3d printing microactuators for soft microrobots
Current additive manufacturing, including three-dimensional (3D) and so-called four-dimensional printing, of soft robotic devices is limited to millimeter sizes. In this study, we present additive manufacturing of soft microactuators and microrobots to fabricate even smaller structures in the micrometer domain. Using a custom-built extrusion 3D printer, microactuators are scaled down to a size of 300 × 1000 μm2, with minimum thickness of 20 μm. Microactuators combined with printed body and electroactive polymers to drive the actuators are fabricated from computer-aided design model of the device structure. To demonstrate the ease and versatility of 3D printing process, microactuators with varying lengths ranging from 1000 to 5000 μm are fabricated and operated. Likewise, microrobotic devices consisting of a rigid body and individually controlled free-moving arms or legs are 3D printed to explore the microfabrication of soft grippers, manipulators, or microrobots through simple additive manufacturing technique.
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H2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions