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Physik Instrumente (PI) is offering positioning and linear actuators that operate on the basis of piezo ceramics and are suitable for use in high and ultra-high vacuums at pressures down to 10–10hPa (mbar).

Because the motion is based on displacements in the crystal structure, no conventional mechanical elements such as shafts or gears are necessary, which eliminates the need for maintenance and lubrication.

During testing, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) could not detect any measurable outgassing rates.

The Picma actuators are completely encapsulated in ceramic and do not use a polymer insulation.

Key benefits

  • Ceramic insulation increases usable upper limit of temperature range to 150°C
  • Positioning systems are suitable for travel ranges up to 30mm or 125mm and more
  • They can also cope with ‘considerable loads’
  • Piezo motors do not need electric power once the position is reached
  • There is no undesirable heat generation in the vacuum
  • Additional brakes are not required because piezomotors are self locking when at rest

Physik Instrumente

PI is a global manufacturer of high precision positioning systems and products based on piezo technology. Used in markets as diverse as biotechnology, semiconductor, defence and astronomy, PI’s products work to improve the speed and precision of many cutting edge processes. Actuators, sensors and positioning systems with either sub-micron or nanometre level precision; many customised for the end user, are included in the product range.

With manufacturing and subsidiary offices around the world and a workforce of more than 500 PI provides direct local support where it is needed. Products range from component level piezo ceramic assemblies to six axis hexapod positioning robots. PI manufactures its own piezo ceramic material including multilayer devices that incorporate its patented ceramic insulation technology. Lead free ceramic technology is now also included in the company’s product range. With the flexibility and continuity of supply offered by having control of piezo ceramic production comes security and speed of delivery for customers who rely on or are looking to move into this area of technology. PI’s piezo ultrasonic and step drive motor technologies offer unique performance including self-locking capability, high force or high speed and non-magnetic and vacuum compatibility.

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