A San Jose, Calif., start-up company known as Artificial Muscle Inc. (AMI) has announced the commercial availability of “the world’s first product line of standard electroactive polymer actuators.” Based on AMI’s patented electroactive polymer technology, the Universal Muscle Actuator product line is designed to replace the conventional actuators currently used in pumps, valves and linear actuators, as well as sensors, power generators and other devices, the company says.
AMI is a spin-off from SRI International, a Menlo Park, Calif., non-profit research and development organization, which originally conceived the technology that AMI calls Electroactive Polymer Artificial Muscle, or EPAM. Electroactive polymers work much like human muscles, expanding and contracting based on variable voltage input levels.
AMI says its EPAM-based actuators are lighter, smaller and less costly than conventional electromagnetic motor-based actuators. They operate silently and offer much higher power densities than traditional actuator technologies, the company adds.
“When we show the Universal Muscle Actuator to design engineers from different industries, they are excited by the broad range of potential applications it addresses, and by the competitive advantage in product design it will give them,” said Charlie Duncheon, Artificial Muscle’s acting chief executive officer.
“By focusing on one universal and commercially compelling configuration of our patented technology, we can make rapid progress toward becoming the high-volume manufacturing leader of durable, high-performance actuators for a broad range of markets and market opportunities that today are valued at several billion dollars,” Duncheon said.