New Scale Technologies and EPCOS AG have successfully created a reduced-voltage version of New Scale's smallest linear SQUIGGLE motor – an ultrasonic piezo motor that use vibrations and friction to generate continuous movement without gears.
New Scale has incorporated four of EPCOS' multilayer piezo plates in its most recent direct-drive motor design. The motor is powered directly by a battery voltage of less than 3V, about one tenth of the voltage requirement of the current motor. Notably, the lower voltage operation of the EPCOS material eliminates the need for a voltage boost and has enabled New Scale to shrink the size of the motor drive circuit by 75%.
At 1.82 x 1.82 x 6mm with 0.5um resolution, New Scale's reduced-voltage motor has the same size, resolution and power draw of its current-generation SQL-1.8 SQUIGGLE motor. The latter, driven by the NSD-1102 motor driver ASIC and an external boost circuit, boasts a total drive circuit area of approximately 6 x 9 mm. New Scale is developing a drive ASIC for the reduced-voltage motor that is expected to measure less than 3 x 3 mm.
“Achieving the absolute smallest complete motion system is huge for makers of ultra-miniature products such as mobile phone cameras,” said David Henderson, CEO and CTO of New Scale Technologies. “The reduced voltage requirement made possible by EPCOS' multilayer piezo technology is a major breakthrough in overall system miniaturization.”
Additional joint development projects that leverage EPCOS' expertise in manufacturing of multilayer piezoelectric ceramic elements and New Scale's experience in creating miniature piezoelectric micro motors, include creating a new family of ultra-thin motors. The first prototypes in New Scales' Ultra-Thin Actuator Family (UTAF) of custom piezo motors measure less than 1mm thick. “We achieve this dramatic size reduction by integrating multiple actuator functions and independent electrical connections into a single co-fired ceramic component,” explained Dr. Justinus Slakhorst, CTO of the Ceramic Components Division at EPCOS.
Among the applications for the SQUIGGLE and UTAF motors are autofocus and optical zoom cameras. They can be used wherever 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.