Mechatronic Devices | What they Offer

Boosting mechanical devices with electronics
March 28, 2023

The word mechatronics stems from “mecha” meaning mechanism and “Tronics” for electronics. You guessed it, this article talks about how both fields can be combined. This allows for higher quality, flexibility, performance but suffers from high initial costs and the need for highly trained workers.


Starting out in the 1980s in Japan, the combination of mechanisms and electronics was meant to create industrial robots. The goal was to make it impossible to tell the difference between the mechanical parts and the electronics.

The UK now has a fancy formal definition of Mechatronics: “the synergistic integration of Mechanics and Mechanical Engineering, Electronics Computer technology, and IT to produce or enhance products and systems”. In simple terms, it's when electronics and mechanisms are combined to enhance a device/product/system.

Mechatronics is all about considering mechanical, electrical, electronic components, and IT as a whole in the design stage to obtain an efficient, compact, and economic product instead of designing everything separately.

This approach is increasingly necessary to meet consumer requests for digital circuits, sensors, and microprocessors.

Here are two typical mechatronic elements :

  • Actuators and Sensors

An actuator produces motion or some kind of motion, think of the vibration motor in your phone for example. Actuators are often motors, electrical motors, stepper motors, servo motors, and so on. A sensor detects the state of a system, a thermometer could be considered as a sensor. Sensors can measure vastly different elements, here are a few: light, distance, temperature, pressure, and force

  • Signals and Conditioning


Most systems are heavily connected, it’s important to convert input and output signals. Turns out there’s mechatronics involved to make those conversions. Analog to digital converters (devices that make a signal understandable for a  machine), amplifiers, and circuits all use a combination of mechanics and electronics.

Types of Mechatronics Systems

These two groups are just the tip of the iceberg, we can sharpen our understanding by dividing these products in four categories :

  • Class 1: 

Mechanical products that add electronics to upgrade their functionality i.e : A knob to change the speed of a machine.

  • Class 2: 

Traditional mechanical systems with decisive updates to their internals thanks to electronics. The external appeal doesn’t have to change much i.e: a modern sewing machine

  • Class 3: 

Products that serve the same function as a traditional mechanical system but whose internals have been replaced by electronics i.e:: a digital watch

  • Class 4: 

Products that bring together electronic and mechanical components i.e: your washing machine


Mechatronics is all about combining the best of both worlds, in electronics and mechanics. Using it accordingly can bring a big advantage.

Some things mechatronics can bring to the table :

  1. Cost-effective and quality
  2. Flexibility to modify or redesign your products
  3. Performance
  4. Broad applications
  5. Greater productivity in regards to manufacturing organization
  6. Possible to centralize monitoring
  7. Possible to control remotely
  8. Increases features

With that in mind, mechatronics still has a few hurdles to jump :

  1. High initial cost
  2. Multi-disciplinary engineering background required
  3. Need of highly trained workers
  4. Complexity in correction and identification of problems in the system

This combination now exists all around us, electronics are extremely present and work with the mechanical components to create a more capable, performant, and cost-effective device. What’s problematic is finding people capable of designing these systems. Mixing electronics in your system complexifies it and broadens its features. To the user, that’s great, to the creator, it can be a wild mess. The investment necessary to design these systems also isn’t cheap.

Mechatronics contributes to the development of new technologies. A couple of years ago, no one ever imagined we would have smartwatches.

Automation also relies heavily on the domain, we now have fully automated production lines, all because of the integration of electronics in mechanical systems. The field also serves the scientific domain by developing more and more accurate sensors.


Complex integrations require careful planning and design. There’s a long road ahead if you want to specialize in it, years of university and learning both mechanical engineering and electronics.

You can however take your first steps in the field with a programmable circuit board like an Arduino. Here’s a guide with tens of Arduino projects: how to mechatronics. The different guides use the previous elements we’ve discussed, like motors and sensors. Among the different projects, you’ll find an Arduino-controlled robot arm and an all-direction robot.

Programmable circuit boards can be extremely useful to power small-scale installations. Typing the words “Arduino project” in your search engine or on youtube will give you a variety of mechatronic examples, what they do and how to build them, ranging from Remote controlled cars to gardening systems.

Mechatronic brings a lot of promises to the table, new features, flexibility, and performance. It does so with a high initial cost and complexity, building these systems requires diverse skills. Skills that are already hard to find. Small scale systems can however be controlled through programmable circuit boards.

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