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We present the design, analysis, and experimental validation of a variable stiffness device based on annular dielectric electroactive polymer (EAP) actuators. The device is based on a diaphragm geometry, which partially linearizes the viscoelastic response of acrylic dielectrics, providing voltage- controlled stiffness without high damping losses. Multiple diaphragms can be connected in a single device to increase stiffness or provide custom stiffness profiles. The geometry is analyzed to determine the relationship among force, displacement and voltage. A single-layer diaphragm was constructed and tested to validate the concept, demonstrating up to 10x change in stiffness.
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