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Xeryon builds "world's smallest motor" in Leuven

13 October 2022

Leuven-based Xeryon says it has the world's smallest motor on the market without any moving parts. This is an ultrasonic piezo motor that, according to the company, can make objects move with extreme precision at an unseen speed and with a much higher lifespan than those of other companies. In four years, Xeryon plans to produce 50,000 of these motors a year, including for medical applications. To that end, it is seeking 5 million from investors.

Blood analysis devices, robotic surgery, eye examinations or even the precise dosing of drugs; in the biomedical industry, the examples are legion where there is a need for small and precise motors that can make very small steps, sometimes of a millionth of a millimeter. But also in other industries such as the chip industry or 3D printing, the same almost insatiable hunger for miniaturized drives exists. At such levels of precision, traditional technologies were bumping up against their limits, with moving parts such as gears quickly wearing down and losing accuracy.

The technology from the 100% Belgian company Xeryon is based on the piezoelectric effect, in which Xeryon makes a tiny block of ceramic vibrate 200,000 times per second in a controlled manner. As a result, the block generates minuscule steps of 1 nm in a fast and constant manner and that with a very long lifetime.

"Past attempts by other companies did not get beyond a speed of a few millimeters per second and a lifetime of 25 km. The Xeryon motor can move at 1000 mm/s and last more than 2000 km. This makes us unique in the world." says Hans Clijsters, managing director and responsible for the business side of the company. The innovative company Xeryon grew out of the prestigious Micro & Precision Engineering research group at KU Leuven in 2013. Since the start of commercialization in 2019, Xeryon experienced a phenomenal growth spurt.

"The development of such an ultrasonic vibration motor has been a true feat, but once realized it delivers an extremely fast, durable and precise motor that generates a fluid motion that is clearly superior to traditional motors," said Dr. Ir. Jan Peirs, co-manager and responsible for R&D.

Hans Clijsters, images by Kanaal Z
Hans Clijsters, images by Kanaal Z

Hans Clijsters sees a positive outlook for the future: "Coming from 20,000 euros in 2019, the latest sales projections for 2022 far exceed the magic million euro mark. On top of that, we have signed our first major OEM agreements with runs of thousands of motorcycles. The next step is a 5,000,000 euro investment round to increase production capacity. We want to complete this capital round by March 2023. Our goal is to produce 50,000 engines per year by 2026."

Xeryon is located in the Haasrode business park where all production and assembly is done. Simple components are outsourced, but the heart of the technology will continue to be produced in Belgium. "A solid anchoring in Belgium allows us to keep our production at the required and desired high level in all areas. At the same time, we will not lose our connection with our R&D partners," said Dr. Tobias Waumans, co-manager and head of production at Xeryon.

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