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The Actuation Mechanism of 3D Printed Flexure-Based Robotic Microtweezers

Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269, USA
Department of Biomedical Engineering, Western New England University, Springfield, MA 01119, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Micromachines 2019, 10(7), 470;
Received: 12 June 2019 / Revised: 11 July 2019 / Accepted: 11 July 2019 / Published: 14 July 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 10th Anniversary of Micromachines)
PDF [2873 KB, uploaded 14 July 2019]


We report on the design and the modeling of a three-dimensional (3D) printed flexure-based actuation mechanism for robotic microtweezers, the main body of which is a single piece of nylon. Our design aims to fill a void in sample manipulation between two classes of widely used instruments: nano-scale and macro-scale robotic manipulators. The key component is a uniquely designed cam flexure system, which linearly translates the bending of a piezoelectric bimorph actuator into angular displacement. The 3D printing made it possible to realize the fabrication of the cam with a specifically calculated curve, which would otherwise be costly using conventional milling techniques. We first characterized 3D printed nylon by studying sets of simple cantilevers, which provided fundamental characteristics that could be used for further designs. The finite element method analysis based on the obtained material data matched well with the experimental data. The tweezers showed angular displacement from 0° to 10° linearly to the deflection of the piezo actuator (0–1.74 mm) with the linearity error of 0.1°. Resonant frequency of the system with/without working tweezer tips was discovered as 101 Hz and 127 Hz, respectively. Our design provides simple and low-cost construction of a versatile manipulator system for samples in the micro/meso-scale (0.1–1 mm). View Full-Text
Keywords: manipulator; flexure; 3D-printing; micro/meso-scale manipulation; piezo bimorph actuator manipulator; flexure; 3D-printing; micro/meso-scale manipulation; piezo bimorph actuator

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Almeida, A.; Andrews, G.; Jaiswal, D.; Hoshino, K. The Actuation Mechanism of 3D Printed Flexure-Based Robotic Microtweezers. Micromachines 2019, 10, 470.

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