Ironless Linear Motors Gain Prominence in Automation Engineering and Production Sectors

Ironless linear motors are being increasingly used to improve force to mass ratio in various end-case applications. Hence, manufacturers are increasing their research efforts to develop lightweight linear motors that enhance productivity in various applications. As such, the semiconductor application segment is estimated to lead the linear motor market, whereas the global market is expected to reach a value of ~US$ 2 Bn by the end of 2027. Hence, companies are increasing their production capacities to manufacture ironless linear motors that are more dynamic and support precise handling of small masses.

Manufacturers in the linear motor market are tapping into opportunities in sectors such as automation engineering and production to generate revenue streams. For instance, Schaeffler Group-a German manufacturer of rolling element bearings for automotive and industrial uses, announced the launch of their new UPLplus linear motor series, which are gaining popularity in automation engineering and production sectors. On the other hand, ironless motors are being used in innovative applications such as analytics in medical technology as well as in inspection machines in productronics.

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Cutting-edge Linear Motor Stages Support Long Travel in Terms of Nanometer Resolution

High accuracy, repeatability, and functionality are important attributes that are becoming increasingly commonplace in the linear motor market. Hence, manufacturers are increasing R&D to integrate absolute-measuring linear position encoders in motors that support long travel in terms of nanometer resolution. For instance, Physik Instrumente— a supplier of solutions in the fields of motion and positioning, has gained expertise in the development of high-accuracy linear motor stages that help end users achieve high velocities in direct drive ironless linear servo motors.

There is a growing demand for high performance connectors that provide special protection from contamination in 24/7 industrial automation applications. Hence, companies in the linear motor market are bolstering their credibility by offering increased toughness and reliability in innovative linear motor stages. On the other hand, manufacturers are increasing their efficacy in the production of electrodynamic linear motors integrated with cutting-edge linear motor stages. These production practices support high load capacities whilst eliminating cage migration issues.

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Awareness about Critical Rotation Speeds Helps Overcome Limitations in Motor Shafts

Manufacturers in the linear motor market are increasing efforts to gain competitive edge over the other by designing cost-effective machines or by increasing the availability of machines that generate higher output. However, limitations in motor shafts, stemming from windup twist under heavy load and acceleration pose as a restraint for manufacturers. This explains why the linear motor market is expected to expand at a modest CAGR of ~5.5% throughout the forecast period. Hence, manufacturers need to be more aware about critical rotation speeds and length limitations.

On the other hand, mechanical drive restrictions are being overcome by using linear motors. As such, linear motors are being highly publicized in machine tool applications. This is evident since machine tool applications involving metal forming and metal cutting are estimated to dominate the third-highest revenue in the market landscape. The electromagnetic force in linear motors eliminates the need for mechanical connection, thus eliminating any mechanical hysteresis or pitch-cycle error.

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Companies Generate Incremental Opportunities with High Adoption of Direct Drive Motors

Linear motors play a pivotal role for engineers while developing new platforms for machine tools. Thus, direct drive motors involving torque and linear motors are increasingly being adopted in industry practice. As such, linear motors are being perceived as high-end alternatives to gearboxes and ball screws. New trends such as increasing force density in direct drive motors are some of the key drivers contributing to the growth of the linear motor market. This explains why the market is estimated for an output of ~1,800 units by the end of 2027.

Companies in the linear motor market are increasing their production capabilities to increase the availability of motors that accommodate in various size options in direct drive motors. Since direct drive tools are a key component in machine tools, manufacturers are focusing on performance and product quality to support the tool-turning power profile within a certain volume.

Liquid cooling has become an industry standard in machine tools. Hence, there is a growing demand for simplified integration of linear motors into direct drive motors to ease concerns regarding coolant leaks and the challenge of designing the best cooling channels. Lightweight and cost-effective designs of motors are helping manufacturers to bolster their credibility credentials in the competitive landscape.

The linear motor market in Asia Pacific is expected to generate the highest revenue and is projected for exponential growth. However, gear reducers add unnecessary inertia to motors, thus resulting in backlash and noise due to increase in wear. Hence, manufacturers should be aware about critical rotation speeds and pitch-cycle errors to overcome limitations of backlash and noise in linear motors.

Linear Motor Market: Overview

  • According to Transparency Market Research’s latest research report on the global linear motor market for the historical period of 2017–2018 and the forecast period of 2019–2027, increase in investments in the building & infrastructure sector to construct attractive and complex-shaped buildings at an affordable cost in less time is expected to boost the global market during the forecast period
  • In terms of revenue, the global linear motor market is estimated to reach value of ~US$ 2 Bn by 2027, expanding at a CAGR of 5.5% during the forecast period

Innovations in Direct Drives: A Key Driving Factor

  • Manufacturers of linear motors are focusing on innovations and hence, they are carrying out the following types of activities:
    • Servo Components and Systems Ltd has designed a new direct drive called Green Drive Actuator, a combination of speed and rugged operations, which can control the ball screw and thereby, provide increased reliability to direct drive linear motors. The actuator operates at a speed of up to 5 m/s, with a positional reliability of 50 microns, which makes it suitable for several industrial applications.
    • Copley Controls Corp provides a range of AC- and DC-powered digital drives for use in servo and stepper motors called New Plus Servo Drives. Safe torque-off capability of these drives eliminates the complex wiring used in traditional safety applications. New Plus Servo Drives use metal enclosures that ensure the maximum level of noise immunity.
  • Due to technological innovations in direct drives, the demand for linear motors is increasing in various industrial applications. This, in turn, is boosting the global linear motor market.
  • The impact of this driver is expected to remain high during the forecast period

Design of Compact Linear Motors and Use of Real-time Interface: Latest Market Trend

  • Compact linear motors are designed for achieving high force in a compact package and high-accuracy positioning. This compact design eliminates issues related to backlash, windup, wear, and maintenance associated with ball screws, belts, and rack and pinions.
  • Aerotech Inc. has designed BLMC-series linear motors, offering a cross section of 57.2 mm x 31.8 mm. BLMC-series motors are direct drives and they consist of a non-contacting forcer and a ‘U-channel’ rare-earth magnet track.
  • Real-time interface is one of the most significant trend in the global linear motor market. Use of Ethernet-based networks enables manufacturing floors communicate with other company tools, such as ERP (enterprise resource planning), more easily.
  • The motion control system used in linear motors calls for more rapid communication and transfer of real-time data between the overlaid machine control and direct drives

High Costs and Complex Designs of Superconducting Magnets: A Major Challenge for Global Market

  • One of the major issues associated with linear motors is their high cost and the complex design of electromagnets used in them
  • Generally, more powerful electromagnets are required to lift and move one magnet over another, which consumes a large amount of electric power. Linear motors use superconducting magnets to overcome this issue.
  • As for dynamic applications, linear motors are energy efficient and they can attain high speed. For this purpose, superconducting magnets are used to attain low temperatures, which reduces the power consumption, thereby preventing thermal wear and tear of motors. Use of electromagnets with such complex designs is restraining the global linear motor market.
  • Thus, high costs and complex designs of electromagnets used in linear motors are major restraining factors for the global linear motor market
  • The impact of this driver is expected to remain high during the forecast period

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Linear Motor Market: Competition Landscape

  • Detailed profiles of providers of linear motors have been provided in the report to evaluate their financials, key product offerings, recent developments, and strategies
  • Key players operating in the global linear motor market are
  • Aerotech
  • ANCA Group
  • BOSCH Rexroth
  • ETEL S.A.
  • FANUC Corporation
  • Hiwin Corporation
  • Jenney Science AG
  • KML Linear Motion Technology GmbH
  • Kollmorgen Corporation
  • Mitsubishi Electric Corporation
  • Moog Inc.
  • NTI AG LinMot
  • Oswald Elektromotoren GmbH
  • Parker-Hannifin Corporation
  • Piezo Motor Uppsala AB
  • Rockwell Automation, Inc.
  • Sodick Co. Ltd.
  • Yaskawa Electric Corporation

Linear Motor Market: Key Developments

  • Key providers of linear motors, such as Aerotech, ANCA Group, and Hiwin Corporation, are focusing on the construction of cost-efficient linear motor to attract more customers. Some of the key developments in the global linear motor market are as follows:
    • In April 2019, ANCA Motion launched a new tubular linear motor i.e. LinX M Series, which offers 10 micrometer of resolution at a peak force of up to 1,200 N. This is the latest addition to the LinX range, which supports demanding automation applications whilst increasing efficiency in a compact design at a reduced cost.
    • In April 2018, Aerotech Inc. designed an ECO series of linear stage products as part of its portfolio of linear motion products. The ECO-LM series is designed with non-contact linear encoders, at a high precision. Linear motors have no windup, zero backlash, and no friction. They have outstanding dynamic responsiveness.
  • In the report on the global linear motor market, we have discussed individual strategies, followed by company profiles of providers of linear motors. The ‘Competition Landscape’ section has been included in the report to provide readers with a dashboard view and company market share analysis of key players operating in the global linear motor market.

 

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