Modal Testing with Piezoelectric Stack Actuators
Piezoelectric stack actuators can convert an electrical stimulus into a mechanical displacement, which facilitates their use as a vibration-excitation mechanism for modal and vibration testing. Due to their compact nature, they are especially suitable for applications where typical electrodynamic shakers may not be physically feasible, e.g., on small-scale centrifuge/vibration (vibrafuge) testbeds. As such, this work details an approach to extract modal parameters using a distributed set of stack actuators incorporated into a vibrafuge system to provide the mechanical inputs. A derivation that considers a lumped-parameter stack actuator model shows that the transfer functions relating the mechanical responses to the piezoelectric voltages are in a similar form to conventional transfer functions relating the mechanical responses to mechanical forces, which enables typical curve-fitting algorithms to extract the modal parameters. An experimental application consisted of extracting modal parameters from a simple research structure on the centrifuge’s arm excited by the vibrafuge’s stack actuators. A modal test that utilized a modal hammer on the same structure with the centrifuge arm stationary produced similar modal parameters as the modal parameters extracted from the combined-environments testing with low-level inertial loading.