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Graphical analysis about the definition of Mechatronics.


The word Mechatronics was coined by the Japanese Ko Kikuchi, Chairman of Yaskawa Electic Corporation of Japan in 1969 (Mori, 1969). He describes Mechatronics as a combination of mechanism (later mechanics or common engineering), and electronics. The word was legally protected from 1972 until 1982. In 1990/1991 Linz (Austria) was the first academic University worldwide which started the study course "Mechatronics" with 360 students.

In many definitions of Mechatronics throughout literature, several graphical diagrams for the description exist (Heimann et al., 2001) (Bishop, 2006) (Bradley, 2004). The representations for the definition are easy to read and understand but many of them are only partly correct or altogether misleading. Two of them will be introduced representatively and discussed.


With the founding of micro systems and microprocessor technology, informatics was added as main part to the definition of Mechatronics (Kyura & Oho, 1996). Mechatronics uses the synergistic combination of mechanical precision engineering, electronic control and understanding of the system in the design stage to obtain a compact and economic product.

One of the graphically explanations is shown in Fig. 1. In the illustration Mechatronics is defined as a "common denominator" of Mechanical engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences. The three different engineer sciences do not share much common ground beyond mathematics, physics or economic and character building subjects. There are only a few fields in which are all located in each section. But Mechatronics needs engineering, electronics and informatics knowledge to share the synergy and build new technical expertises. The diagram of Mechatronics as shown in Fig. 1 is not accurate and should be taken out of circulation. The key challenge for Mechatronics engineers is to ensure an appropriate balance between the specific fields and integrate an added value by combining the areas. It is necessary to understand the core technologies and develop solutions to merge them together (Bradley, 2004).


The graph Fig. 2 shows the combination of Electronics, Informatics and Mechanical engineering. Mechatronics is defined by overlapping the three technical sectors. But the viewable area from the synergistic combination of the three parts is missing. This viewable fragment is very important and existential for the definition of Mechatronics. The overlap between the sciences is inadequate. It is important to reflect on each main sector and define which category groups are located in Mechatronics. The graphical definition of Mechatronics as just the combined technologies from the three areas is not enough to explain Mechatronics.


The International Federation of Automatic Control (IFAC) defines Mechatronics as: "The synergistic combination of precision mechanical engineering, electronic control and systems, thinking in the design of products and manufacturing processes. It covers the integrated design of mechanical parts with an embedded control system and information processing" A key factor in Mechatronics is the integration of functionality and/or layout integration of sensors, actuating elements, information processing and basis systems. The basis can consist of mechanical, fluidic, chemical or biological parts. The goal of Mechatronics is to improve the technical behaviour. For example, sensor systems take information from the environment but also information from the system itself. Based on this information, the system computes the optimal reaction with the actuator elements. By integrating modern information engineering with the product, the system is more flexible and adaptable. It is able to identify critical changes in the environment and respond by applying control architectures.


There are many different terms of Mechatronics--a uniform definition has not yet been agreed upon. It is much more a future trend to enhance the description by applying new technological developments. As defined in 1989 by Schweitzer: "Mechatronics is an interdisciplinary area of the engineering sciences, which develops on the classical disciplines mechanical engineering, electronics and computer science. A typical Mechatronic system takes up signals, processes them and outputs signals e.g. it converts forces and motion (Schweitzer, 1989)".

In 1996 Harashima, Tomizuka and Fukada enlarged the definition: "Mechatronics is the synergetic integration of mechanical engineering with electronic and intelligent computer control in the design and manufacturing of industrial products and processes (Harshama et al., 1996)".

More recently, is the attempt by W. Bolton: "A Mechatronic system is not just a marriage of electrical and mechanical systems and is more than just a control system; it is a complete integration of all of them (Bolton, 1999).

By definition, Mechatronics is not only the integration of functionality and combining of components, it is also the layout, integration and production of Mechatronics systems. The modern knowledge of Mechatronics is the synergistic interaction of the different technologies and not the specific technology which is used to build the system. In order to design Mechatronics systems, the added value of the synergetic effect is very important. With the added value it is possible to implement innovative functionality and control complex systems. The feature of Mechatronics is to combine special areas as shown Fig. 3.


For a simplified representation Mechatronics is defined by the sum of the three special area modules with the added value of Mechatronic: From each of the fields Mechanics, Electronics and Computer Science the main focus for Mechatronics is defined and an added value for the Mechatronic science is added, shown in equation (1). The added Value (MAV) is the modality of how the three fields are combined and working together. The Mechatronic engineer relates to a kind of effort of solving technological problems using interdisciplinary knowledge from mechanical engineering, electronics and computer technology. Further developments in Mechatronics will form and increase Mechatronics--added value. A repositioning of Mechatronics will occur and the Mechatronics engineer must be able to act as an interpreter of all these fields.

Mechatronics = [M.sub.M] + [E.sub.M] +[C.sub.M] + [M.sub.Av] (1)

[M.sub.M] ... Mechanics--module

[E.sub.M] ... Electronics--module

[C.sub.M] ... Computer Sciences--module

[M.sub.AV] ... Mechatronics--Added Value


In order to design Mechatronics systems, technologies have to be integrated by the specification phase. Developing Mechatronics systems presuppose a holistic view of the system and an interdisciplinary thinking on the part of the engineers. Common languages and computer aided tools are generally needed. Due to the complexity and heterogeneity of most Mechatronics systems, a systematic approach is indispensable. Based on this consideration Fig. 3 was developed. It should be understood that Mechatronics is not just a convenient structure for investigation. The term "Mechatronics" should be used to represent a different definition, namely "a design philosophy" where mechanical, electrical and programmability should be considered together in the design stage itself to obtain a compact, efficient and economic product, rather than an approach in which the components are designed separately.


Bishop, R. (2006). Mechatronics--an introduction, pg. VI, CRC Press Taylor &Francis Group

Bolton, W. (1999). Mechatronics: Electrical Control Systems in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, 2nd Ed. Addison Wesley Longman, England

Bradley, D. (2004). What is Mechatronics and why teach it, International Journal of Electrical Engineering Education, pg. 41/4, October

Harshama, F.; Tomizuka, M. & Fukuda, T. (1996). Mechatronics--What is it, why, and how?--an editorial, IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp 1-4

Heimann, B.; Gerth, W. & Popp, K. (2001). Mechatronik. Komponenten--Methoden--Beispiele, 2. Auflage, Fachbuchverlag Leipzig im Carl Hanser Verlag

Kyura, N. & Oho, H. (1996). Mechatronics--an industrial perspective, IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics, 1(1):10-15, March

Malisa, V. (2006). Mechatronik--mehr als ein Modewort, Handling, Juni 2006

Mori, T. (1969). Mechatronics, Yaskawa Internal Trademark Application Memo, 21.131.01, July

Schweitzer, G. (1989). Mechatronik-Aufgaben und Losungen. VDI-Berichte Nr. 787. VDI-Verlag, Dusseldorf
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Author:Malisa, Viktorio; Hieger, Christof
Publication:Annals of DAAAM & Proceedings
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:4EUAU
Date:Jan 1, 2009
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