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1) Stepper motors
Stepper motors convert digital pulse and direction signals into rotary
motion and are easily controlled. Although stepper motors can be used
in combination with analog or digital feedback signals, they are usually
used without feedback (open loop). Stepper motors require motor
driving voltage and control electronics. The rotor of a typical hybrid
stepper motor has two soft iron cups that surround a permanent magnet
which is axially magnetized. The rotor cups have 50 teeth on their
surfaces and guide the flux through the rotor- stator air gap. In most
cases, the teeth of one set are offset from the teeth of the other by one-
half tooth pitch for a two phase stepper motor.

Figure 24.1 Unipolar and Bipolar Stepper Motor

The stator generally has the same number of teeth as the rotor, but can
have two fewer depending upon the motor's design. When the teeth on
the stator pole are energized with North polarity, the corresponding teeth
on the rotor with South polarity align with them. Similarly, teeth on the
stator pole energized with South polarity attract corresponding teeth on
the rotor that are energized with North polarity. By changing the polarity
of neighbouring stator teeth one after the other in a rotating sequence,
the rotor begins to turn correspondingly as its teeth try to align
themselves with the stator teeth. The strength of the magnetic fields can
be precisely controlled by the amount of current through the windings,
thus the position of the rotor can be precisely controlled by these
attractive and repulsive forces.

There are many advantages to using stepper motors. Since maximum


dynamic torque occurs at low pulse rates (low speeds), stepper motors
can easily accelerate a load. Stepper motors have large holding torque
and stiffness, so there is usually no need for clutches and brakes (unless
a large external load is acting, such as gravity). Stepper motors are
inherently digital. The number of pulses determines position while the
pulse frequency determines velocity. Additional advantages are that they
are inexpensive, easily and accurately controlled, and there are no
brushes to maintain. Also, they offer excellent heat dissipation, and they
are very stiff motors with high holding torques for their size. The digital
nature of stepper motors also eliminates tuning parameters.

There are disadvantages associated with stepper motors. One of the


largest disadvantages is that the torque decreases as velocity is
increased. Because most stepper motors operate open loop with no
position sensing devices, the motor can stall or lose position if the load
torque exceeds the motor's available torque. Open loop stepper motor
systems should not be used for high-performance or high-load
applications, unless they are significantly derated. Another drawback is
that damping may be required when load inertia is very high to prevent
motor shaft oscillation at resonance points. Finally, stepper motors may
perform poorly in high-speed applications. The maximum steps/sec rate
of the motor and drive system should be considered, carefully.

( 1.2) Servo Motors


Servo motors are more robust than stepper motors, but pose a more
difficult control problem. They are primarily used in applications where
speed, power, noise level as well as velocity and positional accuracy are
important. Servo motors are not functional without sensor feedback.
They are designed and intended to be applied in combination with
resolvers, tachometers, or encoders (closed loop). There are several
types of servo motors, and three of the more common types are
described as follows. The DC brush type servo motors are most
commonly found in low-end to mid-range CNC machinery. The "brush"
refers to brushes that pass electric current to the rotor of the rotating
core of the motor. The construction consists of a magnet stator outside
and a coil rotor inside. A brush DC motor has more than one coil. Each
coil is angularly displaced from one another so when the torque from
one coil has dropped off, current is automatically switched to another
coil which is properly located to produce maximum torque. The
switching is accomplished mechanically by the brushes and a
commutator as shown below.

There are distinct advantages to using DC brush servo motors. They are
very inexpensive to apply. The motor commutates itself with the brushes
and it appears as a simple, two-terminal device that is easily controlled.
Among the disadvantages it is the fact that they are thermally inefficient,
because the heat must dissipate through the external magnets. This
condition reduces the torque to volume ratio, and the motor performance
may suffer inefficiencies. Also, the brushed motor will require
maintenance, as the brushes will wear and need replacement. Brushed
servo motors are usually operated under 5000 rpm.

The DC brushless type offers a higher level of performance. They are


often referred to as "inside out" DC motors because of their design. The
windings of a brushless motor are located in the outer portion of the
motor (stator), and the rotor is constructed from permanent magnets as
shown below. DC brushless motors are typically applied to high-end
CNC machinery, but the future may see midrange machinery use
brushless technology due to the narrowing cost gap.
AC servo motors are another variety that offers high-end performance.
Their physical construction is similar to that of the brushless DC motor;
however, there are no magnets in the AC motor. Instead, both the rotor
and stator are constructed from coils. Again, there are no brushes or
contacts anywhere in the motor which means they are maintenance-free.
They are capable of delivering very high torque at very high speeds;
they are very light and there is no possibility of demagnetization.

.However, due to the electronic commutation, they are extremely


complex and expensive to control. Perhaps the largest advantage of
using servo motors is that they are used in closed loop form, which
allows for very accurate position information and also allows for high
output torque to be realized at high speeds. The motor will draw the
required current to maintain the desired path, velocity, or torque, and is
controlled according to the requirements of the application rather than
by the limitations of the motor. Servo motors put out enormous peak
torque at or near stall conditions. They provide smooth, quiet operation,
and depending upon the resolution of the feedback mechanism, can have
very small resolutions. Among the disadvantages of servo motors are the
increased cost, the added feedback component, and the increased control
complexity. The closed loop feature can be a disadvantage for the case
when there is a physical obstacle blocking the path of motion. Rather
than stalling, the servo motor will continue to draw current to overcome
the obstacle. As a result, the system hardware, control electronics, signal
amplifier and motor may become damaged unless safety precautions are
taken.

( 2 ) Encoders
An encoder is a device used to change a signal or data into a code. These
encoders are used in metrology instruments and high precision
machining tools ranging from digital calipers to CNC machine tools.
( 2.1) Incremental encoders

With incremental linear encoders, the current position is determined by


stating a datum and counting measuring steps. The output signals of
incremental rotary encoders are evaluated by an electronic counter in
which the measured value is determined by counting "increments".
These encoders form the majority of all rotary encoders. Incremental
rotary encoders with integral couplings used for length measurement are
also in the market.

The resolution of these encoders can be increased by means of


electronic interpolation. There are, of course, the precision rotary
encoders specifically designed for angle measurement. If finer
resolution is required, standard rotary encoders often utilize electronic
signal interpolation. Rotary encoders for applications in dividing heads
and rotary tables, with very small measuring steps (down to 0.36 arc
second) have in principle the same basic design features as standard
rotary encoders, but incorporate some overall varying construction.

Figure 24.2 Rotary encoders

( 2.2 ) Absolute encoders

Absolute linear encoders require no previous transfer to provide the


current position value. Absolute rotary encoders provide an angular
position value which is derived from the pattern of the coded disc. The
code signal is processed within a computer or in a numerical control.
After system switch-on, such as following a power interruption, the
position value is immediately available. Since these encoder types
require more sophisticated optics and electronics than incremental
versions, a higher price is normally to be expected. Apart from these two
codes, a range of other codes have been employed, though they are
losing their significance since modern computer programs usually are
based on the binary system for reasons of high speed. There are many
versions of absolute encoders available today, such as single-turn or
multi-stage versions to name only two, and each must be evaluated
based on its intended application.

( 2.3 ) Rotary and Linear encoders

A linear encoder is a sensor, transducer paired with a scale that encodes


position. The sensor reads the scale in order to convert the encoded
position by a digital readout (DRO). Linear encoder technologies
include capacitive, inductive, eddy current, magnetic and optical.

A rotary encoder, also called a shaft encoder, is an electro-mechanical


device used to convert the angular position of a shaft to a digital code,
making it a sort of a transducer.
Rotary encoders serve as measuring sensors for rotary motion, and for
linear motion when used in conjunction with mechanical measuring
standards such as lead screws. There are two main types: absolute and
relative rotary encoders. Incremental rotary encoder uses a disc attached
to a shaft. The disc has several radial lines. An optical switch, such as a
photodiode, generates an electric pulse whenever one of the lines passes
through its field of view. An electronic control circuit counts the pulses
to determine the angle through which the shaft has turned.

As the present trend of machine tools evolves toward increasingly


higher accuracy and resolution, increased reliability and speeds, and
more efficient working ranges, so too must feedback systems. Currently,
linear feedback systems are available that will achieve resolutions in the
submicron range.
Figure 24.3: Exposed and sealed linear encoders

Submicron resolutions, for example, are required in the semiconductor


industry and in ultra-precision machining. Achieving these resolutions is
possible with the use of linear scales which transmit displacement
information directly to a digital readout. As in rotary, linear scales
operate on the same photoelectric scanning principle, but the linear
scales are comprised in an overall straight construction, and their output
signals are interpolated or digitized differently in a direct manner. One
of these signals is always used by the accompanying digital readout or
numerical control to determine and establish home position on the linear
machine axis in case of a power interruption or for workpiece
referencing. Overall, there are two physical versions of a linear scale:
exposed or enclosed as shown in the figure 24.3. With an enclosed or
"sealed" scale, the scanning unit is mounted on a small carriage guided
by ball bearings along the glass scale; the carriage is connected to the
machine slide by a backlash-free coupling that compensates for
alignment errors between the scale and the machine tool guide ways.

A set of sealing lips protects the scale from contamination. The typical
applications for the enclosed linear encoders are primarily machine
tools. Exposed linear encoders also consist of a glass scale and scanning
unit, but the two components are physically separated. The typical
advantages of the non-contact system are easier mounting and higher
traversing speeds since no contact or friction between the scanning unit
and scale exists. Exposed linear scales can be found in coordinate
measuring machines, translation stages, and material handling
equipment.
Another version of the scale and scanning unit arrangement is one that
uses a metal base rather than glass for the scale. With a metal scale, the
line grating is a deposit of highly reflective material such as gold that
reflects light back to the scanning unit onto the photovoltaic cells. The
advantage of this type of scale is that it can be manufactured in
extremely great lengths, up to 30 meters, for larger machines. Glass
scales are limited in length, typically three meters. There are several
mechanical considerations that need to be understood when discussing
linear encoders. It is not a simple matter to select an encoder based just
on length or dimensional profile and install the encoder onto a machine.
These characteristic considerations include permissible traversing
speeds, accuracy and resolution requirements, thermal behaviour and
mounting guidelines.

Figure 24.4: Principle of rotary and linear encoders

( 3 ) CNC Controller

There are two types of CNC controllers, namely closed loop and open
loop controllers. These have been discussed in details in section 22.2.

( 3.1 ) Controller Architecture:

Most of the CNC machine tools were built around proprietary


architecture and could not be changed or updated without an expensive
company upgrade. This method of protecting their market share worked
well for many years when the control technology enjoyed a four-to-five
year life cycle. Now a day the controller life cycle is only eight-to-
twelve months. So CNC manufacturers are forced to find better and less
expensive ways of upgrading their controllers.

Open architecture is the less costly than the alternatives. GE Fanuc and
other manufacturers introduced control architecture with PC
connectivity to allow users to take advantage of the new information
technologies that were slowly gaining acceptance on the shop floor.
They created an open platform that could easily communicate with other
devices over commercially available MS Windows operating system,
while maintaining the performance and reliability of the CNC machine
tool.