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issue: February 2007 APPLIANCE Magazine

Motor Technology
Going Digital


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A new generation of switched reluctance (SR) motor-blowers brings digital motor control to central vacuum cleaners.

Ametek Commercial Motors recently launched the next generation of INFIN-A-TEK® brushless motor-blowers. Based on switched reluctance technology, the new generation is said to offer increased performance and reliability to designers of central vacuum cleaners.
The main feature offered by the new generation is an upgrade from analog speed control to digital technology. According to William Trautmann, Ametek’s product manger of Commercial, Specialty and Household Motors, this dramatically reduces controller complexity and makes the motor-blower more robust. “Using the digital design, we are able to reduce the number of components and redesign the circuit board so that it has fewer layers,” he tells APPLIANCE. “All of that increases reliability.” In fact, Trautmann says the new circuit board design uses 30 percent fewer components.
The digital controller incorporates its own power supply for speed control—a feature Trautmann says will make engineers’ lives easier. “If you look at the digital control and the integrated power supply, in the past, you had to have your own power source for the speed control,” he notes. “You had to plug the unit into the wall; you had to get your power source, integrate that into the circuit and understand how to use that. In this case, you really just have the motor itself. You purchase the model that works for your application, plug it in, and everything is on board.”
Like the previous generation, the brushless motor-blower is based on SR technology. This means that in addition to eliminating carbon brushes, the design does not require magnets. “The innovation there is we can spin this motor much faster than other designs,” Trautmann says. “The Gen II can rotate on average twice as fast as a comparable brushless permanent magnet motor for typical vacuum/blower applications. With that, you are able to achieve better air-watt performance.”
The digital motor-blower also provides engineers with design flexibility. Variable-speed control options can be added to optimize performance for certain applications, as well as other customizations that can help OEMs add value-added features to end products.
“With digital speed control, [central vacuum engineers] can put a meter on the motor-blower to monitor the suction,” Trautmann suggests. “For example, if your hose gets clogged, the feedback loop can read that and speed up the motor so you can maintain your suction at the end of the hose. Once the clogged item goes through the hose, the meter can read this and slow down the motor to make sure it got back to the proper running speed.”
The new line runs cooler while providing the same output as the previous generation of motor-blowers. “We’ve actually changed the design within the motor—the stator and the winding—such that we can run it 10 percent cooler,” Trautmann says. In addition, proprietary material enhancements were made to increase the design’s thermal properties.
The digital design is also said to consume substantially less power, which keeps the motor-blower running cooler, and the circuit board design is based on a two-fold increase of the copper standard that reportedly makes it more robust. “Both the Gen I and Gen II products are rated to operate in a maximum ambient temperature environment of 50°C,” Trautmann says. “The Gen II design was validated at temperatures exceeding twice that temperature. Designing the electronics for this harsh environment was challenging, but resulted in a very robust platform while maintaining the same footprint as the first-generation platform.”
The Kent, Ohio, U.S.-based company offers the new motor-blowers in 5.7-inch and 7.2-inch diameter tangential bypass versions, as well as 5.7-inch diameter Acustek® low-noise peripheral bypass discharge models. A 9.1-inch diameter high-suction and high-airflow FLO-TEK™ tangential bypass model is also available.

Suppliers mentioned in this article:
Ametek Technical and Industrial Products
 

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