The work presented in this dissertation on piezoelectric inchworm motors (IWM) is part of a process to gain an understanding of the design, analysis and testing of this smart actuator technology. This work will form the foundation of what will hopefully lead to the realisation of a production-ready IWM design to be used in energy-scarce, battery-operated Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), and forms part of a larger national drive to expand the UAV industry in South Africa. Although the principles used in the design of IWMs are well known, a new innovation is employed. A novel way to increase the force capacity of IWMs without compromising on the speed or displacement when compared to conventional methods is shown to be effective, and was used for the first time on IWMs. The use of a simple design equation is demonstrated to be useful in predicting the load limits and step displacements. Challenges of finding a correlation between predicted and measured performance values are discussed and solutions are presented. The history of IWMs and some background on piezoelectricity are given for the reader not familiar with these. The use of micro ridges on the clamp mechanisms is explored. The effects of the control signals on the mechanism of the motor are discussed in detail and some important comments on electrical controllers are made. The emphasis is on designing a strong motor that capitalises on the high-force density of piezoelectric material.
Dissertation (MEng)--University of Pretoria, 2014.