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Magnetic Components and Passive Electronic Components | ZXcompo


Magnetics are passive components that use an internal magnetic field to change the phase of electrical current. They are commonly divided into two camps – transformers and inductors.

An inductor consists of a wire loop or coil used to store energy in a magnetic field. The inductance of any particular component is directly proportional to the number of turns in the coil. This value also depends on the radius of the coil and the type of material used.

Transformers are used to change, filter, and stabilize voltage levels. The primary purpose of magnetic transformers is to transfer power between two different levels. Conversely, an inductor resists changes in electric current passing through it. Energy is stored in a magnetic field in the coil as long as current flows. When the current flowing through an inductor changes, the magnetic field induces a voltage in the conductor.

Having a basic understanding of how transformers work, what they are used for, and where they are used provides designers with a starting point for the decision-making process and the topic of this article.

Transformers do not generate electrical power; they transfer electrical energy from one AC circuit to another using magnetic coupling. A transformer is a magnetic component with more than one winding used to "transform" voltages and currents applied to the primary winding to other voltages and currents present on the secondary windings.

Internally, the number of windings depends on the voltage isolation required between the primary and secondary circuits. Thus, in a power topology, such as a flyback, where mains supply direct power, there will be fewer secondary windings to protect the system against the high voltages coming from the primary.

Before selecting magnetic components, designers should know what type of topology the power supply requires. Looking at each topology's watts and input voltage will steer the decision-making process toward the appropriate transformer.

Designers have five basic converter types to choose from, as outlined in the table below.

Once designers determine what function a transformer will serve and what type of converter it will go into, they can then choose the most appropriate components.
With a basic overview of how transformers work and the functions they perform, engineers can start selecting the most appropriate components for their system requirements.

However, this process goes beyond finding the correct specifications for any system. Designers should evaluate transformers based on reliability requirements pertinent to each specific application, such as computing, automotive, industrial, and medical. In addition, they understand the latest advancements in magnetic materials and technology processing should be considered to select the best performing transformer or inductor.

Additionally, the breadth of knowledge and experience in power supply engineering and design is another essential qualification to consider field application support. The vendor should offer a wide range of off-the-shelf and custom products to ensure that the most vexing design challenges can be anticipated and addressed.
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