Structural Topology and Shape Optimization of Electro-Active Polymers Immersed in Free Space

  • Dev, Chaitanya (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg)
  • Stankiewicz, Gabriel (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg)
  • Steinmann, Paul (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg)

Please login to view abstract download link

This study presents an investigation into the structural optimization of electro-active polymers (EAPs) in the presence of free space. We use a sequential topology and shape optimization approach, to obtain the optimized structure with a precise geometric representation. Our focus is on examining the effect of surrounding free space on the optimized structure of EAPs and including stress constraints in the shape optimization process. EAPs are a type of smart material that deforms under the influence of electric fields and have a wide range of applications, including engineering as actuators and valves, and in the biomedical field as artificial muscles. Historically, structural optimization of EAPs only takes into account the material body. However, research has demonstrated that in certain cases, the influence of free space can be substantial, especially for EAPs with low electric permittivity. Our study considers the impact of surrounding free space and its effect on the optimized structure of EAPs, and our numerical experiments focus on EAP actuators while accounting for their geometrical nonlinear behavior. The results show that including surrounding free space has a significant impact on the optimized structure of EAPs with low electric permittivity and should be considered in real-world applications. Moreover, incorporating stress constraints in shape optimization helps prevent the formation of impractical point contact hinges.