Although natural continuum structures, such as the boneless elephant trunk, provide inspiration for new versatile grippers, highly deformable, jointless, and multidimensional actuation has still not been achieved. The challenging pivotal requisites are to avoid sudden changes in stiffness, combined with the capability of providing reliable large deformations in different directions. This research addresses these two challenges by harnessing porosity at two levels: material and design. Based on the extraordinary extensibility and compressibility of volumetrically tessellated structures with microporous elastic polymer walls, monolithic soft actuators are fabricated by 3D printing unique polymerizable emulsions. The resulting monolithic pneumatic actuators are printed in a single process and are capable of bidirectional movements with just one actuation source. The proposed approach is demonstrated by two proof-of-concepts: a three-fingered gripper, and the first ever soft continuum actuator that encodes biaxial motion and bidirectional bending. The results open up new design paradigms for continuum soft robots with bioinspired behavior based on reliable and robust multidimensional motions.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was funded by the European Union Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 863212 (PROBOSCIS project), and by the National Research Foundation, Prime Minister's Office, Singapore, under its Campus of Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise (CREATE) programme.
© 2023 The Authors. Advanced Science published by Wiley-VCH GmbH.
- elephant trunks
- porous materials
- programmed motion
- soft robotics
- volumetric tessellation