Finite element analysis and validation of dielectric elastomer actuators used for active origami

Kevin McGough, Saad Ahmed, Mary Frecker, Zoubeida Ounaies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations

Abstract

The field of active origami explores the incorporation of active materials into origami-inspired structures in order to serve as a means of actuation. Active origami-inspired structures capable of folding into complex three-dimensional (3D) shapes have the potential to be lightweight and versatile compared to traditional methods of actuation. This paper details the finite element analysis and experimental validation of unimorph actuators. Actuators are fabricated by adhering layers of electroded dielectric elastomer (3M VHB F9473PC) onto a passive substrate layer (3M Magic Scotch Tape). Finite element analysis of the actuators simulates the electromechanical coupling of the dielectric elastomer under an applied voltage by applying pressures to the surfaces of the dielectric elastomer where the compliant electrode (conductive carbon grease) is present. 3D finite element analysis of the bending actuators shows that applying contact boundary conditions to the electroded region of the active and passive layers provides better agreement to experimental data compared to modeling the entire actuator as continuous. To improve the applicability of dielectric elastomer-based actuators for active origami-inspired structures, folding actuators are developed by taking advantage of localized deformation caused by a passive layer with non-uniform thickness. Two-dimensional analysis of the folding actuators shows that agreement to experimental data diminishes as localized deformation increases. Limitations of using pressures to approximate the electromechanical coupling of the dielectric elastomer under an applied electric field and additional modeling considerations are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number094002
JournalSmart Materials and Structures
Volume23
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Signal Processing
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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