How Do Servo Motors Work?

As technology continues to advance at such a rapid pace, we are often quick to lose appreciation for the various components that are paramount to the operation of countless common devices, systems, and equipment pieces. The servo motor is an example of such an important, yet underappreciated, technological marvel which has greatly increased the efficiency and convenience of various devices and made certain functionalities possible. As equipment that may be found in numerous applications that we regularly take advantage of, it can be very useful to familiarize oneself with such technology and how it benefits our daily lives.

Servo motors, also simply referred to as servos, are electronic devices that come in the form of rotary or linear actuators that are capable of precisely rotating or pushing machine components. While very compact and small, such devices are highly efficient as they can generate large amounts of force that can be harnessed by many devices. Within the industrial sector, the two primary servo motor types are the AC and DC servo motor, each of which presents varying characteristics and advantages.

The AC servo motor is the most widely used type by various companies, and such apparatuses are AC motors that take advantage of encoders for their functionality. The AC servo motor operates with the use of controllers, ensuring that feedback and closed-loop control is achieved. Additionally, such devices provide users with a high degree of control and are quite accurate. The DC servo motor, on the other hand, is not as popular as it once was but is known for its ability to provide precision control. Nevertheless, such systems have been superseded by AC servos that are less complex while also being more effective and reliable.

For the construction of a basic servo, such devices are composed of a stator, winding, shaft, rotor, and encoder. The stator is used to create a rotating magnetic field, utilizing the winding to transfer the current needed to generate and uphold it. The output power that is created through system operations then moves through the shaft, and the rotor is a type of permanent magnet that is situated near its exterior. With the encoder, the positioning of the shaft may be tracked at all times, and such components also calculate the amount of rotations that are completed by the servo.

As servos pose the benefit of consistent pacing and high precision, such equipment pieces are quite advantageous to industrial settings. Typically, manufacturers or companies will conduct operations with high speed, relying on the servo motor’s capabilities to maintain a set pace. Despite this, such equipment is known to have a high upfront cost and may be expensive to maintain. Due to the vibrations resulting from the cessation of servo operations, care should be taken to prevent damage to surrounding components or machinery that are sensitive.

While we have discussed servos in industrial settings, such components can be present in a wide variety of systems and machinery. For home electronics, such devices commonly serve DVD and Blu-ray systems, managing the extraction and retraction of disc trays. Many automatic transmission automobiles also utilize servos for their control, relaying commands from the pedal to the servo so that the throttle may be managed for adjusting engine speed. This process is also similar for aircraft where servos are used to adjust countless systems and surfaces. Beyond such examples, servos may also be found within robotics, elevators, in-line manufacturing, and much more.


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