Motion Control Systems Integrator
Types of Drives

Types of Drives

Do you need a dumb drive or a smart drive?

In the old days, a drive was nothing more than an amplifier.  It took a current (or sometimes a velocity) command from a motion controller, and controlled the current (or velocity) of the servo motor.  Nowadays, drives have become smart.  You can still get, and successfully use, a dumb drive.  But there are other choices.  What if your application just needs to move a single axis to preset positions?  In that case, you can get an indexing drive.  All motor (and motion) control is handled by the drive.  Positions and speeds can be changed via some form of communications if necessary.

If you only have a single axis, but still need higher level programming, then you can get a drive with a full-blown motion controller built into it. What if you want a networked motion system?  In that case, the drive takes motion profile commands from a motion controller over a network.  The motion controller coordinates all motion profiles (of multiple axes also), and the drive provides current, velocity, and position control for the motor.

Most of the above facts about servo drives can also apply to induction motor drives.  Choices are more limited, but there is still quite a bit of motion control that can be accomplished with an induction motor/drive combination.

The same is almost true for stepper drives, except that dumb stepper drives take either step and direction pulses, or sometimes an analog velocity command.  You can also get an indexing stepper drive, or a stepper drive with an on-board motion controller.  Networked stepper drives are available, but they are not as popular as servo drives.

Get select excerpts of our Motion Control Guide. Or, download our free guide 10 Ways to Make Your Best Moves with Motion Control Systems.