Mechatronics refers to the successful combination of mechanical systems and electronics. In Mechatronics, traditional systems of mechanical engineering are fused together with components from computer science, mathematics and electrical engineering. Mechatronics has a bright future and is currently applied in everyday life for solutions ranging from transportation to optical telecommunication and biomedical engineering.
Fig. 1: A Representational Image Of Mechatronics System
Mechatronics provides solutions that are efficient and reliable systems. Mechatronic Systems mostly have microcomputers to ensure smooth functioning and higher dependability. The sensors in these systems absorb signals from the surroundings, react to these signals using appropriate processing to generate acquired output signals. Few examples of Mechatronics System are automated guided vehicles, robots, digitally controlled combust engines and machine tools with self-adaptive tools, aircraft flight control and navigation systems, and smart home appliances (e.g. Washers, dryers, etc.)
Fig. 2: An Overview Of Various Fields That Makes Mechatronics
The control system is part of the loop for operating continously in the surroundings. The mechanical systems contributes design, manufacturing and system dynamics. Computers contribute data acquisition method and algorithms. Electrical systems include DC and AC circuit analysis, power analysis and semiconductor device analysis.
The requirements for the life cycle of mechatronics design includes:
- Service protocols and methods which include on board diagnostics, prognos
- Delivery parameters such as time, cost and design
- Disposal processes which includes recycling, and disposing hazardous materials
Importance of Mechatronics
As mentioned above, mechatronics is an integration of electronics, computer science and mechanical engineering. The manufacturing industries totally depend on the integration of computer and electronics technologies for better products and processes. As the situation became very competitive it was necessary to segregate the electronics and mechanical branches. This division of the two branches led to an interdisciplinary approach to introduce mechatronics. Mechatronics can be referred as Elctromechanical systems or control automotive engineering.
Fig. 3: Simple Diagram Showing Diffrent Functions Of Mechatronis System
The mechatronics system includes:
- Measurement and actutation module – Signals are received from the external world and feedback signal. This segment consists of actuators and sensors like stepper motors, solenoids, AC/DC, strain gauge, temperature sensor/pressure sensors/photo sensors.
- Communication Module – The relative position of actuators and position of sensors can be measured to generate appropriate signals. These signals are transferred through the communication module to the CPU. The signal conditioning circuits, interfacing circuits and bus communication form the communication module.
- CPU – When the CPU recieves the signal, they can perform logical and arithmetic operations with a processor and software. An appropriate control signal is generated by the CPU.
- Output signal conditioning module – This module includes amplifiers to drive plotter, audio-visual indicators, ADC/DAC’s and displays. The output signal is forwarded to feedback module.
- Feedback module – This module generate signal proportional to the output signal which is forwarded to the measurement and actuation module. The signal from the external environment and the feedback signal are compared by the measurement and actuation module.
Mechatronics system design
The design process of mechatronics system invovles a number of stages. The imporatant stages are as follows:
- Identify the need – The first step while designing a product is to identify the need of the system. Market survery or market research can be done to recognize the need.
- Analyzing the problem – With the avalibale data from the market survery, the problems can be analyzed appropriately.
- Preparing specifications – If the problem is well defined then the next step is to prepare specifications which involves designing criteria for quality, existing constraints and lists of all functions.
- Generate possible solutions – In the designing process, this stage is the theoretical one.
- Select suitable solution – After evaluations, one appropriate solution has to be chosen depending on the criteria.
- Prepare detailed design and drawing – The design and drawing of the selected alternative is prepared.
- Implement the design – The chosen design can be transformed into working drawing and practical circuits to produce the product.
Research & Drawbacks
The main focus of mechatronics research is the application of electronics, controls, communications and computational intelligence to manufacturing systems and processes. An example of a typical mechatronic system is a device designed to improve the physical interaction between humans and machines. This makes it easier for an operator to interact with the system with little physical effort.
A robot can be considered a mechatronic system because it integrates electronics, controls, communications, instrumentation, and computational intelligence into one compact system.
Currently, researchers from around the world are busy arriving at solutions using mechatronics. Some of these proposed mechatronic solutions include:
· Autonomous Guided Vehicle for agricultural Unmanned Arial Vehicle for environmental monitoring.
· Body implants to improve physiological condition.
· Climbing robots for industrial inspection.
· 3d manufacturing of bio-scaffolds.
· Unmanned robot for oceanographic exploration and monitoring.
· Machine vision applications.
While mechatronics is considered the future of electronics, it does have some drawbacks:
- Higher possibility of component failure.
- Complex safety issues
- Higher power usage.
- Expensive to build.
- Expensive for consumer.
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