A novel design for a Dielectric Elastomer (DE) actuator is presented. The actuator is obtained by coupling a cylindrical DE film with a series of slender beams axially loaded beyond their buckling limit. Similarly to previous published solutions, where different actuator geometries were coupled with compliant mechanisms of various topologies, the elastic beams are designed so as to provide a suitable compensating force that allows obtaining a quasi-constant available thrust along the entire actuator stroke. The overall system performance are subsequently evaluated by means finite element analysis, accounting for the large deflection of the buckled-beam springs and for the DE material hyperelasticity. Final results confirm that compact and better behaved constant force cylindrical actuators can be obtained, which potentially outperform similar devices in terms of achievable stroke.

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