will be needed, with 2 million expected to go unfilled due to the skills gap. Further, 80% of manufacturers already report a moderate or serious shortage of qualified applicants for skilled an …

Sizing: Adding a rubber sleeve as a primary roller

Bob Parente | May 11, 2018

Recap of the last posting In our last posting, we were comparing the inertia of a 12” long, 0.25” diameter steel rod (0.0013 lb-in^2) to a 1” long, 1” diameter aluminum coupling (0.00957 lb-in^2). We asked why the lighter weight aluminum co …

Sizing: Calculating the inertia of a load shaft

Bob Parente | February 15, 2018

In our last posting, we calculated the inertia of a helical shaft coupling. The coupling is used to connect the motor shaft to the load shaft. We calculated the inertia of: a coupling that was 0.5” in diameter and 0.5” long at 0.0003 lb-in2 a coupling …

Five Questions with Eric Klein of Schneider Electric

SEM USA | December 7, 2017

Lexium MDrive Linear Actuator NEMA 23 IP20

Eric Klein, global sales manager of Schneider Electric Motion USA, answers five key questions on the future of the Motion Control industry. In the article, Eric discusses emerging technologies, industry trends, the opportunities presented by the Intern …

Sizing: Determining the mass of the coupling

Bob Parente | September 12, 2016

In our last posting, we talked about having a good quality coupling that connected the motor’s shaft to the load’s shaft. Finding the right coupling A good quality coupling would be able to accommodate a reasonable angular misalignment between the shaf …

Torsional Windup and Load Friction

SEM USA | May 11, 2016

In our last posting, we talked about how a very torsionally flexible coupling could affect the ringing at the load. A rubber tube We proposed a one-inch long plastic tube that fit snugly over the motor’s shaft and the load’s shaft and that the torsiona …

Sizing: Load to rotor inertia matching

Bob Parente | January 23, 2016

We’re continuing our discussion about stepper motor ringing and inertia matching. We had established the following load-to-rotor inertia ratios: Figure 1: Inertia Matching in stepper Motors 1:1 load-to-rotor inertia as an ideal ratio. Greater than 1:1 …

Sizing: Ringing and inertia mismatch

Bob Parente | June 9, 2015

I’m sorry if you Googled “ringing” because of a hearing issue and end up on this blog. You should Google “tinnitus” instead or search the WebMD site. Now where were we? Oh yea, in our last posting we were talking about load-to-rotor inertia matching. W …

Video Slideshow overview of the Lexium MDrive product family

SEM USA | March 30, 2015

Watch this video slideshow for an overview of the Lexium MDrive family of Integrated Motion Control products.

Sizing: Load to rotor inertia matching ratios

Bob Parente | March 17, 2015

We started our stepper motor sizing discussion with the last posting and introduced the NEMA rating for motors. The stepper sizes that we talked about ranged from the smallest NEMA 14 up to the largest the NEMA 34. Other manufacturers might have smalle …

Sizing: stepper motor physical size

Bob Parente | February 11, 2015

Our last posting talked about applications that had marginal torque and that caused our “Hybrid” motor to correct its position. These applications were essential “path critical” and the correcting moves the “Hybrid” control did cause the path or the mo …

hMTechnology and Position Make-up II

Bob Parente | January 22, 2015

In our last posting we raised some questions about how the “position make up” made up for the steps that were removed. Position make-up will compensate for position errors due to a disturbance during a move by reinserting missed steps into a motion pro …

hMTechnology and Position Make-up

Bob Parente | September 24, 2014

Our last few postings talked about the “torque mode” operational theory that we added to our “Hybrid” drive. Prior to that we added “variable current mode” and “position makeup” If you haven’t read about those drive enhancements, I suggest that you go …

Industrial connectivity and IEC61076-2-101: M12 Lexium MDrive introduced

SEM USA | August 27, 2014

Since the early 1990s, the Fieldbus protocols have become the preferred industrial network system for distributed control. Machines designed around these standardized networks have evolved to become more robust and environmentally resilient to meet dem …

Four Quadrant Drives: Torque Mode with Hybrid Drives Part II

Bob Parente | June 4, 2014

In our last posting we discussed how we made our “Hybrid Drive” act like a torque motor. One issue that you do have be aware of is the fact that at some point in the stepper’s speed-torque curve the torque is going to begin to fall off as a function of …

Four Quadrant Drives: Torque Mode with Hybrid Drives

Bob Parente | April 15, 2014

In our last posting we discussed an application where we used our “Hybrid” drive in the “Torque Mode” to apply tension to a web.And we asked how does the “Hybrid” drive know what speed to operate at when the web velocity changes? It’s looking at its ow …

Application Showcase: Integrated Motor Solution in Laser Marking Machine

SEM USA | March 12, 2014

Traceability and regulatory compliance measures often require a permanent marking solution for barcodes, serial numbers and manufacturer info. Mecco Marking and Traceability ( manufactures laser marking machines customized to meet …

Four Quadrant Drives: Torque Mode continued

Bob Parente | February 26, 2014

In our last posting we introduced torque motors and posed the question about how we might be able to modify our new “Hybrid” drive to act like a torque motor. Have you thought of a way to do it? Great! You’re getting stepper theory down pat. Let’s see …

Four Quadrant Drives Part the Third: Torque Mode

Bob Parente | February 12, 2014

Our last few posting introduced a number of improvements to our original stepper drive so we renamed it a “Hybrid” drive. This “Hybrid” drive operates in all four quadrants without missing any steps and without stalling. Think about that for a minute. …

Four Quadrant Drives Part the Second: Hybrid Drives

Bob Parente | January 22, 2014

Our last posting introduced the idea of four quadrant drives. Four quadrant drives allow the motor to generate torque in the same direction or in the opposite direction that the shaft is spinning. If the motor is operating in the first or third quadran …

Four Quadrant Drives

Bob Parente | January 8, 2014

Our last posting we introduced the idea of “position make up.” The idea is that we’re using the 1.1 full step rotor-stator lag information and making a choice as to whether or not the drive will send all the steps it has received to the stator. If it d …

Lexium MDrive Ethernet at PackExpo 2013

SEM USA | October 23, 2013

Brian Taylor, Field Applications Engineer at Schneider Electric Motion USA discusses the Lexium MDrive Ethernet integrated motor+driver+controller with multiple networking protocols available. The demo shown uses the LMD Ethernet products with PLCs fro …

Rotor/Stator Relationship and Lead/Lag

Bob Parente | August 22, 2013

We left off last time with a new “Hybrid” drive that controls the magnitude of the motor’s current based on how large the rotor lagged behind the commanded step position.The larger the lag the more current is pumped into the winding to try to keep it f …

Motor Lead/Lag and Variable Current Control, Part the Second

Bob Parente | April 10, 2013

In our last blog I was about to call my local garage and make an appointment to have the 100,000 mile checkup which includes an oil change and replacement of the timing belt, among other things. The “motion control engine” experts there recommended tha …

Motor Lead/Lag and Variable Current Control

Bob Parente | January 9, 2013

Our last posting had us choosing a 3 amp motor that produce 75 oz-in of torque at 3000 FS/Sec. We chose to reduce the torque spec by 20 % to take into account the motor-to-motor manufacturing variations and then de-rated it from 60 oz-in (at 3 amps.) O …

Motor Stalls in Stepper Systems

Bob Parente | November 29, 2012

In our last posting we established a number of good things about stepper motors and their controls: Small changes in the winding current can be controlled by using bipolar chopper drive. Torque is in a fairly linear relationship with the winding curren …

Tale of two demos

SEM USA | October 25, 2012

There are two motion demos on display in the Schneider Electric Motion USA booth (S-663) at Pack Expo in Chicago, IL from October 28 through October 31, 2012. These demos are built around the new MDrive Ethernet integrated motor, drive, controller prod …

Counter EMF in Stepper Motors

Bob Parente | September 11, 2012

In the last posting we looked at the dynamic performance of a stepper motor and we discussed the fact that the faster the motor spins the less time the drive has to get the current into the motor’s winding and the torque falls off as the speed increase …

The dynamic performance of stepper motors

Bob Parente | July 25, 2012

In this blog posting we’ll take a look at the dynamic performance of a stepper motor. We’ve established the fact that there has to be an error between the rotor’s position and the stator’s position in order for the step motor to generate any torque. Th …

Understanding how torque is produced II

Bob Parente | June 19, 2012

In our last posting we showed that the holding torque a step motor develops follows a sine wave as the shaft is moved from its stable position. This posting we’ll take a look at the torque that is produced by micro stepping (uStep) the step motor. We n …

Bipolar chopper drive circuit IV: understanding how torque is produced

Bob Parente | May 22, 2012

With this posting we’ll take a look at the torque that is produced by step motor.We now know, through the past several blogs, that we can control the current in the motor’s winding in very small increments by using a bipolar chopper drive. We also know …

Electric Motors whitepaper

SEM USA | May 10, 2012

Electric motors, whether designed to operate on ac, dc, or both types of current, come in numerous shapes and sizes. All electric motors have one goal in common: to convert electrical energy into mechanical motion. Whether the application uses a genera …

Bipolar chopper drive circuit III: Controlling current

Bob Parente | April 25, 2012

We left off with the last blog explaining that the “voltage waveform at Sense Resistor” in our schematic shows what the voltage levels would look like as the motor is micro stepped. There are discrete changes in the signal, a staircase up and down, as …

MDrive EtherNet/IP integrated all-in-one motion systems for industrial automation

SEM USA | March 29, 2012

Video of North American Sales Manager Paul Kling discussing MDrive EtherNet/IP at MD&M West. MDrive EtherNet/IP motion systems feature integrated motor, drive and programmable I/O with standardized IP addressing, eliminating complicated wiring and …

Bipolar chopper drive circuit II: Calculating current

Bob Parente | February 22, 2012

We’re continuing our discussion about bipolar chopper drives and I’ll repeat the basic schematic of it here for ease of discussion. We also left off with +V being powered with only a one volt power supply. That’s not very practical, since most control …

Bipolar chopper drive circuit

Bob Parente | January 11, 2012

In today’s blog we’re going to examine a bipolar chopper drive, a common method for precision current control in stepper motors. The simplest way to take a look at its operation is by using a basic schematic of it.   Let’s use our one ohm, one mil …

The case for Industrial Ethernet III: EtherNet/IP™

Clark Hummel | December 6, 2011

The last post in this series we examined the major protocols used for automation and control in industrial Ethernet networks.  Today we will examine the protocol with highest percentage of industry usage: EtherNet Industrial Protocol, or EtherNet/IP™. …

Evolution of the control electronics

Bob Parente | November 1, 2011

The last blog described how, by controlling the current magnitude in a stepper motor’s winding, we could create smaller steps or micro steps.  In this blog, we’ll take a look at the evolution of the control electronics that has made this possible. The …

The Case for Industrial Ethernet II: Protocols

Clark Hummel | September 7, 2011

In the last posting we took the 5000 foot view of industrial Ethernet and examined why using it for industrial networks is such a good idea. In this posting we want to zoom in and drill down into what makes Ethernet devices play nice together on an ind …

Stepper motor basics: Half and Micro stepping

Bob Parente | August 31, 2011

In the last posting we explored the two-on full stepping sequence. In this edition we will look at how we can control the motor current to allow us to divide the full 1.8° steps in to 0.9° half steps, and even smaller increments called microsteps. The …

The case for industrial Ethernet

Clark Hummel | August 9, 2011

When the Ethernet standard (IEE802.3) was first adopted in the mid-1980s it was considered unsuitable for industrial automation networks because of its non-deterministic nature. Networks using RS-485 and RS-232 ruled the industry. That has changed. Adv …

Stepper motor basics: stable shaft positions

Bob Parente | June 15, 2011

Understanding how a stepper motor steps and the mechanism that causes it to stall will give us tremendous insight into the functionality of any standard stepper motor system as well as the new Hybrid Motion Technology™ which takes the stepper control f …

Affinity laws and other considerations – fan application

Bob Parente | May 4, 2011

So, are we ready to make a motor technology choice for our fan application? I’m going to say yes, but…did you think we had defined the application well?  In every engineering “problem” there are a lot of issues that need to be understood and taken into …

Comparing Stepper, Servo and Direct Drive Technologies

Bob Parente | April 13, 2011

If we have a good understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of each of the motor technologies and armed with the application’s constraints, then we can begin to zero in on the motor that best suits our needs. Our motor technology list is: AC Mo …

Exploring a new technology – variable current control

Clark Hummel | March 30, 2011

In the last posting we examined how Hybrid Motion Technology overcomes loss of synchronization in stepper motors. The next feature we want to explore is the ability of the technology to variably control the current to what is required to move the load. …

Finding the motor technology to suit your needs

Bob Parente | March 1, 2011

If we have a good understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of each of the motor technologies and armed with the application’s constraints, then we can begin to zero in on the motor that best suits our needs. Our motor technology list is: AC Mo …

Choosing the best motion control solution – Fan application

Bob Parente | January 25, 2011

To recap the last posting, we were discussing a fan application. Our fan requirements are that it’s going to be used on a pedestal fan in a home or office environment: The motor only needs to spin its shaft in the clockwise direction. It’s blowing air …

Exploring a new technology – Control boundaries

Clark Hummel | January 13, 2011

Our first “nuts and bolts” article in the basics of Hybrid Motion Technology (TM) series is on the most important aspect of its functionality: control boundaries. The control bounds are the basic feature that enables HMT to prevent loss of synchronizat …

Choosing the best motion control solution

Bob Parente | January 4, 2011

Our last posting asked: What are the criteria for choosing the best motion control solution? I think the first test is price and performance, or what are the least expensive motor and control that meet the application’s requirement? I believe the follo …

Exploring a new technology – Hybrid Motion Technology (HMT)

Clark Hummel | December 3, 2010

It’s always exciting when a new technology is released with limitless potential to change the way we go about our work. The new game changing technology for the automation industry I would like to introduce to you today is such an advance. Traditionall …

Spinning a motor shaft – motor types, and how and when to use them

Bob Parente | October 8, 2010

Motion Control Engineering is a broad brush discipline that covers all situations and conditions of mechanical motion that is controlled by a motor or some other prime mover. Let’s consider only rotary motors for this discussion and only acknowledge th …

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