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Miniature Motor Driveline Solutions for Aerospace Applications

November 10, 2015

The technology world is rapidly adapting to miniaturization, with terms like “Micro”, “Nano” and even “Pico” increasingly in vogue. This has created an immense need for anything that can provide packaged products in smallest possible sizes, and miniature motor solutions play a critical role in addressing this need. With a growing number of applications, these motors now need a wide range of capabilities, from working in a simple office to functioning in extremely hazardous environments. An application demand from Aerospace & Defense (A & D) industry falls in the latter category. Stepper motors play an important role for any A&D application need that requires some precise positioning. 

Major A&D applications have very stringent applications requirements e.g. criticality of weight & space, low input power, temperatures extremes from -60 ºC to +150 ºC, tolerance to noise, vibrations & shocks, EMI-EMC etc. It is desirable to have all the above mentioned requirements in complete driveline package by miniature products. An optimal design not only enables the motor to operate at peak efficiencies in extreme environments, but also ensures that the motor operates safely & with highest reliability.

Applications like valve actuations on the aircraft vehicles needs to perform critical functions, from regulating the flow of engine fuel to controlling the air flow into the aircraft environmental systems. Depending upon the load to be overcome in these applications, various types of precision motors with gearboxes need to be used. A gearbox with planetary arrangement provides not only high power density but also compactness, lower noise & better efficiencies. For extreme low noise & higher efficiencies compound gear trains are preferred.

Flow control valves need very accurate positioning of movable parts. This can be achieved with very high resolution encoders - preferably with greater than 256 lines of resolution; while with magnetic encoders, resolution can even go up to 4096 PPR (Parts Per Revolution)

Fuel Injector Pump

For applications like Seat Valve Actuation in aircraft systems, smooth operation is a key to provide comfort level to passengers, while the application load is large. Graphite commutation brushed motors take care of these needs.

Seat Actuation Mechanism

A recent innovation like automating aircraft window shades for private & business class travelers has opened a new arena in air travel and passenger luxury. Until recently, motors, gearboxes, encoders and electro-magnetic brakes were used to lock the window shades at a pre-defined position, at all times. Electro-magnetic brakes thus engaged used up aircraft power at all times with high power consumption levels. Thanks to magnetic reluctance brake technology from Portescap, airlines can now save large amounts of power which was earlier used up for just one task - maintaining aircraft window shades at a pre-determined position. This brake is specifically designed to suit application needs where their total working time to operate window shades is around two hours a day while twenty two hours is an off-time. With use of magnetic reluctance brake, window shade is kept at specific position by a magnetic force. While power consumption does take place, power saved with this magnetic brake is much larger than an electro-magnetic brake.

Manufacturers supplying precision motors to the specialized A&D market must have ability to provide custom motor designs for each specific application. With extensive experience in A&D application support, a complete miniature driveline solution is being established in Portescap that includes a motor, a suitable gearbox technological product, encoders, electronic filters & magnetic brake where all of the stringent requirements are guaranteed to be met keeping the smallest of sizes. Portescap's experience in meeting these critical application needs in joint efforts with A&D OEMs, helps better address the A&D industry application requirements.