Optimagdrive has currently achieved the highest reduction ratio ever reached by a magnetic drive. The tests have demonstrated a reduction ratio of 75. Besides, MAG SOAR engineers have managed to reduce the system weight maintaining high torque levels. This achievement confirms that this passive magnetic technology is ready to replace traditional mechanical gears in applications where the lack of contact and the consistent absence of lubricant requirements could be critical like aerospace, energy or food industry.
Optimagdrive project begun two years ago, under contract of ESA. Since then, two different prototypes have been specifically developed in order to fulfil space industry requirements. For this reason, one of the main priorities has been to accomplish the maximum reduction ratio without increasing the system weight. ESA engineers have recently visited MAG SOAR facilities in order to witness the full operation of this major step forward for magnetic gear technology.
Magnetic gears can advantageously replace conventional reduction drives to provide speed and torque multiplication by using magnetic attraction instead of physical contact between the movable members. Up to now, complex assemblies, high weight and poor torque has slowed down this magnetic technology spread. Optimagdrive project has simplified the designs and increased the density torque up to 10 times more than the current state of art. This represent a landmark as well as a major opportunity for this contactless mechanism to expand not only in space industry, but also in applications that can specially benefit from the large number of advantages:
Magnetic gears eliminate lubrication requirements and consequently minimize maintenance expenses. Additionally, the end of lubrication would also break the temperature barrier allowing mechanisms to operate in extreme temperature (currently tested from -200˚C to 350˚C).
This advantages are especially worthwhile in applications with high maintenance costs or those working in extreme environments such as satellites or other aerospace devices.
Along with fatigue and corrosion, wear is one of the three major factors limiting the life and performance of a mechanical component and an engineering system.
The lack of friction not only removes wear as well as fatigue from the system. This has a direct repercussion on lifetime, which can be key to the maintenance of mechanisms that can´t be easily replaced.
The material detached from worn surface in conventional gearboxes can´t be easily eliminated so it may be an important cause of contamination. This is an especially serious problem in devices which can´t be constantly maintained.
Optimagdrive produces no debris, what makes it the perfect choice for applications in which a clean environment is mandatory.