Electroactive polymer (EAPs) based technologies have shown promise in areas such as artificial muscles, aerospace, medical and soft robotics. In this work, we demonstrate ways to harness on-demand segmented folding actuation from pure bending of relaxor-ferroelectric P(VDF-TrFE-CTFE) based films, using various design approaches, such as ‘stiffener’ and ‘notch’ based approaches. The in-plane actuation of the P(VDF-TrFE-CTFE) is converted into bending actuation using unimorph configurations, where one passive substrate layer is attached to the active polymer. First, we experimentally show that placement of thin metal strips as stiffener in between active EAPs and passive substrates leads to segmented actuation as opposed to pure bending actuation; stiffeners made of different materials, such as nickel, copper and aluminum, are studied which reveals that a higher Young’s modulus favors more pronounced segmented actuation. Second, notched samples are prepared by mounting passive substrate patches of various materials on top of the passive layers of the unimorph EAP actuators. Effect of notch materials, size of the notches and position of the notches on the folding actuation are studied. The motion of the human finger inspires a finger-like biomimetic actuator, which is realized by assigning multiple notches on the structure; finite element analysis (FEA) is also performed using COMSOL Multiphysics software for the notched finger actuator. Finally, a versatile soft-gripper is developed using the notched approach to demonstrate the capability of a properly designed EAP actuator to hold objects of various sizes and shapes.
Saad Ahmed, Jonathan Hong, Wei Zhang, Jessica Kopatz, Zoubeida Ounaies, and Mary Frecker, "Various design approaches to achieve electric field-driven segmented folding actuation of electroactive polymer (EAP) sheets," Proc. SPIE 10596, Behavior and Mechanics of Multifunctional Materials and Composites XII, 105961O (Presented at SPIE Smart Structures and Materials + Nondestructive Evaluation and Health Monitoring: March 08, 2018; Published: 22 March 2018); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2309378.
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