Servo motors have serval distinct characteristics that sperate them from their stepper counterparts. The biggest is the lack of direct gearing between the rotor and the output shaft. This eliminates the backlash and cogging behaviors found ins steppers, where there is period of slop between the gear teeth before movement actually begins, and where the shaft continues to move after the Delta servo motor has stopped. This can lead to jerky starts and stops, as well as a time delay in movement. This does not impede static positioning performance markedly, but it presents major issues when on-the-fly velocity changes or hard starts/stops are needed.
A model of a typical radial brushless DC servo motor is shown before in figure 1.1 For a long time, servo motors used brushes to transfer current from the static winding to the rotor, but this would lead to wear on the brushes, in turn shortening the lifespan of the motor. With the advent of electronic motor controllers, the brusheless design was adopted, which uses control electronics to vary the currents phases to the motor’s windings in the same way the brushes do. For the rest of this paper, all mention of mitsubishi servo drives will be of the brusheless type.
Looking at figure 1.1 below, there are several objects of interest. First are the armature windings (held by the stator), which create a magnetic field that travels through the air gap to the permanent magnets on the rotor. Even though there are normally no gears in a servo motor, cogging can still exist, as there are gaps between the magnets on the rotor where the flux decrease, though this only becomes noticeable at low speeds. This type of congging in servos is perhaps more accurately termed “detent torque.” There are two ways to minimize this type of cogging, the most common being the addition of some gearing to the drive shaft. This allow the motor to run at a higher speed out of its cogging region, but does not compromise power output or precision, thought it can induce some backlash. The other way of minimizing cogging is to skew the magnets on the rotor so that a radial line from the center of the rotor always intersects a magnet at least once. When using a motor without gearing, it is known as a direct drive motor. This allows for the best transfer of power to the load, and avoids any of the negative aspects of gearing previously mentioned. A feature in newer servo motors (including the Bodine models used in this thesis) is the use of an ironless stator, which eliminates iron saturation, a situation where the magnetic properities of the iron limit how much current can be applied to the windings. Inducing iron saturation too ofen will cause overheating and possibly damage the winding or magnets. With an ironless stator, rotor magnet skewing is not necessary, as the magnetic fields aren’t influenced by the material of the stator. Also, since the only mechanical connection between the shaft and the body is through the bearings, friction is very low (especialy when using ball bearings).
In high torque motors such as the ones used in this thesis, the rotor actually consists of two plates of permanet magnets sandwiching the stator, which allows for a major increase in torque. This feature only exists in axial flux motors, due to the design where the stator lies in between the rotors, whereas in radial flux servos, the rotor is completely enclosed by the stator. The majority of the heat dissipated from a servo motor comes from the stator, so its outside location adis in cooling. In fact, the main limiting fator in the power of a servo motor is the heat capacity of the stator and the armature windings.
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