iMSL – Intelligent Material Systems Lab – Lehrstuhl für intelligente Materialsysteme an der Universität des Saarlandes

Design, Manufacturing, and Characterization of Thin, Core-Free, Rolled Dielectric Elastomer Actuators

In this work, we develop a coreless rolled dielectric elastomer actuator (CORDEA) to be used as artificial muscles in soft robotic structures. The new CORDEA concept is based on a 50 µm silicone film with screen-printed electrodes made of carbon black suspended in polydimethylsiloxane. Two printed silicone films are stacked together and then tightly rolled in a spiral-like structure. Readily available off-the-shelf components are used to implement both electrical and mechanical contacts. A novel manufacturing process is developed to enable the production of rolled actuators without a hollow core, with a focus on simplicity and reliability. In this way, actuator systems with high energy density can be effectively achieved. After presenting the design, an experimental evaluation of the CORDEA electromechanical behavior is performed. Finally, actuator experiments in which the CORDEA is pre-loaded with a mass load and subsequently subject to cycling voltage are illustrated, and the resulting performance is discussed.

Authors: Julian Kunze1, Johannes Prechtl1, Daniel Bruch1, Bettina Fasolt2, Sophie Nalbach2, Paul Motzki2, Stefan Seelecke 1,2 and Gianluca Rizzello 1

1Intelligent Materials Systems Lab, Department of Systems Engineering, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Saarland University, 66121 Saarbruecken, Germany
2Intelligent Materials Systems Lab, Center for Mechatronics and Automation Technologies (ZeMA) gGmbH, 66121 Saarbruecken, Germany