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WACKER is presenting NEXIPAL silicone laminates at COMPAMED trade show. (Photo: WACKER)
WACKER is presenting NEXIPAL silicone laminates at COMPAMED trade show. (Photo: WACKER)

WACKER is showcasing its novel silicone laminate with electroactive properties at COMPAMED trade fair for medical technology, which is running from November 18 to 21 in Düsseldorf, Germany.

WACKER is currently setting up a production line for developing and manufacturing silicone laminates. The facility is scheduled to produce the first prefabricated laminates in the second half of 2020.

NEXIPAL consists of several ultrathin precision films made of silicone rubber. The films are coated with an electrically conductive material prior to lamination. The result is an actuator that creates movement, as soon as electrical voltage is applied.

In addition, NEXIPAL can also be used as a sensor by measuring deformations electrically. The silicone laminate is wear-free, compact and energy saving and ideal for use in innovative applications.

Touch screens of measuring devices equipped with NEXIPAL are able to create vibrations and haptic feedback simulating keys or control panels that can be operated blindly by touch.

The new laminate technology is based on ELASTOSIL Film. WACKER produces the extremely thin silicone film in thicknesses between 20 and 400 μm.

The silicone rubber is a key component whose dielectric properties are an important prerequisite for the desired electroactive effects of the laminate. For the film to execute and/or measure deformations, however, it must be coated with an electrically conductive layer, and subsequently laminated.

In the future, WACKER will produce such prefabricated laminates itself under the trade name NEXIPAL.

At COMPAMED, the group is presenting the first applications of such multilayer films, e.g. a haptic touch screen, which was developed in collaboration with the Intelligent Material Systems Lab at the University of Saarland, Germany.

NEXIPAL laminates are made of several ultrathin precision films coated with conductive material which acts as a flexible electrode. When voltage is applied, the positive and negative charge carriers of the electrodes attract one another, forcing the silicone film in-between to change its shape. As a result, the film flattens and at the same time elongates horizontally.

The elongation of the surface is proportionate to the compression force. When discharged, the resilience of the highly elastic silicone film allows the laminate to return to its original shape. This process can be repeated indefinitely.

One of the most outstanding advantages of electroactive silicone laminates compared to existing solenoid technology is the fact that electric power is only applied during the short period of switching between ON and OFF status, not for holding it. This results in a significantly reduced consumption of energy as well as in sustainable and cost saving processes.

Moreover, silicone laminates do not pro-duce any heat when in use. This avoids investments into expensive thermal management systems.

The electroactive component also acts like a sensor, since any movement or deformation alters the charge on the electrodes. This dual function makes NEXIPAL a genuine all-rounder and suitable for applications in medical technology, sensors and robotics.

Since fluid movements are possible with NEXIPAL, the laminate can also be used as an artificial muscle. When used as a sensor, NEXIPAL detects also skin contact.

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