A three-dimensional (3D) fused filament additive manufacturing (AM) technique (3D printing) is described for creating ionic polymer-metal composites (IPMC) actuators. The 3D printing technique addresses some of the limitations of existing manufacturing processes for creating IPMCs, which includes limited shapes and sizes and time-consuming steps. In this paper, the 3D printing process is described in detail, where first a precursor material (non-acid Nafion precursor resin) is extruded into a thermoplastic filament for 3D printing. A custom designed 3D printer is described which utilizes the filament to manufacture custom-shaped IPMC actuators. The 3D printed samples are hydrolyzed in an aqueous solution of potassium hydroxide and dimethyl sulfoxide, followed by application of platinum electrodes. The performance of 3D-printed IPMC actuators with different infill patterns are characterized. Specifically, experimental results are presented for electrode resistance, actuation performance, and overall effective actuator stiffness for samples with longitudinal (0 degrees) and transverse (90 degrees) infill pattern.
James D. Carrico, John M. Erickson, and Kam K. Leang, "Characterization of 3D-printed IPMC actuators," Proc. SPIE 9798, Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD) 2016, 979828 (Presented at SPIE Smart Structures and Materials + Nondestructive Evaluation and Health Monitoring: March 24, 2016; Published: 15 April 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2219649.
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