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Improving patients’ quality of life with new piezo valves

29 November 2018

Paul Kendall, Industry Sector Manager – Lifetech at Festo, explores the latest developments in piezo valve technology and how their application in medical devices can improve quality of life.

Pneumatic valves are found in a myriad of medical applications, from the precise control of fluid flow for dialysis, to pneumatically-operated surgical tools and the regulation of gas flow and pressures in medical mattresses for nursing beds. 

One important piece of equipment that needs accurate flow control is portable oxygen systems. There is a trend for these mobile devices to be ever smaller, driven by a demand for lighter and more energy-saving systems that are easier to carry: improving the patient’s quality of life. Piezo technology is offering a new way to design valves, enabling the miniaturisation of technical components that control and regulate the gas flows. 

Piezo technology relies on specific ceramics which exhibit piezoelectric characteristics, meaning that when this material is mechanically deformed a voltage accumulates in it. This effect also occurs in reverse: applying a voltage to the ceramic will cause deformation. If a voltage is applied to a piezo bender, it will lift off a valve seat. The movement is proportional: the higher the voltage, the more the actuator bends and the more gas can flow through the valve.

Read the full article in the December issue of DPA

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