Resources / Case Studies / High-Speed Centrifuge Motion Control Application

High-Speed Centrifuge Motion Control Application

~ Motion Control Expert

This use case examines the requirements of centrifuge and how using custom, or stand alone machine controller, will help give your application a high speed Brushless DC rotation while maintaining perfect position registration.

Application Challenge

Centrifuges are common elements of many medical and biotech laboratory instruments. They require very high rotation speeds, and often have a need for positioning to receive, and deliver, samples. Quadrature encoders give the lowest cost, but will we lose quadrature counts at high speeds?

Application Considerations




20,000 RPM

Controller architecture

Single axis module

Motor Type

Brushless DC

Required Motor Power


Motion Control Solution


Motion Control Solution

The diagram below shows an ION® 500 Digital Drive module connected by RS-485 serial to a host PC. A 60V BLDC motor will be driven using Field Oriented Control  (FOC) to maximize speed. The motor will utilize a low-cost quadrature encoder with index signal to provide automatic on-the-fly position correction. Using the ION, position profile mode will be used throughout to execute the spin profile and land the samples to an exact destination.

Motion Control Components





350W Brushless DC motor

Permanent Magnet Brushless DC motor with 1,024 count encoder



ION 500W Digital Drive

Provides RS-485 communications, Field Oriented Control, position control, encoder feedback and quadrature auto-correct feature


Centrifuge with optical home sensor

Top speed 20,000 RPM, encoder directly encoder motor angle. Home sensor initializes position reference.

Field Oriented Control

Field Oriented Control (FOC) provides a significant advance over Hall-based control in the area of efficiency and top speed. Typically, top speeds are improved 10-15% using FOC, which utilizes special mathematical transforms to determine an optimum multi-phase vector command at a given moment in time. The ION manages all of these details automatically. The user simply specifies the desired speed profile and destination position.

Field Oriented Control

Figure 1: Field Oriented Control


Automatic Position Correction

Quadrature encoders may occasionally lose position counts during high speed motion. In position-sensitive applications, these small errors can eventually accumulate and result in mis-registration. The solution is on-the-fly position correction using an index signal. Upon power up, the ION automatically records the location of the first index, and thereafter makes small adjustments as needed to eliminate encoder count losses.

High-Speed Centrifuge Motion Control Application

Figure 1: High-speed Centrifuge motion control application


The figure above shows an ION Digital Drive, which contains a single-axis motion controller and digital amplifier, driving the centrifuge. The centrifuge provides quadrature A, B, and Index signals, and a home signal is input to the ION to reference the axis after power up.

ION Stand-alone Robotics Drives

All ION Digital Drives provide high performance motion control supporting multiple motor types including DC brush, Brushless DC, step, and microstepping motors, and are based on PMD’ Corp.s Magellan®Motion Processor, which provides user‐selectable profile modes including S‐curve, trapezoidal, velocity contouring, and electronic gearing. 

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Motion Control Solutions from PMD Corp

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