Electroactive Polymer (EAP) has gained increasing focus, in research communities, in last two decades. Research within the field of EAP has, so far, been mainly focused on material improvements, characterization, modeling and developing demonstrators. As the EAP technology matures, the need for a new area of research namely product development emerges. Product development can be based on an isolated design and production for a single product or platform design where a product family is developed. In platform design the families of products exploits commonality of platform modules while satisfying a variety of different market segments. Platform based approach has the primary benefit of being cost efficient and short lead time to market when new products emerges. Products development based on EAP technology is challenging both technologically as well as from production and processing point of view. Both the technological and processing challenges need to be addressed before a successful implementation of EAP technology into products. Based on this need Danfoss PolyPower A/S has, in 2011, launched a EAP platform project in collaboration with three Danish universities and three commercial organizations. The aim of the project is to develop platform based designs and product family for the EAP components to be used in variety of applications. This paper presents the structure of the platform project as a whole and specifically the platform based designs of EAP transducers. The underlying technologies, essential for EAP transducers, are also presented. Conceptual design and solution for the concepts are presented as well.
EAP technology has the potential to be used in a wide range of applications. This poses the challenge to the EAP component manufacturers to develop components for a wide variety of products. Danfoss Polypower A/S is developing an EAP technology platform, which can form the basis for a variety of EAP technology products while keeping complexity under control. High level product architecture has been developed for the mechanical part of EAP transducers, as the foundation for platform development. A generic description of an EAP transducer forms the core of the high level product architecture. This description breaks down the EAP transducer into organs that perform the functions that may be present in an EAP transducer. A physical instance of an EAP transducer contains a combination of the organs needed to fulfill the task of actuator, sensor, and generation. Alternative principles for each organ allow the function of the EAP transducers to be changed, by basing the EAP transducers on a different combination of organ alternatives. A model providing an overview of the high level product architecture has been developed to support daily development and cooperation across development teams. The platform approach has resulted in the first version of an EAP technology platform, on which multiple EAP products can be based. The contents of the platform have been the result of multi-disciplinary development work at Danfoss PolyPower, as well as collaboration with potential customers and research institutions. Initial results from applying the platform on demonstrator design for potential applications are promising. The scope of the article does not include technical details.