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Nidec Corporation: Spindle Motors for HDDs


Almost 40 years since the company’s founding, in 1973 by just four young engineers, Nidec now holds the world’s largest market share in the development and production of small precision DC motors, such as spindle motors for HDDs. According to a 2011 report, the company’s global market share of DC brushless motors has hit 51.4%. Motors convert electric energy into mechanical motion, and as such are used in various industrial and electronic products. As a global corporation specializing in motors, the global role of Nidec is of inestimable value.

Revolutionizing HDDs: the Implementation of Direct Drive Spindle Motors

Until 1978, hard disk drives (HDDs) were belt-driven, meaning a belt connected the spindle (precision rotating axis) to the motor for rotation. This mechanism meant that the spindle took up a lot of space, making an HDD large in size. At a time when there was a clear need for small HDDs with increased storage capacity, Nidec’s solution was to merge the spindle and motor. This was how the direct drive spindle motor was conceived.
Direct drive spindle motors, as first developed and implemented by Nidec, are spindles with a built-in motor. These spindle motors greatly accelerated the miniaturization and increase in storage capacity of HDDs, ultimately contributing to the widespread use of HDDs.

More recently, Nidec has been working on the development and production of Fluid Dynamic Bearing (FDB) spindle motors, where the space between the bearing and the shaft is filled with oil to eliminate the need for ball bearings. FDB spindle motors are more shock-resistant and can achieve faster spindle speeds than ball bearing spindle motors, contributing to the increased storage capacity of HDDs. They are also quieter because the bearing and shaft are not in direct contact. Since the size of ball bearings is no longer an issue, the bearing can also be made smaller. Nidec started on the mass production of FDB spindle motors in mid-2000, and since then has established production and sales locations worldwide. Today, Nidec holds 80% of the global market share in spindle motors for HDDs.

Claiming the Title of World’s Number 1 in Comprehensive Drive Technology

There is no doubt that motor technology will continue to evolve and to impact our daily lives. Taking the example of automobiles, we already know that, compared to engines, motors do not eject any exhaust gas and are much quieter. As such, motors, as a replacement for engines, are sure to gain increased attention, particularly considering the increasing emphasis on electrical vehicles today. Additionally, in the field of robotics, where there is fierce competition among developers, the key to the development of next-generation robots lies in innovations in motor technology

As it rides the waves of technological innovation, Nidec is tackling everything that spins and moves. By bringing forth brand new ideas and technologies, the company continues to strive to be the world’s number one in comprehensive drive technology.

19 September, 2012

About the author
Hiromi Jitsukata is a reporter for Japanest NIPPON