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Outstanding Performance –
Layer on Layer

Robots with muscles like humans. Hand prosthetics with a fine touch thanks to artificial muscles. Shelves that report when they need refilling. Touchscreens that can be operated without eye contact. All a long way off? Not for much longer: thanks to innovative EAP technology, such visions are rapidly becoming reality.

EAP stands for “electroactive polymers” – thus polymers that change their shape when exposed to electric current. WACKER is a leader in EAP technology. As of 2021, the company will be launching innovative EAP laminates under its NEXIPAL® trademark that open up fascinating possibilities in the areas of actuators and sensors.

Power from the Roll

NEXIPAL® laminates consist of several layers of ultrathin ELASTOSIL® silicone film that WACKER manufactures as roll stock. The film thickness is between 20 µm – thinner than a human hair – and 400 µm. For the film to execute and/or measure movements, it is first coated with conductive electrodes and subsequently laminated layer by layer.

NEXIPAL® Act: Strong in Actuators

In actuator applications, laminates made with NEXIPAL® convert electrical voltage into mechanical work. Each layer of the laminate film, also known as the dielectric layer, is embedded between two flexible electrodes. When voltage is applied, the individual electrodes are alternately positively and negatively charged. The positive and negative charge carriers of the electrodes then attract one another. This compresses the silicone film, causing it to expand in length – resulting in voltage-induced movement. When the voltage is switched off, the silicone film returns to its original state. This process can be repeated millions of times at high frequency.

NEXIPAL® Sense: Feeling for Sensors

Mechanical influences change the electrical capacity of the laminate. Electroactive polymer laminates are therefore also suitable for use as capacitive sensors, such as in intelligent textiles that measure the body’s movements to support training, diagnosis and rehabilitation. Touchscreens equipped with NEXIPAL® can execute vibrations and haptic signals to simulate keys that can be recognized and operated by touch alone and without eye contact – practical for the cockpit in automotive engineering, for example.

A Jack-of-All-Trades for Innovative Applications

  • In Actuators: Valves, pumps, relays, switches, artificial muscles, grippers and sound systems
  • In Sensors: Touch displays, smart textiles, recording the movements of the body for medical, athletic and lifestyle applications

Big Advantages For Major Challenges

NEXIPAL® Sense and NEXIPAL® Act can revolutionize numerous applications in sensor and actuator technology, because EAP actuators and sensors offer a range of advantages over solenoids:

Further Advantages of this Technology

  • Freedom of design
  • High energy density
  • Free of rare earth metals

Want to Learn More about NEXIPAL®?

Visit our product portal to learn more about NEXIPAL® and its applications in sensors and actuators.

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