In this contribution we present recent findings of our efforts to qualify the so called Aerosol-Jet-Printing process as an additive manufacturing approach for stacked dielectric elastomer actuators (DEA). With the presented system we are able to print the two essential structural elements dielectric layer and electrode in one machine. The system is capable of generating RTV-2 silicone layers made of Wacker Elastosil P 7670. Therefore, two aerosol streams of both precursor components A and B are generated in parallel and mixed in one printing nozzle that is attached to a 4-axis kinematic. At maximum speed the printing of one circular Elastosil layer with a calculated thickness of 10 μm and a diameter of 1 cm takes 12 seconds while the process keeps stable for 4.5 hours allowing a quite high overall material output and the generation of numerous silicone layers. By adding a second printing nozzle and the infrastructure to generate a third aerosol, the system is also capable of printing inks with conductive particles in parallel to the silicone. We have printed a reduced graphene oxide (rGO) ink prepared in our lab to generate electrodes on VHB 4905, Elastosil foils and finally on Aerosol-Jet-Printed Elastosil layers. With rGO ink printed on Elastosil foil, layers with a 4-point measured sheet resistance as low as 4 kΩ can be realized leaving room for improving the electrode printing time, which at the moment is not as good as the quite good time-frame for printing the silicone layers. Up to now we have used the system to print a fully functional two-layer stacked DEA to demonstrate the principle of continuously 3D printing actuators.
Sebastian Reitelshöfer, Michael Göttler, Philip Schmidt, Philipp Treffer, Maximilian Landgraf, and Jörg Franke, "Aerosol-Jet-Printing silicone layers and electrodes for stacked dielectric elastomer actuators in one processing device," Proc. SPIE 9798, Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD) 2016, 97981Y (Presented at SPIE Smart Structures and Materials + Nondestructive Evaluation and Health Monitoring: March 24, 2016; Published: 15 April 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2219226.
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