The successful operation of actively controlled magnetic bearings depends greatly on the electromechanical design and control system design. The function of the controller is to maintain bearing performance in the face of system dynamic variations and unpredictable disturbances. The plant considered here is the rotor and magnetic bearing assembly of a test apparatus. The plant dynamics consisting of actuator dynamics, rigid rotor dynamics and flexibility effects are described. Various components of the system are identified and their corresponding linearized theoretical models are validated experimentally. Tests are also run to identify the coupling effects and flexibility modes. The highly nonlinear behavior of the magnetic bearings in addition to the inherent instability of such a system makes the controller design complex. A digital Time Delay Controller is designed and its effectiveness evaluated using several simulations based on linear and nonlinear models for the bearing including bending mode effects. This controller is implemented as an alternative to an existing linear analog compensator. Several experiments are conducted with each controller for spinning and nonspinning conditions. These include time responses, closed loop frequency responses and disturbance rejection responses. The experimental results and comparisons between those of a digital Time Delay Controller and an analog compensator indicate that the Time Delay Controller has impressive static and dynamic stiffness characteristics for the prototype considered. The Time Delay Controller also maintains almost the same dynamic behavior over a significantly wide range of rotor speeds.

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