Freeform Fabrication of Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Electromechanical Devices
In pursuit of the goal of producing complete electromechanical systems entirely via solid freeform fabrication, we are developing a library of mutually compatible, functional, freeform elements. Several essential elements – actuation, sensing, and control electronics - still remain to be incorporated into this library. Conducting polymers (CP) are a class of materials which can be used to produce all of these functionalities. Meanwhile, research into actuatable “smart” materials has produced other candidate materials for freeform fabricated actuators that are compatible with our library. We have succeeded in manually producing air-operable actuators that have processing and operating requirements that are compatible with our power source and mechanical component library elements. A survey of candidate actuator materials is presented, experiments performed with two types of actuator materials are described, and complete SFF-producible actuator devices are demonstrated.