PICMA® Multilayer Tape Technology

Manufacture of Multilayer Piezo Actuators

Thin Piezoceramics Thanks to Patented Cofiring Process

The multilayer cofiring technology is a particularly innovative manufacturing process. The first step is to cast tapes of piezoceramic materials which are then provided with electrodes while still in the green state. Many single tapes are laminated together to give a piezo element, which is then sintered together with contact electrodes in a single process step.

The patented design comprises an all-ceramic outer layer of the actuator, which acts as insulation. Any further coatings, made of polymer materials, for example, are therefore not required. This means that PICMA® piezo actuators remain stable even when subjected to high dynamic loads. They achieve a reliability and a lifetime which is ten times higher than that of conventional multilayer piezo actuators.

The more fine-grained the ceramic material used, the thinner the multiple layers that can be produced. 

>> PICMA® Stack Actuators: The height of the active layers is 60 μm.

>> PICMA® Bender Actuators: The height of the active layers is 20 to 30 μm.

The benders can be operated at a very low nominal voltage of ≤60 V.

All Possible Shapes Even with Full-Ceramic Encapsulation

Using its latest production technology, PI Ceramic can manufacture almost any shape of PICMA® multilayer piezo actuators. In doing so, all surfaces are encapsulated with an all-ceramic insulation. Not only various basic shapes, e.g., round or triangular cross sections can be manufactured, but also insulated center holes on benders, chips or stack actuators, making it easier to integrate them.

Special milling machines process the sensitive ceramic films in the green state, i.e., before sintering. The individual layers are then equipped with electrodes and laminated. As with PICMA® standard actuators, the ceramic is sintered together with the inner electrodes using the cofiring process.

Highest Dynamics: Electrodes for High Currents

For high-dynamics applications, the multilayer actuators are equipped with electrodes for especially high currents. Combined with a high-power piezo amplifier, high operating frequencies in the kHz range can be attained. The rise times for the nominal displacement are a few tens of microseconds.

Manufacturing Process for Tape Technology

Slurry Preparation / Tape Casting

  • Piezoceramic material with a low sintering temperature
  • Typical tape thicknesses 20 to 40 μm

Screen Printing / Stacking / Pressing

  • Ag-Pd inner electrodes
  • Up to several hundred layers
  • Uniaxial or isostatic pressing

Cutting and Green Shaping

  • Automated cutting
  • Flexible contours by milling, drilling or punching

Debindering / Sintering

  • Slow debindering up to 500 °C by pyrolysis
  • Followed by co-firing at 1100 °C

Lapping / Application of the Termination Electrodes

  • Precision lapping of the front and lateral faces
  • Termination screen printing
  • Automated soldering of the contact strip
  • Also available: Special electrodes for particularly high currents

Polarization / Assembly / Final Inspection

  • Polarization at room temperature
  • Assembly according to customer requirements
  • Climate test prior to delivery

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PICMA® Piezo Linear Actuators

Multilayer Piezo Actuators with All-Ceramic Insulation

PICMA® Piezo Bender Actuators

Multilayer Bending Actuators with Large Displacement