Bistable minimum energy structures (BiMES) are devices derived from the union of the concepts of dielectric elastomer minimum energy structures and bistable systems. This article presents this novel approach to active, elastic and bistable structures. BiMES are based on dielectric elastomer actuators (DEAs), which act as antagonists and provide the actuation for switching between the two equilibrium positions. A central elastic beam is the backbone of the structure and is buckled into the minimum energy configurations by the action of the two DEAs. The theory and the model of the device are presented, and also its fabrication process. BiMES are considered as fundamental units for more complex structures, which are presented and fabricated as proof of concept. Two different ways of combining the multiple units are proposed: a parallel configuration, to make a simple gripper, and a serial configuration, to generate a binary device. The possibility of using the bistable system as a continuous bender actuator, by modulating the actuation voltage of the two DEAs, was also investigated.
- DIELECTRIC ELASTOMER ACTUATORS
- bistable mechanisms
- minimum energy structures
- binary robotics