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.
- topological optimization
- fiber enhancement
- rod pre-strain
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- Department of Mechanical Engineering - Senior Lecturer
- Centre for Sustainable and Circular Technologies (CSCT)
- Centre for Networks and Collective Behaviour
- Centre for Biosensors, Bioelectronics and Biodevices (C3Bio)
- Centre for Power Transmission and Motion Control
- UKRI CDT in Accountable, Responsible and Transparent AI
- Centre for Autonomous Robotics (CENTAUR)
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