There is a perception that Motion Control technology can be somewhat pricey. This is a constant challenge to engineers seeking to develop new applications. The problem is that prototyping a new application may have little or no resemblance to the hardware required in production. The gap between prototyping and production is quite significant, for a number of very good reasons.
Often, the gap is based on the target production requirement. Obviously when spindle motors for hard disk drives are being manufactured in the tens of millions, economy of scale helps keep the price low and every opportunity for integration helps drive the cost down. Some of the most advanced brushless dc controls ever built were created specifically for the hard disk drive motor.
But the massive volume applications are few and far between. Which means that few applications get the benefit of tens of thousands of man-hours of design. Application refinement has to be accomplished quickly, generally in no more than 2 revisions. How much engineering time is available to research unique solutions and investigate novel solutions is limited. And often, the lead time to production of a new product is defined in weeks or months during which all the issues have to be resolved.
Sometimes the real work is to examine a variety of near term solutions looking for highest reliability at the least cost. Which is really a challenge. Reliability can be managed through many different aspects. One approach is to minimize the number of components. Is a gearbox going to make the system lower cost or more complex? Is a brake more reliable than a holding current applied to the load through the motor drive circuit? These are all questions that should be asked and answered when doing this kind of investigation. Often the answers seem obvious, but on closer examination, there are interesting tradeoffs that will lead to a great solution.
Then there is the gap between prototype and production. The time constraint to get testing done and prove a new concept may require that off-the-shelf hardware be used that is not going to be used in production at all.
The production requirement may not be very large, even a few systems a month may justify significant customization of parts to facilitate any of a number of issues. Reduction in assembly costs, integration costs in the overall structure of the mechanical system, finding ways to eliminate feedback are all part of the engineering equation that comes into play in new product development when mechatronic systems are being developed.