- ProductsProductsPI Ceramic offers a large number of standard products and solutions based on piezo technology. This includes piezoceramic components and elements as well as piezoelectric actuators.
- Piezoceramic ComponentsPiezoceramic ComponentsPI Ceramic manufactures a wide range of piezoceramic components in various shapes and sizes according to your needs – also with contacting or in miniature format.
- Piezoceramic ActuatorsPiezoceramic ActuatorsPI Ceramic offers a large number of piezoelectric actuators for applications in industry and research.
- PICMA® Piezo Linear ActuatorsPICMA® Piezo Linear ActuatorsThe compact PICMA® multilayer actuators feature linear deflections with low control voltages and, in the chip version, generate highly dynamic movements.
- PICMA® Piezo Bender ActuatorsPICMA® Piezo Bender ActuatorsMultilayer bending actuators: large displacement and high dynamics. Their bimorph structure ensures bidirectional displacement.
- PICA Piezoelectric Stack ActuatorsPICA Piezoelectric Stack ActuatorsStacked piezo linear actuators with operating voltages to 1000 V: High reliability, large specific displacement and high forces.
- PICA Shear ActuatorsPICA Shear ActuatorsMulti-axis and shear actuators in stacked design offer excellent dynamics combined with minimum electrical power requirements.
- DuraAct Patch TransducersDuraAct Patch TransducersDuraAct patch transducers convert electrical voltage into mechanical energy and vice versa; as actuator, sensor or as energy generator.
- Picoactuator® Piezoelectric CrystalPicoactuator® Piezoelectric CrystalThe motion of the Picoactuator® piezo crystals is highly linear and almost hysteresis-free and consequently suited for high-dynamics applications.
- Tube ActuatorsPiezo Tube ActuatorsRadially and axially contracting piezo tubes are often used for creating dynamic scanning motions and as fiber stretchers.
- PICMA® Piezo Linear Actuators
- Smart Interface: Piezo Components with Flexible Printed Circuit BoardsSmart Interface: Piezo Components with Flexible Printed Circuit BoardsIt is time-consuming and risky to provide piezo components with strands and to contact them on printed circuit boards yourself. PI Ceramic takes on this step for customers and supplies piezoceramic components with flexible printed circuit boards.
- Piezo Controllers & DriversPiezo Controllers & DriversControl electronics plays a key role in the performance of piezoelectric actuators. In addition to universal control electronics, highly suitable for most fields of application, PI offers a wide range of piezo amplifiers geared towards particular purposes.
- For PICMA® Stack/Chip Multilayer ActuatorsDrivers and Controllers for PICMA® Stack/Chip Multilayer ActuatorsAmplifiers with high output current allow dynamic operation of the actuators and precise positioning while requiring low power.
- For PICMA® Bender Multilayer ActuatorsDrivers and Controllers for PICMA® Bender Multilayer ActuatorsPiezo amplifiers for PICMA® Bender Actuators offer fixed and variable output voltages of up to 60 V for differential control.
- For PICA Stack/Power/Thru ActuatorsDrivers and Controllers for PICA Stack/Power/Thru ActuatorsPiezo amplifiers for PICA Actuators offer a voltage range of up to 1100 V, which is available as unipolar or bipolar voltage. Amplifiers with high output current allow dynamic operation of the actuators and precise positioning while requiring low power.
- For PICA Shear ActuatorsDrivers and Controllers for PICA Shear ActuatorsPiezo amplifiers for PICA Shear Actuators offer a bipolar output voltage of ±250 V.
- For DuraAct ActuatorsDrivers and Controllers for DuraAct ActuatorsDuraAct Actuators require different operating voltage ranges, depending on the integrated ceramic.
- For Picoactuator® ActuatorsDrivers and Controllers for Picoactuator® ActuatorsPicoactuator® actuators are operated with a bipolar voltage of ±500 V. The output voltage range of the PICA amplifiers can be set accordingly to suit this purpose. For smaller displacements, it is possible to use amplifiers for PICA Shear actuators of ±250 V.
- For Piezo TubesAmplifiers and Controllers for Piezo TubesPiezo amplifiers for Piezo Tubes are ideal for the control of segmented piezo scanner tubes and can be operated with a bipolar voltage.
- For Energy HarvestingElectronics for Energy HarvestingE-821 uses pulsed or continuous excitation for Energy Generation by means of piezo actuators.
- For PICMA® Stack/Chip Multilayer Actuators
- Piezoceramic MaterialsPiezoceramic MaterialsPI Ceramic offers a variety of different piezoelectric materials including lead-free materials.
- Miniaturized Piezo CeramicsMiniaturized Piezo CeramicsThanks to their compact design, miniaturized piezo components are ideally suited for the generation and detection of vibrations in the smallest of areas.
- DisksMiniaturized Disks
- PlatesMiniaturized Plates
- RingsMiniaturized Rings
- TubesMiniaturized Tubes
- Half and Hollow SpheresMiniaturized Half and Hollow Spheres
- Shear ElementsMiniaturized Shear Elements
- Bending ElementsMiniaturized Bending Elements
- HexagonsMiniaturized Hexagons
- (Shear) ConesMiniaturized (Shear) Cones
- Chip Actuators (PL022.3x)Chip Actuators (PL022.3x)
- Piezoceramic Components
- OEMOEM Solutions for Piezo Ceramics from PI CeramicPI Ceramic offers customized OEM solutions for piezo ceramics at the highest technological level and economically optimized.
- The PI Ceramic Tech CenterThe PI Ceramic Tech CenterFrom small series production to new production technologies: the PI Ceramic Tech Center supports you in the fast qualification of your project-specific samples.
- The PI Ceramic Tech Center
- ApplicationsApplications and Markets for Piezo TechnologyPiezo technology is used in different applications in medical technology, mechanical and automotive engineering or in semiconductor technology.
- Ultrasonic Measurement TechnologyUltrasonic Measurement TechnologyUltrasonic sensors emit high-frequency sound pulses and receive signals reflected from objects. The time the echo signals take to arrive is processed electronically and can be used for a wide range of applications in metrology.
- Noncontact Measurement with Air UltrasoundNoncontact Measurement with Air UltrasoundThe most widely used principle of ultrasonic level measurement is based on the propagation time measurement of air ultrasound pulse.
- Noncontact Flow MeteringNoncontact Flow MeteringThe propagation time metering the so-called Doppler principle are the two fundamental measurement processes in noncontact ultrasonic flow rate measurement.
- Noncontact Measurement with Air Ultrasound
- High-Power UltrasoundHigh-Power UltrasoundPiezoceramics can be used to generate ultrasonic waves in the frequency range of power ultrasound (20 to 800 kHz). They can be used in different diagnostic and therapeutic applications, for example in tartar removal or lithotripsy, but also in ultrasonic technology.
- Industrial Ultrasonic CleaningIndustrial Ultrasonic CleaningUltrasonic cleaning can be used to remove dirt particles in the nanometer range, without damaging sensitive surfaces by a too high pressure.
- Ultrasonic PiezomotorsUltrasonic PiezomotorsAn integral part of the PILine® ultrasonic piezomotors is a piezoceramic actuator that is pretensioned against a movably guided runner via a coupling element.
- Sonar Technology and HydroacousticsSonar Technology and HydroacousticsPiezoceramic components are used in sonar technology and hydroacoustic systems, for measuring and position-finding tasks.
- Industrial Ultrasonic Cleaning
- Acceleration MeasurementAcceleration MeasurementPiezo discs the centerpiece of force/acceleration sensors.
- Scientific InstrumentationScientific InstrumentationPiezo components have become firmly established in modern science as drives and ultrasonic transducers. They work reliably even under extreme conditions such as magnetic fields, cryogenic temperatures or ultrahigh vacuum.
- Mineralogical Analyses in NASA's Mars RoverMineralogical Analyses in NASA's Mars RoverNASA relies on PICMA® Multilayer Actuators from PI Ceramic.
- Cryogenic Applications in the German Electron Synchrotron (DESY)Cryogenic Applications in the German Electron Synchrotron (DESY)Dynamic Compensation of Lorentz Forces at the Accelerator Elements in Cryogenic Environments.
- Scanning Probe MicroscopyScanning Probe MicroscopyScanning probe microscopy benefits from piezo technology: Piezo tube actuators position highly dynamically over a lateral range of up to ±35 µm.
- Mineralogical Analyses in NASA's Mars Rover
- Precision DosingPrecision DosingPiezo elements pump and meter small liquid or gas volumes reliably and precisely in the range of a few hundred milliliters to a few nanoliters. The piezo elements can be adapted to each application environment.
- Metering with Piezo ValvesMetering with Piezo ValvesPiezo valves are highly suitable for dosing tasks: They can switch directly, and can also work against a closing spring.
- Metering with Piezo Valves
- Medical TechnologyMedical TechnologyPiezo components for medical technology and related life science disciplines must be fast, reliable and energy-efficient. In miniaturized form, they enable minimally invasive and highly precise diagnostic as well as therapeutic methods.
- Therapeutic Ultrasound with Piezo ComponentsTherapeutic Ultrasound with Piezo ComponentsTherapeutic ultrasound is used as a core element in applications such as tissue ablation, targeted drug delivery, or lithotripsy.
- Miniaturized Piezo Tubes in SFEMiniaturized Piezo Tubes in High-Resolution Scanning Fiber EndoscopyWith their fast deflection and control, miniaturized piezo tubes generate a scanning movement of the optical fiber in scanning fiber endoscopes (SFE), thus providing more image information and improved minimally invasive procedures in everyday clinical practice.
- Nebulizers with Piezo RingsNebulizers with Piezo RingsSpecially shaped piezo discs act as ultrasonic transducers in nebulizers, generating particularly homogeneous aerosols with high-frequency oscillations.
- Piezo Valves in BiotechnologyPiezo Valves in BiotechnologyPiezo-driven valves enable precise dosing in the nanolitre range, for example for drug screening or researching active agents.
- Piezoelectric MicropumpsPiezoelectric MicropumpsPiezoelectric micropumps are used in laboratory technology, medical technology, biotechnology, chemical analytics and process engineering.
- Piezo Actuators in Medical ImplantsPiezo Actuators in Medical ImplantsSystems implanted in the body such as micropumps for drug dosing or hearing aids are almost invisible and improve the quality of life of patients significantly. They are driven by ultra-compact and energy-efficient miniaturized piezo actuators.
- Therapeutic Ultrasound with Piezo Components
- Energy-Autarkic SystemsEnergy-Autarkic Systems with Piezo ElementsDuraAct patch transducers use kinetic energy for the electrical supply of energy-autarkic systems and can be applied in structural health or condition monitoring.
- Ultrasonic Measurement Technology
- TechnologyPI Ceramic Piezo TechnologyPI Ceramic offers extensive know-how and a wealth of experience in the manufacturing of assembled piezo-ceramic components and sub-systems.
- Fundamentals of Piezo TechnologyFundamentals of Piezo TechnologyPhysical basics and explanations of piezo electricity and electromechanics.
- Properties of Piezo ActuatorsProperties of Piezo ActuatorsCharacteristics of piezoceramic actuators: Displacement modes, forces and stiffnesses, dynamics. Ambient conditions.
- Displacement BehaviorDisplacement BehaviorOn this site you will find information about the displacement behaviour of piezo ceramics.
- Displacement Modes of Piezoelectric ActuatorsDisplacement Modes of Piezoelectric ActuatorsOn this site you will learn more about the different displacement modes of piezo ceramics.
- Temperature DependenceTemperature DependenceThe displacement and dimension of a piezo ceramic is temperature dependant. Learn more about this topic on this site.
- Forces and StiffnessForces and StiffnessForce and stiffness are important properties of piezo actuators. Find out more on this topic here.
- Dynamic OperationDynamic OperationLearn more on the topics of resonant frequency, dynamic forces and response behaviour.
- Electrical Operation of Piezo ActuatorsElectrical Operation of Piezo ActuatorsLearn more on the topics of operating voltage, electrical behaviour and operating modes.
- Ambient ConditionsAmbient ConditionsPiezo actuators are suitable for operation in very different, sometimes extreme ambient conditions. Learn more about this topic on this site.
- Displacement Behavior
- Generating UltrasoundGenerating Ultrasound with Piezo ComponentsPiezo components use the piezoelectric effect to generate and detect ultrasonic waves, e.g. by means of runtime measuring or the principle of the Doppler effect.
- Developing Customized TransducersDeveloping Customized TransducersIn addition to piezo components, PI Ceramic also supplies complete transducers, which are developed together with you according to your application specifications.
- Developing Customized Transducers
- Manufacturing TechnologyManufacturing TechnologyPI Ceramic offers a wide range of manufacturing technologies: Pressing or tape technology, assembling technology and testing procedures.
- PICMA® TechnologyPICMA® TechnologyHighly reliable and extended lifetime through the patented manufacturing process for multilayer actuators.
- DuraAct Patch Transducer TechnologyDuraAct Patch Transducer TechnologyManufacture, functional principle and typical working parameters of DuraAct patch transducers explain the possible force generation and deflection.
- Fundamentals of Piezo Technology
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Preload and Load Capacitiy
The tensile strengths of brittle piezoceramic and single-crystal actuators are relatively low, with values in the range of 5 to 10 MPa. It is therefore recommended to mechanically preload the actuators in the installation. The preload should be selected as low as possible. According to experience, 15 MPa is sufficient to compensate for >> Dynamic Forces; in the case of a constant load, 30 MPa should not be exceeded.
Lateral forces primarily cause shearing stresses in short actuators. In longer actuators with a larger aspect ratio, bending stresses are additionally generated. The sum of both loads yield the maximum lateral load capacities, which for >> PICA Shear Actuators are given in the data sheet. These values can be transfered to actuators with a similar geometry. However, it is normally recommended to protect the actuators against lateral forces by using guidings.
Limitations of the Preload
The actuator begins to mechanically depolarize already at a few 10 MPa. A large-signal control repolarizes the actuator; on the one hand, this causes the induced displacement to increase but on the other hand, the effective capacity and loss values increase as well, which is detrimental to the lifetime of the component.
A pressure preload also partially generates >> Tensile Stress. For this reason, when very high preloads are used, the tensile strength can locally be exceeded. The amount of the possible preload is not determined by the strength of the ceramic material. Piezo actuators attain compressive strengths of more than 250 MPa.
For specifying piezo actuators, the quasistatic large-signal stiffness is determined with simultaneous control with a high field strength or voltage and low mechanical preload. This serves for taking into account an unfavorable operating case, i.e., the actual actuator stiffness in an application is often higher.
The adhesive layers in the PICA actuators reduce the stiffness only slightly. By using optimized technologies, the adhesive gaps are only a few micrometers high so that the large-signal stiffness is only approx. 10 to 20 % lower than that of multilayer actuators without adhesive layers. The actuator design has a much stronger influence on the total stiffness, e.g., spherical end pieces with a relatively flexible point contact to the opposite face.
The blocking force Fmax is the maximum force generated by the actuator. This force is achieved when the displacement of the actuator is completely blocked, i.e. it works against a load with an infinitely high stiffness. Since such a stiffness does not exist in reality, the blocking force is measured as follows: The actuator length before operation is recorded. The actuator is displaced without a load to the nominal displacement and then pushed back to the initial position with an increasing external force. The force required for this is the blocking force.
If the piezo actuator works against a spring force, its induced displacement decreases because a counterforce builds up when the spring compresses. In most applications of piezo actuators, the effective stiffness of the load kL is considerably less than the actuator stiffness kA. The resulting displacement ΔL is therefore close to the nominal displacement ΔL0:
As an example of a load case in which a nonlinear working curve arises, a valve control is sketched in fig. 6. The beginning of the displacement corresponds to operation without a load. A stronger opposing force acts near the valve closure as a result of the fluid flow. When the valve seat is reached, the displacement is almost completely blocked so that only the force increases.
If a mass is applied to the actuator, the weight force FV causes a compression of the actuator. The zero position at the beginning of the subsequent drive signal shifts along the stiffness curve of the actuator. No additional force occurs during the subsequent drive signal change so that the working curve approximately corresponds to the course without preload (fig. 7).
An example of such an application is damping the oscillations of a machine with a great mass.
If the mechanical preload is applied by a relatively soft spring inside a case, the same shift takes place on the stiffness curve as when a mass is applied (fig. 8). With a drive voltage applied, however, the actuator generates a small additional force and the displacement decreases somewhat in relation to the case without load due to the preload spring. The stiffness of the preload spring should therefore be at least one order of magnitude lower than that of the actuator.
In longitudinal stack actuators, the actuator length is the determining variable for the displacement ΔL0. At nominal field strengths of 2 kV/mm, displacements of 0.10 to 0.15 % of the length are attainable. The cross-sectional area determines the blocking force Fmax. Approximately 30 N/mm² can be achieved here.
Accordingly, the determining parameter for the mechanical energy Emech = (Δ L0 Fmax)/2 to be attained is the actuator volume.
The energy amount Emech, that is converted from electrical into mechanical energy when an actuator is operated, corresponds to the area underneath the curve in fig. 9. However, only a fraction Eout of this total amount can be transferred to the mechanical load. The mechanical system is energetically optimized when the area reaches its maximum. This case occurs when the load stiffness and the actuator stiffness are equal. The light blue area in the working graph corresponds to this amount. A longitudinal piezo actuator can perform approx. 2 to 5 mJ/cm³ of mechanical work and a bending actuator achieves around 10 times lower values.
Efficiency and Energy Balance of a Piezo Actuator System
The calculation and optimization of the total efficiency of a piezo actuator system depends on the efficiency of the amplifier electronics, the electromechanical conversion, the mechanical energy transfer, and the possible energy recovery. The majority of electrical and mechanical energies are basically reactive energies that can be recovered minus the losses, e.g., from heat generation. This makes it possible to construct very efficient piezo systems, especially for dynamic applications.
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