What Makes a Makita Brushless Motor Different?
If you ever take a look through the feature set portion of a product page on Makita’s website, you’ll notice they’re proud of their brushless motors. But what actually makes a Makita brushless motor different from the competition?
I had the opportunity to chat with Carlos Quintana, Senior Product Manager for Makita Cordless Tools to get some answers.
Designing a Makita Brushless Motor with a Purpose
When Makita talks about purpose-built motors, it means the motor is designed for the tool it’s in. It’s easy enough to order whatever size motor you want from China and plop it in a tool to make it go. But when you look at not only what the tool is, but how it functions, the accessories you’ll use it, and the materials you’re working with, that changes things.
Both tools use the same battery and they’re both impact drivers, but the Sub-Compact model is specifically designed to have the lighter weight and power of a 12V tool with a head profile that lets you get it into narrow spaces, so they chose a longer, narrower brushless motor design.
Other tools, like the 18V X2 AWS Rotary Hammer, are designed specifically to compete with – and even outperform – corded models. Makita goes with an 80mm inner rotor design to give us a 1-9/16″ SDS-Max rotary hammer that really does drill faster than the nearly identical corded model it’s built on.
A Closer Look at the Intentional Design
Inner Rotor or Outer?
Makita uses an 80mm outer rotor brushless motors in their 18V X2 chainsaws and string trimmers. The design is more compact than an inner rotor, weighs less, and gives Makita the ability to drive higher speed and torque in their direct drive systems.
While there are few downsides to an outer rotor, an inner rotor design gives you more versatility with the length and diameter of the motor. You’ll find an 80mm inner rotor brushless motor in high-performance tools like Makita’s cordless SDS-Max rotary hammer. A 54mm inner rotor design drives their premium line while 44mm and 38mm inner rotor motors expand the compact and Sub-Compact models.
In short, Makita has a variety of options to get the size, shape, and performance dialed in the way the product team envisions it.
What’s the difference between a cheap tool and a premium one?
Makita gives us the example of the magnets in their 80mm inner rotor brushless motor. This Makita brushless motor uses 8 magnets instead of the more common 4.
From there, they shape and embed the magnets perfectly before epoxying them in place to ensure they won’t go anywhere during use. Just to be sure, this and all of their brushless motors go through testing up to 30,000 RPM.
More than Just a Motor
Right now, the Makita LXT line uses 5 different BL motors to power their brushless tools. That’s not the whole story, though.
Those brushless motors need a power source – Makita 18V LXT battery packs. With that 18V battery platform, Makita gives you four levels of cordless tools to work with. Sub-compact replaces the need for 12V and you have 18V X2 to eliminate the need to jump up to a 36V battery. In between are compact and premium 18V tools that give you a complete line on one battery system.
What sits between the motor and battery in every brushless tool is the controller, and that’s where things get really specific. Each Makita brushless tool model has its own electronic controller that customizes the energy curve between the battery and motor. Even though you have 5 motors to choose from, each one performs differently from one tool to the next because the product team can tell it exactly how to run.
The Bottom Line
The next time you hear one of the guys from Makita talking about a Makita purpose-built brushless motor, realize it’s more than just marketing jargon. Their team of product managers and engineers put a lot of effort into getting the perfect motor in the brushless tools you’re using and dialing in the controls to make sure you enjoy the experience of using a premium cordless tool.