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[Plastic]Active Decoupling with Dielectric Elastomers

Reffer:Editor:Author:Hits:-InputTime:2016-05-21 11:58:00

Until now, elastomer components have found use in numerous applications as a way of reducing vibrations passively. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and System Reliability (Fraunhofer-Institut für Betriebsfestigkeit und Systemzuverlässigkeit / LBF) have now developed elastic components that deform actively. This involves the use of elastomers that can convert electrical energy directly into mechanical work. These dielectric elastomers (DE) are connected to metal electrodes with a perforated structure. When an electric field is applied, the elastomer can squeeze into these depressions. This creates dynamic actuators capable of supporting loads and which can be used to reduce vibrations actively.

In the course of the research, a functional demonstrator was developed for active support of a load. In this way, the scientists decouple a mass supported by the actuator from the vibrations of the underlying structure. The active support lowers vibration in the entire relevant frequency range. The researchers overcame the phenomenon that the movement of the actuator is not always exactly proportional to the applied voltage through use of new control strategies.

 

The active elastomer supports are ideal for supporting vibration-sensitive equipment and processes, for instance, sensitive microscopes or precision manufacturing processes. The reverse situation is also conceivable: pump or motors can be decoupled by means of the active supports so that transmission of vibrations to the surroundings is minimized. If the electronics fail, the beneficial passive properties of the elastomer remain in effect – a definite advantage over other actuator technologies.

Applications in the automotive, machinery and equipment sectors as well as in bridge and building construction are conceivable. The researchers have also taken the environmental aspect into consideration: The basic material in the functional demonstrator is natural rubber, a renewable resource. In contrast to electrodynamic or piezoelectric actuators, no rare-earth metals or lead-containing ceramics are used.