The Ionic Polymer Metal Composite (IPMC), an electro-active polymer, has many advantages including bending
actuation, low weight, low power consumption, and flexibility. These advantages coincide with the requirements of
flapping-wing motion. Thus, IPMC can be an adequate smart material for the generation of the flapping-wing motions.
In this research, a flapping actuator module operated at the resonant frequency is developed using an IPMC actuator.
First, IPMC actuators are fabricated to investigate the mechanical characteristics of IPMC as an actuator. The
performances of the IPMC actuators, including the deformation, blocking force and natural frequency, are then obtained
according to the input voltage and IPMC dimensions. Second, the empirical performance model and the equivalent
stiffness model of the IPMC actuator are established. Third, flapping actuator modules using the first resonance
frequency are developed, and their flapping frequency and stroke characteristics are investigated. Fourth, adequate
flapping models for a flapping actuator module are selected, and dimensional data such as wing area and wing mass are
obtained. Finally, the flapping actuator module is designed and manufactured to adjust the flapping models and its
performance is tested. Experimental results demonstrate the potential IPMC has for use as a flapping actuator.