What is mechatronics?

The word mechatronics first appeared in Japan in 1969 and has since gained traction world-wide, with the US being one of the last countries to adopt and understand the word. The word mechatronics has two parts: mecha, from mechanical and tronics, from electronics, so simply put mechatronics is the integration of mechanical electrical systems. Yet in the age of microcontroller some sort of bridge is needed between the electrical and mechanical system and that bridge is computer engineering. Therefore, all put together, mechatronics is the integration of mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering. Those that attack engineering from a mechatronics point of view (which many good engineers do and just didn’t know there was a word for it) reject the notion of splitting up electromechanical project by different engineering disciplines.

Mechatronics at Zebulon Solutions

While we are not hung up on semantics, many of our projects at Zebulon Solutions fall under the mechatronics umbrella. Some of this comes from our general jack-of-all-trades capabilities, some of this comes from the weird projects we tend to attract (mice and cell phones and laptops tend to all be designed in China these days, leaving us with the more interesting projects). Integrating electrical, mechanical and firmware all together, whether in a new design, a cost reduction redesign, or even just understanding the industrialization aspects such as test and supply chain, come naturally to us.  We have engineers who are skilled not only in the individual disciplines but also skilled at merging all these disciplines together into mechatronic systems.

Mechatronic examples at Zebulon Solutions

  • Robotic disc libraries

A pure mechatronics system, this product provides 50 terabytes of networked attached storage through the use of a robotic picker and Blue-Ray data discs.  Our part of the project was to look at the overall tolerances of all the moving and static parts, as well as to drive cost reductions on the electrical subsystems.

  • Electric bikes

Another pure mechatronics system, e-bikes combine traditional bike mechanical subsystems—crankshaft, chain, sprockets, gears—with an electric propulsion system—motor, gears, motor controller, battery and human-machine interface (HMI).  We’ve done a couple of projects in this space.  For the latest e-bike project, we are taking the mechatronics system engineering role on the propulsion system

We also are working on / have worked on design validation testing on a robotic toy, industrialization engineering on an optical touch panel, programming industrial robots for factory test, and setting up process the supply chain for a flow battery.

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