Flex Circuit Commutator

The Problem

Commutators allow electrical signals and power to transfer between a stationary base and a rotational unit. This is done using what is known as a slip-ring (see the medical slip ring commutator I developed).   The ring has cylindrical contacts around its surface that are contacted by mating brushes. The cylinder is then free to rotate while contact is kept. The main issue with this technology is wear. Over time the brushes wear down and the signal or power transmission degrades.

The Solution

A new super low friction system would eliminate this problem.

Flex Circuit Low Cost Low friction Commutator

While developing the medical slip-ring commutator, I came up with the idea that using a rolling contact would be a better way to reduce friction.  This can be achieved by developing a planetary gear arrangement.  To simplify the design, I created several bands using flex circuit, which is both low-cost and durable.  The resulting design has the following features:

  • Low-cost
  • Low Friction
  • Long life durability (compared with brushed commutators)

External Design of a low cost medical commutator