3D-printed omnidirectional soft pneumatic actuators: Design, modeling and characterization

Publication Name

Sensors and Actuators A: Physical


Soft pneumatic actuators are usually fabricated using molding and casting techniques with silicone rubbers, which requires intensive manual labor and limits repeatability and design flexibility for complex geometries. This article presents the design and direct 3D-printing of novel omnidirectional soft pneumatic actuators using stereolithography (SLA) with an elastic resin and fused deposition modeling (FDM) with a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). The actuator is modeled and optimized for bending performance using the finite element method along with a hyperelastic material model that is based on experimental uniaxial tensile data. The designs inspired by fast pneumatic network actuators (PneuNets) allow for multimodal actuation including bending, extension and contraction motions under positive, negative or differential pressures. The predicted results from the finite element method are compared with the experimental results for a range of actuation configurations. These novel omnidirectional actuators have significant potential in applications such as pipe inspection and biomedical devices.

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