Industry Applications

As an industry leader in precision motor technology, Piezo Motion has made a multi-million dollar investment in research and development. At Piezo Motion we recognize the need to reduce the complexity of products while adding performance and precision. Our innovations are disrupting the precision motor market as we displace traditional DC motor and actuator technology in a variety of industries and applications. With over 25 patents and a team consisting of leading scientists and engineers we want to help various industries shape the next generation of technology, whether that be through the implementation of our standard product lines or through the design and development of custom, one-of-a-kind solutions

Applications in industrial

Many industries have turned toward automation to increase throughput, process efficiencies, and manage downtime better. Part of this automation has been to move toward automated valve actuation to manage fluid flow. Motorized valves are used throughout many of the largest industries such as medical devices, industrial and lab analysis equipment, food and drug, semiconductors, as well as aerospace and automotive. 

 

PIEZOELECTRIC VALVES FOR FLUID CONTROL

The Application 

Many industries have turned toward automation to increase throughput, process efficiencies, and manage downtime better. Part of this automation has been to move toward automated valve actuation to manage fluid flow. Motorized valves are used throughout many of the largest industries such as medical devices, industrial and lab analysis equipment, food and drug, semiconductors, as well as aerospace and automotive. 

 The Challenge 

The majority of motorized valves rely on conventional EM motors and/or solenoid-type devices, which can be bulky, slow responding and/or inefficient. Bulky solutions can limit where they can be installed and add complications to assembly or complicate the accessibility of these valves. In many applications the flow and volume are important and if a valve doesn’t actuate quick enough it can lead to imprecise measurement of fluid or incorrectly adjusting the flow rate for a mission critical process. Lastly these motorized devices can be inefficient with power consumption, often requiring power to applied continuously to hold position, which can be critical in battery applications common in medical devices, aerospace and automotive industries. 

 The Solution 

Piezo Motion Corp produces a lightweight actuator, the LCS004, that can be incorporated into automated valves. With response times between 20 and 30 microseconds this is an order of magnitude faster than traditional EM motors that usually respond to a signal in milliseconds. This quicker response time can lead to more precise fluid control. Additionally, LCS004 actuators are compact and light making it easy to integrate into valves of all sizes. Another advantage of the LCS004 is its low power consumption and efficiency both an operating 12V and drawing a small amount of current (LCS004 consumes 350 mA). Unlike a solenoid actuator that requires power all the time, the LCS004 only requires power during motion, in the stationary position the piezomotor will maintain its position without the need to any energy consumption. 

ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING

The Application 

Additive manufacturing has become a popular manufacturing process for both industrial processes and hobbyists due to its rapid prototyping capabilities. Technology has come a long way as well with the ability to create things out of most materials. Being able to create, test, and modify in a short time frame is the hallmark of additive manufacturing, enabling engineers to prototype new ideas on faster timelines and more efficiently.  

The Challenge 

Cutting down on 3D printing time while maintaining the precision needed to print objects to usable tolerances is a huge challenge for most additive manufacturing processes. Being able to make quick movements, settle, dispense material, and then repeat the process over and over again requires a motor with sufficient speed, torque, and control. Depending on the price point of the application these assemblies rely on DC motor technology to move the X, Y, and Z axes. 

The Solution 

Piezo Motion Corp. produces a line of standard linear actuators, as well as custom actuators with various lengths of travel, that are well suited for these types of applications. These actuators do not utilize electro-magnetic to create motion so there is less lag between commanded motion and actual motion. Our standard linear motors take up to 50 microseconds to start motion, while traditional DC technology can take milliseconds to start motion due to coils needed to energize to create motion. Another advantage is the inherent precision of our linear piezomotors which can achieve an open-loop resolution of 50 nanometers - three orders of magnitude more precise than stepper motors! 

ROBOTIC GRIPPER

The Application 

As Robots have been deployed in more and more applications the need for more diverse grippers has become more important. With the expectation to pick up a variety of objects on a single line, grippers need to be flexible and smart. Being able to handle a variety of products safely and efficiently is of the utmost importance with today’s grippers.
 

The Challenge 

Being able to grasp different objects, of different shapes and sizes, is important in many applications as robots must be flexible to a variety of applications. This means that the gripper must be able to actuate and grasp a variety of different objects, requiring precise control of the closing motion so as to not damage the object. Secondly, the robot must do this efficiently as well, so production does not slow down. For this to happen the grippers must be able to detect errors, that is missed gripping and collisions and correct these missteps to move forward. This type of detection requires feedback in the actuator to be sent to a controller to monitor parameters and flag those that are out of specification. 

 The Solution 

Piezo Motion Corp. produces a range of lightweight linear actuators perfect for gripper applications. The LBS series and LAS series are the medium and small force actuators built for precision linear actuation. With a minimum open-loop step resolution of 50 nanometers (LBS) and 40 nanometers (LAS), there is enough precision to grasp any object a robot is looking to move. Both units have encoder options available to extend this precision, accuracy and repeatability as well. The LBS actuator has a driver board that has serial communication capability making it easy to exchange data with a motion controller. This can be used to implement safety checks, error detection, and mitigation. 

Applications in aerospace & defense

 
From piezoelectric motors used in aircraft cabin equipment to miniature robotic systems for use in satellites, Piezo Motion offers a broad range of high-performance products and solutions for high-precision motion control systems in the aerospace and defense markets.

UNMANNED AERIAL SYSTEMS

The Application 

The utilization of UAVs has significantly increased over the last 5 years and are being utilized in a variety of industries from the defense to commercial and from surveying land to inspecting pipelines. With the variety of UAVs on the market there is an even wider variety of payloads that they carry to execute these tasks. 

 

The Challenge 

One of the most important parameters of any UAV/payload assembly is the weight. There is a direct correlation between the weight of the system and the flight time of the system, by minimizing the weight of the payload the UAV can fly for a longer time. Along these similar lines, there is a limited amount of power available onboard of these systems to power both flight and auxiliary functions. This means that power efficiency and low power devices are super important for preserving power and increasing flight times. All while maintaining weight, size, and efficiency, it is still expected to have a high level of precision to collect high-resolution data to optimally perform the task that the UAV was sent out to do. 

 The Solution 

Piezo Motion Corp. produces a range of light weight rotary actuators perfect for UAV applications. The RBS and smaller RAS can be utilized to provide pan and tilt motion for any UAV payload. The RBS and RAS weigh 76g and 6g respectfully making them perfect for UAV applications. On top of this, to achieve their operating specifications both units only require 4.2W and 1.75W of power. This means that the UAV can maximize its power consumption for propulsion and not for auxiliary functions. Both units have braking/holding torque equal to the max torque of the system, so no power is needed to hold position potentially saving more power. Finally, when compared to other rotary actuator technology the RBS and RAS are able to deliver a high level of precision in open loop control, the RBS achieves over 625,000 steps per revolution and the RAS achieves over 200,000 steps per revolution. This is significantly more when compared to stepper motor technology (typically 51,000 steps per revolution with micro stepping). Furthermore, the RBS and RAS maintain full torque during each step, unlike a stepper motor which will lose 70% or more of its torque during a micro-step. 

Applications in medical devices

 
From Imaging to scanning and robotic surgical devices; the applications for piezoelectric motor technology is broad and the technology is key in providing the best care possible.

ROBOTIC SURGERY

The Application 

The robotics revolution has changed how surgical procedures are now conducted. It has become more common to have a robot assist the doctor in surgery. Because of the greater level of precision and speed at which the operation can be completed, surgical robotics have improved patient outcomes as well as patient throughput. 

 The Challenge 

Surgical robotics require a high level of precision to perform the minimally invasive procedures that they are needed for. This ensures that the surgeon guiding the robot can make the most delicate of moves and operate in the smallest spaces. Also due to the proximity to the patient, as well as nurses and doctors, the heat dissipation of the motor must be controlled. During an operation, motors have an extended current draw that can heat up to temperatures that can cause severe burns if they contact human skin. 

 The Solution 

Piezo Motion Corp. offers lines of rotary, linear, and custom motors that provide a high level of precision. Stepper motors have a general resolution of 51,200 steps per rotation (in micro-stepping mode), while permanent magnet synchronous motors depend on periphery devices (encoder and servo drive) for their resolution. Piezo Motion’s piezomotors have an open loop resolution that is 50 nanometers for linear applications and 30 microradian for rotary applications. Furthermore, each step is at full torque; unlike step motors where micro-stepping can vastly reduce the amount of available torque by more than 70%.  Piezo Motion's motors operate on low power, the smallest motors drawing only 100mA of current and the larger motors drawing around 350mA. Another feature of these motors is the built-in holding torque equal to or greater than its operating torque. This further cut down on emitted heat as no power is needed to hold position. 

WEARABLE DRUG PUMP

The Application 

Wearable drug dispensers give patients the freedom and flexibility to live a normal life, free from scheduled manual injections and monitoring. Wearable drug dispensers allow patients to continue their day-to-day activities without the worry of missing an injection schedule, they are compact enough to be discreet and rugged enough to withstand everyday activities. 

 The Challenge 

Today’s wearable pumps need to be small, light, and discrete to minimize the impact and irritation they have on the user. They also need to be able to deliver timely and precise doses of medicine to the patient to avoid medical complications. This requires a compact, precise pump that can dispense a variety of liquids at a variety of volume and flow rates. Traditional DC motor assemblies can be bulky and complex causing current pumps to be loud and uncomfortable to wear, they are also energy inefficient requiring batteries to be frequently recharged and/or replaced.  

 The Solution 

Piezo Motion Corp. rotary piezomotors are viable solutions for wearable drug dispensers. Due to their small form factor and the minimal components needed to create motion, using a piezo rotary motor can significantly cut down on the weight, size, and complexity of the pump and at the same time save significant energy. This can lead to smaller, more comfortable pumps for the patient and less recharging or battery packs. Piezo electric motors are able to “step” in smaller increments with more than 1000 X the resolution of traditional DC motor technology. This translates to more precise dispensing of drugs and wider range of custom dispensing options making the technology more flexibility to a variety of medicines and fluids. 

MEDICAL SCANNING

The Application 

With the advent of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRIs), getting accurate images of inside the human body has never been easier. Unlike other imaging methods like X-rays, PT, or CAT scans that use different forms of radiation to create images, MRIs can do this using strong magnetic fields, magnetic gradients, and radio waves. MRI is now a routine procedure to diagnose patients and can even be used to help guide treatment or surgery.  

 The Challenge 

As the name denotes MRIs use large magnetic fields to get images inside the human body, virtually rendering any object with ferromagnetic material or susceptible to electromagnetic interference (EMI) useless when in the same room as an MRI machine. This means that specialized devices need to be designed to avoid ferromagnetic material or to eliminate susceptibility to EMI. This essentially renders motors that rely on electromagnetics inoperable in these environments. 

 The Solution 

Piezo Motion Corp’s products utilize ultrasonic piezoelectric principles to create motion in their motors. Furthermore, Piezo Motion’s motors can be supplied ferrous-free and non-magnetic.  This completely avoids the problems associated with using traditional DC motors near an MRI.  

MEDICAL POSITIONING SYSTEMS

The Application 

Many medical applications now leverage XYZ positioners to move quickly through various tests and scans.  Automated microscopes and scanning systems can leverage this technology to move slides precisely and accurately into place to study different samples. Desktop testers can also leverage this technology for automated testing, moving test tubes and pipettes into position to extract sample fluid or add reagents from testing.  

 The Challenge 

For medical positioners to be effective they need to be fast and precise. Many hospitals rely on these testing and imaging machines to diagnosis patients so the faster and more accurately they can move through testing the more patients they can properly diagnosis and move to treatment. Secondly, in order to be effective, they need to precisely and accurately move in on specific parts of a sample to image it for analysis or move a pipette into position to dispense a reagent. Being off by a micron can lead to failed tests or redoing a process and losing time. 

 The Solution 

Piezo Motion Corporation produces several standard and custom linear stages designed for these specific medical positioning and scanning applications. By leveraging this piezo motion technology, these linear piezomotors can achieve an open-loop precision of 50nm, which can be improved with an encoder. When compared to stepper motors this can be a thousand times greater open-loop resolution and Piezo Motion’s linear stages have full torque with each step. Another advantage of this technology is how quickly motion can respond to a command signal, less than 50 microseconds is typical, which is more than a hundred times faster than traditional DC technology. This saves time over the life of the machine increasing throughput. 

PHOTONICS - OPTICAL POSITIONING STAGES

The Application 

Lidar technology has grown significantly over the last decade due to the technology's ability to detect and map. These abilities lend well to many emerging markets like autonomous vehicles but also lend a helping hand as other industries. For example, surveying/mapping and inspection are becoming more and more data-driven. Like radar technology, lidar sensors can bounce light waves off objects in an environment and record the data to accurately map the shape, size, and position of objects in their environment.   

The Challenge 

 With the constant push to make lidar sensors smaller and less costly so they can be more widely available, sourcing economical motion control components to maneuver optical elements becomes more important accurately and precisely. The precision alignment of the optical equipment directly affects the data that the lidar can process and in critical applications like autonomous vehicles this data needs to be accurate for safety reasons. Maintaining this precision as you decrease in size can be difficult for traditional DC technology as they are traditionally bulky. 

The Solution 

Piezo Motion produces a range of extremely lightweight and economical actuators, such as the linear LBS series and LAS series which are perfect for optical positioning applications. Piezo Motion’s rotary and linear motors are compact, lightweight and have superior resolution (e.g., 50 nm steps or < 10 microrad). These actuators and motors can be fitted with various encoders to improve precision and repeatability. This level of precision can ensure the proper placement of optical devices to ensure accurate data is retrieved by the sensor. 

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