Modeling dielectric-elastomer minimum-energy structures using dynamic relaxation with appropriate material behavior

L. Rhode-Barbarigos, S. Wagner, S. Adriaenssens

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Form-finding describes the process of finding a stable equilibrium shape for a structure under a specific set of loading for a set of boundary conditions. Both physical (experimental) and numerical (computational) form-finding methods have been employed by structural engineers and architects for the design of shape-resistant structures: structures whose behavior depends mostly on their global spatial configuration and less on the properties of their individual components. The shape of dielectric elastomer minimum energy structures (DEMES) depends on the equilibrium between the pre-stressed elastomeric membrane and its inextensible frame. Therefore, DEMES can be modeled and analyzed using structural form-finding techniques. We applied dynamic relaxation (DR), a well-established explicit and efficient numerical form-finding and analysis method, to simulate DEMES equilibrium shapes and predict the elastic energy of DEMES. The DR-DEMES model shows generally good agreement with its physical implementation counterpart, as it captures the equilibrium shape and also the elastic energy in function of shape. However, we found that the numerical and the physical models differ in the pre-stress that is required to obtain a specific equilibrium shape. Therefore, in this study we introduce hyper-elasticity in the DR-DEMES model. With this refinement in physical parameters the DR-DEMES model approaches the pre-stress state of the physical DEMES implementation more closely, while it maintains the computational efficiency of the form-finding approach. We conclude that dynamic relaxation, with its low computational cost, is a powerful tool for the design of novel DEMES applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalMaterials Research Society Symposium Proceedings
StatePublished - 2014
Event2014 MRS Spring Meeting - San Francisco, United States
Duration: Apr 21 2014Apr 25 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


  • actuator
  • dielectric
  • simulation


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