Thanks to its SQUIGGLE line of miniature linear motors, New Scale Technologies already puts together some of the world’s smallest motion systems. Now a technology development partnership with austriamicrosystems, a supplier of analog ICs, promises to make New Scale’s micro motion systems even smaller while improving their resolution and power efficiency.
The two companies plan to integrate New Scale’s ultrasonic motors with custom control and position-sensing ICs from austriamicrosystems. According to David Henderson, New Scale’s chief executive and technology officer, austriamicrosystems has the expertise needed to shrink the electronics that complement the motor in a complete closed-loop motion control system. “This partnership will allow us to produce a new line of disruptively small motion systems,” he says.
How small? Well, the complete closed-loop systems won’t likely be much bigger than the SQUIGGLE motors themselves. The latest of these motors, for example, measures just 1.8 x 1.8 x 6 mm. Yet it still packs a punch. It can push axial loads as high as 30 grams–or nearly 200 times its own 0.16-gram weight. And it travels at speeds up to 7 mm/sec.
Austriamicrosystems, which invested $6 million in New Scale as part of this technology development pact, could help enhance the performance of micro motion systems in other ways too. “Their linear position sensing technology is really quite unique and will help us target resolutions close to one micrometer,” Henderson says. He adds that austriamicrosystems also offers power management technology that could result in more efficient systems, though he says it’s too early in the development process to quantify any efficiency gains.
Applications for jointly developed micro motion systems include the increasingly sophisticated cameras on mobile phones, electronic locks and fasteners, medical devices and a variety of other applications needing truly tiny, low-power actuators.