In designing loudspeaker motors we usually try to avoid saturation along the magnetic path. This means we need to properly size the steel pieces to keep the magnetic flux density below the saturation value. We will start with the input data for our design and usually this is desired flux density in the gap , voice coil diameter , voice coil height and desired voice coil excursion in one way .
We should also consider the motor type, either underhung or overhung as part of the input data for our design and such we can determine first the magnetic gap height:
For the remaining of this article I will refer mostly to field coil powered motors but the ideas expressed can be applied to permanent magnet motors as well. In figure 1 we have the axisymmetric section through such a motor. We can see the magnetic path by following the red lines representing the magnetic flux in this example. The direction is given by direction of current in the field coil but we don’t have to be concerned with this aspect in this article.
Figure 1. Axisymmetric section of Field Coil Motor
In figure 1 represents the magnetic flux through the steel parts or core and represents the magnetic flux through the gap. However Gauss law dictates that:
where is the flux density through steel piece, is the cross section area of steel piece perpendicular to magnetic flux, is the flux density through the air gap and is the cross section area of the gap.
The last equation while simple, it is also quite meaningful. It states that unless the area of the gap and the area of the steel through which magnetic flux passes, are equal, then the flux densities through these different areas will be different. This is very important since we need to keep below the saturation value for that particular steel. It also states that since the area of the steel around the gap through which magnetic flux passes is very close to the magnetic gap average area, the flux density in the gap can not be grater than the saturation value for that particular steel because cannot be grater then .
Generally we can say:
or better put using our input data:
To avoid saturation, the area of steel through which magnetic flux passes must satisfy the Equation 8. Now let;s examine what this means for each of the steel parts of a field coil motor.
Figure 2 shows a section of the center pole piece with red line representing the magnetic flux direction. We can see that the cross section area corresponding to magnetic flux varies, getting smaller towards the top but for now let’s determine the diameter for the thicker section.
Figure 2. Section of central pole piece
From Eq 3
from figure 2 will be determined by voice coil diameter and gap width but it is not as big a factor as because the field lines will not pass through the top section. Magnetic flux will steer towards the gap and thus the area will be very close to the gap area as shown in figure 3. In Eq 6 we have the expression for gap area but in reality that area is larger because of flux bulging out in the gap (flux lines marked in figure 3) and not strictly following the geometrical path we would like it to. To what extend the difference is depends heavily on the geometry. But this also means it will take more flux to saturate that area so it is safe to assume the gap area as in Eq 6.
Figure 3. Detail of magnetic gap region
2. Bottom plate
In figure 4 we can see the path the magnetic flux takes through the bottom plate. We can also observe that the flux travels through a disc which means that the diameter increases the further it goes. If the thickness of the bottom plate is constant it will mean the area through which flux passes through increases from the center of the motor towards the outer diameter. While the increase will not hurt the magnetic flux, it is a waste of material and will add extra weight to the motor.
Figure 4. Central pole piece and bottom plate
To size the bottom plate it is best to start from the center. The center pole piece with diameter meets the bottom plate and the flux lines turn about 90 degrees and start passing through the bottom plate. We can thus define the center area as:
where is the center area of the bottom place.
According to Eq 8:
In figure 4 is the bottom plate diameter. If we want to keep a constant area trough the bottom plate we can easily see that:
3. Steel Ring
The steel ring piece can be identified in figure 5. This piece can be an actual ring or it can be made using multiple steel rods. Its purpose to the provide a path for magnetic flux between the bottom plate and the top plate. The steel rods will allow for better cooling of the field coil but will concentrate the flux around them in the bottom and top plate so in terms of avoiding saturation it is my opinion not to tapper the the bottom plate’s thickness as discussed in previous section. So basically keeping same as .
Figure 5. Field Coil Motor structure section showing steel ring
The area perpendicular to the magnetic flux vector is represented in figure 6 for both cases using a ring or multiple rods. For the first case, in next calculations we shall keep the outer diameter of the ring equal to that of the bottom plate . and we shall determine the thickness or width of the ring as depicted in figure 6.a.
Figure 6. Steel Ring (a) and Steel Rods (b) Top View
Lets call the inner diameter of the ring:
Area for steel ring in Fig 6.a would be:
Following Eq 8:
Then for steel rods in Fig 6.b Eq 8 would be:
where is the number of steel rods, = 8 in Fig 6.b
4. Top Plate
Top plate behavior is similar to the bottom plate but the thickness of the plate near the gap is given by the gap height as shown in Figure 7. There are cases when the thickness is tapered towards the outer diameter but usually it is constant to make mounting on the speaker frame easier.
Figure 7. Representation of Magnetic Gap (b) with Top Plate (a), Central Pole Piece (c) and Voice Coil (d)
With a constant thickness, at the outer edge of the top plate, the value will be smaller than as the area though which magnetic flux passes, , is larger. Moving towards the gap the area becomes smaller as the diameter decreases towards and thus approaches .
If tapering is desired then Eq 16 should be applied in this case as well.
Through simple calculations we can determine rough dimensions of the loudspeaker motor in order to avoid magnetic saturation of the steel in the magnetic circuit. These values can be a starting point and then refined with the use of advanced numerical methods. We also identified the restrictions around the magnetic gap and the limit imposed by the saturation value of the material. For typical 1010 Steel , for 1006 Steel and for Hyperco50 Alloy .
We can see the importance of using steel materials with high saturation values to lift the limits imposed on the gap. This is also the reason why in some designs only in the region around the gap high quality steel is used and for the rest of the motor’s structure a lower grade is chosen to keep the costs down.