Piezoelectric actuators are a major new component technology that leading-edge companies in Europe are starting to introduce into products. Ideal for computer applications involving precise control of hardware, they are easily incorporated into digital signal generating and processing systems.
The SPA project is responsible for the development of a new breed of smart piezoelectric actuators/sensors, devices which combine high accuracy of movement with compact size. These devices perform a crucial role in smart or intelligent mechanisms and although relatively unknown up to now, they will have a wide application in precision engineering in future. Other, subsidiary industrial uses include medicine and space research.
As a mechatronic device, the SPA actuator/sensor exhibits some extremely desirable characteristics, having high resolution, a low time constant, easy compatibility with computer control and the ability to function under a wide range of temperatures. It is well suited to the development of intelligent mechanisms, and applications to emerge from the SPA project include robotics, positioning devices, optical scanning systems, micropumps, precision engineering systems and so on.
The SPA display at EITC 97 demonstrates how engineering and mechatronics designers can use this new device to develop precision products. Functioning physical models using piezoelectric actuators include an 'active bearing' for measuring devices (demonstrating a new concept in machine component design), a robot eye which can position a video camera or a small laser with utmost precision for scanning any surface, and a Q-switch modulator for lasers.
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It was last updated on 22 October 1997, and is maintained by the EITC 97 Secretariat - firstname.lastname@example.org