Ionic Polymer-Metal Composites (IPMC) are common soft actuators that are Nafion® based and plated with a conductive metal, such as platinum, gold, or palladium. Nafion® is available in three forms: sheets, pellets, and water dispersion. Nafion® sheets can be cut to the desired dimensions and are best for rectangular IPMCs. However, the user is not able to change the thickness of these sheets by stacking and melting because Nafion® does not melt. A solution to this is Nafion® pellets, which can melt. These can be used for extrusion and injection molding. Though Nafion® pellets can be melted, they are difficult to work with, making the process quite challenging to master. The last form is Nafion® Water Dispersion, which can be used for casting. Casting can produce the desired thickness, but it does not solve the problem of achieving complex contours. The current methods of fabrication do not allow for complex shapes and structures. To solve this problem, two methods are presented: painting and printing. The painting method uses Nafion® Water Dispersion, an airbrush, and vinyl stencils. The stencils can be made into any shape with detailed edges. The printing method uses Nafion® pellets that are extruded into filaments and a commercially available 3D printer. The models are drawn in a Computer-Aided Drawing (CAD) program, such as SolidWorks. The produced Nafion® membranes will be compared with a commercial Nafion® membrane through a variety of tests, including Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy, Scanning Electron Microscope, Thermogravimetric Analysis, Dynamic Mechanical Analysis, and Optical Microscope.
Sarah Trabia, Zakai Olsen, Taeseon Hwang, and Kwang Jin Kim, "Producing intricate IPMC shapes by means of spray-painting and printing (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10163, Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD) 2017, 101630J (Presented at SPIE Smart Structures and Materials + Nondestructive Evaluation and Health Monitoring: March 27, 2017; Published: 10 May 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2262054.5427096911001.
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