A benefit of choosing an nPoint flexure-based nanopositioning system is that it requires minimal maintenance throughout its lifetime. Flexure-based designs are zero friction with no mechanical wear, thus routine maintenance is virtually eliminated. However, users should still consider a few important points to ensure that their stages and controllers perform optimally.
The lifetime of nPoint stages is 109 cycles, when driven at full range. This is primarily dictated by the lifetime of the piezo ceramic material. However, various factors can shorten the lifetime or cause the performance to degrade:
Cleaning: nPoint controllers and stages do not require a specific cleaning interval. Users should periodically inspect cooling vents on controllers and gaps in stages for dust or debris and clear as needed. Contaminants such as dust, dirt, lint, glass chips, and metal chips may damage the unit. When clearing debris from the nanopositioning stage, wipe the debris away from gaps between the static cover and moving part of the stage. Do not blow compressed air directly in the stage gaps as this can damage wiring.
Load: All stages have a maximum load specification. This information can be found on the nPoint website or via an nPoint representative. For proper stage function, it is important to maintain loads below the specified maximum. Exceeding the maximum load specification may lead to permanent flexure deformation or piezo actuator failure. The shape of the load may also affect the stage performance; it is a good idea to contact an nPoint representative if the load will be close to the maximum load listed in the specifications.
Temperature: Large temperature variations can alter the performance of the stages and should be avoided. If there are temperature concerns, check with an nPoint sales representative to determine what stage will work best. Generally, piezo stages meet their listed specifications when the operating temperature is maintained between 17-33°C. nPoint also manufactures stages designed to perform with large temperature ranges (mil spec).
For UHV compatible stages that require baking, the bake temperature must be kept below 120°C.
Humidity: High humidity reduces the lifetime of the piezo stage.
Maintenance: All repairs and servicing of nPoint products should be done at the nPoint facility. If problems arise with a system, an nPoint support member will help troubleshoot to determine the root cause of the issue. If required, nPoint will provide instructions for shipping the unit back to nPoint.
nPoint will strive to find a solution for your application.