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Electroactive Polymer (EAP) Actuators

Research Group of Laboratory for Materials and Engineering Gabor Kovacs, Silvain Michel, Christian Dürager, Urs Hintermüller, Alfred Schmidlin, Michael Wissler, Patrick Lochmatter and Rui Zhang Main Project Partners ETH Zurich, Institute of Mechanical Systems (IMES): Centre of Mechanics and Centre of Structure Technologies ETH Zurich, Institute of Machine Tools and Manufacturing EMPA, Laboratory for Functional Polymers Swiss National Science Foundation: National Centre of Competence in Research CO-ME

Electroactive Polymer Technology
Electroactive polymers (EAP) are promising as actuators in intelligent material systems, where large deformations are required. Electromagnetic, piezoelectric or shape memory alloy actuators are either too heavy, too complex or too slow for such applications. EAP however are relatively lightweight, rather simple and fast enough. In particular, dielectric electroactive polymers were shown to have good overall performances. Since their capabilities correspond to the performance of natural muscles, dielectric EAP actuators are often referred to as „artificial muscles“.

Arm wrestling competition: EAP-activated robot versus human at the SPIE Symposium in March, 2005.

Working Principle of Dielectric Electroactive Polymers
Deactivated Activated

d Q=0 U Co Ao do U C -Q +Q A

A dielectric EAP actuator is basically a compliant capacitor, where a thin elastomer film is sandwiched between two compliant electrodes. When a high DC voltage (kV) is applied to the electrodes, the arising electrostatic pressure squeezes the elastomer film in thickness and thus the film expands in planar directions. When the voltage is switched off, the elastic film returns to its original shape.

Dielectric EAP actuator in deactivated (left) and activated state (right).

Configurations and Characteristics of Dielectric Electroactive Polymers
Possible Actuator Configurations
Various actuator designs are possible such as: • Single-layer or multilayer planar actuators • Spring roll actuators (electroactive polymer wrapped around a coil spring) • Shell-like actuators (bending actuators)

Bending actuator in deactivated (left) and activated state (right).

Characteristics of Empa spring roll actuators
• • • • Free strain: 35 % Blocked force: 7 N Specific work output: 4.3 mJ/g Activation cycles: 500

Spring roll actuator.

10 mm


Gabor Kovacs +41 (0)44 823 40 63

Silvain Michel +41 (0)44 823 45 88

A constant voltage between 2 and 3. Figure 2: Finite element model of the circular actuator. Gabor Kovacs1. Prof. New materials may be synthesized based on results generated with this model. E. Modeling and Finite Element Simulation of Dielectric Elastomer Actuators.Modeling and Simulation of Dielectric Elastomer Actuators Michael Wissler1. CH-8092 Zurich. Results and Conclusion Results and Conclusion 25 20 15 10 2. Circular pre-strained dielectric elastomer actuator: modeling. vol.5 kV. For the viscoelastic part the Prony series (exponential series) are applied. Mazza. Smart Materials and Structures. Switzerland Zurich.5 kV 5 0 0 250 500 750 1000 2 kV 3. Radial Strain [%] Time [s] Figure 3: Comparison between experiments and simulations. 2005. SPIE. 182 – 193. Modeling of a pre-strained circular actuator made of dielectric elastomer actuators. to optimize the design and to ensure their reliability. Mehdi Farshad1. Edoardo Mazza2. The experiments are indicated as red curves and the simulations as blue curves. vol.5 kV 3 kV In figure 3 the radial strain is plotted against time for a circular actuator with a biaxial prestretch of 3x3. CH-8600 Dubendorf.1 1Empa. Wissler et al. Modeling and simulation of dielectric elastomer actuators.wissler@empa. M. Mazza. M. The models will allow simulating the behavior of geometrically complex actuators. The constitutive mechanical model is a quasilinear visco-hyperelastic model. 5759. Wissler. pp. 1396 – 1402. pp. References [1] [2] [3] [4] M. a good agreement for 3 kV and a satisfactory agreement for 3. 2005.5 kV. Prof. Wissler. vol. pp. Switzerland Goal The goal is to model the electromechanical behavior of dielectric elastomer actuators in agreement with experiments. 120. 2ETH Laboratory for Materials and Engineering. E. 14. The results show an excellent agreement between simulation and experiment for 2 and 2. E. Center of Mechanics. Voltage on Voltage off Voltage on Voltage off Figure 1: Experimental setup of the circular actuator. Dr.5 kV has been applied. 184 – 192. Sensors and Actuators A. Wissler. NAFEM Seminar. Contact: Michael Wissler michael. Wiesbaden. 2005 M. Proc. +41 (0)44 823 47 87 . For the hyperelastic part of the constitutive model the Yeoh strain energy form is used. simulation and experimental verification.2. 2005. Germany. Research Approach ƒ Mechanical behavior: Characterization and modeling of the passive mechanical properties of the film (constitutive equations) ƒ Characterization of the electrical properties of the film ƒ Electromechanical coupling: Experimental and numerical investigation of planar actuators ƒ Analyzing geometrical complex actuators (spring roll actuators) Experiments and Finite Element Models Several experiments at different prestrain levels have been performed. This model is implemented in a finite element model (see figure 2) for calculation of the behavior of the circular actuator. Dr. Dr.

and nonobstructive. Switzerland Goal The aim of this project is to develop a force feedback device. 8th SPIE Conference . Fig. 196 – 204 [2] R. CA. Fig.Spring Roll Dielectric Elastomer Actuators for a Portable Force Feedback Device Rui Zhang1. on their implementation into a force feedback interface. The focus is mainly on the development of dielectric elastomer (DE) actuators and further. June +41 (0)44 823 46 25 . 6 Specification of the spring roll pull-push DE actuator. 5 Desktop demonstrator. Dr.2 N and a maximum elongation of 5 mm under a driving voltage of 3. The 4th European Conference on Haptics. ƒ and no unnecessary counter forces acting on the hand. G. the actuator was finally implemented into a force feedback interface as described in figure 1. lightweight. Konrad Wegener2 1 Empa. A. Zhang. Zhang. USA. Fig. R. Lochmatter. pp. the actuators can be either located on the dorsal side. Virginia. Munich Germany. CH-8092 Zurich. which provides satisfying touch sensations to the operator. Mazzone. To demonstrate the proposed application. L=45 mm about 60 8g 1 hour 16 × 1840 mm 15 2 kV 10 Force [N] 0 kV 5 0 Electrical Voltage -5 -10 1 kV 3 kV 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 Displacement [mm] 7 8 Fig. which is wrapped around a fully compressed spiral spring. References and Funding [1] A. Switzerland Zurich.EAP Actuators & Devices (EAPAD). which is normal to the fingertips. G. Andreas Kunz2. 300-307 [3] R. pp. part of IEEE Virtual Reality 2006 Arlington. by which a user can feel the actuator. Gabor Kovacs1. Contact: Rui Zhang rui. 20 Specification Material Dimensions Layers Weight Production time Electrode area Value VHB 4910 (3M) Ø=12 mm. Kunz. Kovacs. 347-353 [4] R. P. CH-8600 Dubendorf. Virtual Reality Software and Technology Conference. Prof. Due to the high driving voltage. Dr.zhang@empa. Kunz. powerful. in the palm. 7 The actuator characteristics under isometric tests. which is funded by Swiss National Science Foundation. 2 ETH Laboratory for Materials and Engineering. which is portable. Development of the DE Actuators Design The spring roll DE actuator consists of a biaxially pre-stretched DE film. electrical safety issues have been studied in order to provide sufficient safety to human operators. Kunz. 3D simulation and collision detection 3D Graphics Visual feedback Actuator controlling Force feedback Force feedback device Fingerposition measuring Fingerposition signal CyberGlove R Human operator in Virtual Reality Fig. pp. ƒ a realistic force distribution. Red rectangular area includes the focus of this thesis. Compressed coil spring Biaxially prestretched. Zhang. Institute of Machine Tools and Manufacturing. USA (accepted) The study is part of “the National Centre of Competence in Research CO-ME”. Dr. A. 2006. 1 Schematic of a force feedback interface. 2 Arts of the actuator attachment on the hand are divided into four categories. Osaka Japan. 4 Construction of the spring roll push-pull actuator. coated DE film Working direction Cast-end Telescopic guidance Fig. Lochmatter. San Diego. 3 The envisioned device approach is to attach DE actuators between the fingers. By implementing a telescopic guidance the actuator is able to execute linear movements and to hold axial compressive loads introduced by the fingers. 2003. 6% Around the fingers 6% the fingers Between Fdevice Actuator Force transmission Attachment A Actuator Attachment B 32% On the palmar side Fig. A. between or around the fingers. Zhang. Experiments Isometric tests were carried out to characterize the actuator force-displacement behavior under activation. The actuator executed a maximum blocking force of 7. moreover. P. Our evaluation of 22 concepts showed that “actuator between the fingers” is the most promising concept since it has ƒ a compact and effective design. 14th Symposium on Haptic Interfaces for Virtual Environment and Teleoperator Systems. Kovacs. Concept Study of the Force Feedback Device On the dorsal side To generate a resultant force on the fingertips.5 kV.

in Smart Structures and Materials 2006: Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD). Michel. Kovacs. Concepts for the reduction of the wind-induced oscillation of continuous aerial ropeway gondolas. Kovacs. P. the performance (energy density. Centre of Structure Technologies. Results Modeling A novel model for the visco-hyperelastic behavior of the acrylic film VHB 4910 (3M) was developed. and G. Lochmatter. ƒ continuous adjustment of surfaces (right).and biaxial bending actuators based on dielectric elastomers were manufactured and will be characterized. submitted to “Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics”. Therewith. submitted to “Sensors and Actuators A”. Dr. Wissler. F(x. G.Development of a Shell-like Electroactive Polymer (EAP) Actuator Patrick Lochmatter1. S. Lochmatter. Potential Applications Ropeway Gondolas Shell-like actuators may be used as adaptive elements to generate a specific interaction between the structure and the environment. Switzerland Goal Control and Energy Supply The goal of this PhD thesis is to build a shelllike actuator based on dielectric elastomers (DE). Characterization of DE actuators based on a viscoelastic film model.(left) and biaxial (right) bending actuator based on dielectric elastomers. Michel. S. ƒ propulsion of vehicles through fluids (center). The aimed shapes of the actuator should be maintained by a control system even when external loads act upon its surface. for ƒ drag / oscillation-reduction of fluid-exposed structures (left). and G. 2ETH Laboratory for Materials and Engineering.lochmatter@empa. G. San Diego. CH-8600 Dubendorf.g. e. Active Blimp Aerospace Propulsion Figure 2: Numerous promising applications are possible for shell-like actuators. efficiency) of selected planar DE actuator configurations was estimated. Kovacs. and S. P. and M. Lochmatter. Switzerland Zurich. 4 kV 4 kV Figure 4: Uni. Kovacs. Kovacs. Michel. Lochmatter. Gabor Kovacs1. Characterization of DE actuators based on an elastic film model. Contact: Patrick Lochmatter patrick. 4 kV References [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] P. and P.t) 30 cm off on 30 cm Shell-like Actuator Figure 1: The deactivated shell-like actuator (left) takes a specific shape when activated (right). Dr. DE Actuator (Capacitor) Voltage Source Overall Resistance Lx ( t ) V σ z ( t ) = − pel ( t ) p (t ) σ y (t ) Lz ( t ) Ly ( t ) σ x (t ) Figure 3: DE actuator in an electrical circuit (left) and viscoelastic film model (right). which is capable to perform complex out-of-plane deformations. USA. 6602005. Swiss Patent No.2. submitted to “Smart Materials and Structures”. Lochmatter. G. +41 (0)44 823 43 27 . CH-8092 Zurich. 2006. P. 4 kV Experimental Inspired by the biological agonist-antagonist principle of operation uni. Antrieb für einen Leichter-als-Luft-Flugapparat. Paolo Ermanni2 1Empa.