03 June 2007

Industrial Servo Motors

Ahhh, silence ... OR, why would I want to spend an extra $50 to switch out the Clutch for a Servo motor.

There are 4 major differences between a servo and a clutch motor (pictured to the left):
- size
- input
- output (both electronic and decibel)

Clutch motors are the older style electronic motor. Clutch motors tend to weigh in the 55 pound range (25 Kg), while Servo motors range in the 20-30 pound range (9-14 Kg). If you plan or need to do any work on your machine yourself, holding up 20-30 pounds with your shoulder while you bolt that sucker into place will be much easier than holding the 55 pound clutch motor.

The clutch motor activates when you depress the power button on your table. A servo motor does not activate until you depress the pedal. Due to this, and various electronic mumbo jumbo, servo motors are proported to use up to 2/3 less power than a clutch motor.

This used to result in a motor that was not as "strong" as the corresponding clutch motor. I.E. if you had a machine rated for 5500 stitches per minute (spm) with a clutch motor, it wasn't going to go that fast with a servo motor. However, our servo motor options are increasing daily, and many have speed control switches now that will let you adjust the motor to your needs.

And we come to noise pollution. Being that clutch motors are on from the moment you switch them on, they are ALWAYS making noise. Now, if you happen to be smack dab in the middle of a city, drowning out the street noise with a clutch motor may have a calming influence on you. However, if you happen to live out in the country and want to enjoy the calls of the birds, toads, cats, dogs, neighbors, etc. you will want a servo motor. You can hear them when they are running (they aren't silent), but when you release the pedal, the motor stops running (no noise).

I don't have a clutch motor on any of my industrial machines. I find them distracting. I like the greater control I have with a servo.

Here is a photo of a servo motor ... don't look very different do they? The servo is about half the size of the clutch.

Having said all that, I don't recommend you run right out and plunk down your money on the first servo you find. Speak with an industrial sewing machine shop that knows what they are doing. If their response is like the one I got from one shop I consulted, "You usually only find servos on trimmers" ... stay far away, they don't know the product.

Walking foot machines run at a slower pace than single needle dressmaker's and sergers. These three different machines need/require either different servos or very different settings. And depending on what is available to you at the time, you will either be buying different types of motors, or making use of the optional setting available on the motor.

Whichever way you go, you will find yourself on the end of a motor that is MUCH more powerful than the domestic sewing machine motors to which you are familiar. There will not be that hangup in mid-stitch because your machine is struggling. Industrial machines don't struggle. They glide. :)


BTW, I have been quoted $45, $50, and $145 to switch out servo for clutch motors (from businesses sprinkled throughout the U.S.). As I'm sure you can image, I ignored the last company. I can only assume they have way too much business to bother being competitive in any way, shape, or form.