Miniature Hourglass Shaped Actuator Geometry Study Using A Finite Element Simulation



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This project investigated a miniature, hourglass-shaped actuator (MHA) and how its geometry affects performance. A custom, self-contained, finite-element simulation code predicts how each MHA deforms when pressurized internally. This analysis describes the MHA geometry's effects on four characteristics: a) work density b) mechanical advantage, c) work advantage and d) percent elongation. The first three characteristics are compared to a traditional actuator operating at the same pressure and elongation. A finite-element modeling code was tailored to study the MHA at 5 MPa internal pressure when 1) MHA height and side-wall thickness are constant and side-wall arc length varies; 2) MHA side-wall arc length and thickness are constant and the height varies; and 3) MHA side-wall thickness varies while height and side-wall arc length are fixed. Case 3 was studied using the MHA geometry with the highest work density found in either condition 1 or 2. Peak mechanical advantage, 6.47, occurs in a constant height MHA-Case 1-when the side-wall arc length is shortest. Highest elongation, 8.67%, occurs in the Case 1 MHA with the longest side-wall arc length. Finally, under Case 3, work density reaches 0.434 MJ/m3 when the side-wall thickness is 1.9 mm. The MHA has potential for active structures because its work density is high-higher than traditional actuators with the same elongation. Their small elongations limit their use; however, much work remains to determine how MHAs might be arranged in a useful array. Never the less, morphing airfoils and other active structures might benefit from embedded MHAs.