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Dielectric elastomer electroactive polymers are an emerging class of actuation technology which is inherently compliant and capable of large actuation stresses and strains. Despite promising performance characteristics, their fabrication has been inhibited by two significant factors: (i) the requirement for consistently thin dielectric layers, to minimise activation voltages; (ii) automated production of multilayered configurations, to increase the actuation power. This paper presents a robust, low-cost fabrication technique that overcomes these issues by utilising optimised spray deposition. Spray deposition of silicone dielectric elastomer actuators (DEAs) offers numerous benefits including scalability, flexibility for different DEA configurations and multilayered assembly with a high degree of automation. A predictive model based on the Gaussian distribution is used to characterise the profile of deposited elastomer layers for principal fabrication parameters. This model enables individual dielectric layers to be composed from multiple parallel depositions, which greatly increases scalability as demonstrated by fabricated DEA films with planar dimensions from 25 mm2 to over 10,000 mm2. Using the predictive model, a new figure of merit is introduced for analyzing DEA film profiles by considering the estimated mean Maxwell stress that is feasible for a specific dielectric breakdown strength. The analysis suggests that compared to a single deposition, a film composed of four parallel depositions will increase the maximum characteristic DEA dimension by an order of magnitude, while producing a comparable mean Maxwell stress. A significant advantage of the presented spray deposition technique is the semi-automated layering process, creating stratified solid-state actuators. By eliminating the stacking of layers from the fabrication process, inherent electrical isolation, good layer-to-layer bonding and capacity for more complex 3D geometries is achieved. A proof-of-concept multilayer unimorph and stack DEA is presented to validate the fabrication technique through static and dynamic displacement tests.
|Translated title of the contribution||Spray Deposited Multilayered Dielectric Elastomer Actuators|
|Pages (from-to)||459 - 467|
|Number of pages||9|
|Journal||Sensors and Actuators A: Physical|
|Publication status||Published - Jun 2011|