PCI's History of Innovation
Since 1980 Performance Controls has had the same mission: To design and manufacture power amplifiers that provide performance and features beyond the ordinary. During our history, we have repeatedly contributed to the state-of-the-art of Pulse Width Modulated (PWM) power amplifiers, and have received numerous patents for our many developments.
While enjoying a successful career as an engineer at Bridgeport Controls, Jerry Goff had a vision to develop a new generation of machines using brushless motors and drives. When his idea was not accepted by Bridgeport, he founded PCI in Hatboro, PA with a focus on developing rugged, high bandwidth, PWM motor drives for the then new Permanent Magnet Brushless Motor market.
The first generation of products included the DCM, DCMM, BLM and BLMM families of servo drives, primarily used in Frequency Agile Magnetron Tuners, Laser Scanners, Photo Plotters, Wafer Spinners, and industrial robots. PCI also designed custom PWM power supplies and servo amplifiers for a multitude of defense applications, including the Mark 92 and Terrier Fire Control RADAR.
Continuing to successfully meet the challenges from our customers, PCI quickly outgrew our facility, necessitating a move to a larger facility in Horsham, PA.
80’s - 90’s
PCI built upon its successes and expanded by supplying engineered solutions for various industrial projects that required high bandwidth and precise control of power electronics, such as Ceramic Punching, specialized Electro-Discharge Machining, and precision automobile engine piston machining.
PCI became a major supplier of high reliability motor drives for RADAR platforms such as NEXRAD, ARSR4, and TDWR which are still in use today.
PCI’s reputation for precise power control expanded to new markets and we were awarded a contract to develop our first Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) gradient amplifier, using Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) to supplant the linear amplifiers then employed.
PCI’s first MRI product was a single cabinet, 3 axis gradient amplifier capable of 220A and 380V with a 12 kHz current loop bandwidth. This helped our customer advance in the MRI industry by enabling their MRI scanner to achieve higher scan speeds, increased resolution, yet lower amplifier power dissipation.
PCI released the next generation in MRI gradient amplifier technology, which was a 4 cabinet, 3 axis amplifier capable of 440 amps and 650 volts, which again significantly increased the speed and capability of the MRI scan.
PCI developed the FLX1 and FLX2 (aka FastDrive) digital servo amplifiers, which had an option for a fiber-optic communications network. These motor drives had a 20 kHz PWM frequency, and thanks to a cutting edge 25uS current loop update rate and proprietary switching techniques, had a 6 kHz current loop bandwidth.
PCI participated in the National Center for Machining Science (NCMS) consortium and combined our high performance motor controls with our low noise, high bandwidth, gradient amplifier technology to produce a 125 HP spindle motor drive for high speed milling (20 kRPM).
PCI made a quantum leap in the state-of-the-art for MRI amplifiers with the release of a 700V gradient amplifier with peak current of 430A in a single, lower cost, cabinet.
PCI was purchased by MTS, Inc. and merged with Custom Servo Motors to create the MTS Automation Division, with the PCI site in Horsham as the Center of Electronics Excellence.
PCI was awarded a significant contract to develop and manufacture servo drives for a Pick-and-Place robot that used switched reluctance linear motors and moved to our present facility in Montgomeryville, PA.
Subsequent to the move, PCI completed the development and launch of the MP-FLX family of digital servo drives with integrated controller that offered dual axis packaging as a cost and size savings. The MP-FLX had the fastest digital current loop in the market at 25uS, which combined with proprietary PWM control, enabled the drives to have the extremely high bandwidth and dynamic range typical of PCI products
PCI entered the Functional MRI (fMRI) arena with the release of ultra-low noise 380V and 725V systems, used in research settings.
PCI made another advance in MRI technology with the release of the 430A, 950V gradient amplifier.
MTS exited the automation components market and split the Automation Division, selling the MRI gradient amplifiers and the PERFORMANCE CONTROLS, INC.® name to Hitachi Medical Corporation. In addition to the name, PCI retained the design team and many employees that were responsible for our prior success.
PCI launched the GA300 for MRI, which is an ultra-low noise amplifier that has significantly improved our clients’ systems’ uptime.
Launched a new generation MRI gradient amplifier, the QDCM1400. It is capable of 30 kHz current loop bandwidth, at an output of 1300 volts and 600 amps, enabling still faster rise times and greater signal-to-noise ratio.
PCI developed the DCD family of energy efficient, battery operated servo drives for a variety of brushed servo motors used in applications such as Automatic Guided Vehicles (AGV).
PCI added the ACD family of energy efficient, battery operated AC servo drives for a variety of brushless servo motors, thus meeting the needs of a rapidly changing electric vehicle market.
PCI developed the DHT digital servo drive for sensorless control of brushless motors in 175°C environments, such as oil and gas drilling, which eliminates the highest failure mechanism in the motor/controller system - the motor feedback sensors.
PCI applied our PWM techniques to the SHD, a digital servo drive that reduces the heating in the motor for surgical power tool applications as well as improving the torque-speed performance.
ATEX-rated amplifiers were designed and delivered for a power generation application.
Motor drives were produced for Pathfinder, for their downhole oil and gas exploration operations. The extremely rugged amplifiers operated reliably in the high temperature and harsh vibration environment of a downhole drilling operation.
The groundbreaking QDCM2100 3-Axis Gradient Amplifier was introduced. Rated at 2100 VDC and 700 Amp (peak) per axis, it was the most advanced gradient amplifier to date for use in MRI applications.
The FAA's Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR) towers were upgraded from brushed DC servo motors to brushless DC servo motors.
PCI delivered form, fit and function replacements for the legacy NEXRAD radar DC servo-amplifier to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).
Expanding its MRI amplifier product offering, PCI introduced its SA2-50 Shim Amplifier. The dual-axis SA2-50 is used to improve the magnetic field homogeneity of an MRI system.
The GA301 Gradient Amplifer was launched. Building on the legacy of over 10,000 delivered GA-300's, the successor GA301 features a high performance hybrid analog/digital architecture. Its variant, the GA301-VP, is ideally suited for vibration test systems and other applications, with its 300V and 400Apk ratings.
In a major technological breakthrough, PCI launched its D-SERIES platform. D-SERIES™ is a revolutionary amplifier technology that is 100% digital from input to output. It delivers unprecedented performance, reliability, flexibility and cost efficiency across PCI’s family of D-SERIES™ based amplifiers. Through PCI’s exclusive InSight™ software toolkit, D-SERIES™ technology provides users powerful tools for optimizing total system performance, reducing installed costs, maximizing system uptime, and adding new functionality in the field.
The first DA1500-1 Gradient Amplifier was delivered. The 1500V, 700Apk rated DA1500-1 was the first in a planned family of gradient amplifiers to be built on the D-SERIES™ platform.