CeramTec sees growing demand for larger piezoelectric ceramic components for sonar applications

Ceramics manufacturer and supplier CeramTec is seeing an increasing demand for piezoelectric ceramic (PZT) components to meet sophisticated underwater acoustic applications.

The company manufactures custom PZT components for passive and active systems of underwater acoustic sonar applications, with special emphasis on hemispheres, discs, blocks and tubes.

“We are seeing an increasing demand for larger sized components which are critical to certain technically demanding sonar applications,” said Paul Turnbull, head of piezoelectric and dielectric engineering at CeramTec UK. “This includes discs from 200mm to 250mm in diameter, hemispheres greater than 150mm and piezoceramic plates greater than 25mm thick.

“Our teams in Ruabon and Southampton as well as in Lauf, Germany have long-standing and specific expertise in this market segment and specific facilities to manufacture large piezoelectric components that reach lower frequencies for certain sonar applications. , which can mean detection at longer distances. . “

Development of technical ceramics

CeramTec is a leading developer, manufacturer and supplier of technical ceramics, with a product portfolio of over 10,000. The company’s products have found uses in a wide range of industries, spanning medical engineering, automotive, electronics, energy and space, to name a few.

Although a large part of CeramTec’s portfolio is not directly related to 3D printing, the company has underlined the importance of product diversification in the publication of its financial statements for fiscal year 2020, citing several international projects. 3D printing to come.

This year alone, CeramTec made a number of developments related to 3D printing, including the launch of its ROCAR 3D printing powder, which is said to have properties similar to those of silicon carbide. At the same time, the company released its CeramCreator tool to help customers simplify their process chains and shorten their quotation processes.

Over the summer, CeramTec successfully tested the cooling capabilities of its new electric mobility power semiconductor module developed in partnership with Fraunhofer IISB, and produced a new generation of ceramic sample containers for space experimentation facility on the International Space Station in partnership with Airbus Defense & Espace and the European Space Agency.

CeramTec ISS sample containers. Photo via CeramTec.

Growing demand for PZT components

Piezoelectricity is the electrical charge that builds up in some solid materials, such as ceramic, in response to applied mechanical stress. The ability of PTZ components and materials to convert a mechanical effect into an electrical signal is essential to meet the complex demands and challenges of sophisticated sonar technology applications, such as underwater acoustics.

For example, hydrophones and towed arrays require long, thin-walled tubes up to 30mm in length and a wall thickness range of 0.75mm to over 2mm. This specific combination of long and very thin tubes is demanding from a manufacturing point of view and is a specific area of ​​expertise for the CeramTec sonar technology team.

CeramTec deploys its advanced manufacturing capabilities to produce many other PTZ components, covering the full lines of Navy Type I, II, III, VI and other custom formulations. These developments are based on specific requirements for components, transducers and assemblies.

Typical applications of the company’s PTZ components induce diver detection arrays, towed array systems for detecting oil and gas fields, or piezoceramic plates for manufacturing custom composites 1-3 used in gasoline systems. active and passive sonar.

Today, CeramTec is seeing an increasing demand for larger components which it sees as the key to a number of technically demanding sonar applications. The company believes it is well positioned to meet this market demand with its manufacturing facilities in the UK and Germany.

“There is no one size fits all in this market segment and our customers, with whom we have had long-standing relationships, rely on us and our in-house R&D capabilities to deliver solutions that match their specifications,” said said Turnball.

CeramTec manufactures piezoelectric components for sophisticated sonar applications.  Image via CeramTec.
CeramTec manufactures piezoelectric components for sophisticated sonar applications. Image via CeramTec.

3D Printing PTZ Components

Piezoelectric components and materials are gaining increasing interest in the 3D printing industry due to the potential they represent for a wide range of industries.

One company at the forefront of this field is Nano Dimension, a leading manufacturer of 3D printers for additive manufacturing electronics (AME), whose AME development process is based on piezoelectric 3D printing.

Elsewhere, researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University have developed a method to 3D print piezoelectric materials capable of converting mechanical energy into electrical current. These piezoelectric materials could then be used as transducers and sensors responding to pressure, vibrations and impacts via electrical signals.

More recently, scientists at Jeonbuk National University 3D printed new, self-powered wearable sensors that could harvest piezoelectric energy generated by human movement. When integrated into a network, sensors could use this load to detect pressure inputs and convert them into signals.

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Featured Image Shows CeramTec manufactures piezoelectric components for sophisticated sonar applications. Image via CeramTec.

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