mechatronic materials

Finally we return to talk of the mechatronic materials: Smart Materials.
What are? are materials that if are subjected to mechanical forces or changes in environment, they produce energy/forces. There are many types, we'll start with a few.

 


- Piezoelectric Materials: are the Smart Materials best known, already used and most studied;

  • Are made up of crystals which if are mechanically stressed they create a potential difference between a face and the other, and then create energy;
  • Up to now, were mainly used in instruments for measuring pressure or vibration, mainly in the industrial field, but also in the area environmental, domestic, musical, etc.
  • Today, that we have the need to save energy consumed, the piezoelectric material takes on a new and important value especially in architecture and in engineering of transport; the idea is to exploit the vibration or movement of people, machines and more to create energy. Examples are the subways in Tokyo and London that take advantage of the vibrations of the steps of commuters to produce energy, or the project for the highway of Abu Dhabi. Italy also is studying the efficiency of this material: is an example the PHI DRIVE, a drive piezoelectric motors and drives used in linear or rotary microscopic in size, small and medium.
  • Thanks mainly to their structural versatility could be used in many applications and in different fields: for example, we may think of them as anklet that, while we do jogging, it recharge our smartphone or MP3 player, or on the car that uses the vibrations of the air or rotation of the wheels in replacing of battetria, etc...

 

- The shape-memory materials: these are also well known; exist two tipes of this material: the metals or alloys shape memory and the polymers;

  • Both have the same characteristic: they can be deformed in a temporary form and then return to its original form thanks to a particular external stimulus, such as the temperature variation.

 - The shape memory alloy (Shape Memory Alloys - SMA):

  • Are superelastic and for this with many possibilities of use: this characteristic is present above the temperature of deformation and develops when a force is applied that deforms the metal; soon as the force is removed the material returns instantly in its state prior the effort;
  • The shape memory effect of these metals is generated by the temperature change, with a completely opposite behavior compared to other natural metals or alloys: in fact, while the latter at low temperatures become deformable and high they are stiff , the SMA is behave just the opposite: they are easily deformed at low temperatures and rigid at higher temperatures;
  • During the above described effect will accumulate forces, primarily mechanical, of important entities, which in turn can be exploited in other applications: lifting objects, locks, pistons, etc.
  • Are currently used in the optical industry and biomedical.

- Shape Memory Polymers (Shape-memory polymers - SMP):

  • They go from a glassy state, at low temperatures, to a rubbery state, at higher temperatures;
  • The shape memory effect is the opposite with respect to shape memory alloys: the permanent deformation is created at high temperatures; between the temperature of permanent deformation and the glassy state, we can deform the material and attach the new form by freezing it; then heating it again, it returns to its original shape;
  • The change of form of these polymers can also be activated by the passage of electricity, magnetic fields, light variation or solutions;
  • Although these polymers are widely used in the medical / biomedical also for the biodegradable characteristic of some of this, in the industrial sector are gaining ground as materials for self-repair where you just hot air to return to the original form (for example adjust the dented fender of a car); they are studied in the field of architecture / design (such as movable walls that breathe), in the textile industry (such as fabrics that keep your body temperature regulated) or in aerospace.

 

- Materials or electroactive polymers: materials that produce large displacements, and therefore strong mechanical forces, when stimulated electrically.

  • Can be likened to a muscle bionic, and we have already met one "Wax-Filled Carbon Nanotube Yarn Muscles"
  • So large study in robotics, but also in biomedical (minimally invasive surgery) and in areospace for their low density.

 

There are still many others:
 - Electrorheological fluids
 - pH-sensitive polymers
 - Chromogenic systems
 - ....
but these will deepen in the near future, maybe even thanks to your contribution commenting on our posts on Social Networks.

 

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