Motion control systems are used in numerous industries such as industrial automation, material handling, transport and logistics, medical devices and mobility solutions. Components used in these systems include a wide range of motors, encoders, shafts, gearboxes and brakes that come in a variety of shapes and sizes. During the development of such systems, off-the-shelf motion control components may not be available, which may require a lengthy design and prototype development process.

Figure 1. Parvalux’s product range of DC and AC motors and gearboxes. Source: ParvaluxFigure 1. Parvalux’s product range of DC and AC motors and gearboxes. Source: Parvalux

Parvalux, a worldwide developer and manufacturer of fractional horsepower electric motors, developed a modular series of products to streamline the development process for motion control systems. The new modular series is a solution for design engineers to quickly produce prototypes that are customized to their unique specifications. This allows developers to rapidly test and validate various system configurations while shortening the overall development time for new products.

Motion control components

Motion control systems can include a variety of key components that affect the design, packaging, performance, reliability and cost of the final product. A brief description of some of these components is provided below.

  • Motors are the fundamental components of any motion control system. Some of the trade-offs include input power (voltage, AC or DC, current) size and shape, speed and torque.
  • Controllers are the brains of the motion control system that send commands to one or more motors to cause the desired motion. They also receive feedback from sensors, such as encoders, so that they can correct motor rotational errors.
  • Encoders are sensors that are placed on the output shaft of the motor to monitor the motor’s rotational position or speed in order to provide feedback to the controller and ensure the accuracy and repeatability of the motion control system.
  • Gearboxes, if needed, can change the axis or direction of rotation and increase or decrease the motor speed and torque. They are ideally matched to the motor to optimize performance and operational characteristics of the motion control system.
  • Shafts transmit rotation from the motor and gearbox to wheels or gears that drive or propel the system.
  • Brakes slow or stop the rotation of the motor to ensure accurate speed and position.

While it may appear that there are numerous off-the-shelf motion control components that a design engineer can select, in reality, these components might not be suitable for the application for a variety of reasons. For example, they might not have the appropriate performance capabilities, such as torque or speed, or they might not be rated for the intended service environments. More fundamentally, they may not fit or package into the application well, or may not properly interface or interact with other system components.

All components of a motion control system must be interconnected and have compatible mechanical and electrical interfaces. This makes the integration of motion control systems into new products especially challenging. The development of new motion control components that are customized to the specific requirements of an application can therefore be time-consuming and expensive, with estimated times of 12 weeks to more than six months to develop the hardware, software and tooling, depending on the complexity of the application.

Benefits of modular motion control components

Parvalux helps design engineers navigate these challenges quickly and efficiently by offering their expertise and solutions to develop customized systems. The line of modular components (Figure 1) allows customers to develop prototype systems by mixing and matching several different off-the-shelf components. In this manner, the optimum combination of motors, gearboxes, encoders, brakes, shafts and controllers can be selected that are perfectly suited to the specific needs of the application. As the prototype is being tested, the final, or customized production hardware and tooling can be developed concurrently, saving a considerable amount of time and money. Parvalux’s goal is to get prototype components and systems in the hands of the customer in less than two weeks.

Figure 2. Modular motion control components. Source: ParvaluxFigure 2. Modular motion control components. Source: Parvalux

The Parvalux line of modular motion control components are enabled by several common mechanical and electrical interfaces. These modular components are plug and play, which allows design engineers to rapidly test several different combinations of components without the need to develop customized hardware.

There are several components on each design that allow for modularity. The coupling driven gearboxes has a slotted feature on the input shaft of the gearbox and the output shaft of the motor, which has the same dimensions across multiple motors. The pairing “couples” the slot from the motor onto the slot of the gearbox, thus transferring the motion from the output shaft of the motor to the input shaft of the gearbox. This coupling does not fasten the motor and gearbox together; however, the fastening of the two is done via a flange, which is what allows one gearbox – like the GB9 – to be fastened to several different sized motors. Therefore, for the motor-to-gearbox combinations, the coupling and the flanges are what make the system modular. There also exists a flange system at the back shaft of the motor (or ”non-drive end”) of the motor so that the same brake and encoder can be used with several different sized motors. For accessories like brakes and encoders, the flanges are what make them modular.

Parvalux experts understand customers’ needs for quick product turnaround. This modular series is the perfect solution for design engineers to quickly produce a prototype customized to their unique application specifications to test and confirm configurations shortening the wait time for delivery of the final product.


Parvalux Electric Motors, Ltd is a British manufacturer of fractional horsepower geared electric motors. The company was established over 75 years ago, and was acquired in 2018 by maxon Motor AG, which specializes in mechatronic drive systems. Besides being a worldwide manufacturer of electric motors, gearboxes and other components, Parvalux has highly specialized capabilities in precision machining and high-volume manufacturing. Their R&D group is capable of developing custom product designs that are perfectly suited to specific applications, including hardware and software engineering, rapid prototyping and testing. Their services range from recommending components for drive systems, to creating custom designs, to performing contract manufacturing for complete systems. More information about Parvalux’s modular series products and how they can help get motion control systems to market faster can be found on the Parvalux website.