Mechanically programmable bend radius for fiber-reinforced soft actuators

Kevin C. Galloway, Panagiotis Polygerinos, Conor J. Walsh, Robert J. Wood

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

    233 Scopus citations


    Established design and fabrication guidelines exist for achieving a variety of motions with soft actuators such as bending, contraction, extension, and twisting. These guidelines typically involve multi-step molding of composite materials (elastomers, paper, fiber, etc.) along with specially designed geometry. In this paper we present the design and fabrication of a robust, fiber-reinforced soft bending actuator where its bend radius and bending axis can be mechanically-programed with a flexible, selectively-placed conformal covering that acts to mechanically constrain motion. Several soft actuators were fabricated and their displacement and force capabilities were measured experimentally and compared to demonstrate the utility of this approach. Finally, a prototype two-digit end-effector was designed and programmed with the conformal covering to shape match a rectangular object. We demonstrated improved gripping force compared to a pure bending actuator. We envision this approach enabling rapid customization of soft actuator function for grasping applications where the geometry of the task is known a priori.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    StatePublished - Jan 1 2013
    Event2013 16th International Conference on Advanced Robotics, ICAR 2013 - Montevideo, Uruguay
    Duration: Nov 25 2013Nov 29 2013


    Other2013 16th International Conference on Advanced Robotics, ICAR 2013

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Artificial Intelligence
    • Human-Computer Interaction
    • Software


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