December 12, 2008
Piezo technology: EPCOS and New Scale Technologies partner to develop micro linear motors
EPCOS AG, a leading global manufacturer of electronic components, modules and systems, and New Scale Technologies, Inc., (New Scale) creator of ultra-small motion systems, announced a technology cooperation agreement with the ongoing objective of developing innovative ultrasonic motors. The cooperation will combine New Scale’s excellence in developing minute piezo-based motors and EPCOS’ competence in manufacturing multilayer piezo components.
Reduced-voltage breakthrough for the SQUIGGLE motor
The first product resulting from this cooperation is a reduced-voltage version of New Scale’s SQUIGGLE® motor with an ultra-precise resolution of just 0.5 µm that is optimized for phone camera modules with optical zoom functionality. The latest generation of the motor measures a tiny 1.82 x 1.82 x 6 mm and as key components employs four multilayer piezo resonators from EPCOS that can be powered directly by a battery voltage of less than 3 V. That is less than a tenth of that needed by the larger current generation. The reduced voltage also shrinks size of the driving circuit by 75 percent. “This breakthrough was made possible by EPCOS’ multilayer piezo technology,” says David Henderson, CEO and CTO of New Scale Technologies.
Further miniaturization with the Ultra-Thin Actuator Family of piezo motors
Future projects are to include a new family of ultra-thin motors that are even smaller than the SQUIGGLE motor. The Ultra-Thin Actuator Family (UTAF) of piezo motors measures in at less than 1 mm thick. “We achieve this dramatic size reduction by integrating multiple actuator functions and independent electrical connections into a single co-fired ceramic component,” explains Dr. Justinus Slakhorst, CTO of the Ceramic Components Division at EPCOS.
“As global market leader in piezo actuators for automotive fuel injection systems, the cooperation with New Scale Technologies represents an extension of our piezo activities from the automotive industry into other growing markets and opens up promising application fields for micro motors, especially in mobile phones,” states Dr. Norbert Hess, President of the Ceramic Components Division at EPCOS. “Combined with EPCOS’ global significance in products for mobile communications applications, their competence in piezo technology makes them a natural partner to bring our advanced piezo motors to the next level,” says New Scale’s Henderson.
Creating motion without gears
Ultrasonic piezo motors use vibrations and friction to generate continuous movement without gears. Piezo actuators are used to generate these ultrasonic vibrations with amplitudes of a few micrometers. New Scale Technologies’ SQUIGGLE motor is a patented ultrasonic motor design that uses a vibrating nut to rotate and drive a threaded pin forward and back. Precision-matched multilayer piezo plates, which are bonded to the sides of the nut and electrically driven at the mechanical resonant frequency, produce hula-hoop-like vibrations. The SQUIGGLE motor is 50 percent smaller than other piezo motors, while producing ten times the force and achieving ten times better position resolution. SQUIGGLE motors also feature a very high shock resistance. Because of their miniaturized dimensions, the SQUIGGLE motors enable camera modules to be built that are as thin as 6.5 mm.
Wide range of applications
Autofocus and optical zoom cameras are just two examples of the many possible applications for SQUIGGLE and UTAF motors. They can be used anywhere where miniature size, low voltage and high precision are the defining parameters, such as drug pumps and micro fuel cells, toys, precision alignment systems, and many more.
EPCOS AG is a leading manufacturer of electronic components, modules and systems headquartered in Munich. With its broad portfolio EPCOS offers a comprehensive range of products from a single source and focuses on fast-growing and technologically demanding markets, in particular in the areas of information and communication technology, automotive electronics, industrial electronics and consumer electronics. The EPCOS Group has design and manufacturing locations and sales offices in Europe, Asia, and in North and South America.
Electronic components are found in every electrical and electronic product and are indispensable for their flawless operation. Products from EPCOS store electrical energy, filter frequencies, and protect against overvoltage and overcurrent.
In fiscal 2008 (October 1, 2007, to September 30, 2008), EPCOS posted sales of EUR 1.48 billion. At the end of the fiscal year, the company employed about 21,200 people worldwide.
About New Scale Technologies
New Scale Technologies (www.newscaletech.com), headquartered in Victor, New York/USA, creates disruptively small motion systems based on the patented piezoelectric SQUIGGLE® motor, the world’s smallest linear motor and TRACKER™ position sensor. New Scale Technologies creates complete motion systems integrating motor and sensor technology with supporting electronics (ASICs) developed with partner austriamicrosystems (www.austriamicrosystems.com).
New Scale’s micro motors, encoders and micro-actuator modules enable design engineers to create smaller products including mobile phone cameras, electronic locks and intelligent fasteners, nano-scale fluid control including lab-on-a-chip systems, medical devices including miniature drug pumps and endoscopes, optics and imaging systems, automotive modules, lasers, aerospace and defense systems, cryogenic and MRI-compatible instruments, and consumer electronics including micro fuel cells.
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