The purpose of an actuator is to convert electrical energy into mechanical energy. Piezoelectric actuators utilize the inverse piezoelectric effect to generate physical displacement in response to an electrical input. Piezo actuators are used for their precise control and efficiency in a wide variety of applications, with precision down to the micrometer. There are multiple types of actuators that suit different needs based on their unique properties.
Piezoelectric actuators are very simple in design with little to no maintenance or lubrication required. There are virtually no moving parts and they are quite reliable. For these reasons, they are best suited for applications requiring precise movement, for example in motors and a growing variety of other practical uses. Piezo actuators are widely utilized across many industries, including medical, industrial, commercial, machinery, automotive, and aerospace.
Detailed Mechanics of Piezo ActuatorsThe inverse piezoelectric effect occurs when an electrical charge generates mechanical energy. When an electrical voltage is applied to a piezoelectric actuator, the piezo actuator will deform and generate some kind of precisely controlled physical displacement. The resulting displacement can be used to activate switches or alarms, create sound, release fluid, auto-break or auto-focus, and much more. Low stroke or high stroke can be achieved depending on the shape and construction of the piezo actuator. The higher the mechanical stress on the piezo actuator, the high voltage produced. If one end of the piezo actuator is fixed, the other end bends to cause deflection. If both ends of the piezo actuator are fixed, the center deforms the most to generate displacement.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Advantages and Disadvantages of Piezo ActuatorsPiezo actuators are extremely reliable and versatile. They are small, flexible, can be manufactured into any shape, and have no moving parts that require lubrication. Piezo actuators have very low energy consumption, high force generation and load capabilities, and can operate in vacuum and cryogenic environments. They have very fast response times and can be made to operate at high voltages. Piezo actuators may need to be mechanically preloaded or amplified if used as a driver depending on the application.
- Sound generation and amplification
- Musical pickups
- Household commercial items
- Alarms (microwaves, clocks, etc.)
- 3D and inkjet printers
- Fine machinery
- Fuel injectors
- Valve and pump control
- Ultrasound equipment
- Microdosing and nanodosing
Applications of Piezo Actuators
Piezo actuators are a valuable and versatile element with limitless capabilities across all industries, such as commercial, industrial, automotive, aviation, aerospace, and electronic. In common household items, piezo actuators are responsible for igniting lighters, sounding alarms, and amplifying sound in speakers and microphones. Coupling the displacement’s power with rapid vibration makes for a clear sound with potent sound pressure. Sound-generating buzzers, alarms, and buttons implement piezo actuators to bend or deform at a signal and create a sound. This can be seen in timers, clocks, microwaves, car keys, PIN pads, and alarms and buzzers. Larger machinery such as 3D printers, inkjet printers, Braille machines, and weaving machines all utilize piezo actuators for fine movement and precise adjustments. In printers, piezo actuators are used to control the dispensing nozzle, releasing the precise amount of ink needed to create the print received through an electrical signal.
In the automotive industry, piezo actuators are found in fuel injectors, valve and pump control, and other auto functions, such as automatic breaking. Piezo actuators respond to electrical signals in the car’s computer and make mechanical and physical adjustments within the vehicle instantly.
Piezoceramic actuators are also excellent for high precision nano movement and dosing. In medical applications, piezoelectric tube actuators are employed in microdosing machines and ultrasound equipment. In some minimally invasive procedures, piezo actuators are implemented into catheters generate ultrasound waves, which increase the permeability of the blood vessel walls and make it easier for medication to penetrate.
Piezo actuators are a valuable and versatile element with limitless capabilities across all industries, such as commercial, industrial, automotive, aviation, aerospace, and electronic.