I recently heard that in a universal motor (and I'm presuming regular DC motors too) they use "high resistance carbon brushes", and I can't seem to find anywhere that explains why they need to use "high resistance" brushes. Wouldn't it be the lower the resistance the better? The only thing I could find was this on Wikipedia.
For certain types of electric motors or generators to function, the coils of the rotor must be connected to complete an electrical circuit. Originally this was accomplished by affixing a copper or brass commutator or 'slip ring to the shaft, with springs pressing braided copper wire 'brushes' onto the rings which conduct the current. Such brushes provided poor commutation as they moved from one commutator segment to the next. The cure was the introduction of 'high resistance brushes' made from graphite (sometimes with added copper). Although the resistance was of the order of tens of milliohms, they were high resistance enough to provide a gradual shift of current from one commutator segment to the next. The term brush remains in use. Since the brushes wear out, they can be replaced in products intended to allow maintenance.
Based off that, my question would be: Why is it important that there be a gradual shift of current from one commutator segment to the next? How is the achieved by having slight resistance in the brush, and how does that solve the initial problem shown in italics?