Although the performance of stacked dielectric elastomers has been demonstrated experimentally, improved simulation tools are required to accurately predict their dynamic performance in demanding applications in the power and automation industries. This investigation presents an integrated design optimization system that elucidates the relationship between various design variables and resulting electromechanical system performance in the context of a dielectric elastomer actuator driven electrical contactor.

The system comprises several specially developed software modules that interact to automatically determine an optimal design. The core module consists of a user material subroutine that models electro-viscoelastic elastomers, the development of which is presented herein. This material behavior is then integrated within a coupled multi-body simulation implemented in the ABAQUS commercial finite element software. This module captures the mechanical dynamics of the switchgear for a given actuator design candidate. Finally, a fully-integrated multi-objective optimization workflow that automatically generates and evaluates design candidates is presented.

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