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Machine-builders turn to direct-drive torque motors

09 April, 2013

The global market for direct-drive torque motor modules almost doubled from $98m in 2008 to $195m by 2012, and will be worth nearly $300m by 2016, according to a new report from IMS Research, now part of IHS.

Jim Dawson, senior analyst for motors and mechanical power research at IHS, says that the market growth is being driven partly by new applications, and partly by “the replacement of gear-motors and hydraulic systems in industrial machinery that demands increased functionality and greater energy-efficiency”.

Although torque motor revenues flattened off last year due to a slowdown in demand for industrial machinery and a fall in the motor prices, caused by falling rare-earth element prices, IHS expects sales to start growing again this year, driven by an increasing number of suppliers and a wider variety of applications.

The analyst reports that manufacturers of conventional servomotors are adding direct-drive torque motors to their portfolios to tap into this expanding market and to ensure they do not lose customers to rival suppliers.

The main market for torque motors to date has been high-end machinery in the machine-tool, semiconductor equipment, electronics assembly and flat-panel production sectors, where precision motion is needed.

Direct-drive torque motor modules reduce the need for power transmission components such as gearboxes, couplings and linkages, thus reducing the efficiency losses caused by these components. The motors can operate with higher speeds and higher precision than is possible with established fluid or electromechanical drive technologies.

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