Dielectric Electroactive Polymers (DEAP) are a favorable actuator technology and are receiving much attention because of their lightweight, high energy density, high energy efficiency, scalability and low noise features. In order to take steps using this technology effectively, real world models should be developed and more testing of the actuators needs to be done. The performance of a DEAP actuator against any given load should be tested and measured. This will aid in the optimization of material properties and structural design of the actuator system. In order to test and analyze the actuators under their operational conditions more comfortably, a versatile loading test bench should be developed. This would allow for more dynamic real life testing of the actuator under expected operating conditions of any particular application.
In this work, a test setup is built to characterize and apply programmable loading forces to the DEAP in the same setup. Here a DEAP actuator is tested while coupled with a constant load. The load was applied by controlling the current in an electromagnetic linear motor. This was successful in showing the reasonable matching between the actuator force characteristic and the actual stroke for different levels of load. In the future more complex loads and actuators will be tested to mimic what the actuator will experience in various applications.