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The Selection of High-Precision Microdrives.

The Selection of High-Precision Microdrives, by Urs Kafader, Maxon Precision Motors, Sachseln, Switzerland. 2007. 148 pages. $50.00. ISBN: 978-3-9520143-6-3 ( or 800-865-7540).

If you plan to include a small motor into a design, this book provides helpful step-by-step instructions that simplify the process. I recommend it highly.

Engineers put micro-drive motors, or microdrives, into products from robots to precision medical instruments. According to Maxon, the company that sponsored this useful book, microdrives operate at up to approximately 1.5W. Other companies may use different definitions, but the ideas are similar--these small yet versatile motors find use in specialized applications. To use these motors in a design, you must master some mechatronics fundamentals.


In this well-illustrated and thorough book, the author successfully explains motor-selection criteria and design methods to designers who may have had little exposure to mechanics. Instead of delivering a dry reference book, the author takes engineers through a quick introduction and then into a seven-step selection process. Each step takes a separate chapter that includes color diagrams, formulas, explanations, reference information, and worked-out examples.

The author's selection process includes, among other steps, an analysis of the underlying application, consideration of operating environments, design of a mechanical drive, selection of gearheads and motors, and the choice of a controller and feedback sensor.

As I read this book, I had many "eureka" moments when a point became crystal clear after I worked through one of the author's examples. I'm sure other engineers will have similar revelations. Many concepts I took for granted or applied by cut-and-try methods have firm engineering behind them, but finding the facts and figures often proved impossible. Now readers have the needed background information, equations, and examples to help them better apply small motors to a problem.

Because a motor manufacturer published this book, you might think the material has a bias toward specific products. Not so. A few photographs show Maxon motors, but the book does not push products. (Three pages at the back of the book provide a company overview.) Chapter 10 explains how to use a program to select Maxon gearheads and motors for an application, but the book fails to explain where to find the program. Go to: and look for the "Maxon Selection Program" that you can download and run in four languages. The program lets you save and retrieve design information, and it includes help screens. Of course, the program does select specific Maxon products.

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Title Annotation:Books & Kits
Author:Titus, Jon
Publication:ECN-Electronic Component News
Date:Nov 1, 2007
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