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TitleModelling a dielectric elastomer actuator based on the McKibben muscle
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsMcKay, T.G., Calius E.P., and Anderson I.
Conference NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
Date Published2007
KeywordsActuators, Constraint theory, Deformation, Dielectric elastomers, Dielectric materials, Dielectric thickness, Elastomers, MATHEMATICAL MODELS, Maxwell pressure model, McKibben muscle, Pneumatic control, Strain
AbstractOur work focuses on a contractile dielectric elastomer actuator (DEA) based on the McKibben pneumatic muscle concept. A coupled-field ABAQUS (Hibbit, Karlsson & Sorensen, Inc., USA) FEA model has been developed where the constraints of the orthotropic fibre weave and end caps of this actuator design are included. The implementation of the Maxwell pressure model that couples electrical inputs to mechanical loads using the ABAQUS user subroutine DLOAD is the focus of this paper. Our model was used to perform a study of actuator design parameters including the fibre weave angle, dielectric thickness, and the DEA's length. At a fibre angle of 45° relative to the longitudinal axis, no axial deformation was predicted by our model. A weave angle above this resulted in an axial expansion during actuation, whereas axial compression occurred if the fibre angle was less than 45°. For instance, at a fibre angle of 30° with respect to the longitudinal axis, this model predicted a compressive axial strain of 4.5% before mechanical failure for an actuator with an outer radius of 2mm, wall thickness of 0.5mm, and length of 20mm.

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