Design and Computational Modeling of a 3D Printed Pneumatic Toolkit for Soft Robotics
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Soft and compliant robotic systems have the potential to interact with humans and complex environments in more sophisticated ways than rigid robots. The majority of the state-of-the art soft robots are fabricated with silicone casting. This method is able to produce robust robotic parts, yet its results are difficult to quantify and replicate. Silicone casting also limits design complexity as well as customization due to the need to make new molds. As a result, most designs are tailored for simple, individual tasks, that is, bending, gripping, and crawling. To address more complex engineering challenges, this work presents soft robots that are fabricated by using multi-material three-dimensional printing. Instead of monolithic designs, we propose a pneumatic modular toolkit consisting of a bending and an extending appendage, as well as rigid building blocks. They are assembled to achieve different tasks. We show that the performance of both appendages is (1) repeatable, that is, the same internal pressure results in the same rotation or extension across multiple specimens and repetitions, and (2) predictable, that is, the respective deformations can be modeled by using finite element analysis. Using multiple instances of both building blocks, we demonstrate the versatility of this toolkit by assembling and actuating a gripper and a crawling caterpillar. The reliability of the mechanics of the building blocks and the assembled robots show that this simple toolkit can serve as a basis for the next generation of soft robots.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture
Mary Ann Liebert Inc
Du Pasquier, Cosima et al. “Design and Computational Modeling of a 3D Printed Pneumatic Toolkit for Soft Robotics.” Soft robotics, vol. 6, no. 5, 2019 © 2019 The Author(s)
Final published version