The physical hardware of magnetic bearing systems has a very strong impact on the application of sliding mode control to this technology. Finite current slew rates affect the character of achievable reaching conditions; flexible rotors demand the use of state observers which then affect achievable robustness; finite controller throughput and use of switching power amplifiers has substantial impact on how chatter should be addressed.

This paper formulates the sliding mode control problem for realistic rotor/magnetic actuator systems considering rotor flexibility and finite amplifier voltages. The structure of the resulting class of controllers is examined for both rigid and for flexible rotors. It is demonstrated that, fundamentally, these controllers are conventional linear state observer based controllers acting through high speed switching amplifiers as in conventional magnetic bearing technology.

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