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issue: September 2005 APPLIANCE Magazine

Appliance Engineer - Motor Technology
Cost-Efficient Brushless Technology


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New motor developments from Torrington Research reportedly reduce part counts and costs, making brushless technology more available to a variety of applications.

Torrington Research engineers redesigned a fan system to integrate the blower, motor, control, and other end-unit elements, significantly reducing the part count from 120 parts in the original design (left) to only 24 parts (right).

A custom developer of motor technology, Torrington Research has filed 10 patent applications over the last 18 months for its development work in brushless motor technology. The Torrington, CT, U.S.-based company says the innovations are a result of its effort to bring high-performance brushless d.c. motors (BLDC) to a broad cross section of the market.

Although costs are dropping, Torrington says that product designers often find themselves restricted from using BLDC motors in their designs because they are more expensive. According to Roger B. Dickinson, CEO, this has forced manufacturers to use brush-type d.c. motors, which tend to be inefficient and less reliable.

In response, Torrington focused its R&D efforts on creating a brushless d.c. motor that was both cost-effective and reliable. Among the company’s latest developments are a sensorless sine wave drive, a low-cost microprocessor, and a low-inductance, slotless design. The end result, Mr. Dickinson notes, is a BLDC motor that is smaller, more reliable, and includes variable speed and other controls that are integrated in the motor’s drive board.

“Typical BLDC designs rely on sensors in combination with microprocessor controllers,” Mr. Dickinson explains. “Torrington’s technology innovations eliminate the need to include sensors, reducing part counts and costs, while increasing reliability. In addition, Torrington’s innovation in slotless design eliminates cogging—electrical and mechanical noise produced by typical BLDC motors.”

The company’s new developments integrate the motor parts into fans and blowers, forming a modular subassembly. In addition, a new BLDC manufacturing process replaces multi-step processes with a single step and eliminates expensive laminations, metal motor shells, complicated bearing systems, shaft attachment methods, ceramic magnets, and manual discrete balancing. Torrington’s patent-pending processes makes extensive use of high-performance plastics and overmolding to simplify the manufacture of BLDC motors. Additionally, highly accurate, automated balancing occurs simultaneously with end-of-line testing of the BLDC motor assembly to ensure a reliable product.

According to the company, reducing part count was key in lowering the cost of using brushless technology. In one application, a fan system was redesigned to integrate the blower, motor, control, and other end-unit elements. The original design required 120 parts, but using Torrington’s technology, the new design only required 24 parts, improving size, weight, efficiency, and costs.

“The dramatically reduced part count, use of reliable and low-cost components, and reduction of manufacturing steps results in high-performance brushless d.c. fans that are cost competitive with brush motor solutions,” says Mr. Dickinson. “Numerous applications in markets ranging from computer to automotive and medical to business equipment will now be able to take advantage of high-performance brushless d.c. motors, fans, and blowers.”

 

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