The various options of semiconductor integration are opening up an ever-growing array of applications for distributed intelligent small drive solutions based on synchronous motors. These include BLDC motors, PMSMs and stepper motors. Because of their technical advantages and increased efficiency, these types of motors are replacing brush-type motors in many existing applications. Automobiles are a great example.
By Adriano De Rosa, IC Architect, Micronas.
Typically automotive components must support low system cost, small, light and reliable, and show a high degree of efficiency. It is also important to reduce exhaust emissions and lower the fuel consumption. The need for drive concepts that work with a wide range of motors and the extreme demands made on efficiency, system design and networking options have major impact upon the actuator electronics.
The BLDC motor market
There are plenty of BLDC manufacturers in the US. Most companies are still focused on motor technology like brushtype DC motors, stepper motors, etc. But many of them are establishing the BLDC motor as a basis for new product developments. Even though there are many BLDC motor manufacturers in place, especially for the tiny BLDC motors, there are not so many integrated control electronic solutions on the market. Companies capable of manufacturing BLDC motors with integrated intelligent electronics inside, together with a low cost approach are still not easy to find.
The level of adoption of BLDC motor technology is increasing. Many automotive functions such as fuel or water pumps, HVAC, curve light and head-lamp levelling are converting from brush-type DC motor or stepper motor technology to BLDC motor technology. Yes, this is not a general proof that all brush DC or stepper motors will convert to BLDC motor technology. But the main argument that the electronics to control the motor are too expensive compared to the price of the motor itself is becoming less valid every day. Furthermore, the BLDC motor advantages can significantly enhance other system properties. Hence it can be foreseen an evolution to intelligent motion control.
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