Dielectric electroactive polymers are materials capable of mechanically adjusting their volume in response to an electrical stimulus. However, currently these materials require multi-step manufacturing processes which are not additive. This paper presents a novel 3D printed flexible dielectric material and characterizes its use as a dielectric electroactive polymer (DEAP) actuator. The 3D printed material was characterized electrically and mechanically and its functionality as a dielectric electroactive polymer actuator was demonstrated. The flexible 3-D printed material demonstrated a high dielectric constant and ideal stress-strain performance in tensile testing making the 3-D printed material ideal for use as a DEAP actuator. The tensile stress-strain properties were measured on samples printed under three different conditions (three printing angles 0°, 45° and 90°). The results demonstrated the flexible material presents different responses depending on the printing angle. Based on these results, it was possible to determine that the active structure needs low pre-strain to perform a visible contractive displacement when voltage is applied to the electrodes. The actuator produced an area expansion of 5.48% in response to a 4.3 kV applied voltage, with an initial pre-strain of 63.21% applied to the dielectric material.

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