MUNICH—German materials supplier Wacker Chemie A.G. will showcase a silicone laminate with electroactive properties during the K 2019 plastic trade show in Duesseldorf, Germany.
Nexipal is based on Wacker's Elastosil silicone film and consists of several ultrathin silicone rubber precision films coated with an electrically conductive material prior to lamination.
Developed in collaboration with the Intelligent Material Systems Lab at the University of Saarland, Germany, the laminates work as an actuator that creates movement as soon as electrical voltage is applied, Wacker said in a July 18 statement.
In addition, Nexipal can be used as a sensor to measure deformations electrically.
According to Wacker, the silicone rubber is a key component in the product, providing dielectric properties for the desired electroactive effects of the laminate. The rubber is coated with an electrically conductive layer so it can execute and/or measure deformations and is subsequently laminated to form a multilayer stack.
The silicone laminate is claimed to be "wear-free, compact and energy saving."
Tablet displays equipped with Nexipal create vibrations and haptic feedback which simulate the shape of keys or control panels that can be operated blindly by touch.
The technology employs conductive materials in the laminates 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, proportionate to the compression force.
When discharged, the highly elastic silicone film allows the laminate to return to its original shape.
Wacker said it is 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. The size and design of the laminates can be modified upon the customer's request.
The move, according to Christian Gimber, head of the engineering silicones business unit, will close the gap in the supply chain for the innovative technology.
"As a leading silicone manufacturer, we will soon be capable of meeting the growing need for electroactive solutions with our own high-quality silicone laminates," Gimber said.
Wacker will exhibit at Hall 6, Booth A10 during the K show, to be held 16-23 October in Duesseldorf.