Get Connected:

Securing a Stripe Actuator; Connecting Electrical Leads

In order to accomplish its task, a Stripe actuator must be secured to a solid surface. Of the three approaches -- gluing, soldering, and clamping -- the overall best approach usually is gluing. An epoxy or acrylate glue will provide a strong, flexible, non-conducting bond. The flexible nature of a glue bond usually eliminates the possibility of vibration-induced fatigue during long-term operation. When needed, glues are available that can be used at temperatures exceeding 150°C. Such temperatures will encompass the recommended operating limit for almost any piezoelectric ceramic material. Be aware, however, that high temperature programs needed to set some glues could affect the piezoelectric characteristics of the actuator. Compare the Curie point and recommended maximum operating temperature of the ceramic with the curing temperature of the glue; if there is overlap, contact the glue manufacturer about the feasibility of prolonging the curing time at a lower temperature -- or use another glue.

Soldering is a less reliable means of securing a ceramic element because, over time, vibrations in the ceramic can cause the bond to fail. Also, the high temperatures associated with soldering must be applied carefully to a ceramic element -- the Curie point of a polarized ceramic can be well below the temperature of hot solder. On the other hand, a soldered connection is electrically conductive and, in some situations, this characteristic might be needed.

The following general soldering procedure can be adapted for securing a Stripe actuator into place (See APC's Stripe Actuator Lead Connection Examples for information on lead placement). To minimize the effects of heat on the piezoelectric properties of the ceramic, always keep the soldering time as short as possible (3 seconds or less is ideal). This procedure also is appropriate for making electrical connections -- when soldering electrical connections to a Stripe actuator, or any other APCI piezoelectric ceramic element, follow these recommendations (type of solder and flux to be used, etc.).

General Soldering Procedure

Equipment and Materials
Piezoelectric cermaic element with silver electrodes or Stripe Actuator
Soldering iron (~350°C + 30°C)
Solder SN 96; Indium 241 (Sn95.5/Ag3.8/Cu0.7); Alpha Lead-Free (Sn96.5/Ag3.0/Cu0.5); or similar
Active rosin flux: Kestor 1544; Radio Shack 64-021; or similar
Leads (common sizes 28AWG-32AWG)
Solvent: To remove excess flux
Cotton swabs

Procedure

  1. Turn on the soldering iron and allow it to reach a stable operating temperature.
  2. Place a small amount of flux on the ceramic/stripe actuator and the wire.
  3. Melt a small amount of solder on the soldering iron tip.
  4. Place the wire on the ceramic in the desired direction and location.
  5. Place iron with solder on the wire and the ceramic. Hold for 1-2 seconds and then remove the iron.  This should allow the solder to flow from the iron to the wire and the ceramic.
  6. Allow the solder joint to cool prior to moving the wire.
  7. Remove excess flux with solvent.
  8. Repeat steps 2-7 for each part.

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