Steering Committee

| Milton Arias / VDE

ACTUATOR Conference 2024

ACUATOR Conference in Wiesbaden - classic flair meets new technology
In the mid of June, in an even-numbered year, in soccer fever: It’s ACTUATOR Conference time!

Here is the follow-up report by Prof. Ulrike Wallrabe, University of Freiburg, Department of Microsystems Engineering – IMTEK

Prof. Ulrike Wallrabe, University of Freiburg, Department of Microsystems Engineering – IMTEK, Germany

| Milton Arias/ VDE

ACUATOR Conference 2024 in Wiesbaden

This year, around 170 participants came together in Wiesbaden for the ACTUATOR - 19th International Conference and 13th Exhibition on New Actuator Systems and Applications. For two days, the beautiful neoclassical Kurhaus in Wiesbaden, Germany, with its numerous Art Nouveau decorations provided a successful contrast to the latest developments in actuator technology. As a representative of the international steering committee, Prof. Wallrabe opened the congress and presented the broadly diversified conference program. 

With 70 contributions from 14 nations, supported by exhibitions from industrial key players, a wide range of topics was covered across 16 sessions. The actuators presented ranged from the centimeter to the nanometer range and used hard and more and more also soft materials. Some topics were increasingly represented, such as shape memory actuators, polymer actuators, applications in medical technology and cooperative microactuators.

Prof. Benjamin Gorissen, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium

| Milton Arias / VDE

Each day started with three outstanding invited overview presentations

On the first day, these were all dedicated to soft robotics and polymer actuators.

Prof. Benjamin Gorissen from the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium started as the first keynote speaker. He vividly illustrated how he specifically uses non-linearities in pneumatic actuators to control a series of completely different actuators via a single pressure connection. One of his team's fun projects was to have these actuators connected in series play the first line of "Freude schönes Götterfunken".

Prof. Robert Katzschmann, ETH Zürich, Switzerland

| Milton Arias / VDE

… muscle-like biomimetic actuators

He was followed by Prof. Robert Katzschmann from ETH Zurich, who has set himself the goal of building muscle-like biomimetic actuators or even real functional muscles from corresponding cell cultures. The latter do not simply develop through proliferation, but the cells must be regularly stressed in order to develop the fibrils: They also have to go to the gym! Katzschmann presented an overall picture, from the design and printing technologies for the cell suspensions to the application in soft robotics. 

Prof. Satoshi Konishi, Ritsumeikan University, Japan

| Milton Arias / VDE

How to drive polymer actuator technology to the microscale or
… how to determine the force in the legs of insects

The picture was completed by Prof. Satoshi Konishi from Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan. He demonstrated how he can drive polymer actuator technology to the microscale and presented a pneumatic microhand with five individually controllable fingers that contain force and temperature sensors. This allows not only haptic feedback from the micro-object to be given to the operator, but also interaction with insects. Konishi was thus able to measure the force in the legs of crawling pill bugs in a time-resolved manner.

Prof. Harald Schenk, Fraunhofer IPMS, Germany

| Milton Arias / VDE

The inventors of the nanoelectrostatic device

The second conference day began with the best electrostatic silicon microactuators, presented by Prof. Harald Schenk from the Fraunhofer Institute IPMS. He and his team are the inventors of the nanoelectrostatic device, a new type of electrostatic actuator that is integrated into a bending beam. Depending on the design, these active beams can be operated in the substrate plane or out of it. For increased force, they can simply be arranged in parallel. The presentation of the new micro loudspeakers, which were successfully spun off and taken over by large-scale industry after just two years, was particularly impressive.

Dr. Christof Megnin, memetis GmbH, Germany

| Milton Arias / VDE

Shape memory-based actuators

Dr. Christof Megnin then made his speech and presented the shape memory-based actuators from memetis GmbH as an industrial contribution, in particular their use in miniaturized high-performance valves.

The Italian pump manufacturer Fluid-o-Tech recently acquired a strategic stake in this new start-up company, successfully transferred from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), and thereby embedded memetic GmbH in a fluidic consortium of companies.

Prof. Jürgen Rühe, University of Freiburg, Germany

| Milton Arias / VDE

Magnetically controllable arrays: Finally, things got "soft" again and very small

Prof. Jürgen Rühe from IMTEK at the University of Freiburg showed how he and his team can produce magnetically controllable arrays of cilia-like nanoactuators using two-wavelength lithography and use them, for example, to manipulate and train cells and offer them suitable 3D environments for growth.

After the plenary lectures, ACTUATOR was divided into three parallel sessions in which a variety of current trends and developments were presented and discussed by representatives from research and industry in 20-minute windows.

Cedrat - Gold Sponsor

| Milton Arias / VDE

Prospects - Conclusions

The DFG priority program KOMMMA on cooperating microactuators was strongly represented with its own sessions. The lecture program was interrupted by sufficient time to visit the industrial exhibition and for further stimulating exchange of ideas.

All in all, the conference participants were highly impressed by the exciting new topics and gave the steering committee a lot of positive feedback.

The next ACTUATOR will take place in June 2026 in a similar setting, perhaps a little larger and perhaps again in beautiful Wiesbaden.

ACTUATOR Conference 2024 - Impressions