, Volume 50, Issue 11, pp 2839–2854 | Cite as

Actuator design and automated manufacturing process for DEAP-based multilayer stack-actuators

  • Jürgen Maas
  • Dominik Tepel
  • Thorben Hoffstadt
Soft Mechatronics


By applying an electric field to a transducer based on dielectric electroactive polymers (DEAP) a relatively high amount of deformation with considerable force generation is achieved. Due to their unique features DEAP-transducers are a promising alternative for conventional actuator systems based on the electromagnetic principle. To maximize the force or absolute deformation of a DEAP-based actuator multilayer technologies are favorable. Although these actuators recently gained a lot of interest, the development of automated manufacturing processes for such transducers are still at a very early stage. Therefore, the authors present the conceptual design and realization of a novel automated process based on pre-fabricated elastomer material for manufacturing DEAP-based multilayer stack-actuators with homogeneous and reproducible properties. For this purpose, the specific design and topology of the conceptualized multilayer stack-actuator from a single layer actuator film towards the encapsulation of the stacked multilayer actuator is explained in a first step. Due to its smart design, advantageous features like safety fuses can be integrated in these multilayer actuators. Furthermore, for its design and optimal integration in various applications a multiphysics FE model is proposed. Afterwards, the manufacturing process consisting of several sub-processes is presented in detail. The quality of the developed process and the proposed FE model is demonstrated by an experimental validation of several manufactured multilayer DEAP stack-actuators made from polyurethane and silicone. Finally, the obtained results are concluded and an outlook concerning an improved actuator characteristic based on a material optimization is given.


DEAP Multilayer stack-actuator Manufacturing process Design Validation 



This contribution is accomplished with-in the collaborative research project “Dielastar - Dielektrische Elastomere für Stellaktoren” (Dielectric Elastomer Actuators), funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) of Germany under grant number 13X4011E, see


  1. 1.
    Anderson IA, Gibsy TA, McKay TG, O’Brien BM, Calius EP (2012) Multi-functional dielectric elastomer artificial muscles for soft and smart machines. J App Phys 112:041,101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Arndt F, Steckenborn A, Stössel M (2009) Polymer actuator having a stacked design and method for the production thereof. DE 102004011029 B4Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bobrow LS (1996) Fundamentals of electrical engineering. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Bokermann K, Maas J (2015) Investigation of the adhesion properties of laminated multilayeractuators based on deap material. In: ASME conference on smart materials, adaptive structures and intelligent systems (SMASIS)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Brochu P, Pei Q (2010) Advances in dielectric elastomers for actuators and artificial muscles. Macromol Rapid Commun 31:10–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Carpi F, Salaris C, De Rossi D (2007) Folded dielectric elastomer actuators. Smart Mater Struct 16:S300CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Carpi F, Rossi DD, Kornbluh R, Pelrine R, Sommer-Larsen P (2008) Dielectric elastomers as electromechanical transducers. Elsevier, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Chuc NH, Park JK, Thuy DV, Kim HS, Koo JC (2007) Multi-stacked artificial muscle actuator based on synthetic elastomer. In: IEEE/RSJ international conference on intelligent robots and systems, pp 771–776Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Creegan A, Anderson I (2014) 3d printing for dielectric elastomers. In: Proceedings of SPIE, Vol 9056,905629–1Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Eitzen L, Graf C, Maas J (2012) Modular converter system for driving deap transducers. In: 15th international power electronics and motion control conferenceGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Giousouf M, Kovacs G (2013) Dielectric elastomer actuators used for pneumatic valve technology. Smart Mater Struct 22:104,010CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Graf C, Maas J (2012) A model of the electrodynamic field distribution for optimized electrode design for dielectric electroactive polymer transducers. Smart Mater Struct 21:094,001CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Graf C, Hitzbleck J, Feller T, Clauberg K, Wagner J, Krause J, Maas J (2014) Dielectric elastomer?based energy harvesting: material, generator design, and optimization. J Intell Mater Syst Struct 25 Nr 8:951–966CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Grotepaß T, Förster-Zügel F, Mößinger H, Schlaak HF (2015) Adhesion promoters for large scale fabrication of dielectric elastomer stack transducers (dests) made of pre-fabricated dielectric films. In: Proceedings of SPIE 9430:94,302OGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Hoffstadt T, Maas J (2014) Model-based optimization and characterization of deap multilayer stack-actuators. In: ASME conference on smart materials, adaptive structures and intelligent systems (SMASIS), p 7690Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Hoffstadt T, Maas J (2015) Analytical modeling and optimization of DEAP-based multilayer stack-transducers. Smart Mater Struct 24(9):094001Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Hoffstadt T, Graf C, Maas J (2013) Modeling of roll-actuators based on electroactive polymers. Proc SPIE 8687:686,871FGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Hoffstadt T, Griese M, Maas J (2014) Online identification algorithms for integrated deap sensors and self-sensing concepts. Smart Mater Struct 23(10):104,007CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Hoffstadt T, Tepel D, Maas J (2014) Structured electrode design for deap transducer with integrated safety mechanisms. EuroEAP 4Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Hoffstadt T, Uhlenbusch D, Maas J (2015) FE analysis of the stretch-force characteristic of multilayer deap stack-actuators. EuroEAP 5Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Holzapfel GA (2008) Nonlinear solid mechanics: a continuum approach for engineering. Wiley, LondonGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Kofod G (2001) Dielectric elastomer actuators. PhD thesis, Technical University of DenmarkGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Koh SJA, Zhao X, Suo Z (2009) Maximal energy that can be converted by a dielectric elastomer generator. Appl Phys Lett 94:262,902CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Kovacs G, Düring L (2009) Contractive tension force stack actuator based on soft dielectric EAP. Proc SPIE 7287:15Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Kuhring S, Uhlenbusch D, Hoffstadt T, Maas J (2015) Finite element analysis of multilayer deap stack-actuators. Proc SPIE 9430:94,301L–94,301LCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Maas J, Graf C (2012) Dielectric elastomers for hydro power harvesting. Smart Mater Struct 21:064,006CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Matysek M, Lotz P, Flittner K, Schlaak HF (2010) Dielectric elastomer actuators for tactile displays. Proc SPIE 7642:76,420D–76,425DCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Pelrine R, Kornbluh R, Eckerle J, Jeuck P, Oh S, Pei Q, Stanford S (2001) Dielectric elastomers: generator mode fundamentals and applications. Proc SPIE 4329:148–156CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Price AD, Ask A (2014) Integrated design optimization of dielectric elastomer actuators in high-performance switchgear. In: ASME conference on smart materials, adaptive structures and intelligent systems (SMASIS), p 7574Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Price AD, Egger H, Giousouf M, Krause J, Krüger H, Maas J (2014) Advancement of dielectric elastomer actuators towards industrial applications. In: 14th international conference on new actuators—ACTUATOR 14Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Randazzo M, Buzio R, Metta G, Sandini G, Valbusa U (2008) Architecture for the semi-automatic fabrication and assembly of thin-film based dielectric elastomer actuators. In: Proceedings of SPIE, p 6927Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Rechenbach B (2014) Mathematical modelling of dielectric elastomer transducers. PhD thesis, University of Southern DenmarkGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Rossiter J, Walters P (2009) Printing 3d dielectric elastomer actuators for soft robotics. Proc SPIE 7287:72870HCrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Tepel D, Graf C, Maas J (2013a) Modeling of mechanical properties of stack actuators based on electroactive polymers. Proc SPIE 8687:17–28Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Tepel D, Hoffstadt T, Graf C, Cording D, Wagner J, Krause J, Maas J (2013b) Development of an automated manufacturing process for DEAP stack-actuators. EuroEAPGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Tepel D, Hoffstadt T, Maas J (2014) Actuator design and automated manufacturing process for deap multilayer stack-actuators. In: 14th international conference on new actuators—ACTUATOR 14 C, vol 1.3, pp 333–336Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Tepel D, Hoffstadt T, Maas J (2014b) Automated manufacturing process for deap stack-actuators. Proc SPIE 9056:9056–9080ADSGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Tryson M, Kiil HE, Benslimane M (2009) Powerful tubular core free dielectric electro activate polymer (deap) ’push’ actuator. In: Proceedings of SPIE 7287Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Wacker-Silicones (2015) Elastosil film 2030 datasheet.
  40. 40.
    Zhang R, Lochmatter P, Kunz A, Kovacs G (2006) Spring roll dielectric elastomer actuators for a portable force feedback glove. In: Proceedings of SPIE 6168Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jürgen Maas
    • 1
  • Dominik Tepel
    • 1
  • Thorben Hoffstadt
    • 1
  1. 1.Control Engineering and Mechatronic SystemsOstwestfalen-Lippe University of Applied SciencesLemgoGermany

Personalised recommendations