On Designing Compliant Actuators Based On Dielectric Elastomers

Berselli, Giovanni (2009) On Designing Compliant Actuators Based On Dielectric Elastomers, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Meccanica applicata, 21 Ciclo.
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Dielectric Elastomers (DE) are incompressible dielectrics which can experience deviatoric (isochoric) finite deformations in response to applied large electric fields. Thanks to the strong electro-mechanical coupling, DE intrinsically offer great potentialities for conceiving novel solid-state mechatronic devices, in particular linear actuators, which are more integrated, lightweight, economic, silent, resilient and disposable than equivalent devices based on traditional technologies. Such systems may have a huge impact in applications where the traditional technology does not allow coping with the limits of weight or encumbrance, and with problems involving interaction with humans or unknown environments. Fields such as medicine, domotic, entertainment, aerospace and transportation may profit. For actuation usage, DE are typically shaped in thin films coated with compliant electrodes on both sides and piled one on the other to form a multilayered DE. DE-based Linear Actuators (DELA) are entirely constituted by polymeric materials and their overall performance is highly influenced by several interacting factors; firstly by the electromechanical properties of the film, secondly by the mechanical properties and geometry of the polymeric frame designed to support the film, and finally by the driving circuits and activation strategies. In the last decade, much effort has been focused in the devolvement of analytical and numerical models that could explain and predict the hyperelastic behavior of different types of DE materials. Nevertheless, at present, the use of DELA is limited. The main reasons are 1) the lack of quantitative and qualitative models of the actuator as a whole system 2) the lack of a simple and reliable design methodology. In this thesis, a new point of view in the study of DELA is presented which takes into account the interaction between the DE film and the film supporting frame. Hyperelastic models of the DE film are reported which are capable of modeling the DE and the compliant electrodes. The supporting frames are analyzed and designed as compliant mechanisms using pseudo-rigid body models and subsequent finite element analysis. A new design methodology is reported which optimize the actuator performances allowing to specifically choose its inherent stiffness. As a particular case, the methodology focuses on the design of constant force actuators. This class of actuators are an example of how the force control could be highly simplified. Three new DE actuator concepts are proposed which highlight the goodness of the proposed method.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Berselli, Giovanni
Dottorato di ricerca
Scuola di dottorato
Ingegneria industriale
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
Dielectric Elastomers, Compliant Actuators
Data di discussione
23 Aprile 2009

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