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The Role of Forward Converters

Forward converters—also referred to as forward-converter transformers or transformers for forward-mode topology—are used in DC-DC conversion applications to provide voltage transformation and circuit isolation. They increase or decrease the voltage levels of DC input, depending on the duty cycle and number of windings. Compared to alternative topologies, they offer greater design simplicity, multiple isolated output potential, and ease of use.

The following article provides an overview of forward converters, outlining the types available, how they compare to flyback transformers, and typical end applications.

Types of Forward Converters

There are three main types of forward converters available:

Active Clamp Forward Converters

Active clamp forward converters have compound gates that move quickly to reduce switching losses during power conversion cycles. When voltage passes through the primary transformer coil, energy immediately transfers from the primary component to the secondary component, prompting current to pass from the output unit to the connected load.

Both forward converters and flyback converters can integrate clamp mechanisms in their designs—forward converters employ active clamps, while flyback converters utilize resistor-capacitor-diode (RCD) clamps. Despite similarities in the terminology, these clamps function and perform differently. For example, active clamps reclaim a large majority of leakage energy and recover almost all magnetizing energy. They also experience smaller energy losses during zero voltage switching and no voltage spike when turned off.

Fig.1: Typical Active Clamp Forward Converter Circuit Diagram

Fig.1: Typical Active Clamp Forward Converter Circuit Diagram

Fig.2: Current Flow w/ Q1 Closed, Q2 Open

Fig.2: Current Flow w/ Q1 Closed, Q2 Open

Fig.3: Current Flow w/ Q2 Closed, Q1 Open

Fig.3: Current Flow w/ Q2 Closed, Q1 Open

Single Switch Forward Converters

Employing the design principles used in buck topology, single switch forward converters focus on providing galvanic isolation in applications involving power levels of less than 200 watts. In these converters, closing the active switch connects the supply to the primary, which prompts the rectifier to conduct the current and pass it through the output inductor to the connected load. Until the switch reopens, the current rises linearly. Once the switch is opened, any energy stored in the inductor transfers directly to the load through the secondary diode.

Fig.4: Typical Single Switch Forward Converter Circuit Diagram

Fig.4: Typical Single Switch Forward Converter Circuit Diagram

Fig.5: Current Flow w/ Switch Closed

Fig.5: Current Flow w/ Switch Closed

Fig.6: Current Flow w/ Switch Open

Fig.6: Current Flow w/ Switch Open

Two Switch Forward Converters

As the name suggests, two switch forward converters feature two switches that open and close together when prompted. Closing both switches allows energy to transfer from the primary into the secondary. Within the secondary, a tertiary diode conducts energy into the output inductor and the load. Once the switches are opened, energy flowing the tertiary and quaternary diodes flows back into the source. Compared to the single switch topology, the two-switch topology does not require the use of a snubber circuit or demagnetizing winding.

Fig.7: Typical 2-Switch Forward Converter Circuit Diagram

Fig.7: Typical 2-Switch Forward Converter Circuit Diagram

Fig.8: Current Flow w/ BOTH Switches Closed

Fig.8: Current Flow w/ BOTH Switches Closed

Fig.9: Current Flow w/ BOTH Switches Open

Fig.9: Current Flow w/ BOTH Switches Open

Differences Between Forward Converters and Flyback Transformers

While forward converters and flyback transformers may look similar, there are several key differences between them. For example:

  • Forward converters use transformers to transfer energy, while flyback transformers store energy.
  • Forward converters feature a more complex circuit topology as compared to that of flyback transformers.
  • Forward converters are suitable for applications that require greater energy efficiency and higher power outputs (100 to 200 watts), while flyback transformers are suitable for power outputs up to 120 watts.

Typical Applications of Forward Converters                              

Fig. 10: Typical Flyback Converter Circuit Diagram

Fig. 10: Typical Flyback Converter Circuit Diagram

The Role of Forward ConvertersForward converters find use in the power supplies of a wide range of equipment and systems, including those for the following industries:

  • For the military: Military manufacturers use forward converters in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), stun guns, dipole antennas, and more.
  • For aerospace: Aircraft have forward converters in their lighting systems, entertainment devices, searchlights, and cameras.
  • For renewable energy (i.e., solar power): Forward converters help prepare solar energy for storage and distribution by standardizing the output voltages. These components are in inverters and grid monitors in solar panel systems and built into electrical drive systems, storage inverters, and battery chargers.
  • For computers: Forward converters can be found in a variety of powered computer equipment, including laser printers, laptops, and IP routers. Home entertainment systems with set-top boxes that receive digital television broadcasts also use them.

Forward Converter Solutions From MPS Industries

Forward converters allow industry professionals to transform DC input to higher or lower voltage levels to suit the output demands of the end application. Compared to flyback transformers, they are more efficient and accommodate higher power outputs. Available in several different designs, they can meet a variety of power requirements and restrictions.

At MPS Industries, one of our core specialties is the production of forward transfers and output inductors for forward converters. By working closely with customers, our expert team designs and delivers quality magnetic solutions tailored to their exact needs.

We’re proud to serve the following industries:

For additional information about our forward converters or our other products and services, contact us today.

MPS Contributes to Clean Year Round

With Earth Day quickly approaching, our MPS Industries team is taking the time to assess how our magnetic components contribute to the global movement for clean, renewable energy sources. The annual day for celebrating green initiatives lands on April 22.

Our Year’s Vision

MPS Industries recently shared our expansion plan for 2017: extending our product lines and providing excellent engineering support, including improved lead times. In our efforts to provide an even higher level of overall customer service, we are paying attention to industry trends, specifically the rising popularity of electric cars.

Advancing Clean Technology and Green Initiatives

We expect the EV (Electric & Hybrid Vehicle) industry to continue to expand and MPS Industries is responding to growing customer demand in the plug-in marketplace. This is why our engineers, with over 60 years of design experience, are working alongside leading EV technology developers to develop components that will have a large impact in the industry. Our mechanisms can be used in EV Charging stations, including wireless charging stations, just as easily.

By participating in trade shows, such as the Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology Expo last September, MPS aims to have more involvement in developing and contributing to the worldwide effort for energy sustainability. We will also be exhibiting at the 2017 EV TECH show as well.

Other clean, renewable energy and green initiatives that we have taken on include the implementation of fuel cell, PV and wind turbine systems. Moreover, MPS products are used in converting power for inverter applications, for example, off-grid inverters, grid-tied inverters, string and central solar inverters, solar optimizers, solar maximizers, solar micro-inverters, and they are also being used in smart metering applications.

Innovative Strategies

Within the magnetic components field, MPS proudly holds a name for manufacturing sophisticated, innovative parts that meet the needs of the general industry, EV magnetic technology, charging stations, wind turbine systems, inverters, the solar industry, smart applications, and more. Our engineers offer custom design on magnetic components, to meet clients’ individual project needs, whether it be electrical or mechanical variations or a completely new design.

MPS Industries provides a broad range of products, from transformers to common mode chokes, inductors, current sensors, and power supplies, to U.S.-based customers. Our magnetic components come in a range of sizes, and the power supplies include desktop, industrial, open frame, wall mount, and medical-grade varieties.

Keep up to date on how our MPS team is engaging in greener solutions, on Earth Day and throughout the rest of the year, by connecting via our blog, Twitter, and LinkedIn. For your next magnetic component project, please contact us today.

Advancing Energy Efficiency

A growing concern among many different industries is energy efficiency.  From energy efficient cars, to an electricity grid that comes from renewable sources (or both if you’re Elon Musk), to the next phase in the Energy Efficiency and Security Act, the goal of more efficient ways to produce, store, and use energy are on the minds of consumers and business owners alike.

Being efficient with our energy has many implications.  On the consumer level, being energy efficient may mean a decrease in a monthly electric bill, and thus a more flexible budget.  At a business level, investing in efficient energy sources and use can not only affect the bottom line, but can future-proof your business from both the perspectives of a changing attitude toward energy sources and a public policy that reflects that changing attitude.  On a global scale, the way we use our energy can have economic and environmental effects, by easing the strain on the grid to prevent blackouts at peak use times, and by lessening our impact on the use of energy sources that are not renewable.

As we search for better ways to produce and use energy, the burden on manufacturers of all kinds is to build products that use energy in more efficient ways.  In the auto industry, for example, this has led to a “lightweighting” trend, as lighter materials improve fuel economy.  In electronics, the same principles of efficiency apply: improving performance while consuming less power.  This is what MPS is seeking to do with our new LLC Resonant Transformers, and as an integral part of our design and engineering philosophy.  We’re constantly looking toward the future, and in this case, the future is one where we use our energy more efficiently.

Augmented Reality and the Future of Electronics Technology

As we’ve mentioned in previous blogs, our industry is one that is constantly being inundated with new and exciting technologies, all of which are of interest to electronics manufacturers as interesting combinations of developments that seek to improve our lives.  One exciting new technology we’re interested in here at MPS is the field of augmented reality.

The concept isn’t that new, but the recent development of Google Glass has thrown the subject into the public eye again.  In our age of ever increasing and exhaustive information, augmented reality seeks to tap into that wealth of knowledge in real time to give us instantaneous and personalized access to deeper levels of information based on our surroundings or inquiries.  Smartphones have already made huge strides in this pursuit, but the innovation of Google Glass is the visual and vocal access to that information.  Now, rather than pulling out a smartphone, you can give a voice command, and read the results projected in your field of vision from a tiny projector, visible only to you.

The implications of this are astounding for medicine, the military, the consumer, travel, education, industry – the list goes on.  Even though the technology is in an early stage, as it improves, and we approach universal and access to wireless internet at high speeds, this type of technology is a bit step toward universal connectivity, a still astonishing and ambitious goal.  It also of high interest to custom electronics manufacturers like MPS, as we’re seeing the elements of our business combined in ways that improve lives and make information management more efficient.  These are the moments and times when we’re proud and excited for what the future of the electronics industry holds.  Tweet @MPSIndustries to get in touch, or visit our website to find out how MPS can help make your latest technology a reality – we’d love to hear from you.

MPS and Oceanic Research

Part of the exciting nature of our job here at MPS is the opportunity to be a part of fascinating projects from time to time.  We think one of our latest projects is especially interesting, and worth talking about with you here on our blog.

The Canadian Scientific Submersible Facility is a non-profit in Canada that aids oceanic research and discovery, partnering with various universities and local companies to promote the national ocean technology industry.  Our expertise in custom electronics gave us the opportunity to supply their ROPOS (“Remotely Operated Platform for Ocean Science”) vehicle with a mini video isolation transformer.  This was then put onto an NTSC composite video isolation board that works in tandem with a Fiber Optic Mux Control Can in the ROV.  This essentially means that our technology aided in the capture and transmission of images from varying depths under the sea to the surface for observation and study, as well as to assist in a fiber optic cable laying program that the ROPOS was involved with.

Oceanic research is highly important for the understanding of our weather and climate, natural disaster research, geochemistry, and the investigation of potential alternative fuels located in deep-sea deposits.  MPS is proud to play a part in such impactful research, and to provide pieces of the electronic puzzle that aid a deeper understanding of our world.  Check out the expedition website here, and be sure to check back here at our blog for more interesting projects we’ve been involved in.

Customer Satisfaction Case Study

Here at MPS, we believe in our capability to design and manufacture great products.  We also believe that making the best products we can for a wide range of applications and industries, designing custom solutions to the exact specs our customers need, and using flexible shipping and sourcing options to provide great turn-around times, are great ways to ensure our customer’s satisfaction.  We know that keeping our customers happy is one of the key ways to keeping our customers – so every year, we conduct a survey to measure the level of satisfaction we were providing and find areas where we can improve.

We asked about our shipping time frame, product satisfaction, customer service evaluation, comparisons to competition, and whether our customers would recommend us, and the results were overwhelmingly positive: nearly 70% of customers who responded to the survey said they were “extremely likely” to recommend MPS to others; nearly %90 said they were “very satisfied” with our services.  Not one respondent said that they had found a competitor with better products.  These kinds of responses are wonderful for MPS to receive, because they reflect the kind of business that we are continually striving to be.

We do these surveys because we are committed to providing a caliber of service that is equal to the caliber of our products.  We want your feedback because we want to provide the kinds of service that will make you delighted to tell us and others about it, and are on an ever-expanding quest to see that we make that happen.  Head over to our web or social sites to get in touch with us, and make your voice part of our process of improvement here at MPS.

See the Latest Advancements at APEC 2013

We’re extremely happy to announce that we will be attending the Applied Power Electronics Conference, or APEC, this month in Long Beach, California. APEC has been held every year since 1986 to address practical and applied aspects of the complicated power electronics business. Whether you’re a power electronic designer, a manufacturer of such components, an OEM, or even just in marketing or sales in the industry, you’ll be able to get some important information and insights from APEC 2013.

At MPS we take great pride in the manufacture of all of our components. Materials used in the production of our power transformers and other pieces conform to the highest possible standards. Whether these components are being used in consumer electronics like your smartphone, or in the electronic systems of airplanes and automobiles, our customers know that our power electronics can always be relied on. By working together with our customers, and making sure that we make the best use of the information available to us, we will continue to improve our components and manufacturing process. This is why we go to industry expos like APEC and strive to make sure that we remain on the cutting edge of innovation and quality.

This year’s APEC will kick off on March 17th and end on the 21st. And while you’re attending, remember to come on down and visit us at Booth #1101 to see our skill and experience in power electronic manufacturing firsthand. We hope to see you there.

The Automotive Recovery, Powered by MPS

Recent news and trends all point to a giant recovery for the American auto industry. Most major automakers saw moderate to large sales increases in 2012; one market research firm, Polk, now expects new car sales to increase by 6.6% in 2013, thanks to a recovering economy and growth in the pickup truck and midsize sedan markets.

Last year, American auto company, Chrysler reported its highest sales since 2007. Meanwhile, the Japanese automakers have been recovering from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated factories and drastically decreased production; Toyota, for example, sold a record 9.7 million vehicles last year, and expects to sell even more in 2013.

Whether you’re dealing with a German vehicle or an American one, a pickup truck or a compact car, quality products from MPS Industries are the best parts for automotive applications. We provide TS16949-certified manufacturing, and we also bring extensive experience with automotive requirements like IMDS and PPAP to the table. Our transformers and inductors are not only reliable and energy efficient, but they’re competitively priced to boot.

No matter how severe the environmental condition or temperature, our magnetics are guaranteed to perform. We manufacture parts that can be used in fuel pumps, particulate matter sensors, and DC/AC inverters that can be used to power electrical devices inside of vehicles, like TV screens or DVD players. MPS Industries components are at work in every part of the car.

2013 promises to be a one of the biggest year for vehicle sales in quite a while, and MPS Industries products will be there to make sure everything keeps running smoothly.

MPS , Medical-Grade Products & BIOMEDevice 2012

We’re incredibly excited to be in San Jose this week for BIOMEDevice 2012! If you’re attending, please check out Booth #1237; there, we’ll be showcasing our unique products and capabilities, including medical-grade magnetic components and medical-grade transformers. We look forward to this event each year to stay up to date on industry trends, regulatory changes, and ultimately our clients’ evolving needs.

Our transformers and inductors can be found in a wide range of products and systems – from defibrillators, ophthalmic surgical products, medical imaging systems, scanners, cameras and monitors – and the list continues to expand. We’re honored to be a part of this innovative and powerful industry. To continue to work with colleagues and clients in the medical field throughout product development, we ensure that we never falter in two areas: regulatory conformance and repeatability. Our engineers work to meet, or exceed when possible, agency requirements, such as UL544 and IEC60601-1/EN60601-1 standards. Further, our manufacturing facilities are ISO 9000 certified; our processes produce parts that are highly reliable and repeatable.

We hope to see you at BIOMEDevice this year (and, it’s not too late to register!) To learn more about our expertise in medical product development, stop by our Booth and/or stay connected with us on Twitter!

Electronics and the eCommerce Revolution

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the rear-view mirror, the holiday shopping season has hit full stride. As expected, these two highly anticipated shopping days did not disappoint in 2012; in fact, Cyber Monday was most likely the busiest eCommerce day in history up 30% from last year.  In addition, both days proved that even traditional shoppers have become highly tech savvy consumers. As a leading manufacturer of electronic components for consumer electronics, MPS is thrilled about this latest trend. You will find our custom transformers, inductors, sensors, and power supplies in holiday gift favorites like laptops, printers, game consoles, DVR boxes, and just about anything, you plug in or charge. Tech focused companies like Best Buy, Amazon, and eBay had outstanding stock performances on Cyber Monday and most are expecting their strongest holiday seasons ever.  The way American’s shop and the products they shop for, has fundamentally changed.

In order to take advantage of this massive retail paradigm shift MPS combines outstanding cost-effectiveness with the ability to support high volume production of your custom designed electronic components. Our team of design, production, and supply chain experts know how to get products to market fast. Therefore, you can get custom electronic components at the right price and in time to take advantage of the even the most chaotic holiday season.

If you want to jump into the 21st century feet first, contact MPS today and let us show you the way to the future!