History of Brushless DC Motors

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Brushless DC motors are an invaluable part of industry today. The advantages that brushless DC motors confer upon any applications for which they are used are great, and use of these motors can save nearly any industry a great deal of time and money under the right circumstances. But where did these miracles of modern machinery come from? The brushless DC motor actually represents the end, or at least the most recent end result, of a long evolution of motor technology. Read on to learn a little more about brushless DC motors, where they came from, and what they can do.

Pre-History of Brushless DC Motors

Before there were brushless DC motors there were brush DC motors, which were brought on in part to replace the less efficient AC induction motors that came before. The brush DC motor was invented all the way back in 1856 by famed German inventor and industrialist Ernst Werner von Siemens. Von Siemens is so famous that the international standard unit of electrical conductance is named after him. Von Siemens studied electrical engineering after leaving the army and produced many contributions to the world of electrical engineering, including the first electric elevator in 1880. Von Siemens’s brush DC motor was fairly rudimentary and was improved upon by Harry Ward Leonard, who nearly perfected the first effective motor control system near the end of the 19th century. This system used a rheostat to control the current in the field winding, which resulted in adjusting the output voltage of the DC generator, which in turn adjusted the motor speed. The Ward Leonard system remained in place all the way until 1960, when the Electronic Regulator Company’s thyristor devices produced solid state controllers that could convert AC power to rectified DC power more directly. It supplanted the Ward Leonard system due to its simplicity and efficiency.

Advent of Brushless DC Motors

Once the Electronic Regulator Company maximized the efficiency of the brush DC motor, the door was opened for an even more efficient motor device. Brushless DC motors first made the scene in 1962, when T.G. Wilson and P.H. Trickey unveiled what they called “a DC machine with solid state commutation.” Remember that the key element of brushless DC motors as opposed to brush DC motors is that the brushless DC motor requires no physical commutator, a revolutionary difference. As the device was refined and developed, it became a popular choice for special applications such as computer disk drives, robotics and in aircraft. In fact, brushless DC motors are used in these devices today, fifty years later, so great is their effectiveness. The reason these motors were such a great choice for these devices is that in these devices brush wear was a big problem, either because of the intense demands of the application or, for example, in the case of aircraft because of low humidity. Because brushless DC motors had no brushes that could wear out, they represented a great leap forward in technology for these types of devices. The problem was that as reliable as they were, these early brushless DC motors were not able to generate a great deal of power.

Modern Brushless DC Motors

That all changed in the 1980s, when permanent magnet materials became readily available. The use of permanent magnets, combined with high voltage transistors, enabled brushless DC motors to generate as much power as the old brush DC motors, if not more. Near the end of the 1980s, Robert E. Lordo of the POWERTEC Industrial Corporation unveiled the first large brushless DC motors, which had at least ten times the power of the earlier brushless DC motors.

Today, there are probably no major motor manufacturers that do not produce brushless DC motors capable of high power jobs. Naturally, NMB Tech offers a wide variety of brushless DC motors for you to choose from, in sizes from 15mm in diameter to 65mm in diameter, from 0.7 maximum Watts output to 329.9. If you’re starting a new project that requires motors for its applications, you’ll want to seriously consider using brushless DC motors. Industries with motor needs have relied on brushless DC motors for nearly fifty years, and there is every reason to believe that they will continue to do so for decades to come. Take a look at some brushless DC motors today.