Electromechanical characterization of a 3D printed dielectric material for dielectric electroactive polymer actuators

David Gonzalez, Jose Garcia, Brittany Newell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Dielectric electroactive polymers (DEAPs) represent a subclass of smart materials that are capable of converting between electrical and mechanical energy. These materials can be used as energy harvesters, sensors, and actuators. However, current production and testing of these devices is limited and requires multiple step processes for fabrication. This paper presents an alternate production method via 3D printing using Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) as a dielectric elastomer. This study provides electromechanical characterization of flexible dielectric films produced by additive manufacturing and demonstrates their use as DEAP actuators. The dielectric material characterization of TPU includes: measurement of the dielectric constant, percentage radial elongation, tensile properties, pre-strain effects on actuation, surface topography, and measured actuation under high voltage. The results demonstrated a high dielectric constant and ideal elongation performance for this material, making the material suitable for use as a DEAP actuator. In addition, it was experimentally determined that the tensile properties of the material depend on the printing angle and thickness of the samples thereby making these properties controllable using 3D printing. Using surface topography, it was possible to analyze how the printing path affects the roughness of the films and consequently affects the voltage breakdown of the structure and creates preferential deformation directions. Actuators produced with concentric circle paths produced an area expansion of 4.73% uniformly in all directions. Actuators produced with line paths produced an area expansion of 5.71% in the direction where the printed lines are parallel to the deformation direction, and 4.91% in the direction where the printed lines are perpendicular to the deformation direction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number111565
JournalSensors and Actuators, A: Physical
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Instrumentation
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Metals and Alloys
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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