What is the greatest development in motion control in the past 60 years?

Ask Control Engineering blog links to 60 years of motors, drives, and motion control coverage for the answer.
By Mark T. Hoske, Frank J. Bartos, PE September 20, 2014

If the question is, "What’s the most important development in motion control in the last 60 years?" the answer is, "The integration of electronics into motion control technologies."

Control Engineering discussion of motion control trends 1954 to recent times include images from December 1954, October 1955, March 1956, October 1964 and 18 others. Courtesy: Control Engineering archives

In the Control Engineering September 60th anniversary edition, in print and online, Frank J. Bartos, PE, examines motors, drives, and motion control developments and trends over the past 60 years in a five-article series, including reflections and references, and many historical photos. [Please add your comments or observations to any of the component articles, and/or below. Thanks.]

Electronic motion control, then and now

Automation tales in motion: Great changes have taken place in motion control systems over the past 60 years. From proprietary, “black-box” controllers and early analog drives, electronic advancements have led to today’s largely automated controls that rely on digital signal processors, accurate motor models implemented in software, and ability to connect with other systems in a facility. Four online extensions (below), with a historical photo gallery, cover more functions and history.

Electric motors’ influence on motion control

Motor design and motion control: Earliest electric motor designs reach back 150 years. While motor principles have changed little over time, much has changed in how motors are manufactured and packaged. Advances in construction materials—especially magnet materials—dramatic physical size reductions, and design innovations have occurred. Some of these developments are explored in this online extension (1 of 4) of the main article “Electronic motion control, then and now,” in Control Engineering’s 60th anniversary issue, September 2014.

Various motor control and motion control developments were covered in the main article “Electronic motion control, then and now,” appearing in Control Engineering’s 60th anniversary issue, September 2014. Newer developments over the last 20 years are discussed in this online extension (2 of 4) of the main article.

Motion control from the archives

This motion control product and technology roundup looks at motor, motion, and drives developments from 60 years ago through 2008, with more than 20 historical images. Original wording of excerpts from the pages of Control Engineering has been kept where possible to portray the flavor of the times. See added remarks; add your comments.

Compendium of references for electronic motion control

See motion control, motor control article series references, additional motors, drives, and motion control discussion, and 6 more images from the Control Engineering archives.

-Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, CFE Media, Control Engineering, mhoske@cfemedia.com.

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