The term mechatronics was ‘coined’ by the Japanese engineer in 1969, as a combination of ‘mecha’ from the mechanisms and ‘tronics’ from the electronics.
The word now a day has a wider meaning, used to describe a philosophy in engineering technology in which there is a co-ordinated, and simultaneously developed, integration of mechanical engineering with electronics and intelligent computer control in design and manufacturing of products and processes. As a result, mechatronics products have so many mechanical functions replaced with electronic ones and it is working far better than the previous one. This results have much greater flexibility, easy redesign and reprogramming, and the ability to carry out automated data collection and reporting. A mechatronics system is not only the marriage of electrical and mechanical systems and it is more than just the control system; it is the complete integration of many engineering branches in which there is a concurrent approach to the design of the system.
In the design of cars, robots, mechanical tools, washing machines, cameras, and many other machines, such as an integrated and interdisciplinary approach to the engineering designs are increasingly being adopted by the peoples and industries. The integration over the traditional boundaries of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, electronics and control engineering has to occur at the very early stages of the design process should cheaper, more reliable; more modifiable or flexible systems are to be developed.
Mechatronics has to involve a simultaneous approach to these disciplines rather than a sequential approach of developing, say, a mechanical system, then designing the electrical part and the microprocessor part. Thus mechatronics is a design philosophy, an integrating approach to engineering. Mechatronics brings together areas of technology involving sensors and measurement systems, drive and actuation systems, and microprocessor system, together with the analysis of the behaviour of system and control system. Consider an example,
Thermostatically controlled heaters are the mechatronics system. The input to the system is the reference temperature and it known. The output is the actual temperature of the system. When the thermostat detects that the output is less than the input of the system, then the furnace provides heat until the temperature of the enclosure becomes equal to the reference temperature. Then the furnace is automatically turned off. Here, the bimetallic strip of the thermostat acts as informatics because it automatically turns the switch on or off. The lever-type switch is mechanical system whereas the heater acts as an electrical system mechatronics is the synergistic integration of sensors, actuators, signal conditioning power electronics, decision and control algorithms and computer hardware and software to manage complexity, uncertainty and communication in the engineered system.
According to the mechatronics forum, a precise and common definition is as follows. “Mechatronics is the synergistic integration of mechanical engineering with electronics and the intelligent control algorithms in the design and manufacture of the process of the product”.
For manufacturer adoption of modern and matured technology with improved capabilities is paramount in order to meet their competitive challenges in the technology era. In fact, new multidisciplinary subject in the name of mechatronics has been attracting not only manufactures but also the engineer, developers, researchers and academicians.
The technological design has become a high-risk endeavour due to the lack of knowledge and experience on interdisciplinary subject and methods. The advanced technological design is highly complex and interdisciplinary natures involving the synergistic integration of mechatronics, photonics, computronics, and communication. Technological development and innovation would thus require simultaneous knowledge of discrete fundamental already developed to date. Synergistic integration is solitarily logic based integration.Technology sector all over the world has recognized the importance of the mechatronics discipline for their products design for which it has become a buzzword.
The Japanese technocrats such as controls system integrators, consumer electronics manufacturers, university researchers etc originated the concept. Later, Scandinavian American and European engineers experienced the significance and applicability in the design of the electromechanical system and also in the other notable application areas.
The term synergistic plays an important role in the framing the syllabus for mechatronics subjects. Synergistic integration means the mechatronics engineer does not have to study selected but the definitive portion of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer engineering and electronics engineering. This is because of the fact that some of the subjects are redundant as far as the design and manufacture of products process are concerned.
An evolutionary process exists in all aspects of life. With regards to mechatronics, this technology has evolved through several stages that are primarily defined in terms of
- Primary level mechatronics
- Secondary level mechatronics
- Tertiary level mechatronics
- Quaternary level mechatronics
A mechatronics system integrates various technologies involving sensors, measurements system drives, the actuation system, microprocessor system and software engineering. A microprocessor is a collection of logic gates and memory elements whose logical function is implemented by means of software. The application of mechatronics has helped to improve many mass-produced products such as washing machine, microwave oven, cameras, vibrator and watches etc.
- Mechatronics enhances the system functionality and features.
- Produce more efficiency by adding the intelligence to the system.
- It improves the design time, product size and reliability.
- Mechatronics system is more reliable than the mechanical system.
- It reduces the system cost.
- Rapid development trials.
- Adaptation possibility.
- Simplified mechanical design.
- Rapid machine setup.
- Fast thermal response.
- Increase in the components failures
- More complex safety issues
- Different expertise are required
- Increase power requirements
- Initially system investment is high.
- Not suitable for small scale industry.
- Temperature range is limited.
- Self-heating may affect the accuracy of the system.
- Mechatronics used in home appliances such as washing machine.
- It is used in intelligent measuring devices like calibration devices.
- Medical applications such as ultrasonic probes, magnetic resonance arthroscopic.
- Aviation industry for unmanned aerial vehicle and automatic pilot.
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