The military standard MIL-STD-1376B defines the performance properties of Navy Type piezoelectric ceramics. It provides a set of standards that are an invaluable reference when selecting a piezoelectric material for a new application or when searching for a new ceramic supplier. However, the material characteristics specified in the standard have large tolerances. They allow for significant amount of variation between ceramic manufacturers. As a result, Navy Type PZT from any one supplier is not likely to be a drop-in replacement for the “same” material from another.
As described in our article about the Navy standards for piezoelectric ceramics, finding alternate vendors is challenging but not impossible. By aiming to match only the few PZT performance characteristics that are the most critical to your application, you can often find a practical substitute. However, for applications in which several of the material characteristics are important, this approach will not work.
Further complicating the situation, the number of Navy Type I PZT suppliers has been shrinking, resulting in a significant shortage of supply. This is especially true in the US where a large number of companies that rely on PZT-4 are located. In particular, many companies that designed their products around the now unavailable Channelite-5400 are struggling to find a replacement. The Channel 5400 ceramic provided genuinely outstanding performance and, until recently, many customers could not find a suitable replacement.
SOLUTION – A CHANNELITE-5400 REPLACEMENT: BM402
Sensor Technology Ltd. has a history of developing piezoelectric ceramic formulations specifically tailored to meet customer requirements. The task is complicated and often requires a number of years to complete. However, the undertaking is justified when it produces a material with unique performance and/or that satisfies a specific requirement. For companies unable to find a suitable Channel 5400 substitute, the latter was certainly the case.
Our R&D engineers used the PZT-4 ceramic that we’ve been producing for more than 30 years as a baseline, and developed a material comparable to Channelite-5400.
The new formulation, labeled BM402, offers some advantages over our previous Navy Type I material. Most notably, BM402 has a lower dissipation so it performs better in high drive voltage applications. It also has a lower porosity which gives a higher density.
As an added advantage, production of the new formulation uses materials and processes that produce ceramics that are more consistent batch-to-batch.
SensorTech’s new formulation, BM402, is an excellent replacement for Channelite-5400. However, as is the case with piezoelectric ceramics, the two materials are not identical.
For our existing customers, switching from our previous formulation to BM402 will provide a better experience. In typical send/receive applications they can expect the familiar performance of our previous Navy Type I offering. However, for high drive transmit applications, the lower dissipation will lead to improved performance. In all cases, the new formulation will provide highly consistent ceramics, shipment-to-shipment.
New customers looking for a replacement for Channel 5400 there is a high likelihood that BM402 will provide a drop-in replacement for most applications.
Contact us to find out if BM402 will meet your PZT-4 / Channelite-5400 requirements.