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Actuators 2016, 5(3), 20; doi:10.3390/act5030020

Novel Arrangements for High Performance and Durable Dielectric Elastomer Actuation

1
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Bath, Bath BA27AY, UK
2
Soft Matter Research Centre, Zhejiang University, 38 Zheda Road, Hangzhou 310027, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Salvatore Graziani
Received: 29 April 2016 / Revised: 6 July 2016 / Accepted: 14 July 2016 / Published: 21 July 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymeric Actuators)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [2811 KB, uploaded 21 July 2016]   |  

Abstract

This paper advances the design of Rod Pre-strained Dielectric Elastomer Actuators (RP-DEAs) in their capability to generate comparatively large static actuation forces with increased lifetime via optimized electrode arrangements. RP-DEAs utilize thin stiff rods to constrain the expansion of the elastomer and maintain the in-plane pre-strain in the rod longitudinal direction. The aim is to study both the force output and the durability of the RP-DEA. Initial design of the RP-DEA had poor durability, however, it generated significantly larger force compared with the conventional DEA due to the effects of pre-strain and rod constraints. The durability study identifies the in-electro-active-region (in-AR) lead contact and the non-uniform deformation of the structure as causes of pre-mature failure of the RP-DEA. An optimized AR configuration is proposed to avoid actuating undesired areas in the structure. The results show that with the optimized AR, the RP-DEA can be effectively stabilized and survive operation at least four times longer than with a conventional electrode arrangement. Finally, a Finite Element simulation was also performed to demonstrate that such AR design and optimization can be guided by analyzing the DEA structure in the state of pre-activation. View Full-Text
Keywords: DEA; topological optimization; pre-strain; fiber enhancement; rod pre-strain; RP-DEA DEA; topological optimization; pre-strain; fiber enhancement; rod pre-strain; RP-DEA
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Zhang, R.; Huang, X.; Li, T.; Iravani, P.; Keogh, P. Novel Arrangements for High Performance and Durable Dielectric Elastomer Actuation. Actuators 2016, 5, 20.

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