electroactive polymer (EAP) is a polymer that exhibits a mechanical response –
such as stretching, contracting, or bending, for example – in response to an
electric field, or a polymer that produces energy in response to a mechanical
actuator property of some EAPs has been attractive for a broad range of
potential applications, including but not limited to robotic arms, grippers,
loudspeakers, active diaphragms, dust wipers, heel strikers (dental) and
numerous automotive applications. There are also numerous applications within
the medical field, including but not limited to artificial muscles, synthetic
limbs or prostheses, wound pumps, active compressing socks, and catheter or
other implantable medical device steering elements.
materials have high energy density, rapid response time, customizability (shape
and performance characteristics), compactness, easy controllability, low power
consumption, high force output and deflections/amount of motion, natural
stiffness, combined sensing and actuation functions, relatively low raw
materials costs, and relatively inexpensive manufacturing costs.
ceramic actuators (for example, piezoelectric and electro-strictive) are
effective, compact actuation materials, and they are used to replace
electromagnetic motors. While these materials are capable of delivering large
forces, they produce a relatively small displacement, on the order of magnitude
of a fraction of a percent.
the beginning of the 1990s, new EAP materials have emerged that exhibit large
strains, and they have led to a paradigm shift because of their capabilities.
The unique properties of these materials are highly attractive for bio-mimetic
applications such as biologically inspired intelligent robots. Increasingly, engineers
are able to develop EAP-actuated mechanisms that were previously imaginable
only in science fiction. Electric motors tend to be too weak, while hydraulics
and pneumatics are too heavy for use in robotics or prosthetics. In comparison,
EAPs are lightweight, quiet and capable of energy densities similar to
ionic EAPs, actuation is caused by the displacement of ions inside the polymer.
Only a few volts are needed for actuation, but the ionic flow implies a higher
electrical power needed for actuation, and energy is needed to keep the
actuator at a given position. Examples of EAPS in this area are dielectric
elastomers, polymers, ionic polymer metal composites (IPMCs), conductive
polymers and responsive gels.
EAP actuator not only is completely different from conventional
electromechanical devices, but also separates itself from other high-tech
approaches that are based on piezoelectric materials or shape-memory alloys by
providing a significantly more power-dense package and, in many instances, a
polymer technology could potentially replace common motion-generating mechanisms
in positioning, valve control, pump and sensor applications, where designers
are seeking quieter, power efficient devices to replace cumbersome conventional
electric motors and drive trains.
study reports new concepts in mechanism design and digital mechatronics, which
have the potential to significantly impact a wide variety of systems and
devices, including medical devices, haptic actuators, haptic switches, aperture
adjustments in mobile cameras, manufacturing systems, toys and robotics, among
others. The survey mainly targets dielectric elastomer actuators, conductive
polymers actuators and IMPC actuators as the most likely candidates to act as
EAP devices, on the basis of material characteristics, maturity of technology,
reliability, and cost to meet design requirements of applications considered.
Study goal and objectives
for EAP devices are strongly driven by the expanding medical market, E-textiles
and robotics, with its demand for a novel class of electrically controlled actuators
based on polymer materials. Almost any laboratory for molecular biology must be
equipped with a dextrous robotic gripper. The artificial muscle envisioned is a
low-cost actuator capable of being accurately electrically controlled,
expanding or contracting linearly, and performing in a manner similar to
natural skeletal muscles. Such an actuator has potential applications in areas
where flexibility of a moving system goes together with a need for accurate
control of the motion: haptic actuators, haptic switches, aperture adjustments
in mobile phone cameras, robotics, advanced consumer products like smart
fabrics, toys and medical technology. Totally new design principles and novel
products for everyday use with a large economic potential can be anticipated.
addition, new and much larger markets will open up if microfluidic devices
using micropumps and microvalves can enter the arena of clinical and
point-of-care medicine and even the home diagnostics market. This study focuses
on EAP devices, types, applications, new developments, industry and global
markets, providing market data about the size and growth of the application
segments, including a detailed patent analysis, company profiles and industry
trends. Another goal of this report is to provide a detailed and comprehensive
multi-client study of the market in North America, Europe, Japan and the rest
of the world (ROW) for EAPs and potential business opportunities in the future.
objectives include thorough coverage of the underlying economic issues driving
the EAP and devices businesses, as well as assessments of new advanced EAPs and
devices that are being developed. Another important objective is to provide
realistic market data and forecasts for EAPs and devices. This report provides
the most thorough and up-to-date assessment that can be found anywhere on the
subject. The study also provides extensive quantification of the many important
facets of market developments in EAPs and devices all over the world. This, in
turn, contributes to the determination of what kinds of strategic responses
companies may adopt in order to compete in this dynamic market.
REASONS FOR DOING THE STUDY
exhibit many qualities that make them ideal for a low-cost actuator capable of
being accurately electrically controlled, expanding or contracting linearly,
and performing in a manner that resembles the natural skeletal muscles. Such an
actuator has potential applications in areas where flexibility of a moving
system goes together with a need for accurate control of the motion, such as EAP-based
medical devices, advanced consumer products like haptic actuators, aperture
adjustments in mobile phone cameras, robotics, smart fabrics, and toys.
Development of EAP fields will benefit
companies that use EAP components to add value to products and services,
companies skilled in using EAP to design new products and services, and
materials processors that add value to raw materials. The small volumes of EAP
consumption likely will have little impact on raw materials suppliers.
Near-term returns on investment by EAP suppliers generally will be modest,
because most EAP fields still are building infrastructure and knowledge bases
for efficient and effective production, marketing and use of EAPs. The
specialized knowledge necessary to produce EAPs and incorporate those
effectively into products will slow the spread of EAP use, but it also has led
to high market valuations for companies developing products for high-value
EAPs also are finding applications in haptics,
which provides a tactile feedback technology taking advantage of the sense of
touch by applying forces, vibrations, or motions to the user. Haptic feedback interface
devices using EAP actuators provide haptic sensations and/or sensing
capabilities. A haptic feedback interface device is in communication with a
host computer and includes a sensor device that detects the manipulation of the
interface device by the user and an EAP actuator responsive to input signals
and operative to output a force to the user caused by motion of the actuator.
The output force provides a haptic sensation to the user.
Smart structures, which fully integrate
structural and mechatronic components, represent the most refined use of EAPs
and might eventually enjoy very large markets. Only a very simple EAP-based
smart-structure product is in commercial use today. Other important areas of
opportunity include applications in which designers are looking for performance
improvements or new features but are unwilling to accept the compromises
necessary to use conventional mechanisms and products (including non-mechanical
devices) that must operate in a variety of conditions but have rigid designs
optimized for a single operating point. Though improvements in EAP performance
would increase the range of possible applications, the major barriers to
widespread EAP use are users' lack of familiarity with the technology, the need
for low-cost, robust production processes, and the need for improved design
tools to enable non-experts to use the materials with confidence.
publishing our last report in 2008, many changes have occurred, including the emergence
of new market segments such as haptic sensors and adjustable apertures for
cellular phone cameras, new materials and new fabrication processes, new
manufacturers and new patents. Therefore, iRAP
felt a need to do a detailed technology update and analysis of this industry.
Contributions of the study
study is intended to benefit existing manufacturers of robotics, advanced consumer
products like smart fabrics, toys, and medical technology, who seek to expand
revenues and market opportunities through new technology such as low-cost EAPs
and devices, which are positioned to become a preferred solution over
conventional actuator applications.
study also provides the most complete accounting of EAPs and devices growth in
North America, Europe, Japan and the rest of the world currently available in a
multi-client format. The markets have also been estimated according to the type
of materials used, such as dielectric elastomer actuators, conductive polymers
and ionic polymer metal composites.
report provides the most thorough and up-to-date assessment that can be found
anywhere on the subject. The study also provides extensive quantification of
the many important facets of market developments in the emerging markets of
EAPs and devices, such as China. This, in turn, contributes to the
determination of what kind of strategic response suppliers may adopt in order
to compete in this dynamic market.
SCOPE AND FORMAT
data contained in this report quantify opportunities for EAPs and devices. In addition to
product types, the report also covers the many issues concerning the merits and
future prospects of the EAP and devices business, including corporate strategies, information
technologies, and the means for providing these highly advanced products and
service offerings. It also covers in detail the economic and technological
issues regarded by many as critical to the industry’s current state of change.
The report provides a review of the EAP and devices industry and its
structure and the many companies involved in providing these products. The
competitive position of the main players in the market and their strategic options
are also discussed, as well as such competitive factors as marketing,
distribution and operations.
TO WHOM THE STUDY
study will benefit existing manufacturers of EAP-tipped catheters, haptic
actuators, aperture adjustment mechanisms in mobile cameras, robotics, advanced
consumer products like smart fabrics and toys, and medical technology. EAP
materials exhibit large strains, and they led to a paradigm shift based on
their capabilities. The unique properties of these materials are highly
attractive for biomimetic applications such as biologically inspired
study provides a technical overview of EAPs and related devices, especially
recent technology developments and existing barriers. Therefore, audiences for
this study include marketing executives, business unit managers and other
decision makers working in the areas of haptic applications, aperture
adjustment mechanisms in mobile cameras, robotics, advanced consumer products
like smart fabrics and toys, and medical technology, as well as those in
companies peripheral to these businesses.
polymers are increasingly used in niche actuators and sensor applications
demanding large strains as compared to other piezoelectric materials. New applications
are emerging in medical devices, haptic actuators, cellular phone cameras,
smart fabrics for sensors, digital mecha-tronics and high strain sensors.
EAP devices are already replacing some mechanisms that rely on direct or
indirect displacement to produce power. Shape-memory alloys contract with a
thermal cycle, and piezoelectric technologies expand and contract with voltage
at high frequencies. While both these technologies provide direct displacement,
they are usually limited to 1% direct displacement. Electromagnetic solutions
typically consist of a motor that rotates an output shaft, so there is no
direct displacement from the motor itself, but there can be “indirect”
displacement from a mechanism connected to the output shaft.
devices are facing competition in a new rapidly evolving and highly competitive
sector of the medical market. Increased competition could result in reduced
prices and gross margins for EAP products and could require increased spending
on research and development, sales and marketing, and customer support.
separated markets for EAP devices and products into six application segments –
medical devices, haptic actuators, adjustable apertures for cellular phone
cameras, smart fabrics, digital mechatronics, and high-strain sensing
instruments for construction.
findings of this report:
- Global market for EAP
actuators and sensors reached $148 million in 2012. This will increase to
$363 million by 2017.
- Medical devices had the
largest market share in 2012 followed by haptic actuators, adjustable
apertures for cellular phones, high strain sensing in construction, smart
fabrics, and digital mechatronics.
- While medical devices
will continue to maintain the lead in 2017, that sector will see a modest average
annual growth rate (AAGR) of 11.8% for the period. Haptic actuators will
see maximum growth at an AAGR of 35% from 2012 to 2017.
- Among the regions, North
America has the largest market share with 66% of the market and will be
maintained around 60% share till 2017.