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Title:
METHODS OF ALTERING EDDY CURRENT INTERACTIONS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2016/089226
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Described herein are braking mechanisms and related methods of use using eddy current interactions to resist relative movement between members, the magnetic flux about an eddy current region being modified beyond an inherent drag effect resulting from a simple magnetic pole arrangement.

Inventors:
DIEHL, Andrew Karl (C/- Eddy Current Limited Partnership, Level 2 Tower Centre,50 Customhouse Qua, Wellington 6011, 6011, NZ)
WRIGHT, Kevin A. (c/- Eddy Current Limited Partnership, Level 2 Tower Centre,50 Customhouse Qua, Wellington 6011, 6011, NZ)
HILL, Weston (Level 2, Tower Centre50 Customhouse Qua, Wellington 6011, 6011, NZ)
WALTERS, Dave (Level 2, Tower Centre50 Customhouse Qua, Wellington 6011, 6011, NZ)
Application Number:
NZ2015/050206
Publication Date:
June 09, 2016
Filing Date:
December 04, 2015
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
EDDY CURRENT LIMITED PARTNERSHIP (Level 2, Tower Centre50 Customhouse Qua, Wellington 6011, 6011, NZ)
International Classes:
A62B1/08; B66D5/18; F16D59/00; H02K49/04
Domestic Patent References:
WO1998047215A11998-10-22
Foreign References:
US20130087433A12013-04-11
US5054587A1991-10-08
CN102497085A2012-06-13
US20040055836A12004-03-25
US6523650B12003-02-25
US4957644A1990-09-18
GB721748A1955-01-12
US3962595A1976-06-08
US8851235B22014-10-07
US8490751B22013-07-23
NZ619034A2015-03-27
NZ627617A
NZ627619A
NZ627633A
NZ627630A
EP2249927A12010-11-17
US20040055836A12004-03-25
US4957644A1990-09-18
US8037978B12011-10-18
Other References:
See also references of EP 3226979A4
MIN-GYU PARK ET AL., JOURNAL OF APPLIED PHYSICS, vol. 115, no. 17, pages 17E707
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CREATEIP (PO Box, EdgewareChristchurch, 8143, 8143, NZ)
Download PDF:
Claims:
WHAT IS CLAIMED IS:

1. A braking mechanism comprising:

at least one magnetic field provided by magnetic elements causing a magnetic flux about a predetermined region;

at least one magnetic flux density modifying means;

at least one conductive member or a part thereof that interacts with the predetermined region; and,

as the at least one conductive member or a part thereof interacts with the predetermined region, eddy current drag forces are generated resisting relative movement between the at least one conductive member or a part thereof and the magnetic field.

2. A braking mechanism comprising:

at least one magnetic field provided by magnetic elements and magnetic cladding about the magnetic elements, the cladding at least partly modifying the magnetic flux about a predetermined region; and

at least one conductive member or a part thereof that interacts with the predetermined region; and,

as the at least one conductive member or a part thereof interacts with the predetermined region, eddy current drag forces are generated resisting relative movement between the at least one conductive member or a part thereof and the magnetic field.

3. The braking mechanism as claimed in claim 2 wherein magnetic cladding is formed around at least part of each magnetic element.

4. The braking mechanism as claimed in claim 2 or claim 3 wherein the cladding encloses substantially all of the magnetic elements to direct substantially all of the field generated.

5. The braking mechanism as claimed in any one of claims 2 to 4 wherein the mechanism comprises a magnetic circuit made up of at least two magnetic fields provided by magnetic elements and magnetic cladding about the magnetic elements, the cladding at least partly modifying the magnetic flux about at least two predetermined regions; and at least one conductive member or part thereof that interacts with the predetermined regions.

6. The braking mechanism as claimed in claim 5 wherein the two predetermined regions in a circuit are located opposite each other.

7. The braking mechanism as claimed in any one of the above claims wherein the conductive member is rotor shaped.

8. The braking mechanism as claimed in any one of the above claims wherein the conductive member is rod shaped.

9. The braking mechanism as claimed in any one of the above claims wherein the magnetic field

comprises one north polarity facing magnet element and one south polarity facing magnet element aligned so as to form a magnetic field between the elements.

10. The braking mechanism as claimed in any one of the above claims wherein the predetermined region is located about an area of maximum magnetic flux density.

11. The braking mechanism as claimed in any one of the above claims wherein the predetermined region is located immediately between the magnetic elements.

12. The braking mechanism as claimed in any one of the above claims wherein the predetermined region has a gap through which the conductive member or members pass.

13. A braking mechanism comprising:

at least one magnetic field positioned to form a Halbach array provided by magnetic elements, the Halbach array modifying the magnetic flux about a predetermined region or regions; at least one conductive member or a part thereof that interacts with the predetermined region; and,

as the at least one conductive member or a part thereof interacts with the predetermined region, eddy current drag forces are generated resisting relative movement of the at least one conductive member or a part thereof and the magnetic field.

14. The braking mechanism as claimed in claim 13 wherein the Halbach array comprises a magnetic array arranged in a semi circle shape, the predetermined region being of the highest magnetic flux density within the semi-circular region.

15. The braking mechanism as claimed in claim 13 or claim 14 wherein the at least one conductor has a shape selected from : circular, spherical, ovoid, or toroid.

16. The braking mechanism as claimed in any one of claims 13 to 15 wherein the at least one conductor or a part thereof passes through the centre of the Halbach array.

17. The braking mechanism as claimed in any one of claims 13 to 15 wherein the at least one conductor member or a part thereof is solid.

18. The braking mechanism as claimed in any one of claims 13 to 15 wherein the at least one conductor member or a part thereof is segmented.

19. A braking mechanism comprising:

at least one magnetic field provided by magnetic elements causing a magnetic flux about a predetermined region;

at least one conductive member or a part thereof that interacts with the predetermined region;

ferro-fluid located at least partly about the magnetic elements and at least one conductor member or a part thereof thereby modifying the magnetic flux density of the predetermined region; and,

as the at least one conductive member or a part thereof passes through the predetermined region, eddy current drag forces are generated resisting relative movement between the at least one conductive member or a part thereof and the magnetic field.

20. The braking mechanism as claimed in claim 19 where a gap exists between the magnetic elements that the at least one conductor member or a part thereof passes through.

21. The braking mechanism, as claimed in claim 19 or claim 20 wherein backing plates are used behind the magnetic elements to seal the magnetic elements and the at least one conductor or a part thereof within a backing plate cavity.

22. The braking mechanism as claimed in claim 21 wherein the backing plate cavity is filled with ferro- fluid.

23. The braking mechanism as claimed in claim 21 or claim 22 wherein the magnetic elements are spaced apart by use of separators.

24. The braking mechanism as claimed in any one of claims 21 to 23 wherein the backing plates contain magnetic elements therein.

25. The braking mechanism as claimed in any one of claims 21 to 24 wherein at least two conductor plates are used, the conductor plates being located between the magnetic elements defining a space between the conductor plates.

26. The braking mechanism as claimed in claim 25 wherein the space between the conductors is filled with a ferro-fluid.

27. The braking mechanism as claimed in claim 22 or claim 26 wherein the ferro-fluid also has fluid properties that inhibit movement thereby further enhancing a drag effect.

28. A braking mechanism comprising:

at least one magnetic field provided by magnetic elements causing a magnetic flux about a predetermined region;

at least one conductive member or a part thereof that interacts with the predetermined region;

magnetic flux density modifying means located on and/or in the at least one conductor or part thereof that increases magnetic conductivity between the magnetic elements and the at least one conductor or a part thereof thereby modifying magnetic flux density about the region; and, as the at least one conductive member or a part thereof passes through the predetermined region, eddy current drag forces are generated resisting relative movement between the at least one conductive member or a part thereof and the magnetic field.

29. The braking mechanism as claimed in claim 28 wherein the at least one conductor or a part thereof modifies the magnetic flux through use of additives such as particles or nano particles located on or in part of or all of the conductor(s).

30. A method of controlling relative movement between members, the method comprising the step of:

(a) selecting at least one braking mechanism as claimed in any one of the above claims; (b) linking at least one first member with the magnetic elements and linking at least one further member with the conductor or conductors;

(c) imposing a motive force on a member or the members and utilising the resulting eddy current drag force generated from the braking mechanism to resist relative movement between the members.

31. An autobelay incorporating the braking mechanism as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 29.

32. A self retracting lifeline (SRL) incorporating the braking mechanism as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 29.

Description:
METHODS OF ALTERING EDDY CURRENT INTERACTIONS

TECHNICAL FIELD

Described herein are braking mechanisms and methods of braking relative movement between members. More specifically, braking mechanisms and related methods of use are described herein using eddy current interactions to resist relative movement between members, the magnetic flux about an eddy current region being modified beyond that for an inherent drag effect resulting from a simple magnetic pole arrangement.

BACKGROUND ART

Art devices may utilise eddy current drag forces to impart a drag force on a conductive member undergoing relative movement with respect to a magnetic field. Eddy current drag effects impart frictionless retarding forces and hence may be useful for various braking applications, particularly where wear and tear effects are not desirable. Eddy current effects are also able to be tuned to suit various applications, some examples being described in the inventor's other applications.

One aspect of eddy current drag force interactions is that the magnetic field strength has a squared relationship on brake torque. In other words, a small increase in magnetic field strength can lead to dramatic increases in eddy current drag force.

The applicant's co-pending and granted patents in the field of eddy current related devices include US 8,851,235, US 8,490,751, NZ619034, NZ627617, NZ627619, NZ627633, NZ627630 and other equivalents all incorporated herein by reference. While the devices described in these patents/applications may be useful, other methods of altering eddy current interactions such as by increasing magnetic flux density may be useful or at least provide the public with a choice.

Further aspects and advantages of the braking mechanisms and methods of braking relative movement should become apparent from the ensuing description that is given by way of example only.

SUMMARY

Described herein are braking mechanisms and related methods of use using eddy current interactions to resist relative movement between members, the magnetic flux about an eddy current region being modified beyond an inherent drag effect resulting from an unaltered magnetic field resulting from a simple magnetic pole arrangement.

In a first aspect, there is provided a braking mechanism comprising:

at least one magnetic field provided by magnetic elements causing a magnetic flux about a predetermined region;

at least one magnetic flux density modifying means;

at least one conductive member or a part thereof that interacts with the predetermined region; and,

as the at least one conductive member or a part thereof interacts with the predetermined region, eddy current drag forces are generated resisting relative movement between the at least one conductive member or a part thereof and the magnetic field.

In a second aspect, there is provided a braking mechanism comprising:

at least one magnetic field provided by magnetic elements and magnetic cladding about the magnetic elements, the cladding at least partly modifying the magnetic flux about a predetermined region; and

at least one conductive member or a part thereof that interacts with the predetermined region; and,

as the at least one conductive member or a part thereof interacts with the predetermined region, eddy current drag forces are generated resisting relative movement between the at least one conductive member or a part thereof and the magnetic field.

In a third aspect, there is provided a braking mechanism comprising:

at least one magnetic field positioned to form a Halbach array provided by magnetic elements, the Halbach array modifying the magnetic flux about a predetermined region or regions;

at least one conductive member or a part thereof that interacts with the predetermined region; and,

as the at least one conductive member or a part thereof interacts with the predetermined region, eddy current drag forces are generated resisting relative movement between the at least one conductive member or a part thereof and the magnetic field.

In a fourth embodiment, there is provided a braking mechanism comprising:

at least one magnetic field provided by magnetic elements causing a magnetic flux about a predetermined region;

at least one conductive member or a part thereof that interacts with the predetermined region; ferro-fluid located at least partly about the magnetic elements and at least one conductor member or a part thereof thereby modifying the magnetic flux density of the predetermined region; and, as the at least one conductive member or a part thereof passes through the predetermined region, eddy current drag forces are generated resisting relative movement between the at least one conductive member or a part thereof and the magnetic field. In a fifth embodiment, there is provided a braking mechanism comprising:

at least one magnetic field provided by magnetic elements causing a magnetic flux about a predetermined region;

at least one conductive member or a part thereof that interacts with the predetermined region; magnetic flux density modifying means located on and/or in the at least one conductor or part thereof that increases conductivity between the magnetic elements and the at least one conductor or a part thereof thereby modifying magnetic flux density about the region; and,

as the at least one conductive member or a part thereof passes through the predetermined region, eddy current drag forces are generated resisting relative movement between the at least one conductive member or a part thereof and the magnetic field.

In a sixth aspect, there is provided a method of controlling relative movement between members, the method comprising the step of:

(a) selecting at least one braking mechanism substantially as described above;

(b) linking at least one first member with the magnetic elements and linking at least one further member with the conductor or conductors;

(c) imposing a motive force on a member or the members and utilising the resulting eddy current drag force generated from the braking mechanism to resist relative movement between the members.

Advantages of the above described braking mechanisms and methods of use include the a bility to modify and tune the retarding force. One embodiment allows the ability to potentially cause a much larger retarding force than would be the case if no magnetic flux density increasing options were used.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Further aspects of braking mechanisms and methods of braking relative movement will become apparent from the following description that is given by way of example only and with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

Figure 1A illustrates a typical magnetic field about north and south magnetic poles resulting from interaction of magnetic elements configured in a simple magnetic pole arrangement without modification of the magnetic flux density;

Figure IB illustrates a magnetic field subjected to magnetic cladding;

Figure 2 illustrates an alternative example of a magnetic circuit subject to magnetic cladding;

Figure 3 illustrates an alternative braking mechanism using magnetic cladding and a conductor; illustrates an alternative example of a braking mechanism using magnetic cladding and a magnetic circuit;

illustrates a braking mechanism using a toroid conductor passing through a Halbach array;

illustrates a ferro-fluid braking mechanism embodiment;

illustrates an alternative a ferro-fluid braking mechanism embodiment; illustrates a further alternative ferro-fluid braking mechanism embodiment;

illustrates a modified conductor using additives in the conductor to enhance the magnetic flux; and

illustrates a potential compact shape of braking mechanism.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

As noted above, braking mechanisms and related methods of use are described herein using eddy current interactions to resist relative movement between members, the magnetic flux about an eddy current region being modified beyond an inherent drag effect resulting from an unaltered magnetic field resulting from a simple magnetic pole arrangement.

For the purposes of this specification, the term 'about' or 'approximately' and grammatical variations thereof mean a quantity, level, degree, value, number, frequency, percentage, dimension, size, amount, weight or length that varies by as much as 30, 25, 20, 15, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, or 1% to a reference quantity, level, degree, value, number, frequency, percentage, dimension, size, amount, weight or length.

The term 'substantially' or grammatical variations thereof refers to at least about 50%, for example 75%, 85%, 95% or 98%.

The term 'comprise' and grammatical variations thereof shall have an inclusive meaning - i.e. that it will be taken to mean an inclusion of not only the listed components it directly references, but also other non-specified components or elements.

The term 'modify' and grammatical variations thereof in the context of magnetic flux refers to either one or all of directing, intensifying, reducing, retarding, or increasing the density of magnetic flux in or about a predetermined region.

The term 'unaltered magnetic effect' or 'simple magnetic pole arrangement' and grammatical variations thereof refers to a resistance of movement effect on an electrically conductive element, the unaltered effect being that observed for a simple (e.g. north/south) pole arrangement or arrangements without a magnetic flux modifying effect. One example of an altered effect may be by using a magnetic flux redirecting or concentrating means.

In a first aspect, there is provided a braking mechanism comprising:

at least one magnetic field provided by magnetic elements causing a magnetic flux about a predetermined region;

at least one magnetic flux density modifying means;

at least one conductive member or a part thereof that interacts with the predetermined region; and,

as the at least one conductive member or a part thereof interacts with the predetermined region, eddy current drag forces are generated resisting relative movement between the at least one conductive member or a part thereof and the magnetic field.

In a second aspect, there is provided a braking mechanism comprising:

at least one magnetic field provided by magnetic elements and magnetic cladding about the magnetic elements, the cladding at least partly modifying the magnetic flux about a predetermined region; and

at least one conductive member or a part thereof that interacts with the predetermined region; and,

as the at least one conductive member or a part thereof interacts with the predetermined region, eddy current drag forces are generated resisting relative movement between the at least one conductive member or a part thereof and the magnetic field.

The magnetic cladding may be formed around at least part of each magnetic element. The cladding may enclose substantially all of the magnetic elements to limit and/or direct substantially all of the field generated.

The braking mechanism may comprise a magnetic circuit made up of at least two magnetic fields provided by magnetic elements and magnetic cladding about the magnetic elements, the cladding at least partly modifying the magnetic flux about at least two predetermined regions; and at least one conductive member or part thereof that interacts with the predetermined regions. As noted, the magnetic circuit may be formed by using two opposing sets of magnetic elements and cladding, a gap being located about the predetermined region and the at least one conductive member or a part thereof pass through the region(s).

The two predetermined regions in a circuit may be located opposite each other. This alignment may be useful for conductor shape and design but not essential.

The conductive member may be rotor shaped. Alternatively, the conductive member may be rod shaped. The term rod refers to an elongated solid that may be curvilinear shaped but could also have polygonal cross-section. The rod may be solid or hollow. The magnetic field may comprise one north polarity facing magnet element and one south polarity facing magnet element aligned so as to form a magnetic field between the elements.

The predetermined region may be located about an area of maximum magnetic flux density. The predetermined region may be located immediately between the magnetic elements. This is typically the space immediately between the magnetic poles but may be at other points such as that which may be generated from a Halbach array noted in more detail below.

The predetermined region may have a gap through which the conductive member or members may pass.

In a third aspect, there is provided a braking mechanism comprising:

at least one magnetic field positioned to form a Halbach array provided by magnetic elements, the Halbach array modifying the magnetic flux about a predetermined region or regions;

at least one conductive member or a part thereof that interacts with the predetermined region; and,

as the at least one conductive member or a part thereof interacts with the predetermined region, eddy current drag forces are generated resisting relative movement of the at least one conductive member or a part thereof and the magnetic field.

In one embodiment the Halbach array may comprise a magnetic array arranged in a semi circle shape, the predetermined region being of the highest magnetic flux density within the circular region.

The at least one conductor may have various shapes, examples being circular, spherical, ovoid and toroid shaped. The at least one conductor or a part thereof may pass through the centre of the Halbach array.

Irrespective of shape, the at least one conductor member or a part thereof may be solid or segmented. If the conductor is segmented, each segment may for example move about the toroid axis in conjunction with driving conductor movement about a primary axis thereby generating even greater eddy current drag force from both conductor and segment movement.

In a fourth aspect, there is provided a braking mechanism comprising:

at least one magnetic field provided by magnetic elements causing a magnetic flux about a predetermined region;

at least one conductive member or a part thereof that interacts with the predetermined region; ferro-fluid located at least partly about the magnetic elements and at least one conductor member or a part thereof thereby modifying the magnetic flux density of the predetermined region; and, as the at least one conductive member or a part thereof passes through the predetermined region, eddy current drag forces are generated resisting relative movement between the at least one conductive member or a part thereof and the magnetic field. As noted above, a gap may exist between the magnetic elements that the at least one conductor member or a part thereof passes through. Backing plates may be used behind the magnetic elements to seal the magnetic elements and the at least one conductor or a part thereof within a backing plate cavity. The free space within the backing plate cavity may be filled with ferro-fluid. Sealing refers to the magnetic elements and the at least one conductor being enclosed within other elements to form a sealed region. The seal may be impermeable preventing loss of materials, e.g. ferro fluid, out of the sealed region.

In an alternative embodiment to the above, the magnetic elements may be spaced apart by use of separators or barriers. These barriers may also reduce the cavity size in which ferro-fluid is placed. The barriers may also prevent 'short circuiting' of the magnetic fields outside of the region of the conductor.

In a further embodiment, the braking mechanism may comprise backing plates as above with magnetic elements therein. Two conductor plates may be located between the magnetic elements defining a cavity or space between the conductor plates. The cavity or space between the conductors may be filled with a ferro-fluid.

In the above embodiment, the ferro-fluid may also have fluid properties that inhibit conductor movement thereby further enhancing a drag effect. Fluid properties may refer to the fluid viscosity - viscous drag being a known means to absorb kinetic or motive energy. In this example, fluid properties such as conductivity and viscosity may be varied to alter the drag force dynamics.

In a fifth aspect, there is provided a braking mechanism comprising:

at least one magnetic field provided by magnetic elements causing a magnetic flux about a predetermined region;

at least one conductive member or a part thereof that interacts with the predetermined region; magnetic flux density modifying means located on and/or in the at least one conductor or part thereof that increases magnetic 'conductivity' between the magnetic elements and the at least one conductor or a part thereof thereby modifying magnetic flux density about the region; and,

as the at least one conductive member or a part thereof passes through the predetermined region, eddy current drag forces are generated resisting relative movement between the at least one conductive member or a part thereof and the magnetic field.

The at least one conductor or a part thereof may modify the magnetic flux through use of additives such as particles or nano particles located on or in part of or all of the conductor(s). The particles may be manufactured from various magnetic flux enhancing materials including for example iron and nickel. The particles may be formed into the conductors, bonded to the conductor exterior and/or laminated to the conductor exterior.

The various braking mechanisms described above may take a wide range of final topologies including linear motion, rotary motion, polar motion, axial motion and so forth. These ranges of topology can be combined to achieve various types of relative movement between the magnetic field(s) and the conductor(s).

In addition to the varying topologies noted above, the conductor shape itself may also be varied for example to optimise the space and overall braking mechanism size and shape. For example, the conductor may have fins and the fins may act as conductor parts that pass through the regions - in this embodiment, the fins may extend from a central hub in different directions thereby optimising the conductive surface passing through multiple magnetic flux regions.

In a sixth aspect, there is provided a method of controlling relative movement between members, the method comprising the step of:

(a) selecting at least one braking mechanism substantially as described above;

(b) linking at least one first member with the magnetic elements and linking at least one further member with the conductor or conductors;

(c) imposing a motive force on a member or the members and utilising the resulting eddy current drag force generated from the braking mechanism to resist relative movement between the members.

Final embodiments for the braking mechanisms described herein may be varied. The magnetic field sections may for example be linked to a first member of a braking mechanism and the conductor member or members linked to a second member. For example, an autobelay or self retracting lifeline (SRL) embodiment may use the braking mechanisms. In this embodiment, the conductor may for example be linked to a line on a spool and the magnetic field sections may be linked to a separate rotor and, when the line extends at a predetermined rate, potentially equating to a fall, the conductor and magnetic elements interact to brake pay out of the line and prevent an accident by braking the fall. This example should not be seen as limiting since the braking mechanisms described may be used for a wide variety of other applications, non-limiting examples including speed control of: · a rotor in a rotary turbine;

• exercise equipment e.g. rowing machines, epicyclic trainers;

• roller-coasters and other amusement rides;

• Elevator and escalator systems;

• evacuation descenders and fire escape devices;

· conveyer systems:

• rotary drives in factory production facilities;

• materials handling devices such as conveyer belts or a braking device in a chute;

• dynamic display signage to control the rate of change of rotating signs;

• roadside safety systems e.g. the eddy current brake may be connected in a system to provide crash attenuation though the dissipation of energy via the brake; • seat belts in vehicles;

• zip lines;

• braking mechanisms for trolleys and carriages.

Advantages of the above described braking mechanisms and methods of use include the ability to modify and tune the braking force and potentially cause a much larger braking force than would be the case if no magnetic flux density increasing options were used.

The embodiments described above may also be said broadly to consist in the parts, elements and features referred to or indicated in the specification of the application, individually or collectively, and any or all combinations of any two or more said parts, elements or features.

Further, where specific integers are mentioned herein which have known equivalents in the art to which the embodiments relate, such known equivalents are deemed to be incorporated herein as of individually set forth.

WORKING EXAMPLES

The above described braking mechanisms and methods of use are now described by reference to specific examples.

EXA M P LE 1

Referring to Figures 1 to 4, magnetic cladding embodiments are described as a means to modify the magnetic flux by directing and increasing the flux density about a region.

Figure 1A illustrates, an unclad magnetic field. The magnetic field 3 includes two magnetic elements (a north 1 and south 2 pole) and the magnetic field 3 generated follows a classic field path about the poles 1,2, the strongest flux region 4 being directly between the elements 1,2. Figure IB illustrates how the field 3 changes when magnetic cladding 6 is used. The cladding 6 shown directs and increases the magnetic flux density about a predetermined region, in the example being the space 7immediately between the magnetic elements 1, 2.

Figure 2 illustrates a magnetic circuit 10. The circuit 10 is established with magnet elements 13, 14 establishing a pole pair. The magnet elements 13, 14 are linked together with a structural material 15 that is of high magnetic permeability, forming a magnetic circuit. Cladding is established with magnets 12 adjacent to the field magnets 13, 14. Further cladding 16 is provided adjacent to the gap region 18. The magnetic field of cladding magnets 12, 16, focus and intensify a resulting magnetic field in the gap region 18.

Figures 3 and 4 illustrate potential braking mechanisms utilising the cladded magnetic fields of Figures 1 and 2 in conjunction with a conductor member 20 that passes through the region(s) 21. In Figure 3, the conductor 20 has an elongated foot ending that passes through the region 21. As this happens, eddy current drag forces act on the conductor 20 to slow or resist relative movement between the magnetic elements 22,23 and the conductor 20. Figure 4 illustrates a conductor 20 moving through the magnetic circuit 10 of Figure 2, in this case with two sections 20A,20B of the conductor member 20 interacting with the different magnetic regions 21A,21B and thereby increasing the potential eddy current drag forces.

Note that movement of the conductor member relative to the magnetic field(s) may be linear, rotational or in various directions and the examples shown should not be seen as limiting. The conductor shape may also take various forms including rod shapes or rotor shapes for example.

Also note that the important aspect is different relative movement between the magnetic elements and conductor member or members. For example, the magnetic elements may be stationary and the conductor member(s) move. Alternatively, the conductor member(s) may remain stationary and the magnetic elements may move. In a further alternative, both the magnetic elements and conductor member(s) may move but with different velocities and potentially also different movement directions.

EXAM PLE 2

Halbach arrays may also be used as a means to direct and increase the density of the magnetic flux about a predetermined region.

Figure 5 shows an example of a potential braking mechanism utilising a Halbach array. In this example, the magnetic array 30 is arranged in a semi circular shape and the Halbach array intensifies the magnetic flux in the predetermined region 31 within the circular region. A conductor 32 passes through the semicircular region 31 generating eddy current drag forces as this occurs. In Figure 5, the conductor member 32 has a toroid shape however, various shapes could be used.

EXAM PLE 3

Figures 6 to 8 illustrate alternative embodiments utilising a ferro-fluid to modify the magnetic flux density by increasing the magnetic permeability between the magnetic elements and conductor.

Figure 6 illustrates an embodiment where the braking mechanism 40 comprises two backing plates 41,42, magnetic elements 43,44 extending orthogonally from the backing plates 41,42 and a gap between the magnetic elements 43,44 that a conductor or conductors 45 pass through. The backing plates 41,42 seal the magnetic elements 43,44 and conductor 45 within a cavity. The free space within the cavity may then be filled with the ferro-fluid 46 noted above. When relative movement occurs, eddy current drag forces are generated resisting the relative movement.

Figure 7 shows an alternative embodiment 40A, where the magnetic elements 43,44 are spaced apart by use of separators or barriers 47 and these barriers also reduce the cavity size in which ferro-fluid 46 is placed. The barriers 47 may prevent short circuiting of the magnetic fields and may reduce the amount of ferro-fluid 46 required. The barriers 47 may extend past the extent of the magnetic element 43, 44 to further reduce the cavity size and short circuiting of the magnetic fields.

Figure 8 shows a further embodiment 40B, the braking mechanism comprising backing plates 41,42 as above with magnetic elements 43,44 therein. Two conductor plates 45A,45B may be located between the magnetic elements 43,44 defining a cavity or space between the conductor plates 45A,45B. The cavity or space between the conductor plates 45A,45B may be filled with a ferro-fluid 46.

In the above embodiments, the ferro-fluid 46 may also have fluid properties such as a viscous drag that inhibit conductor 45, 45A, 45B movement thereby further enhancing a drag effect.

EXAM PLE 4

Figure 9 illustrates a further braking mechanism 50, the mechanism 50 comprising the same backing plates 51,52 and magnetic elements 53,54 as Figures 6 to 8, however, instead of a ferro-fluid, the magnetic flux direction and density is modified by the use of magnetic flux modifying materials in the form of particles or additives 55 mixed in or placed on the conductor member 56. The

additives/particles 55 may be located on or in the conductor member(s) 56. The particles 55 may be manufactured from various magnetic flux enhancing materials including for example iron and nickel. The particles 55 may be formed into the conductor member(s) 56, bonded to the conductor member 56 exterior and/or laminated to the conductor member 56 exterior. In Figure 9, the particles 55 are spread evenly throughout the conductor member 56 structure.

EXAM PLE 5

As noted above, the conductor member and magnetic field may take various shapes and forms. Some braking mechanisms may require compact forms or topologies. One way of achieving a compact form may be to use a conductor 60 with fins 61, the fins 61 acting as conductor 60 parts that pass through the flux regions 62 as shown in Figure 10. In this embodiment, the fins 61 extend from a central hub 63 in different directions thereby optimising the conductive surface passing through multiple magnetic flux regions 62.

Aspects of braking mechanisms and methods of braking relative movement have been described by way of example only and it should be appreciated that modifications and additions may be made thereto without departing from the scope of the claims herein.