Why PCB stator motors are ideal for medtech
Article by Ian Bolland, Editor at Med-tech Innovation News, originally published on September 1st, 2020, on Med-tech Innovation News.
ECM PCB Stator Technology explains why the company’s technology can be used in the medtech sector.
ECM, a motor design and software company who has optimized the design and manufacturability of printed circuit board (PCB) stator machines, recently integrated its technology into remarkably small, lightweight motor packages ideal for medical applications. In the first instance, PCB stator technology was integrated into the elbow joint actuator of an orthosis. In a second study of ECM’s value in medical devices, a solution was prototyped to be used for a new ultra-lightweight, portable oxygen concentrator.
The PCB stator platform can integrate into a range of next generation medical technologies to provide compact, torque-dense solutions, with low electromagnetic interference and a superior quality of motion, ideal for portable systems, surgical robotics and wearable technology.
PrintStator, a PCB stator design and optimization software developed by ECM, considerably reduces design cycle and motor development costs while enabling considerable flexibility in specifying operating characteristics and form factor restraints. With PrintStator, transforming exact system requirements into a unique PCB stator motor, ready for rapid prototyping and commercial production, is only a matter of hours.
ECM’s stator design, eliminating the need for bulky copper windings, can reduce motor weight up to 70%. PrintStator optimizes the use of raw materials in each design lowering environmental impact and, in some cases, reducing copper use by 80%. Increased efficiency of ECM motors reduces energy cost and, for portable systems, extends battery life while further reducing carbon footprint of integrated medical systems.
For portable devices and wearable systems, the planar form factor of the PCB stator, and the software’s ability to eliminate resistance and eddy current losses by optimizing copper geometries within the stator, creates motors with high power density and minimal axial length. PrintStator also has the flexibility to design motors as a thin ring allowing for the ease of a hollow shaft and the compact integration with a variety of torque multipliers (strain wave, planetary gear, etc.). These power-dense, low-volume actuators are ideal for surgical and orthotic robotics.
In the operating room, where the smooth operation of sensors and other medical equipment in close proximity is essential, ECM’s machines are a complete solution, producing extremely low levels of electromagnetic interference and acoustic noise. In addition, the lack of iron in PCB stators eliminates cogging and equips ECM machines with the superior quality of motion necessary for the advancing robotic assisted surgery.
The 40W actuator, built for use in the elbow joint of an adult orthosis, reduced system size and increased capability. The concise combination of a strain wave gear and ECM’s axially thin motor created a low volume system with high torque density, enabling patients to lift heavier items and wear a long sleeve shirt over the brace. In comparisons with existing solutions, this actuator is up to 65% lighter while delivering an equal or greater torque (length: 61mm, OD: 101mm, mass: 0.97kg). Integrating PCB stator technology into an oxygen concentrator contributed to the system’s portability and increased patient comfort. ECM’s solution reduced axial thickness by 60% and significantly decreased system noise and EMI. The new ultra-lightweight system required much less raw materials when compared to current concentrator packages, reducing manufacturing costs and the cost responsibility of the patient significantly.
ECM is in the process of introducing its PrintStator software and PCB stator technology for a range of medical applications. Form factor flexibility, increased efficiency, low noise and minimal electromagnetic interference are just a few of the benefits that equip ECM’s PCB Stator platform with the ability to offer the superior motor package in medical technology. Beyond medical devices, ECM is currently collaborating with companies across other industries, designing customised motor solutions to integrate the ECM platform and its advantages into their product lines.