The terms “servo motor” and “servomechanism” sound like science fiction jargon to the uninitiated. However, there’s nothing fictitious about servo motors and the role they play in emerging and upgrading industries. The servo motor is a specific form of electric motor that uses direct current electricity and permanent magnets to operate in a series of incremental movements at high speeds. The servo motor is an improvement upon a similar type of motor known as the stepper motor, which also works in increments, or “steps.” The servo motor distinguishes itself by achieving considerably higher RPMs. As speeds increase, however, torque decreases, which motor manufacturers account for with the addition of a transmission, also known as a gearbox. More advanced servo motors use this combination of high velocity and torque to perform difficult tasks that lesser motors and human beings would struggle to accomplish. Here are a few of the common applications of servo motors we can find in today’s industrial settings.
Manufacturing is in the midst of a robot revolution. Companies are assigning more and more tasks that require high precision to sophisticated robots instead of human beings and our fallible hands. These robots and their operators use gearbox-augmented servo motors to provide high speed with high torque. Not every robot is suited for servo motors, however—hobbyists may find servo motors too expensive, unwieldy, or powerful for recreational robotics.
CNC Milling and Lathing Machines
CNC machinery, which uses computerized directions to achieve complex designs, relies on a spindle motor to operate its cutting tool. While amateur hobbyist CNC mills and lathes typically employ the simpler and more affordable stepper motor to power their spindles, the spindles of professional-grade CNC operations make use of the higher performance and more elaborate controls of a servo motor. Higher RPMs and gearbox controls give servo-powered spindles the power they need to cut and shape raw materials such as wood, plastic, and metal to professional specifications.
The textile industry features many common applications of servo motors as well. Just as we’ve successfully automated numerous sectors of heavy manufacturing, our looms and spinners now use servo motor technology where the human touch once came into play. Servo motors power the tools that not only cut and weave fabrics, but also control the tension in fabrics to keep them taut when necessary.
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