Panel mount form factor is the traditional mounting method for industrial components, particularly servo drives.
Panel mount components are rectangular in shape like a book or a shoebox. Two sides of the box are usually formed by a metallic, L-shaped baseplate to which the circuit boards and electronics are attached internally. This baseplate serves as a mounting bracket and has notches cut out for screws or bolts. These allow the drive to be attached to a panel by its back or by its spine.
In the case of servo drives and other motion control components, panel mount devices are typically installed in a cabinet within a machine. The mounting bracket often doubles as a heat sink, along with the part of the machine frame its mounted to.
The other sides of the box are formed by a removable cover, made of thin metal or plastic, with cutouts for the electronic connectors. Sometimes removing this cover is required to access less commonly used switches, especially on analog servo drives.
Features for Servo Drives
While typically larger and bulkier than their PCB mount counterparts, panel mount servo drives can have much higher power capacities, especially with the addition of cooling fans and large finned heat sinks.
Many also favor the ease and simplicity of connecting to panel mount servo drives, which don't require mounting cards or soldering like PCB mount servo drives often do.
There is also room for additional communication and safety features in a larger servo drive. The covered form factor makes the drive more durable and offers better ingress protection than a PCB mount servo drive.
For these reasons, panel mount servo drives remain an important part of the motion control industry despite the introduction of new form factors.