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Proceedings Paper

Cylindrical dielectric elastomer actuators reinforced with inextensible fibers
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Paper Abstract

Novel actuator configurations for various applications can be obtained using cylindrical dielectric elastomer actuators. A new configuration for a contractile electro-elastomer is presented here for the first time. A cylindrical or tubular configuration is used to realize simultaneous axial shortening and radial expansion when a voltage is applied across the thickness of the hollow cylinder. In this configuration, the inner and outer surfaces of a cylindrical dielectric elastomer are coated with compliant electrodes. The outer cylindrical surface is then enclosed by a network of helical fibers that are very thin, very flexible and inextensible. Fiber networks or cord families are commonly used in many different materials and for a variety of applications. The primary purpose of these networks is structural, that is to say, for reinforcement. The composite active structure proposed here is reminiscent of the McKibben actuator, a pneumatically actuated cylindrical construct consisting of a flexible rubber bladder sheathed in a fiber network, which garners its impressive contracting force from the inextensible fibers that prevent axial extension when an inflation pressure is applied to the internal bladder [1]. The system is modeled using an electro- elastic formulation derived from the large deformation theory of reinforced cylinders [2]. The model combines Maxwell-Faraday electrostatics and nonlinear elasticity theory [3]. Illustratively, solutions are obtained assuming a Mooney-Rivlin material model for a silicone actuator. The results indicate that the relationship between the axial contraction force and the axial shortening is linear for the voltage range considered. The importance of other system parameters such as the fiber angle and the applied constant pressure is also reported.

Paper Details

Date Published: 17 March 2006
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 6168, Smart Structures and Materials 2006: Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD), 61680A (17 March 2006); doi: 10.1117/12.658897
Show Author Affiliations
Nakhiah C. S. Goulbourne, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6168:
Smart Structures and Materials 2006: Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD)
Yoseph Bar-Cohen, Editor(s)

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