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Actuators, Volume 4, Issue 3 (September 2015) – 5 articles , Pages 135-216

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Article
Elastic Cube Actuator with Six Degrees of Freedom Output
Actuators 2015, 4(3), 203-216; https://doi.org/10.3390/act4030203 - 07 Sep 2015
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 6402
Abstract
Unlike conventional rigid actuators, soft robotic technologies possess inherent compliance, so they can stretch and twist along every axis without the need for articulated joints. This compliance is exploited here using dielectric elastomer membranes to develop a novel six degrees of freedom (6-DOF) [...] Read more.
Unlike conventional rigid actuators, soft robotic technologies possess inherent compliance, so they can stretch and twist along every axis without the need for articulated joints. This compliance is exploited here using dielectric elastomer membranes to develop a novel six degrees of freedom (6-DOF) polymer actuator that unifies ordinarily separate components into a simple cubic structure. This cube actuator design incorporates elastic dielectric elastomer membranes on four faces which are coupled by a cross-shaped end effector. The inherent elasticity of each membrane greatly reduces kinematic constraint and enables a 6-DOF actuation output to be produced via the end effector. An electro-mechanical model of the cube actuator is presented that captures the non-linear hyperelastic behaviour of the active membranes. It is demonstrated that the model accurately predicts actuator displacement and blocking moment for a range of input voltages. Experimental testing of a prototype 60 mm device demonstrates 6-DOF operation. The prototype produces maximum linear and rotational displacements of ±2.6 mm (±4.3%) and ±4.8° respectively and a maximum blocking moment of ±76 mNm. The capacity for full 6-DOF actuation from a compact, readily scalable and easily fabricated polymeric package enables implementation in a range of mechatronics and robotics applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers)
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Article
Design and Comparative Analysis of a Retrofitted Liquid Cooling System for High-Power Actuators
Actuators 2015, 4(3), 182-202; https://doi.org/10.3390/act4030182 - 13 Aug 2015
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 5931
Abstract
This paper presents an in-depth system-level experimental analysis comparing air-cooled and liquid-cooled commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) electric motors. Typically, liquid-cooled electric motors are reserved for large, expensive, high-end applications where the design of the motor’s electromagnetic components are closely coupled to its cooling system. [...] Read more.
This paper presents an in-depth system-level experimental analysis comparing air-cooled and liquid-cooled commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) electric motors. Typically, liquid-cooled electric motors are reserved for large, expensive, high-end applications where the design of the motor’s electromagnetic components are closely coupled to its cooling system. By applying liquid cooling to a pre-existing motor design, this work helps bring the performance advantages of liquid cooling to smaller scale and lower cost applications. Prior work in this area gives little insight to designers of such systems. Conversely, this work aims to improve the understanding of liquid-cooled COTS motors by reporting empirically-observed factors of improvement for motor current, torque, output power and system efficiency. These measurements are obtained using a new liquid-cooled motor housing design that improves the ease of maintenance and component reuse compared to existing work. It is confirmed that datasheet motor thermal properties may serve as a reasonable guide for anticipating continuous torque performance, but may over-specify continuous power output. For the motor used in this test, continuous torque output is increased by a factor of 2.58, matching to within 9% of expected datasheet values. Continuous power output is increased by a factor of two with only 2.2% reduced efficiency compared to air-cooling. Full article
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Article
Ultracompact Planar Positioner Driven by Unbalanced Frictional Forces
Actuators 2015, 4(3), 172-181; https://doi.org/10.3390/act4030172 - 12 Aug 2015
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 4110
Abstract
This paper proposes a new ultracompact planar positioner driven by unbalanced frictional forces. The prototype of the designed positioner is 17 mm × 17 mm × 9 mm in size, and is simply constructed using lead zirconate titanate piezoelectric elements, neodymium magnetic feet, [...] Read more.
This paper proposes a new ultracompact planar positioner driven by unbalanced frictional forces. The prototype of the designed positioner is 17 mm × 17 mm × 9 mm in size, and is simply constructed using lead zirconate titanate piezoelectric elements, neodymium magnetic feet, and junction pieces. Alternating static and kinetic frictional forces are utilized to control the motion of the positioner. The working principle is illustrated, and the performance of the positioner is evaluated under atmospheric and vacuum conditions. Under atmospheric conditions, the positioner had a minimum step size of approximately 17 nm at 55 V, a maximum step size of approximately 1.6 μm, and a moving speed of approximately 4 μm/s at 138 V. However, the step size significantly decreased in vacuum. The step size can be controlled by adjusting the frictional forces on the magnetic feet. In addition, the positioner showed instability caused by the wear of the stainless plate. This problem was resolved by using a borosilicate glass that was fixed on the stainless plate, and the position accuracy was obviously improved. Full article
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Article
Design, Manufacturing and Test of a High Lift Secondary Flight Control Surface with Shape Memory Alloy Post-Buckled Precompressed Actuators
Actuators 2015, 4(3), 156-171; https://doi.org/10.3390/act4030156 - 28 Jul 2015
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 5314
Abstract
The use of morphing components on aerospace structures can greatly increase the versatility of an aircraft. This paper presents the design, manufacturing and testing of a new kind of adaptive airfoil with actuation through Shape Memory Alloys (SMA). The developed adaptive flap system [...] Read more.
The use of morphing components on aerospace structures can greatly increase the versatility of an aircraft. This paper presents the design, manufacturing and testing of a new kind of adaptive airfoil with actuation through Shape Memory Alloys (SMA). The developed adaptive flap system makes use of a novel actuator that employs SMA wires in an antagonistic arrangement with a Post-Buckled Precompressed (PBP) mechanism. SMA actuators are usually used in an antagonistic arrangement or are arranged to move structural components with linearly varying resistance levels similar to springs. Unfortunately, most of this strain energy is spent doing work on the passive structure rather than performing the task at hand, like moving a flight control surface or resisting air loads. A solution is the use of Post-Buckled Precompressed (PBP) actuators that are arranged so that the active elements do not waste energy fighting passive structural stiffnesses. One major problem with PBP actuators is that the low tensile strength of the piezoelectric elements can often result in tensile failure of the actuator on the convex face. A solution to this problem is the use of SMA as actuator material due to their tolerance of tensile stresses. The power consumption to hold deflections is reduced by approximately 20% with the Post-Buckled Precompressed mechanism. Conventional SMAs are essentially non-starters for many classes of aircraft due to the requirement of holding the flight control surfaces in a given position for extremely long times to trim the vehicle. For the reason that PBP actuators balance out air and structural loads, the steady-state load on the SMAs is essentially negligible, when properly designed. Simulations and experiments showed that the SMAPBP actuator shows tip rotations on the order of 45°, which is nearly triple the levels achieved by piezoelectric PBP actuators. The developed SMAPBP actuator was integrated in a NACA0012 airfoil with a flexible skin to carry out wind tunnel tests. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers)
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Article
Characterization and Testing of an Electrorheological Fluid Valve for Control of ERF Actuators
Actuators 2015, 4(3), 135-155; https://doi.org/10.3390/act4030135 - 26 Jun 2015
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 7963
Abstract
Previous studies of electrorheological fluids (ERFs) were motivated by brake, clutch, damping, haptic and resistive applications, but never motivated towards developing an ERF based-hydraulic rotary actuator. One design to make such an actuator is to use ERF-based valves. To fully understand the performance [...] Read more.
Previous studies of electrorheological fluids (ERFs) were motivated by brake, clutch, damping, haptic and resistive applications, but never motivated towards developing an ERF based-hydraulic rotary actuator. One design to make such an actuator is to use ERF-based valves. To fully understand the performance of such an actuator, it is imperative to study ERF valves. For this reason, this paper presents a summary of design considerations for creating ERF-based actuators, an ERF-based valve design for an ERF actuator and a new experimental test-bed to obtain viscosity and yield characteristics of the ERF at flow rates as low as 0.049 L/min, an order of magnitude lower than industrial rheometers. The new test-bed successfully measured the dynamic viscosity of the ERF to be at 0.6 Pa-s for low flow rates and 0.2 Pa-s for higher flow rates. The presented valve design can successfully resist 1 MPa of fluid pressure, which is an operation mode higher than any haptic and damping applications in the literature. The experiments also shows that higher flow rates negatively affect the ERF’s yield characteristics for the first time in a situation where the ERF valve completely blocks flow. When the flow rates are increased, the response time to a fully-closed valve increases, the effective yield capability of the ERF decreases and the conductivity of the ERF increases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers)
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