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MSE310 3.


3. Actuators
Actuator is the device that mechanically drives a mechatronic system.
Classification A:
- Incremental-drive actuators: e.g., stepper motors
- Continuous-drive actuators: e.g., DC motors, AC induction motors, hydraulic,
pneumatic motors
- Microactuators: piezoelectric, electrostrictive, magnetostrictive

Classification B:

- Electric Motors
- Others
Typical considerations: size, torque/force, speed, power, stroke, motion resolution,
repeatability, duty cycle, and operating bandwidth.

3.1 Electric Motors

Electric Motors: Major part of electromechanical actuators, which convert electrical energy
to mechanical energy.
Basic Components:
- Stator: Housing and other stationary components Provides fixed magnetic field
(using permanent magnet or electromagnet).
- Rotor or Armature: Rotating shaft and associated parts Coils of wires wound
on a cylindrical shaft. Drum-like armatures are mostly used so that coil windings
can be efficiently introduced to the magnetic field.
- Auxiliary Components: Brush/commutator assembly for DC motors and starting
circuit for AC motors.

Figure 3-1 Typical electric motor construction

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Figure 3-2 A configuration classification of electric motors

3.1.1 DC Motors

Principle of Operation:

Recall Faradays Law:

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The opposite is also true:

Due to the imbalance of the current flux (the magnetic flux that loops around the conductor
when the current passes through it) and the field flux, a force is generated on the conductor:

F = Bil

B = flux density of the magnetic field
i = current through the conductor
l = length of the conductor.

The generated force F will move the conductor at some velocity v in the direction of the
force. As a result of this motion in the magnetic field B, a voltage is known as the back
electromotive force or back emf is induced in the conductor:

eb = Blv

According to Lenzs law, the flux due to the back emf (eb) will be opposing the flux due to
the original current i through the conductor Electrical damping.

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Figure 3-3 Schematic diagram of a DC motors

Figure 3-4 Physical construction of the rotor of a DC motor

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Figure 3-5 Armature field stator field interaction

Figure 3-6 Torque generated in a planar rotor

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Figure 3-7 Torque profile due to commutation

Most desirable characteristics of DC motors are: speed-control (smooth control) and high
torque capabilities (high ratio of torque to rotor inertia).

Attractive for automatic processes and machinery applications: Easily controllable

machines with quickly adjustable speeds and high starting torque.

General motor characteristics:

Torque-Speed Curve: The torques a motor can provide at different speeds at rated voltage.

Current-Torque Curve: The amount of current required when rated voltage is applied.

Starting/Stall Torque (Ts): The maximum torque the motor can produce, at zero speed.
(associated with starting or overloading the motor).

No-load Speed (max): The maximum sustained speed the motor can attain.

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Figure 3-8 Motor torque-speed and current-torque curves

Output Power (p):

The output power of a motor is given by:

p = Tm m

Figure 3-9 Output power curve of a DC motor at steady state

Types of DC motors based on how stator magnetic fields are created:

Figure 3-10 Torque-speed characteristics of different types of DC motors

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1. Permanent Magnet Motors: Inexpensive motor with good speed control but with relatively low

2. Series Wound Motors: High torque but changes in load dramatically changes speed (poor
speed regulation).

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3. Shunt Wound Motors: Good speed regulation with slight variations with a changing load;
widely used in industry.

4. Compound Wound Motors: Has the best characteristics of both the series and shunt-wound
motors, but very expensive.

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In summary,

Figure 3-11 Steady-state characteristics of the winding configuration of a DC motor

Figure 3-12 Comparison of DC motor winding types

With a proper winding arrangement, DC motors can be operated over a wide range of
speeds and torques.

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Consider a DC motor with separate windings in the stator and rotor as shown in the figure below:

Figure 3-13 Schematic diagram of a DC motor

The torque of the motor that turn the rotor can be expressed as:

Tm = Bi a = ki f ia

where if = the field current, ia = the armature current, and k is the motor constant. The back emf
generated in the armature of the motor is given by:

eb = B m = k i f m

where m = the rotor speed and k is called the back emf constant, which equals to k in the case
of ideal electrical-to-mechanical energy conversion at the motor rotor (i.e., Tm = eb i a ). The
field circuit equation is given by:

di f
ef = Rf if + Lf

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The armature circuit rotor circuit is given by:

di a
e a = R a i a + La + eb

And the mechanical equation of the motor is given by:

d m
Jm = Tm TL bm m

where Jm = the moment of inertia of the rotor and bm = the equivalent (mechanical) damping
constant of the rotor.

Neglected factors in DC motor modeling:

Coulomb friction and associated dead-band effect,
Magnetic hysteresis,
Magnetic saturation,
Eddy current effects,
Nonlinear constitutive relations for magnetic induction (i.e. L is not constant),
Brush contact resistance and other types of noise and nonlinearities in split ring
The effect of the rotor magnetic flux (armature flux) on the stator magnetic flux. Control of DC motor

Both speed and torque of a DC motor may have to be controlled for proper performance in a
given application of a DC motor.
Following a specified motion trajectory is called servoing, and servomotors (or servo actuators)
are used for this purpose.
The vast majority of servomotors in industrial control applications are DC motors with
feedback (position/speed/torque) control of motion. This is due to easy variable-speed (or torque)
control of DC motors.

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Figure 3-14 A DC servomotor system

Figure 3-15 PID control of the position response of a DC motor

Figure 3-16 Position plus velocity control of a DC motor

Control of a DC motor is accomplished by controlling either:

The armature flux: Armature control (the field current in the stator circuit is kept
constant and the input voltage va to the rotor circuit is varied in order to achieve a

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desired performance). Armature control is suitable for speed manipulation over a

wide range of speeds.

Figure 3-17 Open-loop block diagram for an armature-controlled DC motor

The stator field flux: Field control (the armature current is kept constant and the
input voltage vf to the field circuit is varied. Field control is suitable for constant
power drives under varying torque-speed conditions (e.g., winding mechanisms).

Figure 3-18 Open-loop block diagram for a field-controlled DC motor Brushless DC (BLDC) motors

The main disadvantages of the slip ring and brush mechanisms used in the commutation of a
DC motor include: rapid wearout, mechanical loading, heating due to sliding friction, contact
bounce, excessive noise, and electrical sparks (arcing), problems of oxidation and maintenance
Brushless DC motors have permanent magnet rotors The polarities of the rotor cannot be
switched with a brushed commutation. Hence, the commutation is achieved by electronically
switching the current in the stator windings. The stator is a classic three-phase stator like that of
an AC induction motor.
The polarity reversal in the stator is performed by power transistors switching in
synchronization with the rotor position. Therefore, BLDC motors often incorporate either
internal or external position sensors to sense the actual rotor position (or even can be detected
without any sensors).

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Figure 3-19 A brushless DC motor system

Key characteristics:
Really a multi-phase AC motor, but has torque-speed characteristics of a DC motor,
Like a DC motor turned inside out, commutation done on stator windings,
High reliability (no brush wear), even at very high achievable speeds
High efficiency
Driven by multi-phase Inverter controllers
Sensorless speed control possible
Higher total system cost than for DC motors

The BLDC motor is driven by rectangular voltage strokes coupled with the given rotor position.
The generated stator flux interacts with the rotor flux, which is generated by a rotor magnet,
defines the torque and thus speed of the motor. The voltage strokes must be properly applied to
the two phases of the three-phase winding system so that the angle between the stator flux and
the rotor flux is kept close to 90 to get the maximum generated torque. Due to this fact, the
motor requires electronic control for proper operation.

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Figure 3-20 Components of a DC motor control system

Interface board:
The I/O card or data acquisition card (DAQ) card is a hardware module that forms the input-
output link between the motor and the controller (e.g., computer). A multi-axis card provides
many analog signals to drive many motors through its digital-to-analog conversion (DAC)
function. Also, the analog-to-digital conversion (ADC) is included to acquire data from analog
sensors such as tachometers and potentiometers. It also has encoder channels to read the pulse
signals from the optical encoders.

Drive amplifier:
In motion control applications, these amplifiers are called servo amplifiers. Two types are
1. Linear amplifier: It generates a voltage output proportional to the control input. This is a
dissipative device (using a variable resistor circuitry) that is inefficient.
2. Pulse-width-modulation (PWM) amplifier: This is a non-dissipative device that depends
on high-speed switching at constant voltage to control the power supplied to the motor.
PWM is achieved by chopping the reference voltage so that the average voltage is
varied. The average level of a PWM signal is proportional to the duty cycle of the signal:

average output T
d= 100% = o 100%
peak output T

where T = the pulse period and To = the on time period (of the supplied voltage pulse).
Then, the average voltage e supplied to the armature circuit can be varied by changing
the signal-on time period (0 ~ T), i.e. the duty cycle (0 ~ 100%):

e= eref

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Figure 3-21 Duty cycle of a PWM signal

Figure 3-22 Fractioning of reference voltage by duty cycle to obtain average voltage DC motor selection

DC Motors, DC servomotors in particular, are suitable for applications requiring continuous

operation at high levels of torque and speed.
Brushless permanent magnet motors provide high torque/mass ratio, and are preferred for
continuous operation at high throughput (e.g., component insertion machines in the manufacture
of printed-circuit boards, packaging machines, printing machines) and high speeds (e.g.,
conveyors, robotic arms), in hazardous environment (where spark generation would be
dangerous), and in applications that need minimal maintenance.
For applications that call for high torques and low speeds at high precision (e.g., inspection,
sensing, product assembly), torque motors or regular motors with suitable speed reducers (e.g.,
harmonic drives) may be employed.
A typical application involves a rotation stage if an application requires rotary motions and a
linear stage if an application requires linear motions. In the latter case, a rotary motor with a
rotatory-to-linear motion transmission device such as a lead screw can be used, or use linear
motors for high-precision linear motion applications.
When selecting a DC motor for a particular application, a matching drive unit has to be chosen
as well. A suitable speed transmission may have to be chosen as well.

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A. Motor data and specifications:

Torque and speed are the two primary considerations in choosing a motor for a particular
application. Motor manufactures data that are usually available to users include the following:

Mechanical data
Electrical data
General data

Most often, motors and drive systems are chosen off the shelf. Customized production may be
required, however, in highly specialized or R&D applications where the cost may not be a
primary consideration.

B. Selection considerations:

Figure 3-23 Operating region of a DC motor

When selecting a motor for a specific mechatronic application, some of the salient questions a
designer may need to consider include the following:

Will the motor start and will it accelerate fast enough? The starting torque is the max. torque
the motor can deliver when rotation begins (at zero speed). For the system to be self-starting, the
motor must generate torque sufficient to overcome friction and any load torques. The
acceleration of the motor and load at any instant is given by:

= (Tm TL ) / J

where is the angular acceleration in rad/s2, Tm is the torque produced by the motor, TL is the
torque dissipated by the load, and J is the total moment of inertia of the motor rotor and the load.

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What is the maximum speed the motor can produce? The zero torque point on the torque-speed
curve determines the maximum speed a motor can reach. Note that the motor cannot deliver any
to the load at this speed (when the motor is loaded, the maximum no-load speed cannot be

What is the operating duty cycle? When a motor is not operated continuously, one must
consider the operating cycle of the system. If a load requires a low duty cycle, a lower-power
motor may be selected that can operate above rated levels but still perform adequately without
overheating during repeated on-off cycles.

How much power does the load require? Knowing the power requirements of the load, a
designer should choose a motor with adequate power based on the duty cycle. For constant
power applications, the series-wound or compound-wound motors are preferable over shunt-
wound units.

Is the load driven at constant speed? The simplest method to achieve constant speed is to select
a DC shunt wound motor or an AC synchronous motor.

Is accurate position or speed control required? This may be achieved using a servo system
with encoder or tachometer feedback. When there are large speed variations, armature control is

Is a transmission gearbox required? Since motors usually have better performance at high
speed and low torque, often loads require low speeds and large torques A speed reducing
transmission is needed.

Is the motor torque-speed curve well matched to the load? If the load has a well-defined
torque-speed relation, called a load line, it is wise to select a motor with a similar torque-speed
characteristic. If this is the case, the motor torque can match the load torque over a large range of
speeds, and the speed can be controlled easily by making small changes in voltage of the motor.

Figure 3-24 Load line of DC motor

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For a given motor torque-speed curve and load line, what will be operating speed be? For a
given motor-torque curve and a well-defined load line, the system settles at a fixed speed
operating point. The operating speed can be actively changed by adjusting the voltage supplied
to the motor, which in turn changes the torque-speed characteristic of the motor.

Is it necessary to reverse the motor? Some motors are not reversible (back drivable) due to
their construction and control electronics.

Are there any size and weight restrictions? Motors can be large and heavy, hence must taken
into account in the design phase of the system.

Other considerations:
Use brushless DC motors if the shortcomings of mechanical commutation and limited brush
life are critical.
For high-speed and transient operations of a DC motor, its time constant (or bandwidth) is an
important consideration, which is limited by: the rotor inertia and load, the dynamics of mounted
instrumentation (e.g., tachometers and encoders). The bandwidth of a DC motor can be
determined by simply measuring the transducer signal output vo for a transient drive signal input
vi in the frequency domain.

Figure 3-25 Bandwidth of a DC motor

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C. Motor sizing procedure:

Motor sizing is the term used to denote the procedure of matching a motor (and its drive
system) to a load (i.e. demand of the specific application). The load may be given by a load
curve, which is the speed-torque curve representing the torque requirements for operating the
load at various speeds.

Greater torques are needed to drive a load

at higher speeds.
For a motor and a load, the acceptable
operating range is the interval where the load
curve overlaps with the operating region of
the motor (segment AB).
The optimal operating point is the point
where the load curve intersects with the
speed-torque curve of the motor (point A).
The operating point is self-regulating. For a
rated voltage, at lower speeds, the motor
torque > load torque (the system accelerates
toward the operating point), and vice versa.
Figure 3-26 Sizing a motor for a given load

Sizing a DC motor or a stepper motor is similar, and the speed-torque curves give the available
torque. Then, whats the main difference in their operation?
The peak torque curve can be used for short periods of acceleration/deceleration, but the
continuous torque curve must be used for continuous operation for long periods.

Inertia matching (impedance matching):

The motor rotor inertia (Jm) should not be too small compared to the load inertia (JL),
especially in high speed and high throughput applications:
- High speed applications, JL/Jm in the under 20 range,
- Low speed applications JL/Jm can be as high as 100.
In order to amplify the torque (thus stepping down the speed) available from the motor, a gear
transmission may be needed. The step down gear ratio, r (neglecting the inertial and frictional
loads due to gear transmission), is given by:

r= = =
L Tm Jm

Hence, Jeff = JL/r2 is the (effective or equivalent) load inertia felt by the motor rotor that has to be
matched to the rotor inertia. What would be the optimal load inertia?

Drive amplifier selection:

If the chosen motor does not come with a matching drive system, some useful sizing
computations can be done to assist the process of selecting a drive amplifier. The required

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current and voltage ratings of the amplifier, for a given motor and a load, may be computed as
follows. The required motor torque is given by:

Tm = ( J m + J L ) + TL + T f

Where is the highest angular acceleration needed form the motor, TL is the worst-case load
torque, and Tf is the frictional torque on the motor. The current required to generate this torque in
the motor is given by:


where km is the torque constant of the motor. In the case of armature control, the voltage required
to drive the motor is given by

ea = k m m + Ra ia

Where k m ( km) is the back emf constant, R is the winding resistance, and m is the highest
operating speed of the motor in driving the load.
Note that while the control procedure becomes linear and convenient when linear amplifiers
are used, it is desirable to use PWM amplifiers in view of high efficiency and associated cost.
For a PWM amplifier, the supply voltage (from a DC power supply) is computed by dividing ea
in the above equation by the lowest duty cycle d of operation,

eref =

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3.1.2 Stepper Motors

A popular type of actuators, typically used in low-power position applications.

Emerged as cost-effective alternatives for DC servomotors in high-speed motion-control
Unlike continuous-drive actuators, they move in accurate angular increments, or steps, in
response to the application of digital pulses to an electric drive circuit The number and rate of
the pulses control the position and speed of the stepper motor shaft.

Thus, counting the number of pulses into the stepper motor determines the angular location of
the rotor Eliminates the need for a closed-loop system for accurate positioning.

In general, they are manufactured with steps/rev of 12, 24, 72, 144, 180 and 200
Corresponds to 30, 15, 5, 2.5, 2 and 1.8 per step.

Some step motors can perform half steps, which allow them to double their number of steps/rev
Better resolution.

A special micro-stepping circuitry can be designed to allow 10,000 steps/rev or more This is
called microstepping.

Stepper motors are either:

Bipolar: Requiring two power sources or a switchable polarity power source or,

Unipolar: Requiring one power source.

Figure 3-27 Input signal vs. full step or half step

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Figure 3-28 Two-phase, four-pole bipolar permanent magnet stepper motor

Stepper motor step sequence:

Figure 3-29 Stepper motor full-step sequence

1. Step 0: the rotor is in equilibrium Can withstand an opposing torque up to a value

called the holding torque.

2. Step 0 to Step 1: the stator polarities are changed A magnetic torque is applied to the
rotor, causing it to move 90.

3. Step 1: the rotor is in a new equilibrium position.

By successively changing the stator polarities in this manner, the rotor can be moved to
successive equilibrium positions in the (counter) clockwise direction.

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Unipolar Stepper Motor Step Sequence: Full and Half Stepping

Figure 3-30 Four-phase, unipolar stepper motor step sequence

i denotes the state of the ith phase.

Two-pole permanent magnet.
Four-phase, four-pole unipolar stator, with each pole wound by two complementary windings.
Full / Half / Micro Stepping.

Figure 3-31 A timing diagram of four-phase, unipolar stepper motors full-step sequence

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Figure 3-32 Unipolar full-step and half-step phase sequence

Response characteristics of stepper motors:

Dynamic response of the rotor and attached load must be carefully considered in applications
that involve starting or stopping quickly, changing or ramping speed quickly, or driving large or
changing load Due to inertia of the rotor and attached load, rotation can exceed the desired
number of steps.
Additional damping (mechanical, frictional or viscous) can reduce vibrations.

Figure 3-33 Dynamic response of a single step

The torque-speed characteristics for a stepper motor are usually divided into two regions:
Locked step mode: The rotor decelerates and may even come to rest between each step.
Within this region, the motor can be instantaneously started, stopped, or reversed without
losing step integrity.
Slewing mode: The speed is too fast to allow instantaneous starting, stopping, or
reversing. The rotor must be gradually accelerated to enter this mode and gradually
decelerated to leave the mode. While in slewing mode, the rotor is in synch with the
stator field rotation and does not settle between steps.

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Figure 3-34 Stepper motor torque-speed curves

Types of stepper motors:

Three types of stepper motors:

Permanent magnet (PM) stepper motors, which have permanent magnet rotors;
Variable reluctance (VR) stepper motors, which have ferromagnetic (soft-iron) rotors;
Hybrid stepper motors, which have two stacks of rotor forming the two poles of a permanent
magnet located along the rotor axis. Each rotor segment is a toothed wheel and is called a stack.

The PM and VR stepper motors operate in a similar manner. The disadvantage of VR stepper
motor is that since the rotor is not magnetized, the holding torque is zero when the stator
windings are not energized (power off). The hybrid motors have characteristics of both VR and
PM steppers.

For the VR and PM steppers, further classifications are possible, depending on the tooth pitch
(angle between the adjacent teeth) of the stator and tooth pitch of the rotor: (i) single-stack and
(ii) multiple stack.

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Figure 3-35 Schematic diagrams of PM, VR and hybrid stepper motors

Figure 3-36 Classification of stepper motors

Figure 3-37 Three-phase single-stack VR stepper motor with 12 stator poles (teeth) and 8
rotor teeth

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Hybrid stepper motor:

Figure 3-38 A commercial hybrid stepper motor

Figure 3-39 A schematic diagram of a hybrid stepper motor

Hybrid stepper motors have a permanent magnet rotor in a teeth arrangement:

- Rotor: Same number of N and S teeth of permanent magnets.
- Stator: Four windings - 1, 1, 2 and 2; 1 and 1 are connected in series to form phase 11
and 2 and 2 are connected in series to form 22.
- When stator is not energized, the teeth of the rotor will tend to find a min. reluctance
(mag. resistance) path along the stator and align along one or another of the stator
winding cores (called a detente position).

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Stepper motor rotor turns as a result of applying excitation current to the stator phases in a
particular sequence:

Figure 3-40 A time diagram of full-stepping of hybrid stepper motor

Figure 3-41 A sequence diagram of full-stepping of hybrid stepper motor

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For a hybrid stepper motor with n phases on the stator and m teeth on the rotor, the total
number of steps per revolution N is: N = nm [steps/rev].
Step angle or angular resolutions is r = 360/N [/step].

Microstepping is achieved by properly changing the phase currents in small steps instead of
switching on and off (as in the case of full-stepping and half-stepping).
Motor drive units with the microstepping capability are more costly, but microstepping
provides the advantages of more accurate motion: finer resolution, overshoot suppression, and
smoother operation (reduced jitter and less noise). Any disadvantage?

Figure 3-42 A schematic diagram of microstepping

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Ideally, when a single pulse is applied, the rotor should instantaneously turn through one step
angle () and stop at that detent position (stable equilibrium position). Unfortunately due to
system dynamics, the actual single-pulse response is somewhat different from this ideal
behaviour (i.e. oscillation).

Figure 3-43 Single-pulse response and the corresponding single-phase torque

Figure 3-44 Static torque

distribution in the VR stepper
motor: (a) schematic, (b) static
torque curve for Phase I

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Under steady-state operation of a stepper motor at low speeds, we usually do not need to
differentiate between VR and PM motors (Hybrid can considered a special type of PM). In
this case the torque can be approximated by a sinusoidal function given by:

T = Tmax sin nr

or equivalently,

T = Tmax sin

where Tmax is the maximum torque during a step (holding torque), is the step angle, nr is
the number of rotor teeth, p is the number of phases. Note that is the angular position of the
rotor measured from the detent position of the presently excited phase, i.e.
= = r / p at the previously excited phase.

Figure 3-45 Stepper motor models:

(a) torque source; (b) mechanical model;
(c) phase circuit model

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Torque equation for PM motors The torque of in a PM motor varies almost linearly with
the magnitude of the phase current ip:

T = k m i p sin nr

Torque equation for VR motors The torque in a VR motor varies nearly quadratically
(hence more nonlinear) with the phase current ip:

T = k r i p2 sin nr Stepper motor selection and applications

A. Torque characteristics and terminology

Previously, we have discussed design problem that address the selection of geometric
parameters (# of stator poles, # of rotor teeth, etc.) for a stepper motor. Similar to DC motors,
however, torque and speed considerations are also very crucial in the selection process.

Figure 3-46 Speed-torque

characteristics of a stepper
The characteristic shape of the
speed-torque curve of a stepper
motor: the peat torque occurs at a
very low speed and the as the speed
increases the available torque
decreases. This curve gives the
speed at which motor can run under
steady (constant-speed) conditions.

In industry, this curve is known as the

pull-out curve or the slew curve. In
the slew region, the given torque is
called the pull-out torque and the
corresponding speed is the pull-out
speed. Note that the motor is unable to
steadily accelerate to the slew speed,
starting from rest and applying a pulse
sequence at constant rate corresponding
to the slew speed. Instead, it should be
accelerated first up to the pull-in speed
by applying a pulse corresponding to
this speed. After reaching t(pull-in
Figure 3-47 Further speed-torque characteristics region) in the manner, the motor can be
and terminology. accelerated to the pull-out speed by up-

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B. Stepper motor selection

Similar to that of the DC motors.

C. Stepper motor applications

A few last comments on stepper motors:

Stepper motors are particularly suitable for positioning, ramping (constant acceleration and
deceleration), and slewing (constant speed) applications at relative low speeds (< 2,000 rpm).
Typically they are suitable for short and repetitive motions. Because of heat generation and
thermal problems, not suitable for applications that require continuous operations over long
periods without stopping.
They are not the best choice for servoing or trajectory following applications, because of the
jitter and step (pulse) missing problems Use DC or AC servomotors instead.
High-precision open-loop operation is possible (because it moves in quantified steps), if
relatively high vibration levels due to stepwise motion are less of an issue. As long as the motor
runs within its torque/speed specification, the position of the shaft is known at all times.
Applications: printing applications (inkjet printers), x-y tables, robotic end effectors, machine
tool holders, windshield wipers, power window drives, power seat mechanisms, parts handling
systems, etc. In general, stepper motors provide a low-cost option for an application.
Additional considerations when choosing a stepper motor:
VR, PM or Hybrid:
o VR motors are more robust due to the simplicity in their design (no permanent
magnet rotors): (i) the drop is torque with speed is less pronounced and (ii) the
speeds can be in excess of 10,000 steps/s, while PM and hybrid motors are
confined to speeds below 1000 steps/s.
o A drawback of VR motors is that they are noisy. PM and hybrid motors are
preferred where noise or vibration are issues.
o Due to detent torque PM and hybrid motors cog while not powered. This is
desirable in some applications, while smoothing coasting is required in other
o Microstepping is not generally applicable to VR motors (usually work in full-step
increments). Whereas both PM and hybrid motors can be microstepped, allowing
smooth, jerk-free moves from one step to the next.

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Unipolar vs. Bipolar Drives:

o The choice between using a unipolar or bipolar drive system rests on issues of
drive simplicity and power to weigh ratio.
o Bipolar motors have approximately 30% more torque than an equivalent unipolar
motor of the same volume. The reason for this is that only one half of a winding is
energized at any given time in a unipolar motor.
o The control circuitry is less complex for a unipolar motor Reduced cost.
o If in doubt, a bifilar motor (meaning two threaded) is a good choice. These
motors can be configured as a unipolar or bipolar motor and the application tested
with the motors operating in either mode. Motors with bifilar windings are
identical in rotor and stator to bipolar motors with one exception each winding
is made up of two wires wound parallel to each other. As a result, common bifilar
motors have eight wires instead of the four wires of a comparable bipolar motor.

Hybrid vs. Permanent Magnet:

o Two primary issues are cost and resolution (step size).
o The same drive electronics and wiring options generally apply to both motors
o PM motors are some of the least expensive motors made. Motor windings in
hybrid and VR motors are more difficult to wind.
o PM motors are generally made with step sizes from 30 degrees to 3.6 degrees
(commonly 7.5 and 3.6 degrees). However, step sizes of hybrid (and sometimes
for VR motors) can be made very small, ranging from 3.6 degrees to 0.9 degrees
(1.8 degrees are very common).

Stepper motors have several different types of rated torque:

o Holding torque, pull-in torque, pull-out torque, detent torque.

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3.1.3 AC Motors
AC motors utilize either monophase or poliphase alternating current as their power source
as opposed to the direct current of DC motors or steppers.
AC motors are becoming are becoming more attractive to DC motors due to the wide
availability of AC power and the recent advancement of AC motor controllers, which can
now emulate the performance of variable-speed drives of DC motors.
Compared to traditional DC motors, AC motors are preferred in view of following

Convenient power source,
Typically no commutator or brush mechanism no electric spark/arcing
Low power dissipation, low rotor inertia,
Highly reliable, robust, easy maintenance, and long life.


Heavy-duty (high-power) applications: e.g., rolling mills, presses, elevators,

cranes, material handlers, and operations in paper, metal, petrochemical, cement
and other industrial plants.
Constant-speed operations: e.g., conveyors, mixers, agitators, extruders, pulping
machines, household and industrial appliances such as refrigerators and HVAC
devices such as pumps, compressors and fans.
Many industrial operations that may involve continuous operation throughout the
day for over six days a week.


Low starting torque. Need of auxiliary starting devices that have zero starting
torque (in synchronous motors),
Traditionally, difficulty of variable-speed control or servo (But not so true

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The speed of the AC motor is dependent on the frequency of the current applied to its
The magnetic field in the stator rotates, causing the rotor to turn in both synchronous and
induction types of AC motors. The magnetic field in the rotor chases the electrically induced
rotating magnetic field in the stator by being attracted and repelled by it. This rotating
magnetic field in the stator causes a torque to be produced on the rotor and causes it to turn.
A rotating field is generated by a set of winding uniformly distributed around a circular
stator and excited by AC signals with equal phase differences. For example, for a standard
three-phase supply, the voltage in each phase is 120 out of phase with the voltage in the next
phase, i.e.

v1 = a cos p t
v 2 = a cos p t
v3 = a cos p t

where p is the frequency of each phase of the AC signal, which is the line frequency.

Figure 3-56 Generation of a rotating magnetic field using a three-phase supply and two
winding set per phase

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Figure 3-57 Two phase motor stator

In the case of the above two phase motor, if the voltages applied to phases 1-1A and 2-2A are
90 out of phase, the magnetic filed generated in the coils are also 90 out of phase. There are
two out-of-phase magnetic fields, whose coil axes are at right angles (i.e. 90 physically) to
each other, add together at every instant during their cycle. They produce a resultant field
that rotates one revolution for each cycles of AC.

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MSE310 3. Actuators Types of AC Motors

There are three basic types of AC motors that are widely used:
1) Series Motors
2) Induction Motors
3) Synchronous Motors

Series AC Motors

A series AC motor, sometimes termed a universal motor, is the only type of motor that can
be powered by either AC or DC. The construction of this motor is very much the same as that
of a series-wound DC motor. The only differences are the special metals, laminations, and
windings that are used in its construction.
The series motor operates due to the instantaneous change of both field and armature
polarities. The reversal of current direction through the armature conductors are created at the
proper time intervals by the reversals of field polarity brought by the changing nature of
alternating current. The speed and torque characteristics of series motors are similar to those
of DC series-wound motors.
Applications of series AC motors include portable tools, mixers, blenders, and electric
drills (which are also applications of series-wound DC motors).

Figure 3-58 Series AC Motor

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Induction AC Motor

Induction AC motors are the simplest type of AC motors and are therefore the most
commonly used. This is due to the fact that they are simple and rugged and consequently are
cheap to manufacture. They also have lower operating costs due to the fact that the rotor does
not have to be connected to an external voltage source.
The rotor windings are purely secondary windings. Since the rotor is not externally
energized, the magnetic field must be induced. AC voltages are induced in the rotor circuit
by the rotating magnetic field of the stator. Stator construction of induction motors is nearly
identical to those of synchronous motors, but rotor construction is very different.
The rotor of an induction motor is a slotted ferromagnetic laminated cylinder (to
concentrate magnetic flux and to minimize dissipation via eddy currents). There are two
major types of rotor windings:

Cage rotor: This one has the squirrel-cage winding which consists of heavy
copper bars (or any other conductor), which are fitted into slots in the end rings at
the two ends of the rotor. These end rings complete the paths for electrical
conduction through the rod.
Wound rotor: This one consists of actual coils (one or more turns) placed in the
rotor slots.

The rotating field of the in the stator intercepts the rotor windings, thereby generating an
induced current due to mutual induction (hence the name induction motor). The resulting
secondary magnetic flux interacts with the primary, whose magnetic field is rotating, thereby
producing a torque that drives the rotor in the direction of rotation of the stator field.
Traditional applications for induction motors consist of washing machines, refrigerator
compressors, bench grinders, and table saws.
Advanced induction motor control for servo control applications:
1. Excitation voltage control (p)
2. Supply voltage control (vf)
3. Field feedback control (or flux drive control)
4. Etc.

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Figure 3-59 Induction motor

Figure 3-60 Different types of rotors for induction motor

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Synchronous AC Motor

Synchronous motors are able to run at a constant speed under any load condition.
The synchronous motor operates with a three-phase supply. The magnetic field generation
principle is identical to that in an induction motor. Unlike an induction motor, however, the
rotor windings of a synchronous motor are energized by an external DC source. This allows
the rotor magnetic poles to lock themselves with the rotating magnetic field generated by the
stator and will rotate at the same speed (i.e. synchronous speed).
A major disadvantage of the synchronous motor is the fact that it possesses no starting
torque. This is due to the fact that when it is first started, the rotating magnetic field in the
stator rushes by the rotor so fast that it is repelled first in one direction and then the other. An
auxiliary starter is required to start the motor and bring its speed close to the synchronous
speed. This problem is dealt with in one of two ways:

One solution to this problem is to spin the synchronous motor up to speed with a
DC motor which is connected to the output shaft. Once the motor is up to speed,
then it can continue at a constant speed under its own power.
Another solution is to add a squirrel-cage type of winding to the rotor. The
windings of this are composed of heavy copper bars that are shorted together. A
low voltage and high current are induced in the windings by the rotating magnetic
field in the stator. This creates a magnetic field in the rotor which is attracted to
that of the stator. This causes the rotor to begin rotation. This process continues
until the motor reaches near synchronous speeds, at which time the rotor is
energized with DC power and normal operation begins.

Figure 3-61 a) A synchronous motor schematic, b) Squirrel-cage synchronous motor

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MSE310 3. Actuators Induction Motor Equations

The relative speed between the rotating magnetic field in the stator and the rotor is called
the slip rate (S). Hence, the increase in the rotor speed decreases the slip rate, until zero slip
rate is reached at synchronous speed.
The torque, however, at the synchronous speed becomes zero:
Ts = starting torque
Tmax = maximum toque or breakdown torque.

Figure 3-62 Torque-speed characteristic curve of an induction motor

Between Ts and Tmax the motor behaviour is unstable.
Under normal operating conditions, an induction motor should operate in the region
between Tmax and the zero-torque (or no-load or synchronous) the region of stable operation.
Tmax does not occur at S = 0. In practice, this point cannot be reached because of the
presence of frictional torque, even with no external load.
The slip S for an induction motor is given by:
f m p n m
S= =
f p
n= (1 S ) is the number of pairs of winding sets used per phase (i.e., number of
pole pairs per phase);
f = is the angular speed (or synchronous speed) of the rotor at S = 0;
p is the frequency of the AC signal in each phase (i.e. the line frequency);
m is the rotor speed of the motor.

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When an external load or torque is present, the slip rate will increase; however, it is quite
insensitive to torque changes (see the stable region of the characteristic curve) Good for
constant speed applications.
The torque-slip relationship is approximately (neglecting the stator resistance and the
leakage inductance) given by:
pnv 2f SRr
Tm =
p ( Rr2 + S 2 p2 L2r )
Tm = motor torque generated in the rotor;
p = number of supply phases;
v f = stator excitation voltage;
Rr = rotor coil resistance;
Lr = rotor leakage inductance.
The above equation can be easily rewritten in terms of the rotor speed m .
The motor torque is proportional to the square of the supply voltage v f .

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3.1.4 Linear Motors (Electric)

Linear motors are increasingly popular solutions for todays automation applications.
Compared to more traditional rotary motors, some advantages of linear motors include high
precision, high acceleration/speed, high force/mass ratio, and long life. These systems are
slim lined and extremely versatile.
The linear motors works under the process as does its counterpart the rotary motor. By an
imaginary process, a rotary motor can be transformed into a linear motor when stator is cut
open and unrolled. Also sheet of plate replaces the rotor.
The flat plate rotor is referred to as the secondary and the unrolled stator is the primary.
One particular disadvantage is that now the primary has a beginning and an end, which was
not a problem when the stator was circular. This creates a phenomenon called end or edge
effects, which creates a few problems:
The stator takes the form of a U-channel within which the moving rotor slides.
Linear sliding bearings are standard in these devices. Air bearings are used in
more sophisticated applications.
Applications include multi-axis precision tables, cartesian robots, conveyor mechanisms,
and servovalve actuators.

Figure 3-66 Aerotech linear motors

Figure 3-67 Imaginary process of unrolling a conventional rotary motor to obtain a linear

It is true that for almost every type of rotary machine, there is a corresponding type of
linear electric machine. However, the two most important are the linear induction motors
(LIM) and linear synchronous motors (LSM), and more recently, linear brushless DC motors
Linear motors develop two mutually perpendicular forces, one in the direction of motion
and the other normal to the direction of motion. The normal force may be an attraction or a
repulsion force between the primary and secondary. A machine in which the net force is such
that the secondary tends to be suspended over the primary may be used mainly for

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suspension, in which case is called a linear levitation machine (LLM). Conversely, a machine
used primarily for producing thrust is called a linear motor.
Geometry of linear motors: Fig. 3-68 shows how the stator of a normal rotary machine is
polarized with north and south poles of the magnets alternated around the hoop. The same is
true for the linear motor, except in a straight line.
End effect: One major problem with this type of layout is the side effects. The flat plate
(armature) would want to move side to side. Therefore secondary must be constrained
perpendicular to the direction of travel, which is not a desired characteristic (frictional losses).
One solution to this problem is the tubular linear motor.
Tubular motor: In the tubular construction, the armature would also be cylindrical and
would be placed around the primary with and air gap between the two. This would provide a
magnetic field to surround the primary. Thus, there is no end effect and the secondary need
not be supported. However, now the motion is restricted in the side-to-side motion, but a
rotational freedom has been introduced.

Figure 3-68 Magnetic positions of both the linear and tubular motors

Linear stage terminology: Read the handout Linear Motors Application Guide.

3.1.5 Other Linear Actuators (Electric)

Other linear actuators: solenoid (on-off actuator) and voice coil actuator (a solenoid in a
permanent magnet).

Figure 3-69 A solenoid operated relay

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Figure 3-71 Voice coil actuator


Figure 3-70 Voice coil actuators

Figure 3-72 Hard disk drive example

Figure 3-73 Voice coil actuator in a hard disk

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