Piezoelectric actuators excel in fast-response, high-force
applications. But the small displacement needs amplification to be really useful
in many applications. Hayward, CA-based Kinetic Ceramics Inc. (www.kineticceramics.com) helps take
the technology from the laboratory into industry with a cutting tool that uses
fast-tool servo (FTS) technology for machining non-rotationally symmetrical
FTS combines a patented mechanical T-lever amplification mechanism
with the latest piezoelectric-actuator technology. The servo fits on any lathe
including high-precision diamond-turning machines, forming a supplementary fast
Z-axis, and is driven through a programmed path corresponding to spindle
"Typical axis bandwidths for such lathes are in the order of 10
Hz," explains Kinetic Ceramics President Conal O'Neill, "but the FTS provides a
bandwidth of up to 600 Hz, allowing the machining of complex shapes on a range
of materials at spindle speeds to 6,000 rpm."
Although the technology was developed for direct machining of
contact lenses and casting molds, parts that have been successfully machined
range from optically clear lens molds to contoured automotive pistons. "Better
than 20 nm rms surface finish can be routinely produced, and cut depths to 400
microns (0.016 inches) are possible," says O'Neill.
Truchard will be presented the award at the 2014 Golden Mousetrap Awards ceremony during the co-located events Pacific Design & Manufacturing, MD&M West, WestPack, PLASTEC West, Electronics West, ATX West, and AeroCon.
In a bid to boost the viability of lithium-based electric car batteries, a team at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has developed a chemistry that could possibly double an EV’s driving range while cutting its battery cost in half.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.