The origins of Kinetic Ceramics date back to 1964 when the Physics International company formed a new division dedicated to finding novel applications of the newly-emerging piezoelectric technology. Initial focus centered around applications in the automotive industry such as fuel injectors, fuel pumps, and high-speed valves, but the group quickly expanded to include numerous applications in space, defense, medicine, and more.
By 1967, the group had gained enough prominence to be included in the national effort to develop a total artificial heart. At the same time, companies such as Lucas CAV, Chrysler, GM and GE were approaching PI's piezoelectric division to help them create the next generation of automotive technology. Unfortunately the PZT materials and manufacturing methods of the era were not quite up to the task, so PI embarked on a multi-year, multi-million dollar effort to create the best performing PZT actuators in the world.
As this new program got underway, PI continued its work developing new piezo-based products and the 1970s saw the introduction of many new applications for piezoelectric actuators including the first piezo insulin pump, high-speed valves for spacecraft, PZT bone saws, fuel pumps, and more. Extensive work in the automotive industry and steady improvements in PZT materials ultimately enabled PI engineers to develop the world's first diesel injection system by the late 1970s - 20 years before similar systems would be developed by our competitors.
Physics Intl PZT Rotary Valve - 1964
By 1978, Physics International's work developing a new PZT material and manufacturing process was complete after almost 10 years of effort. The result of this program was the Piezomotor®: The best-performing and most reliable PZT actuator available on the market. The extensive research conducted under the program created a PZT material capable of operating at over 5 times the field strength of other PZT materials of the era.
In 1986 the Kinetic Ceramics name was born when the piezoelectric business unit split for Physics International in order to further develop piezoelectric technology for the automotive industry. The result of this split was the development of extremely advanced engines systems including the first Gasoline Direct Injection system for the Lotus F1 racing team, the first variable valve timing system, valve actuation systems for camless engines, and further improvements to diesel injection systems.
At the same time, Kinetic Ceramics began to expand into new areas, designing cutting-edge piezo-based technology for multiple industries. These included projects such as President Reagan's Star Wars program, fuze timing for the Javelin Missile, an ultrasonic bone saw, pumps for US submarines, and more.
Early Piezo Pump Injector
In 1998 Kinetic Ceramics introduced the world's first Fast Tool Servo, a machine which revolutionized the contact lens manufacturing industry by allowing manufacturers to directly machine toric lenses at the previously impossible spindle speeds up to 6,000 RPM. Further development of FTS machines in the early 2000's has led to new applications in the LCD, optics, and thin film industries where today they enable the use of advanced manufacturing methods by some of the largest manufacturers in the world.
Our latest revolutionary product is the piezo fluid pump. Originally developed in partnership with DARPA for aerospace applications, it is quickly being recognized as the foundation of the next generation in pump technology with rapid expansion into new industries and applications.
In late 2018, Kinetic Ceramics acquired Autotrol Corporation - a leading, U.S.-based manufacturer of premium, custom-made gear motors. The acquisition complements our company's strategy to expand and grow production to a large scale by marrying high-quality manufacturing with advanced technology and engineering.
At Kinetic Ceramics, we take great pride in our company's remarkable history. Our company and its predecessors helped advance the state of technology for numerous industries over the last 50 years and today we continue bringing the same passion and vision to everything we do. Our mission is to design, develop, and manufacture the most advanced piezoelectric products in the world. We believe piezoelectric devices will continue to enable major advances in technology over the next 50 years and beyond and we look forward to working with each of our customers to help them create revolutionary new products.