Author Archives: Matthew Panesis

A Relied-On Source for USA-Designed BLDC Solutions.

High performance motor kits used in Space has become ThinGap’s largest end-market in recent years. Reaction Wheel Assemblies (RWAs) used in Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) micro-satellites is one of the largest applications for the Company’s high-speed TG Series. The LS Series, like the model used in the OCI, is commonly used in advanced gimbal systems that require high amounts of torque, in some cases, to quickly and precisely move in both azimuth and elevation, and in other cases, to quickly compensate for external “tumbling” disturbances common in orbit.

Government customers represent a small, but important, aspect of ThinGap’s motor development and production business targeted at aerospace, industrial, and medical applications. The delivery of motor kits to NASA adds to ThinGap’s long list of Government customers, including DARPA, US DOE, US Navy, US Air Force, and JPL.

“ThinGap considers it an honor to support NASA projects, both past and present. Our emphasis on engineered-solutions, performance and as a USA-source make us a perfect fit for important Government programs,” said John Baumann, ThinGap’s CEO.

H-LSI 75-12—A Demonstration of Possibilities

ThinGap has made available a Direct Drive Motor assembly intended as a Technology Demonstrator and featuring LS Series of slotless motors. Using a low profile, 150 gram, 75 mm-OD motor kit, the new “H-LSI 75-12” includes ThinGap’s high-performance cogless motor, a precision bearing set, and a 20-bit absolute encoder from Renishaw. The part aims to demonstrate the superior performance of ThinGap’s motor technology and offers customers a chance to purchase the assembly as a test unit, demonstrator, in support of rapid prototyping, or even low-rate production applications needing a turnkey solution.

Most OEMs come to ThinGap in need of a motor kit, wanting to take advantage of the low profile, lightweight, large aperture, and frameless architecture that is ideal for deep system integration. Yet, the time and cost of engineering a housed solution are not lost on program managers and developers, so in some cases, the availability of a fully engineered, direct drive assembly provides a real advantage.

To learn more about the H-LSI 75-12, click here.

ThinGap Motor Kits in the Medical and Robotics Markets

Today’s modern Robotic Systems and Collaborative Robots, including robotically assisted surgical-systems, require smooth precision motion in their robotic joints and end-effectors. Haptic systems require accurate torque feedback without mechanical disturbances to improve the human control experience. Multi-axis robots in manufacturing and semiconductor applications need low profile, frameless kits that fit inside articulating wrists, elbows, and shoulder axes while having high torque and low heat.

ThinGap’s motor kits have multiple important characteristics which make them highly effective for both haptic feedback and actuation applications. The linear torque output, little to no hysteretic drag, and ultra high magnetic efficiency of the ThinGap’s motor kits make them exceptional for Haptic feedback. At the same time, the motor kits provide zero-cogging for precise and smooth motion, a low profile and large through hole to assist with integration, and a lightweight motor kit with a high torque to weight ratio. All of these attributes make ThinGap motor kits a must-have for medical and robotic products.

Space-rated Slottless Motor Kits for Reaction Wheels Assemblies and Attitude Control Solutions

With two lines of high performance slotless motors — both with space heritage, ThinGap’s patented technology is well suited for active control applications. The TG Series’ high-speed, high-efficiency is ideal for momentum-wheels in both RWA and CMG.  The LS Series’ high-torque, lower-speed precision movement is perfect for gimbal applications, like those in a CMG architecture and related Satcom and Optical applications.

Since 2015, ThinGap has shipped thousands of space-grade or MIL-STD rated motor parts for use in commercial satellites, UAV, military and commercial aircraft, and flight-grade NASA programs.  Using its proprietary design, very thin wire-wrapped stators and optimized permanent-magnet rotors, all ThinGap designs match the torque output of slotted motors while avoiding the cogging that plagues them. Cogging is an unwanted magnetic torque disturbance inherent in slotted motors.

ThinGap’s slotless architecture provides smooth motion that is critical to communication and optical systems that need precision aiming and pointing over long distances. The ring-shape mechanical design is a perfect form-factor for aerospace applications with their need for high efficiency, precision actuation, direct drive capability and open aperture.

Higher Torque in a Taller Package

With the release of the new LSI 25-16 and LSI 25-25, ThinGap has begun its expansion of the LSI line of motor kits with its new “Tall” options. These new motor kits will use the same outer diameter as the base motor kits in the line but will increase the axial height of the kits. This allows the motor kits to provide increased torque output while still maintaining a specific radial profile. The tall options for the motor kit should allow the LSI series to be an effective fit for applications with high torque requirements while still maintaining high performance, zero cogging, and high efficiency.

The addition of more “tall” options will continue in 2021 with the LSI 51 and LSI 59 receiving the next variants in Q1. Keep an eye out in the coming months for more information on these new motor kits

Made in the USA

Now more than ever, the ability to produce high performance goods in the USA is important to the country. ThinGap works hard to be a go-to source of USA designed and made standard and custom solutions for motor kits and has recently delivered high-performance motors to NASA and the Navy under seperate projects.

The delivery of motor kits to NASA and US Navy adds to ThinGap’s long list of Government customers, including DARPA, US Air Force, and JPL. Impressive collaborations with these Agencies speak to the high caliber nature of ThinGap’s products and services. “Our support of NASA and Navy demonstrates the impressive quality and ingenuity that make ThinGap products so special,” commented John Baumann, ThinGap’s CEO. “These advanced motor solutions are provided to our defense and aerospace partners, as well as ThinGap’s growing commercial-customer base.”

Why ThinGap Motors Provide Such Smooth Motion

The benefit of ThinGap slotless and ironless motor designs is that they eliminate cogging torque. Their uniquely constructed phase windings produce a balanced phase amplitude and angle relationships between phases. In addition, due to these patented unique design features, ThinGap motors exhibit torque versus angle curves with good phase balance resulting in less than 1% harmonic distortion minimizing torque ripple.  ThinGap motors also produce linear torque output with current which ensures minimum torque ripple even at high load conditions. It doesn’t get any smoother than this!

The blue line indicates the type of torque ripple that will be induced as the motor is run with a sinusoidal motor driver.

Robotics Trends, Miniature Motors, and the New LSI 25-10

Recently, MachineDesign released an article on the four biggest robotics trends and the need for miniature motors. The release of this article coincides nicely with the release of our newest LS series product: the LSI 25-10.

Compared to the larger gimbal motors produced by ThinGap, the LSI 25-10 is about the size of a men’s wedding band. Its small size makes it ideal for robots in the medical, warehousing, security and process automation fields. Using the industry trends identified in the article, we have analysed some of the key benefits of our LSI 25-10.

Trend 1: Mobility & Footprint

As stated, many robotics companies are working on unique challenges that require direct-drive motors that are “mobile, dexterous and compact.” As an example, smaller than a quarter, the LSI 25-10 is able to maximize power and torque density, making it ideal for multiple-jointed solutions.

Trend 2: Robustness & Extended Life

The article mentions robots in surgical applications as an example of why durability is such a crucial characteristic in miniature motors. The motors used in surgical robots must be able to withstand “repeated high-temperature and pressure cycles during the sterilization process.” Unlike many other small motors, the LSI 25-10 is able to endure exposure to harsh conditions in atypical environments.

Trend 3: Safety & Analytics

Safely and predictably, two of the most crucial characteristics needed in miniature motors, are required in applications such as robotic surgical systems, realistic flight simulators and even collaborative robots. ThinGap motors have already been used in these applications given that they address the need for a feedback loop in which the operation (or software controlled system) is able to detect resistance. ThinGap’s patented technology provides both drive and feedback, thereby eliminating the need for additional components and not introducing further distortions. The LS series motors have a torque-versus-angle curve of less than 1% harmonic distortion.

Trend 4: Autonomy & Multi-Axis Control

The demand for autonomous systems clearly continues to drive the need for the effective use of small, highly efficient motors paired with advanced sensors. In this way, the compact nature of ThinGap motors make them ideal for multi-axial armatures and robotics, combined with zero-cogging which equates to smooth motion, needed by optical sensors and high speed lasers, as used in LiDAR.

For more information on our LS series of spotless motors, check out our products page.

ThinGap comments on Industry Report predicting $39B growth in the Brushless DC Motors Market

A recent industry analysis was published by Infiniti Research Limited detailing the expected size and growth rate of the global Brushless DC (BLDC) Motor market and it pointed to some impressive trends.

The industry research published by Infiniti Research in January 2020 predicts that the BLDC Motor Market will experience a dramatic growth of $38.8B between 2020 and 2024, which equates to an expected 13% CAGR during this forecast period.

It is no secret that electric motors have increased in popularity in recent years, case in point, the hugely successful emergence of electric vehicles, like the Tesla brand. While electric cars are a high-profile application, activity in the multi-billion dollar BLDC motor industry is much more pervasive due to trends toward direct drive motion, automation and the benefits of increased efficiency and sustainability offered by electric motors. Beyond traditional applications for electric motors, like the heavy industrial market, a wide range of emerging industries have taken interest in the many benefits of BLDC motors.

While BLDC motor applications and benefits are new to many, ThinGap has been operating on the forefront of the technology for the past two decades. ThinGap’s unique focus has been Slotless Motor kits, which are defined by having a stator that has a uniform wire-wrapped coil and avoids the use of teeth in the back-iron that a typical Slotted Motor would have. This proprietary approach of making slotless stators, coupled with optimized placement of permanent magnets on the rotor, results in a very high torque-to-weight ratio, zero cogging motion and large inner through-holes.

ThinGap has designed and manufactured BLDC motors for a wide range of applications, including aerospace, medical, and specialized industrial equipment. Having experienced an

impressive rate of growth over the last several years, ThinGap expects to far exceed any underlying expansion in the overall market for BLDC motors with its continued emphasis on targeted applications that benefit from smooth and precise motion, along with efficiency and weight optimization.

Click here to view the full industry report.

Tactical Airborne Gimbal Systems: A perfect fit for ThinGap LS Series Motor Kits

The use of airborne gimbals is becoming pervasive on both Maned-Aircraft and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). In addition to common uses in communication systems, they are emerging for use in security systems by law enforcement, for search and rescue, and to support severe weather and offshore missions by the Coast Guard. The use of gimbals has become an important part of Defense Agencies’ critical Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) objectives.  These state-of-the-art gimbals, or “balls” as they are often referred to, are packed with advance sensor payloads that include thermal imagers, high-precision cameras, air-to-ground communications and lasers for pointing, ranging and illuminating.

Multiaxial gimbals require high performance motors to directly drive their movements and to hold position. As airborne systems, high performance is defined by weight, torque capacity, smooth motion and a desirable form factor. ThinGap’s slotless LS Series motor kits address all of these critical needs.

ThinGap’s patented method for distributing motor phase coil wires with a very thin cross section eliminates traditional magnetic stator teeth resulting in a motor without cogging torque.  Cogging is an unwanted magnetic torque disturbance that most motors have. The main cause of cogging is related to stator winding patterns having to fit in the slots between the traditional iron teeth (or poles), thus the term slotless is used.  Slotless motors eliminate cogging torque and offer smooth motion that is critical to optical systems for precision aiming, point and zooming at long standoff distances, and otherwise smooth motion for precise scanning ThinGap motors also have torque versus angle curves with less than 1% harmonic distortion and phase balance making the motors create the smoothest motion available.

Using its proprietary design, very thin wire-wrapped stators and optimized permanent-magnet rotors, ThinGap provides motors with that can match the torque output of slotted motors while avoiding the cogging that plagues them…  Gimbal makers have an inherent need for high amount of torque, in some cases to quickly and precisely move in both azimuth and elevation, and in most cases, to stabilize the housing from high forces caused by drag from the speed in which the aircraft is flying and the leading edge location of the gimbal and its flat windows.

Finally, ring motors are the perfect form factor for gimbals with their round shape, direct drive mounting capability and empty center. ThinGap’s motor kits offer a very large through hole, usually 65% of more of the device’s outer diameter (OD), due to its efficient mechanical design and optimized components. This large through hole saves both weight and provides valuable space for housing electronics, pass through cabling, or other aspects of the payload.

ThinGap’s slotless motor kits are a perfect fit for Gimbal applications, airborne or otherwise. Even ground-based systems, vehicle mounted turrets, spacecraft imaging and security system’s Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTV) can all benefit.