MAKE friend Akiba of Freaklabs visited a DC motor factory with some friends.
Lotus is a medium sized motor manufacturer and the facility we visited manufactures DC motors. They have a separate facility to manufacture stepper motors as well, but we were not able to go to that factory. Once we arrived at the factory, they took us to the sample room to talk a little bit about the types of motors they manufacture. After this, we went to a small room where they put together customized sample motors. These are custom DC motors that are requested by their customers and the initial sample quantities are handmade.
For each motor, its possible to modify the torque, speed, power, and shaft diameter. The motors are mostly modular so these are easy parameters to change. The only thing they won’t do is modifying the form factor of the motor. There are about 100 different standard sizes for the DC motors so it doesn’t seem like this is much of a limitation though.
They also do geared motors with custom gear reduction ratios which seems extremely useful. I asked about the minimum order quantity and the guide said that it’d probably be in the area of 1000 pieces. Considering that many of these motors are on the order of less than one to a few dollars, this seems extremely reasonable for a custom motor, especially a geared motor.