Dielectric elastomers are novel soft smart material that could deform sustainably when subjected to external electric field. That makes dielectric elastomers promising materials for actuators. In this paper, a spring-roll actuator that would bend when a high voltage is applied was fabricated based on dielectric elastomer. Using such actuators as active parts, the flexible grippers and inchworm-inspired crawling robots were manufactured, which demonstrated some examples of applications in soft robotics. To guide the parameters design of dielectric elastomer based spring-roll bending actuators, the theoretical model of such actuators was established based on thermodynamic theories. The initial deformation and electrical induced bending angle of actuators were formulated. The failure of actuators was also analyzed considering some typical failure modes like electromechanical instability, electrical breakdown, loss of tension and maximum tolerant stretch. Thus the allowable region of actuators was determined. Then the bending angle-voltage relations and failure voltages of actuators with different parameters, including stretches of the dielectric elastomer film, number of active layers, and dimensions of spring, were investigated. The influences of each parameter on the actuator performances were discussed, providing meaningful guidance to the optical design of the spring-roll bending actuators.
Jinrong Li, Liwu Liu, Yanju Liu, and Jinsong Leng, "Parameters design of the dielectric elastomer spring-roll bending actuator (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10163, Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD) 2017, 101630B (Presented at SPIE Smart Structures and Materials + Nondestructive Evaluation and Health Monitoring: March 27, 2017; Published: 10 May 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2259921.5427376524001.
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