Novel arrangements for high performance and durable dielectric elastomer actuation

Runan Zhang, Xiaoqiang Huang, Tiefeng Li, Pejman Iravani, Patrick Keogh

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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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20
JournalActuators
Volume5
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jul 2016

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Keywords

  • DEA
  • topological optimization
  • pre-strain
  • fiber enhancement
  • rod pre-strain
  • RP-DEA

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