The new laminate technology is based on ELASTOSIL® Film. WACKER produces the extremely thin silicone film in thicknesses between 20 and 400 µm. The silicone rubber is a key component whose dielectric properties are an important prerequisite for the desired electroactive effects of the laminate. For the film to execute and/or measure deformations, however, it must be coated with an electrically conductive layer, and subsequently laminated to form a multilayer stack.
In the future, WACKER will produce such prefabricated laminates itself under the trade name NEXIPAL®. At the K 2019 Trade Fair for Plastics and Rubber, the group will be presenting the first applications of such multilayer films, e.g. a haptic touch screen, which was developed in collaboration with the Intelligent Material Systems Lab at the University of Saarland, Germany. This and other typical applications will give visitors to K2019 insights into the fascinating potential of electroactive polymers.
NEXIPAL® laminates are made of several ultrathin precision films coated with conductive material which acts as a flexible electrode. When voltage is applied, the positive and negative charge carriers of the electrodes attract one another, forcing the silicone film in-between to change its shape. As a result, the film flattens and at the same time elongates horizontally. The elongation of the surface is proportionate to the compression force. When discharged, the resilience of the highly elastic silicone film allows the laminate to return to its original shape. This process can be repeated indefinitely.
One of the most outstanding advantages of electroactive silicone laminates compared to existing solenoid technology is the fact that electric power is only applied during the short period of switching between ON and OFF status, not for holding it. This results in a significantly reduced consumption of energy as well as in sustainable and cost saving processes. Moreover, silicone laminates do not produce any heat when in use. This avoids investments into expensive thermal management systems.