mechatronic devices for fabrication, testing, and implementation of rolled actuators in a computer controlled braille display

Open Access
Robinson, Michael David
Graduate Program:
Mechanical Engineering
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
April 02, 2012
Committee Members:
  • Christopher Rahn, Thesis Advisor
  • Qiming Zhang, Thesis Advisor
  • Mechatronics
  • Electroactive Polymer Actuators
  • Braille Display
Specialized devices are needed to meet the unique challenges of manufacturing, testing, and implementing rolled, core-free P(VDF-TrFE-CFE) actuators for Braille cell applications. Actuators are rolled to provide structural support, and designed without cores to simplify the final device. This thesis outlines the design, implementation, and experimental testing results of three mechatronic devices. First, a compact and easy-to-use machine was designed and built to assist with rolling thin films into cylindrical actuators. Second, in order to confirm that the Braille actuators met the .5 N force requirement of most refreshable Braille displays, a computer-controlled force and strain testing device was designed that facilitated an investigation into the buckling characteristics of these actuators. An average buckling load of 1.84 N was found for a sample of 10 actuators, reasonably close to theoretical predictions of an Euler-Bernoulli buckling model. Last, a handheld, USB-powered Braille display was produced and experimentally tested that allowed a user to receive Braille characters from a computer.