Dielectric elastomers (DE’s) represent a transduction technology with high potential in many fields, including industries, due to their low weight, flexibility, and small energy consumption. For industrial applications, it is of fundamental importance to quantify the lifetime of DE technology, in terms of electrical and mechanical fatigue, when operating in realistic environmental conditions. This work contributes toward this direction, by presenting the development of an experimental setup which permits systematic fatigue testing of DE membranes. The setup permits to apply both mechanical and electrical stimuli to several membranes simultaneously, while measuring at the same time their mechanical (force, deformation) and electrical response (capacitance, resistance). In its final state, the setup will allow to test up to 15 DE membranes at the same time for several thousands of cycles. Control of the modules, monitoring of the actuators, and data acquisition are realized on a cRio FPGA-system running with LabVIEW. The setup is located in a climate chamber, in order to investigate the fatigue mechanisms at different environmental conditions, i.e., in terms of temperature and humidity. The setup consists of two main parts, namely a fatigue group and a measurement group. The fatigue group stays permanently in the climate chamber, while the measurement group is assembled to the fatigue group and allows to perform measurements at 20°C.
M. Hill, G. Rizzello, and S. Seelecke, "Development of a fatigue testing setup for dielectric elastomer membrane actuators," Proc. SPIE 10163, Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD) 2017, 101630X (Presented at SPIE Smart Structures and Materials + Nondestructive Evaluation and Health Monitoring: March 28, 2017; Published: 17 April 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2259867.
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