Thin PDMS films with complex microstructures are used in the manufacturing of dielectric electro active polymer (DEAP) actuators, sensors and generators, to protect the metal electrode from large strains and to assure controlled actuation. The current manufacturing process at Danfoss Polypower A/S produces films with a one-sided microstructured surface only. It would be advantageous to produce a film with both surfaces microstructured, as this increases the film’s performance efficiency. The new technique introduced herein produces bilaterally microstructured film by combining an embossing method with the existing manufacturing process. In employing the new technique, films with microstructures on both surfaces are successfully made with two different liquid silicone rubber (LSR) formulations: 1) pure XLR630 and 2) XLR630 with titanium dioxide (TiO2). The LSR films (∼70 μm) are cast on a carrier web substrate using a coating blade. The carrier web, which has a sinusoidal corrugation with wave height of 7μm and a wave period of 7μm on its surface, imparts corrugations to the bottom surface of the film. The elastomer film on the carrier web is preheated to the gel point, where the elastomer film can retain an imprint made on it. The preheated film at gel point is embossed between the rolls of a gravure lab coater, which corrugates the top surface of the film. The films are then heated, in order to cure completely. For the LSR systems used in this process, the optimum conditions for preheating are 110°C for 4–7 s, while for embossing the temperature is 110°C with 25 psi pressure between the rolls at a speed of 1.4 rpm. Scanning electron microscope (SEM) images confirm the formation of microstructures on both the surfaces of the film.
- Dielectric electroactive polymer
- Liquid silicone rubber
- Microstructured PDMS films