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The distribution of micro actuators is, interestingly, not a question of technology, which is already developed, as required by the application possibilities. Under the ambiguous term "Micromechanics" is defined on the one hand, drives and drive devices, which allow accurate positioning in the micrometer range. For this there are many years already proven solutions that are nevertheless always improved. These include piezoelectric actuators, hexapods and stepper motor drives with their proven microstepping.
On the other hand uses the term very small actuators containing components and components whose dimensions 100 few micrometers. The latter can in turn be differentiated from the technology further: There are micro-actuators, which are micro-machined to produce, and those who are in lithographic mask method produced similar semiconductors. The individual components can be etched out of a basic structure.
Both types of micro-actuators with small mechanical dimensions can today produce stable reproducible. The intensive research in these areas during the last fifteen years, especially in this specially created special research areas, has caused a huge technological boost. Feasible is so much impressive today.
Feasibility and application in industrial practice are different things. A drive is his own best purposes for help to move a load along a specific path. Actuators with dimensions of about one millimeter and less naturally generate extremely low torques and forces. The so producible forces and torques are often so low that it presents something of a problem to overcome my inner friction and friction torques.
In micromachined actuators manufactured in diameters ranging from two to five millimeters however already sufficiently high forces and torques can be achieved that can be used to cope with real drive tasks. These drives now emerge gradually more and more applications. Areas that have already been implemented in the industrial production, can be found at the moment primarily in medical devices: These are devices for minimally invasive surgery and diagnostic tools that are used in the human body such as cardiac catheterization or X capsules. But also in optics micro drives are now being used, beipspielsweise in a mini-projector.
Important for the development and propagation of micro-drives is an existing application needs. Without such demand, these drives are not further developed and also found no widespread. There are applications necessary to need a very small mechanical drive, which are without such a drive that is not feasible. Only on the market demand micro drives get into industrial applications. As mentioned above, the technology is controlled for some time to produce micro drives. But over the depression of an existing technology and dominated in a market that will not work.
The distribution of micro-drives will continue to develop because of the conditions for these drives only delayed: The customers of these drives have to learn to deal with it. In order to process micro actuators can, a different environment than that required for conventional drives with known dimensions. Starting with a different measuring technique requires the use of micro actuators much higher purity requirements for the environment, as with flow boxes or even a clean room environment. Higher qualifications of staff and special handling in an incoming inspection is also necessary. These are just some points that indicate how much work and what changes are necessary in order to work with micro-drives can.
From my perspective, micro drives are in the diameter range from two to five millimeters are used in the next five years in many applications. The use of even smaller drives in the industrial sector, I do not currently. Thus, the market for micro actuators will develop a total delay. The predicted many years ago, but so high revenue potential can certainly be achieved. The distribution of micro actuators is, interestingly, not a question of technology - you can already more than you need - it is indeed a question of applicability.