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research-article

Performance prediction and scaling laws of circular dielectric elastomer membrane actuators

[+] Author and Article Information
Steffen Hau

Department of Systems Engineering, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Saarland University, Saarbrücken, Germany; c/o ZeMA gGmbH, Gewerbepark Eschberger Weg, Gebäude 9, 66121, Saarbrücken, Germany
steffen.hau@imsl.uni-saarland.de

Alexander York

Parker Hannifin Corporation, Diversified Technology Business Unit, 8145 Lewis Road, Minneapolis, MN 55427 USA
alex.york@parker.com

Gianluca Rizzello

Department of Systems Engineering, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Saarland University, Saarbrücken, Germany; c/o ZeMA gGmbH, Gewerbepark Eschberger Weg, Gebäude 9, 66121, Saarbrücken, Germany
gianluca.rizzello@imsl.uni-saarland.de

Stefan Seelecke

ASME Membership, Department of Systems Engineering, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Saarland University, Saarbrücken, Germany; c/o ZeMA gGmbH, Gewerbepark Eschberger Weg, Gebäude 9, 66121, Saarbrücken, Germany
stefan.seelecke@imsl.uni-saarland.de

1Corresponding author.

ASME doi:10.1115/1.4039104 History: Received September 01, 2017; Revised January 12, 2018

Abstract

State of the art actuator technologies, e.g., solenoids or pneumatic cylinders, are available in nearly infinite variations to address every specific application. However, for a large number of applications, dielectric elastomers (DE) represent a more energy efficient, lightweight, and low-cost solution with respect to the established technologies mentioned above. In addition to large strain, low power consumption, and high flexibility, DE actuators (DEA) have also highly scalable performance, which allow to adapt them to a large variety of applications. An effective means to scale DE performance is represented by the scaling of material geometry. In fact, a DE membrane can be easily designed in different sizes and shapes. However, in order to perform a successful design, the relation between material geometry and performance has to be properly investigated. In this paper, performance scaling by means of geometry is studied for circular out-of-plane DEAs. Such actuators consist of a silicone elastomer membrane sandwiched between two electrodes (carbon black silicone mixture). DEAs with six different geometries are manufactured, and a model-based strategy is used to find an experimental relationship between geometry and electro-mechanical characteristics. In addition, an effective and computationally simple method for predicting force-displacement characteristics of different geometries, given by a specific material combination (elastomer and electrode), is presented. The proposed method allows to easily adapt DEAs to different applications in terms of stroke and force requirement, while minimizing at the same time both characterization and prototyping effort.

Copyright (c) 2018 by ASME
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