One of the most amazing inventions is the modern sewing machine.
In 1846, Elias Howe filed the first patent for a practical sewing machine. The operator ran the machine with their on energy. Various versions emerged utilizing hand cranks and foot treadle mechanisms. By todays standards, the original sewing machine was quite primitive, but it worked.
The power system of the sewing machine in those days involved the use of levers, gear, belts, and wheels. The user would start the process either by hand or foot power, and the sewing machine would transfer that movement across the sewing machine to its various parts. This enabled the machine to move the needle, hook, and feed systems to generate sewing. In a sense it kept sewing machine repair simple too because it only involved mechanical operations.
A major advancement occurred when the human power was replaced by electrical power. Electric motors were mounted behind the sewing machine with a small pulley connected by a belt drove a larger wheel on the upper shaft. The electric power was essentially changed into mechanical power.
The electric motor made sewing faster, easier, and more reliable. It never got tired pumping or cranking. In the early years of this change over, existing sewing machine were often converted by replacing the hand cranks or treadles with motors mounted, aligned, and connected by belt to the machine. While the treadle and hand crank machines are now nostalgic treasures, they do not compare to the productive ability of the motorized sewing machine.
AC motors use Alternating Current or standard household electricity from the electric outlet on your wall. This electricity cycles electric flow in one direction and then in the other all at 120 volts. Inside the motor, this alternating current is processed through a coil winding around a core with a motor shaft in the center. The coil produces a magnetic field pulling one way, and then cycles the opposite direction. The result is that shaft starts to revolve or turn. The electrical energy from the wall is converted into mechanical energy in the motor. A belt or gear is then used to turn the sewing machine. This usually poses very little problem for those who think of doing sewing machine repair myself.
Electric motors come in two types AC and DC. In both cases the electricity used to run the motor must operate in a continuous unbroken circuit or loop. If the flow of electricity in the circuit flows in one direction and then in the opposite direction, it is called alternating current. If the flow is in only one direction within the loop, it is DC or direct current. Use of a transformer can convert AC to DC or the reverse.
Early electric sewing machine motors were based on AC or Alternating Current electricity. These machines were essentially mechanical sewing machines using the levers and gears to move and form the stitches. Today many commercial sewing machines and low end sewing machines are still mechanical machines driven by electric AC motors. One of the hallmark features of a mechanical sewing machine is the buzz or whine the motor makes before it builds up sufficient force to move the sewing machine parts.
Again the sewing machine has changed. Electronic controls, DC pulse motors, and computer chips have again transformed the sewing machine. In many ways the modern sewing machine is very different from its antique cousins. It sews smoother, faster, hundreds more stitches, loads of convenience features, and much more.
The power system of your sewing machine really does matter. It matters if you are looking to buy a new machine. It matters when you understand what you are using. It matters if you are repairing sewing machines.
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