Servo motors have been essential in the industrial world for hundreds of years, being used in processes that require control of speed and precision positioning. While they have transformed many industries, it’s the robotics industry that is one of the most heavily reliant on them. They’re used in applications that necessitate precise positioning and power, and every industrial setting incorporates them. Today, they’re benefitting a wide range of applications including robots, industrial automation, and the appliances you’re using on a daily basis.
Robots transform industries ranging from agriculture to pharmaceuticals, some having involved them for longer than others. However, the electronic devices used go through many developments to help improve the processes. This is where servo motors take center stage.
But what exactly is a servo motor and why is it highly used in robotics?
What is a servo motor?
A servo motor is essential in tasks that require high precision and speed, taking the form of a piece of gear that works with other electronic devices to enable those processes. Usually, it is found in industrial applications like CNC machine operations that necessitate a great deal of accuracy and involves repetitive motions. You may wonder what differentiates it from the conventional motor that seems to be doing the same thing. Actually, the key difference lies within the output shaft.
The output shaft is essential in transmitting the engine’s power and operating accessories in the engine. With a servo motor, the robotics industry can fully benefit from digitalization as it helps control and move the output shaft linearly or angularly with the needed acceleration and precision. This is the element that conducts moves and controls other mechanical components with a high level of accuracy and precision, including machine tools and robotic arms indispensable in robotics and more industries. The process is seamless and takes several seconds, which is why a servo motor is essential in repetitive tasks that carry a lot of complexity.
Servo motor variations include low to high inertia and capacity and DC or AC current, making it important to consider the specifications involved according to the application needed before choosing one. For instance, AC servo motors are more popular and used than DC servo motors, they overcome some of the latter’s limitations. The former enables high torque and uses electric outlets, while the DC servo motor is limited and functions with batteries. AC servo motors rely on voltage and frequency, while the other only needs voltage.
Why are servo motors greatly used in robotics?
There are different servo motors, each serving different applications. However, you can find one that suits the application you need regardless of what you want to achieve. They differ in terms of torque and power, meaning that each piece of gear is utilized in a specific category. For instance, large servo motors need a higher torque to be used in applications like assembly lines. On the other hand, a piece with lower torque is usually utilized in packaging and other less complex applications.
There are many aspects the robotics industry is working to facilitate, including minimizing costs, reducing application complexity, and boosting efficiency, and servos are the means to achieve the desired outcome through the following ways:
Managing expenses. Operational costs are at the core of every business strategy, regardless of industry. It’s a variable that must be carefully considered and managed accordingly. For instance, a robotic arm may need more than a servo motor to enable the needed range of motions and more devices can be connected for more flexibility in this regard. To save on this type of expense, businesses that employ robotics keep their costs down by taking advantage of the servo technology.
Minimizing complexity. Time-consuming and complex processes are a business’s worst nightmare. When it comes to applications like building robotic arms, simplicity and ease of use is a company’s best ally that removes the struggle from the equation. This is where stepper motors have lost ground in favour of servo motors. While the former has been used for a while now and is seen as a standard in building robotic arms or other components, they also brought a series of disadvantages, such as the need for extra controllers and microcontrollers. This necessity led to extra complexity in setting them up, using, and taking care of them, especially when the final outcome needed more than one motor. To overcome these obstacles, companies in the robotics industry utilize servo motors as they only require voltage and are easily connected and used, compared to stepper motors.
Providing availability. Product availability is a critical factor in robotics industries and beyond. Struggling to find replacement parts and the needed accessories in manufacturing can be frustrating and time- and money-consuming, jeopardizing a company’s reputation when it can’t deliver the expected outcome. In this regard, you can find servo motors easily, without much effort, at retailers who sell industrial parts. This greatly benefits companies that want solutions that don’t pose difficulties when they need replacement parts to keep their operations in check.
Offering the gift of precision. The robotics industry is somehow synonymous with precision, as it best describes the operations in this sector. How well a robot performs is determined by the level of precision or repeatability among other characteristics. Servo motors are known to facilitate processes greatly in this regard, as they’re precise in their movement and fit applications with tight tolerances. Productive processes imply that the same operation is performed more times by employing the same level of precision. Here, servo motors can conduct the same tasks over and over again with little variance.
Being lighter than other components. Robot arms or robotics whose weight is unjustified is the last thing a company wants to use. Devices that weigh more than they should occupy plenty of valuable space, bring maintenance problems, and even topple while in use. But servo motors are lightweight and created specifically to solve this exact issue.
Servo motors have risen in popularity across different industries, and robotics is the one that uses them the most. They’ve proven to be an indispensable piece of gear that helped many businesses scale up and streamline their operations, representing cost-effective elements that reduce the complexity of tasks.
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