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issue: May 2006 APPLIANCE Magazine

Motor Technology
A Clean Machine

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Designed for medical appliance applications, a 16-mm brushless motor provides sterilization features and high performance in a compact package.

The EC-16 brushless motors from Maxon can be sterilized for medical appliance applications. The Burlingame, California, U.S.-based company also manufactures gearheads that can withstand sterilization.

The medical device industry has always required small, precise motors, but the EC-16 brushless motor from Maxon Precision Motors is designed to meet a very specific industry need—sterilization. “The top benefit of this product is simply the fact that it can be sterilized,” notes Michael D. Rogen, a vice president at Maxon. “A motor may offer many benefits such as high torque and speed, low electrical noise and high efficiency, but if the motor must be sterilized for a medical application, the other features are useless if it can not tolerate sterilization.”
The new brushless motor can be sterilized at least 100 times in an autoclave, and steam sterilization is specified at 134°C at up to 2.3 bar for 20 minutes. According to Rogen, constructing the specialized motor required several design modifications. “There are several components that must be changed when manufacturing a ‘sterilizable’ motor,” he explains. “The cable changes from PVC to Teflon, the printed circuit board changes from standard to a special photo resist, the bearing and shaft steel change to stainless steel, the magnet changes from neodymium to samarium cobalt, the winding uses a specially coated wire, and a modified lubricant is used.”
Rogen says that, while there are other “sterilizable” motors on the market, the EC-16’s brushless design makes it unique. “Being a brushless motor, there are simply no brushes to worry about in terms of wear or particulate contamination,” he says.
The motor is also designed to offer superior heat dissipation and high responsiveness in a compact size. To achieve good heat dissipation and high overload capability, the motor’s coils have been assembled outside of the rotor. High-energy samarium cobalt magnets are used to achieve a responsive mechanical time constant of 5 ms, while minimizing overall size. Motor diameter is
16 mm and length is 56 mm.
Other performance features include a continuous output power of 40 W and a maximum speed of 50,000 rpm. Maximum continuous torque is up to 12.6 mNm, depending on the winding. Ambient temperature range is -20°C to 135°C.
Ideal applications include surgical, dental and dermatological tools, as well as other bio-medical devices. Rogen says that applications requiring relatively high temperatures during storage would also be a good match for the motors. Complementary gearheads are also available in ratios ranging from 3.8:1 to 4592:1.

Suppliers mentioned in this article:
Maxon Precision Motors

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