Embassy Suites by Hilton Denver
Denver, Colorado, United States
3 - 7 March 2019
Special Events
21st Annual EAP-in-Action Session and Demonstrations
Date: Monday 4 March 2019
Time: 4:30 PM - 5:45 PM

Part of conference SSN02 on EAPAD. Review the full conference program here.


Session Chair: Yoseph Bar-Cohen, Jet Propulsion Lab.

This Session highlights some of the latest capabilities and applications of Electroactive Polymers (EAP) materials where the attendees are shown demonstrations of these materials in action. Also, the attendees interact directly with technology developers and given "hands-on" experience with this emerging technology. The first Human/EAP-Robot Armwrestling Contest was held during this session of the 2005 EAPAD conference.



Tentative EAP Demonstrations

Novel dielectric elastomer membrane actuator concept for pneumatic valves
Steffen Hau, Saarland Univ. (Germany)

Despite being relatively easy to manufacture and providing large strokes, dielectric elastomer (DE) membrane actuators suffer from low force outputs (for single layer systems). This demo presents a novel design concept that permits to retune the stroke-force trade-off of DE actuators, by allowing increasing force output of the actuator at the expense of a reduced stroke. This is of particular interest for valve applications, which typically need high closing forces and low strokes in the submillimeter regime. By means of the novel design concept, the valve closing force of single DE membranes can be increased by a factor of 3 to 4. The concepts still keeps the general advantages of DEAs, e.g., light weight, and energy efficiency. The use of strip-in-plane DE actuators additionally allows staying within the typical dimension of commercial valves.

DEA-based pneumatic pump
Philipp Linnebach, Saarland Univ. (Germany)

This demonstrator shows the use of circular out-of-plane dielectric elastomer actuators (COP-DEA) in a pneumatic pump application. The presented concept allows building very small and lightweight pumps. It is related to the paper with the title “Design of a dielectric elastomer actuator driven pneumatic pump”.

A fast 200 mg DEA robot
X. Ji, B. Aksoy, H. Shea, EPFL (Switzerland)

We present the DEAnsect: an ultra-light (0.2 g) soft robot driven by stacked dielectric elastomer actuators (DEAs) operating at 450V. The DEAnsect has a flexible silicone body and three legs, each driven independently by a DEA stack. The DEAnsect moves at 4 body lengths per second and can be accurately steered thanks to the independent control of each DEA. It is robust, can climb slopes of 15°, and survives being flattened with a fly swatter.

Textile exoskeletons
Edwin W. H. Jager, Jose G. Martinez, Linkoping Univ. (Sweden), Nils-Krister Persson, Univ. of Boras (Sweden)

Various diseases or aging can cause a reduction in the muscle function of a person. Robotic exoskeletons have been developed to augment or replace the movement of various limbs and thus for instance assist walking or aid rehabilitation. Current exoskeletons are rigid, heavy, stiff and non-compliant. We are developing textile-based exoskeletons that can be worn like items of clothing being light-weight, soft, compliant and comfortable. In this EAP-in-Action, demonstrators of the prototype textile exoskeleton-arm-sleeves developed by Linköping University and University of Borås will be shown. The exoskeleton arm sleeve prototypes use small electrical motors or McKibben actuators and enable lifting the arm, including a weight, of the wearer without using their own muscles.

Smart soft polymers and structures
Liwu Liu, Qinghua Guan, Jinrong Li, Yanju Liu, Jonsong Leng, Harbin Institute of Technology (China)

The demonstration will focus on the applications of smart soft polymers, including dielectric elastomer (DE), shape memory polymer (SMP) and other smart soft structures.
1. Biosignals controlled DE actuators. The biosignals will be acquired, processed and then amplified to drive DE actuators.
2. Smart morphing structures based on DE and SMP: Structures may include deployable gripping devices or lock-release structures, etc.
3. Flexible pneumatic actuators. Multi-degree-of-freedom motions could be realized by combining multiple flexible pneumatic actuators together.
4. SMP based 4D printing technique. The 3D printable filaments with shape memory effect and some representative printed structures, which can change shape along with time, will be demonstrated.

Inflatable dielectric elastomer conveyor
Joseph Ashby, E. -F. Markus Henke, Sam Rosset, Iain Anderson , Biommimetics Lab. (New Zealand)

We present an inflatable robot, created from a sheet of silicone and airbrushed electrodes, which uses out of phase segmented actuation to produce linear conveyance of a light load along its length. Also presented: a finite element simulation of the model. This demonstrates one potential application for inflatable dielectric robotics.

High voltage EAP controller
E.-F. Markus Henke,, Biomimetics Lab. (New Zealand) and TU Dresden (Germany), Patrin Illenberger, Katie Wilson, Sam Rosset, Iain Anderson, Biomimetics Lab. (New Zealand)

We will showcase a new EAP high voltage controller that is at the  stage. This new controller will help university labs and other research instututions to easily power their EAP actuators without the need of developing complicated driving electronics. It comes with four channels, a touch screen user interface and is battery powered. The controller provides DC, rectangle, sinusoidal and triangle signals, with an amplitude of up to 5kV @ 1mA per channel. The Channels can be programmed independently.

Geometric limit switches (gDES) for robotics and automation industry
E.-F. Markus Henke,, Biomimetics Lab. (New Zealand) and TU Dresden (Germany), Patrin Illenberger, Katie Wilson, Sam Rosset, Iain Anderson, Biomimetics Lab. (New Zealand)

Geometric dielectric elastomer switches (gDES) switch both high and low voltages. They only consist of soft materials such as silicones and carbon-doped conductive silicones. Arrays of these switches can be integrated in soft robotic grippers and extend the features of those grippers by touch and shear force detection. Furthermore, gDES can act as limit switches and can be introduced in automation technology. One of the key advantages is that the switches themselves are entirely shielded and not affected by environmental influences.

From StretchSense Ltd.: the latest in EAP gloves
Marco Tabor, Iain Anderson, StretchSense Ltd. (New Zealand)

StretchSense is putting EAP sensors into garments using fabric-backed sensors and combining information from different sensor types. To illustrate the technology we present an EAP glove, that can capture and send in real-time hand-posture (rotation) and fingerbending to a device with an application to visualize the data e.g. game.

Synthetic Muscle in prosthetics
Lenore Rasmussen, Damaris Smith, Ras Labs, Inc. (USA)

Ras Labs Synthetic Muscle™ is an EAP based actuator that contracts, and with reversed electric input polarity, expand. Ras Labs has begun testing their EAP system on amputees to maintain continual perfect prosthetic socket fit and is going to present their prototype. These EAPs serve dual use as sensors, which can be tied in to automatic adjustment and touch biofeedback, and can determine the number of impacts (or steps) and severity of impact/pressure for protective gear and comfortable shoe wear and insoles

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