Servo Drives Information

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Servo drives provide electrical outputs to servo motors in closed-loop motion control systems that use positional feedback and corrective signals to optimize position, speed, and accuracy. They control one or more axes, provide analog or digital control signals, and often feature integral motion controllers. Servo drives are used with many different types of motors. AC and DC motors feature brushed or brushless designs and are suitable for a variety of industrial applications. Brushed motors provide commutation via physical contacts, usually spring-loaded graphite brushes. Brushless motors provide commutation electronically, without physical brush contact, and use trapezoidal or sinusoidal drives. Trapezoidal servo drives successively energize two motor windings at one time before proceeding to the next pair. Sinusoidal servo drives provide three sinusoidal signals to three motor windings at one time. Other motor types for servo drives include linear motors, voice coil motors, and vector motors.


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Servo drives differ in terms of electrical ratings, operating parameters, configurations, and features. Electrical ratings include maximum output voltage, rated power, continuous output current, peak output current, AC supply voltage, and DC supply voltage. Servo drives use either single-phase or three-phase inputs at 50, 60, or 400 Hz. Operating parameters include specifications for setup and control. Some servo drives have manual controls such as knobs, DIP switches, jumpers or potentiometers. Others include a joystick, digital control panel, computer interface, or slots for PCMCIA cards. Control programs can be stored on removeable, nonvolatile storage media. Hand held devices are designed to be programmed remotely. Wireless and web-enabled controls are also available. Configurations for servo drives include several mounting styles. Most devices mount on a chassis, DIN rail, panel, rack, wall, or printed circuit board (PCB). Standalone devices and integrated circuit (IC) chips that mount on PCBs are also available. Features for servo drives include soft starting; dynamic, injection, or regenerative braking; brake outputs or auxiliary inputs/outputs (I/O); auto-tuning, self-diagnostics, and status monitoring; and alarms for conditions such as overvoltage. 

Buses and Communication Standards

Computer-based servo drives use many different types of buses and communication standards. Bus types include advanced technology attachment (ATA), peripheral component interconnect (PCI), integrated drive electronics (IDE), industry standard architecture (ISA), general-purpose interface bus (GPIB), universal serial bus (USB), and VersaModule Eurocard bus (VMEbus). Communications standards include ARCNET, AS-i, Beckhoff I/O, open computer area network (CANopen) device network (DeviceNet), Ethernet, small computer systems interface (SCSI), smart distributed system (SDS), serial real-time communications system (SERCOS), and transistor-transistor logic (TTL). Serial interfaces such as RS232, RS422, and RS485 are also available. 

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Related Products & Services

  • AC Motor Drives

    AC motor drives interface controllers to AC motors. They match the control signals (voltage and power levels) as well as the signal type (analog or digital). They also provide power conversion, amplification, and the sequencing of waveform signals.

  • DC Motor Drives

    DC motor drives act as the interface and power supply between a motion controller and a DC motor.

  • Motion Control Systems

    Motion control systems contain matched components such as controllers, motor drives, motors, encoders, user interfaces and software. Components in these systems are optimally matched by the manufacturer.

  • Motion Controllers

    Motion controllers range from simple linear controllers to complex, user-programmable modules that act as controllers within complex integrated multi-axis motion systems.

  • Motor Controllers

    Motor controllers receive supply voltages and provide signals to motor drives that are interfaced to motors. They include a power supply, amplifier, user interface, and position control circuitry.

  • Motor Speed Controllers

    Motor speed controllers are electronic devices that control motor speed. They carry specifications for drive type, product classification, electrical ratings, and operating parameters.

  • Stepper Motor Drives

    Stepper motor drives power unipolar and bipolar stepper motors in full step, half step, and microstep motion control applications.

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