Designing actuators with smart materials
Actuators essentially refer to a controlled flow of information and energy, consisting of a sensor, actuator and the signal processing control. Automation technology is always based on the simple principle: a state or process is recorded by sensors and, depending on the desired modification of this process moment, is influenced by actuators.
Innovative actuators use physical laws of nature or make use of process properties that prevail at the respective point of the sensor or actuator system. In numerous parameters, these “smart” actuator systems offer a multitude of advantages over conventional technologies, which are often only based on electromagnets (solenoids).
Solution customized smart actuators
Piezo Technology often handles processes more easier and benefits from its smart origin. Concerning process optimization, cost-effectiveness or higher quality requirements, the question of optimal actuator technologies arises when developing actuator systems. Systems without high-quality requirements can be implemented inexpensively but with disadvantages at any time on the electro-mechanical level with solenoids.
Piezoceramic actuators use specific physical properties and deform as soon as electrical voltage is applied. This polycrystalline material is ferroelectric. It will be remantently polarized by applying an external voltage. This polarization makes piezoceramics a smart component in the development of electro-mechanical systems in two ways. On the one hand, a piezo bending transducer serves as an actuator and generates movement by supplying voltage; on the other hand, it can also serve as a sensor because it releases voltage under the influence of force or deformation.
A great advantage of this actuator technology is the versatility and accuracy of the control and the resulting deflection. Piezo benders are able to deflect almost proportionally, do not react magnetically and do not produce a magnetic field.
Compared to solenoids, energy consumption is much lower and side effects that could influence a process are avoided. The development of heat (e.g. due to friction) or noise is also avoided. Further advantages such as light weight and the resulting design potential are also reflected in the associated cost reduction. In the search for micro-movement, micro-positioning and microfluidics, sooner or later every system engineer ends up with the advantages of our smart piezo technology.
Achieving technological innovations
The deformation of a piezoceramic bending transducer can be integrated into systems in a variety of ways. Within a valve, our piezo components are responsible for opening and closing. As an intelligent component, combined with a perforated mesh plate, the finest aerosols for chemical processes can arise in the ultrasound range. Many processes require solution-oriented deflections and deformation forces. With bending transducers, these can be easily designed using smart deflection. Forces of up to several Newtons and deflections of up to several millimeters can be easily implemented. Individual ceramic sizes start at lengths of just 1 millimeter and are economically sensible up to a width or length of 100 millimeters.
Movement in smart actuators also means smart solutions. An optimal system can only be developed with know-how and experience. Johnson Matthey Piezo Products has more than half a century of experience and know-how. Regardless of whether you are looking for an individual piezoceramic, a bending transducer as an actuator element or a complete electro-mechanical module based on piezo, we will be happy to accompany you from advice and conception to prototyping and series production.