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Paraffin wax is a promising material in microactuators not only because of its ability of producing large displacements and high forces at the same time but also because of the variety of manufacturing techniques available. In this paper, a simple actuator based on paraffin wax as the active material is fabricated and tested. Ultraviolet-curable epoxy is used in a technique combining simultaneous moulding and liquid-phase photopolymerization in a single-process step to build the stiff part of the actuator body. A heater is integrated in the paraffin reservoir, and a polyimide tape is used as the deflecting membrane. Thermomechanical analysis of the paraffin wax shows that it exhibits a volume expansion of 10%, including phase transitions and linear expansion. As for the actuator, a stroke of 90 mum is obtained for the unloaded device, whereas 37 mum is recorded with a 0.5-N contact load at a driving voltage of 0.71 V and a frequency of 1/32 Hz. The actuator can be used in microsystems, where both large strokes and forces are needed. The low-cost materials and low driving voltage also makes it suitable for disposable systems.
Date of Publication: Oct. 2008