If you've been working with piezos at all, then you know that it only takes minimal effort to destroy them. In this post, I'll demonstrate how to safely handle a piezo. To do this, you'll need to remember three words: fragility, toxicity, and contamination. These three words are the keys to safely handling your piezo and ensuring that they don't break.
- Don't Break Your Piezo Video Tutorial
- Fragility of Piezo
- Toxicity of Piezo
- Contamination of Piezo
Don't Break Your Piezo Video Tutorial
This post is based on a series we do called Tip Tuesday where we explore piezo applications and tips to help you better use and understand piezoelectric materials. Check out our video tutorials page for more. And if you have an idea for a tip, please don't hesitate to leave a comment or contact us directly.
Fragility of Piezo
First we need to take into account fragility. When you receive your piezo, please resist the temptation to touch it because it is very fragile and it does tend to break. It is okay to handle it from the edges, but refrain from pushing it to see how much it bends and resist performing other strength tests because it will break and then you'll have to buy another one.
This fragility is only true of bare piezo ceramic sheets and disks. The fragility of bare piezos can be greatly reduced by effective packaging that encapsulates the piezo ceramic between layers of flexible circuit. Once this is cured, the fragility is reduced.
The strength of piezos can be increased with a strong bonding method as well. At PIEZO.com, we have a proprietary bonding method to glue the fragile ceramic to a layer of brass, carbon fiber, or stainless steel. For more on our manufacturing advantages see here.
Toxicity of Piezo
The next thing to be aware of is the toxicity of piezo. If the piezo breaks, it creates tiny pieces of powder and this material -- which is so wonderful in all other respects -- is toxic. It is 51% lead oxide just like lead paint, so handle it the same way you would handle lead paint.
When you're sourcing piezo material, you should consider if the packaging process fully encapsulates the piezo and hermetically seals it from the outside environment thereby reducing its effective toxicity.
Contamination of Piezo
Lastly, you need to consider contamination. This is not for your sake, but rather for the piezo's sake. If you do touch the piezo, when you open it up it will leave a fingerprint. The fingerprint will make it impossible to solder to or to glue to. Both of those things you are likely to have to do later when you're assembling your new device. (For more on soldering, you can read my post and watch my video on How to Safely Solder Joints onto Piezo Transducers).
If contamination is making electrical connection more difficult, you can look for piezo that have connectors and/or copper solder pads.
So there's your overview of what to avoid and take into consideration to handle a piezo safely. Remember that there are manufacturing techniques, such as our own, to make handling piezo ceramics much easier!
- What is a Piezo?
- How to Safely Solder Joints onto Piezo Transducers
- Piezoelectrics: the Dark Side of Piezos