Motors play a vital role in our daily lives. In fact, according to a 2013 survey by the World Energy Council, motors account for around 45% of the total electricity consumption in industrialized countries. However, it is important to note that in many developing countries with enormous industrial outputs but outdated electrical equipment, the share of electricity used by motors is even higher.
Indeed, one of the biggest challenges faced by engineers and manufacturers today is creating motors that are more energy-efficient than ever. After all, with increasing public concern over environmental issues like pollution and climate change, it is in our best interest to create an energy economy that is increasingly less energy-hungry.
More than this, however, engineers and manufacturers also aim to produce smaller and smaller electric motors. After all, there are plenty of economic and practical incentives to motor miniaturization. For instance, smaller motors that are more power-efficient at the same time can make motorized hand tools more compact, more ergonomic, and less costly. From a consumer’s perspective, these value-adding features are selling points that would encourage them to choose such tools over those that are bigger, more cumbersome to carry, and consume more energy.
These days, these miniature electric motors—be they brushless DC motors or brush DC motors—are used in numerous applications that make our lives easier. The following are three of the most important.
Manufacturing and Automation
Few things characterize the modern world more than the spread of widescale industrial manufacturing. These days, automation is a critical part of this industry, with machineries incorporating motor-driven components for the handling, assembly, transport, and labeling of numerous kinds of workpieces, components, and finished whole products. The modern manufacturing of semiconductors, for example, will not be possible without the use of high-speed, high-precision pick-and-place assembly systems that are driven by electric motors. With the continuing growth in the demand for components and finished goods worldwide, the congruent expansion of manufacturing-related automation is only to be expected as well.
These days, much of the world’s manufacturing productivity has shifted to developing economies like China and the countries in Southeast Asia. According to the Wall Street Journal, China’s share of global manufacturing output reached 25% in 2015, up from just 7% in the year 2000. Other regional bright spots include countries like Singapore, Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia. In fact international electric motor suppliers like RS Components have thriving business interests in East Asia.
Construction and Engineering
You may have heard about how, during the construction boom in Dubai, the city hosted around a quarter of the world’s construction cranes. Today, this city in the United Arab Emirates stands as a marvel of modern engineering, but its transformation from a once-sleepy Arabian town to a global megacity didn’t mean the end of the global demand for new construction projects. With many other developing economies coming to age and entering their own eras of construction boom, the construction industry is only expected to grow even more.
At the vanguard of this continuing development are the millions of industrial power tools that are carried and used by construction workers and tradesmen all over the world. From drills, screwdrivers, cutters and nutrunners to electric grippers, power shears, nail guns, and needlegun scalers, these tools incorporate miniature electric motors that can withstand the demanding torque and speed cycle requirements of construction and industrial applications.
Medicine and Healthcare
For much of modern history, medical practitioners relied on the efficiency of their tools in order to carry out necessary medical procedures. Surgeons, for instance, needed different classes of specially designed tools in order to perform specific actions like incision, suction, irrigation, and many others.
The dawn of the age of electricity also spelled the birth of motorized surgical tools and equipment that are today saving millions of lives around the world each year. These include motorized versions of the aforementioned surgical tools, which are not only optimized for performance-critical medical operations but are also sterilizable and autoclavable due to the nature of their application. This way, contamination and the spread of infectious diseases can be prevented in healthcare settings.
Other medical applications of miniature motors include their use in medical pipettes, respiratory and ventilation pumps, automated liquid handling devices, various diagnostic equipment, and medical exoskeletons.
Miniature electric motors may be small physically, but their impact to the modern world is undeniable, In the future, these little wonders of engineering will be made more efficient, allowing us to use them in many more applications that require precision, speed, and energy efficiency.