Electromechanical actuators that generate large displacements, have large load capabilities, and demonstrate strong resonance characteristics are in great demand in the areas of precision positioning, active vibration control, and energy harvesting. Piezoelectric materials have been widely investigated for these applications because of their high energy density, quick response time, and relatively low driving voltages, but they demonstrate very small strain, typically about 0.1%. We present experimental and finite element results for two designs that use active and passive frames, respectively, to enhance the small strain in piezoelectric multilayer stacks. The first design, stacked-HYBATS, employs the synergetic contribution of d33 and d31 mode piezoelectric material. Finite element results show that this structure can generate over 50 microns of displacement and nearly 40 N of blocking force in a 36 mm × 22 mm × 10 mm footprint. The second design employs frames made from passive materials to form two stages of strain amplification in a 42 mm × 30 mm × 20 mm footprint. This two-stage design can produce over 600 microns of displacement and has a blocking force of 27 N. The active and passive materials of both designs can be varied to maximize displacement and/or blocking force. The stacked-HYBATS and the two-stage amplification system display favorable force-displacement capabilities and are promising for a variety of manufacturing and space technology applications.

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