Drives & Amplifiers
The fundamental parts of a motion control system include the actuator (such as electric motor, linear actuator, pneumatic cylinder, or hydraulic pump), mechanical elements, motion controller, feedback device, application-specific software, and the amplifier or drive. The terms drive and amplifier are used interchangeably. The drive is essential to the motion control operation because it determines how to best generate the current that manages the actuator.
The drive specifically receives commands in the form of low-current, analog voltage signals sent from the motion controller. It then converts those signals into high-current ones in order to discern how to most effectively drive the actuator and prevent damage while ensuring that full speed and torque capacities are met. Each drive is thus designed to deliver the correct, continuous current, peak current, and voltage for a particular type of actuator, though some do support multiple types.