The waterbomb actuator: a new origami-based pneumatic soft muscle
Tutor / director / evaluatorReinkensmeyer, David
Rights accessOpen Access
This project introduces a new Pneumatic Artificial Muscle (PAM) design based on an origami structure. This artificial muscle is designed to operate at a very low range of pressures while being lightweight and compliant. It is also designed to reduce the pressure threshold and hysteresis problems present on other PAMs like the McKibben actuator. These properties are achieved thanks to a rearranging membrane based on the Waterbomb pattern, which can contract upon inflation while keeping the surface area constant. This concept has been tested using paper prototypes coated with silicone. We created thee different structures (4x8, 6x12 and 8x16 cells waterbomb actuators) from the same paper sheet (14x28cm2) and we actuated them under loads of 2, 4 and 7N. The 4x8 was discarded, but the 6x12 and 8x16 actuators contracted a maximum of 12.5% of the original length (≃10cm) while the operating pressures remained under 5Pa. We also proposed a novel approach to 3D print these actuators using a Stratasys Objet260 Connex3 3D printer. The main idea consists in creating a flat structure that can self-assemble using a technique known as 4D Printing. The pattern is printed as a flat sheet where the hinges are composites composed of an elastomeric material and shape memory polymer (SMP) fibers. These hinges can be activated through a thermomechanical process inducing a self-folding effect. Unfortunately, we were not able to verify this fabrication process due to the lack of material availability.