This article presents a novel three-dimensional ionic-polymer-metal-composite (IPMC) actuator. The actuator consists of two parts: a motion element and an active clasp. With a multiple electrode design, the motion element can bend in two orthogonal directions, and the clasp can provide a force through individual electrical voltage control. The dynamic behavior of the motion element and the force output of the clasp were measured. The concept of geometry current and space-charge current based on the limiting solutions of the Poisson-Nernst-Planck equation is proposed to characterize the measured current. An electric circuit model is presented to describe the electrical properties of the motion element of the IPMC actuator under various driving voltages and frequencies. The relation between the strain variation and the accumulation of electric charges caused by the measured current was examined and exhibited an excellent agreement with a power law. Two indices are proposed to evaluate the working status of the active clasp. The controllable time of the force output and the moment of the active clasp failure can be determined easily using the indices. POLYM. ENG. SCI., 2013. © 2013 Society of Plastics Engineers