Canadian Manufacturing

Industrial Process Products & Technology: Piezoelectric actuators play an important role in space

by Emily Newton   

Manufacturing Electronics Infrastructure electricity electronics manufacturing Piezoelectric actuators

They come in different shapes and sizes and play a vital role in modern manufacturing and beyond.

Piezoelectric actuators are a deceptively simple piece of technology with myriad applications in various industries. These devices convert an electrical signal into a carefully controlled physical force or store the potential energy for future use.

Piezoelectric actuators come in different shapes and sizes and play a vital role in modern manufacturing and beyond. Here’s what people should know about these crucial pieces of technology and the part they play in space exploration.

Piezoelectric Actuator Configurations

Understanding the potential applications for piezoelectric actuators in space begins with knowing their configurations. Stack actuators are made by stacking layers of piezoelectric-finished rings or disks between electrode foils. Small stacks are held together with adhesive, while larger “monolithtic” stacks rely on high-temperature sintering. These stacks are primarily used for blocking rather than large movements.

Discrete-fired actuators operate at voltage ranges between 500 and 1,000, while cofired stacks operate at a much lower capacity, around 200 volts.


Stripe or bending actuators are designed to produce more deflection force when exposed to an electrical signal. Instead of using stacks of rings or disks, these versions are made up of thin layers of piezoelectric ceramic. Electrically, the two layers are connected in parallel. One layer expands while the other contracts when electricity is applied, which causes the actuator to bend.

This article originally featured in Industrial Process Products & Technology. Read the full version here. 


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