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issue: June 2005 APPLIANCE Magazine

Motor Technology
Smart Power Modules

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A new series of compact Smart Power Module (SPM™) products are said to provide efficient motor control for energy-restricted white goods such as washing machines and air-conditioners.

In addition to small size, efficiency, and reliability, Fairchild’s new Mini-SPM series is said to offer best-in-class thermal resistance through the company’s Direct Bonded Copper (DBC) technology, which enables the devices to reach the targeted power rating of 30 A in compact packaging.

Designed by South Portland, MA, U.S.-based Fairchild Semiconductor, the new Mini-SPMs reportedly allow inverter system designers to meet energy-efficiency requirements and ensure reliability with cost-effective solutions that lower part count in consumer applications. According to Sungil Yong, principle engineer and marketing manager for Fairchild’s SPM & System Engineering Group, this was achieved by integrating six insulating gate biopolar transistors (IGBTs) designed for motor drives, six fast recovery diodes (FRDs) and their driving integrated circuits (ICs), as well as under-voltage, short circuit, and other major projection circuits into one package. “Transfer-mold package technology has also been applied to overcome the greatest disadvantage of conventional modules—the price factor,” Mr. Yong adds.

The devices range from 3 A to 30 A in a single-package outline, giving designers increased design flexibility. “Because the Mini-SPM packaging covers a wide current range in one form factor, designers have the flexibility of applying a single design specification to most household electronic products,” Mr. Yong explains.

According to Mr. Yong, the modules are considered “smart” because of the built-in protection features that guarantee reliability. “As an example, the built-in short circuit and under voltage protection circuits reduce system design time and allows engineers to focus on other design aspects,” he says. “These smart power modules enable designers to implement highly functional, highly reliable inverter circuits at a competitive price with minimal added circuits.”

The new modules’ “mini” feature also offers the benefit of circuit space reduction, leading to potential cost savings. To ensure a small form factor, the devices utilize a 44- by 26.8-mm Mini-DIP package and incorporate built-in HVICs that provide an optocoupler-less, single-supply IGBT gate driving capability.

“Historically, it has been expensive to use inverter-based systems in household appliances,” Mr. Yong notes. “With Fairchild’s SPM products, designers are able to cost-effectively use inverters in household appliances.” In one air-conditioning application, Mr. Yong said a manufacturer achieved a 20-percent reduction in printed circuit board size after replacing its own module with one of Fairchild’s SPM3 20-A modules.

Mr. Yong says appliance engineers can directly benefit from the reduced cost of the Mini SPMs. The controllers were also designed to meet environmental requirements for a broad range of consumer applications. “Since SPM products efficiently drive three-phase motors, this results in a 40-percent energy savings compared to the conventional on/off solution,” Mr. Yong confirms.

Suppliers mentioned in this article:
Fairchild Semiconductor

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