Where tubular linear motors blow away pneumatics
31 July 2020
For factory operators looking to save energy and costs, an obvious first place to look is compressed air. Compressed air is highly useful in many industrial applications, and some sites spend up to 30 percent of their electricity bill generating compressed air.
Pneumatic actuators, which run on compressed air, have been around since the Second World War. They are well understood, cheap and suited to harsh environments. However, they also come with their penalties. Compressed air must be generated to power them. Depending on the expansiveness of a factory, this can mean numerous compressors and/or a complicated reticulation system. A reliable level of pressure must be maintained, or pneumatics will work poorly or not at all.
Air leaks can be expensive. According to Kaeser Compressors, a leading compressor technology company, one leak in one unit costing 15 cents/kW/hr to operate will represent well over $2,000 a year to a power bill. With a single point of failure – for example, air leakage at one location – the air pressure of the whole plant will drop, and operations will be affected.
Then there is the noise
“If you are working in or visiting a factory, you will usually hear a lot of noise – that’s one big advantage servo-controlled linear motors have [over] pneumatics,” explains Heng Luo, Product Manager, ANCA Motion.
Linear motors – for example, screw-driven and tubular linear kinds – are newer than pneumatic or hydraulic options but are preferred for certain applications. Instead of a piston in a cylinder, driven by compressed air or incompressible fluid, tubular linear motors use magnetic flux to create motion. They are not as cheap in upfront costs compared to pneumatics, but offer vast benefits in accuracy, cheaper operating costs, and flexibility.
Read the full article in the August issue of DPA.
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