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Actuators, Volume 10, Issue 4 (April 2021) – 19 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Parallel elastic actuators (PEA) are supposed to improve efficiency in periodic processes. In the presented study, a clutched parallel elastic actuator (CPEA) was integrated into the hip joint of an exoskeleton to provide more efficient support during gait. In gait experiments on the treadmill, the actuators were controlled using a cascaded control system with position reference. The CPEA achieved an up to 31% lower peak torque and up to 36% lower RMS power consumption than a direct actuator. Therefore, the actuator technology is promising for future applications in mobile rehabilitation robotics. View this paper.
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11 pages, 20444 KiB  
Article
Hand–Eye Calibration Algorithm Based on an Optimized Neural Network
by Jiang Hua and Liangcai Zeng
Actuators 2021, 10(4), 85; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10040085 - 20 Apr 2021
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 3874
Abstract
A robot can identify the position of a target and complete a grasping based on the hand–eye calibration algorithm, through which the relationship between the robot coordinate system and the camera coordinate system can be established. The accuracy of the hand–eye calibration algorithm [...] Read more.
A robot can identify the position of a target and complete a grasping based on the hand–eye calibration algorithm, through which the relationship between the robot coordinate system and the camera coordinate system can be established. The accuracy of the hand–eye calibration algorithm affects the real-time performance of the visual servo system and the robot manipulation. The traditional calibration technique is based on a perfect mathematical model AX = XB, in which the X represents the relationship of (A) the camera coordinate system and (B) the robot coordinate system. The traditional solution to the transformation matrix has a certain extent of limitation and instability. To solve this problem, an optimized neural-network-based hand–eye calibration method was developed to establish a non-linear relationship between robotic coordinates and pixel coordinates that can compensate for the nonlinear distortion of the camera lens. The learning process of the hand–eye calibration model can be interpreted as B=fA, which is the coordinate transformation relationship trained by the neural network. An accurate hand–eye calibration model can finally be obtained by continuously optimizing the network structure and parameters via training. Finally, the accuracy and stability of the method were verified by experiments on a robot grasping system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Actuators for Robotics)
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18 pages, 2628 KiB  
Article
A Feature Selection-Based Predictive-Learning Framework for Optimal Actuator Control in Smart Homes
by Sehrish Malik, Wafa Shafqat, Kyu-Tae Lee and Do-Hyeun Kim
Actuators 2021, 10(4), 84; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10040084 - 20 Apr 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2404
Abstract
In today’s world, smart buildings are considered an overarching system that automates a building’s complex operations and increases security while reducing environmental impact. One of the primary goals of building management systems is to promote sustainable and efficient use of energy, requiring coherent [...] Read more.
In today’s world, smart buildings are considered an overarching system that automates a building’s complex operations and increases security while reducing environmental impact. One of the primary goals of building management systems is to promote sustainable and efficient use of energy, requiring coherent task management and execution of control commands for actuators. This paper proposes a predictive-learning framework based on contextual feature selection and optimal actuator control mechanism for minimizing energy consumption in smart buildings. We aim to assess multiple parameters and select the most relevant contextual features that would optimize energy consumption. We have implemented an artificial neural network-based particle swarm optimization (ANN-PSO) algorithm for predictive learning to train the framework on feature importance. Based on the relevance of attributes, our model was also capable of re-adding features. The extracted features are then applied as input parameters for the training of long short-term memory (LSTM) and optimal control module. We have proposed an objective function using a velocity boost-particle swarm optimization (VB-PSO) algorithm that reduces energy cost for optimal control. We then generated and defined the control tasks based on the fuzzy rule set and optimal values obtained from VB-PSO. We compared our model’s performance with and without feature selection using the root mean square error (RMSE) metric in the evaluation section. This paper also presents how optimal control can reduce energy cost and improve performance resulting from lesser learning cycles and decreased error rates. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensing and Actuating Tasks in IoT Environments)
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15 pages, 2089 KiB  
Article
Adaptive Damping Variable Sliding Mode Control for an Electrohydrostatic Actuator
by Linjie Li, Mingkang Wang, Rongrong Yang, Yongling Fu and Deming Zhu
Actuators 2021, 10(4), 83; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10040083 - 19 Apr 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2403
Abstract
An electrohydrostatic actuator (EHA) is a basic mechanical/hydraulic system with deficiencies including significant nonlinearity and parametric uncertainties. In line with the challenges of designing a high-precision control strategy, an adaptive damping variable sliding mode controller is established, which extends our previous work on [...] Read more.
An electrohydrostatic actuator (EHA) is a basic mechanical/hydraulic system with deficiencies including significant nonlinearity and parametric uncertainties. In line with the challenges of designing a high-precision control strategy, an adaptive damping variable sliding mode controller is established, which extends our previous work on EHA control. The proposed controller integrates variable-damping sliding mode control, parametric adaptation, and an extended state observer. The parametric uncertainties are effectively captured and compensated by employing an adaptive control law, while system uncertainties are reduced, and disturbances are estimated and compensated with a fast and stable response. We evaluated the proposed control strategy on a variety of position tracking tasks. The experimental results demonstrate that our controller significantly outperforms the widely used methods in overshoot suppression, settling time, and tracking accuracy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Control Systems)
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23 pages, 5411 KiB  
Review
Fatigue Analysis of Actuators with Teflon Impregnated Coating—Challenges in Numerical Simulation
by Zhuming Bi, Bongsu Kang and Puren Ouyang
Actuators 2021, 10(4), 82; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10040082 - 18 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 4937
Abstract
Actuators are essential components for motion in machines, and warranty service lives are basic specifications of actuators. However, fatigue damage or wear of actuators are very complex and related to many design factors, such as materials properties, surface conditions, loads, and operating temperature. [...] Read more.
Actuators are essential components for motion in machines, and warranty service lives are basic specifications of actuators. However, fatigue damage or wear of actuators are very complex and related to many design factors, such as materials properties, surface conditions, loads, and operating temperature. Actuator manufacturers still rely heavily on physical experiments to determine the fatigue lives of actuators. This paper investigates the state-of-the-art of using numerical simulations for fatigue analysis of mechanical actuators. Failure criteria of machine elements are discussed extensively; existing works on using finite element methods for machine element designs are examined to (1) explore the feasibility of using a numerical simulation for fatigue analysis and (2) discuss the technical challenges in practice. Moreover, a systematic procedure is suggested to predict fatigue lives of mechanical actuators with Teflon impregnated hard coatings. A virtual fatigue analysis allows for optimizing a mechanical structure, reducing design verification costs, and shortening the development time of actuators. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Robotics and Control: State of the Art)
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13 pages, 14827 KiB  
Article
Design and Analysis of Dual Mover Multi-Tooth Permanent Magnet Flux Switching Machine for Ropeless Elevator Applications
by Atif Zahid, Faisal Khan, Naseer Ahmad, Irfan Sami, Wasiq Ullah, Nasim Ullah, Noman Ullah and Hend I. Alkhammash
Actuators 2021, 10(4), 81; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10040081 - 16 Apr 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2254
Abstract
A dual mover yokeless multi-tooth (DMYMT) permanent magnet flux switching motor (PM-FSM) design is presented in this article for ropeless elevator applications. The excitation sources, including a field winding and permanent magnet, are on the short mover in the proposed design structure, whereas [...] Read more.
A dual mover yokeless multi-tooth (DMYMT) permanent magnet flux switching motor (PM-FSM) design is presented in this article for ropeless elevator applications. The excitation sources, including a field winding and permanent magnet, are on the short mover in the proposed design structure, whereas the stator is a simple slotted iron core, thus reducing the vertical transportation system cost. The operational principle of the proposed DMYMT in PM-FSM is introduced. The proposed dual mover yokeless multi-tooth Permanent Magnet Flux Switching Motor is analyzed and compared for various performance parameters in a Finite Element Analysis package. The proposed machine has high thrust force and cost-effectiveness compared to conventional dual permanent magnet motor. Finally, this paper also develops an analytical model for the proposed structure, validated by comparing it with Finite Element Analysis simulation results. Results show good agreement between analytical prediction and Finite Element Analysis results. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Actuators for Manufacturing Systems)
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18 pages, 3918 KiB  
Article
Trajectory Optimization Algorithm for a 4-DOF Redundant Parallel Robot Based on 12-Phase Sine Jerk Motion Profile
by Shengqiao Hu, Huimin Kang, Hao Tang, Zhengjie Cui, Zhicheng Liu and Puren Ouyang
Actuators 2021, 10(4), 80; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10040080 - 16 Apr 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2847
Abstract
To improve high motion accuracy and efficiency in the high-speed operation of a 4-DOF (4 degrees of freedom) redundant parallel robot, this paper introduces a trajectory planning of the parallel robot in joint space based on the twelve-phase sine jerk motion profile. The [...] Read more.
To improve high motion accuracy and efficiency in the high-speed operation of a 4-DOF (4 degrees of freedom) redundant parallel robot, this paper introduces a trajectory planning of the parallel robot in joint space based on the twelve-phase sine jerk motion profile. The 12-phase sine jerk motion profile utilizes the characteristics of a sine function. Furthermore, the penalty function is used to optimize the trajectory energy consumption under the constraint condition. The simulation and experimental results show that the energy consumption of joint space is slightly higher than that of the three-phase sine jerk motion profile, but the overall operation is more accurate and stable. Specifically, the sudden change of force and velocity in each joint is eliminated, which is the cause of mechanism oscillation. Moreover, the force of each joint is more average. The results indicate that each movement is closer to the maximum allowable limit and the running efficiency is higher. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Robotics and Control: State of the Art)
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17 pages, 9288 KiB  
Article
Investigation of a 2-DOF Active Magnetic Bearing Actuator for Unmanned Underwater Vehicle Thruster Application
by Muhammad Abdul Ahad and Sarvat M. Ahmad
Actuators 2021, 10(4), 79; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10040079 - 16 Apr 2021
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 3060
Abstract
In this work, a novel application of Active Magnetic Bearing (AMB) is proposed to integrate AMB in the Magnetically Coupled Thruster (MCT) assembly for underwater application. In this study, a 2-Degree-Of-Freedom (DOF) AMB is developed and investigated for the MCT of an Unmanned [...] Read more.
In this work, a novel application of Active Magnetic Bearing (AMB) is proposed to integrate AMB in the Magnetically Coupled Thruster (MCT) assembly for underwater application. In this study, a 2-Degree-Of-Freedom (DOF) AMB is developed and investigated for the MCT of an Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV). The paper presents the detailed electro-mechanical modeling of the in-house developed AMB system. The intractable problem of rotor suspension and rotation with opposing pairs of electromagnets is considered. A Linear Quadratic Gaussian (LQG) controller is designed and analyzed in the frequency domain for the stabilization of the open-loop unstable AMB for MCT. The performance specifications of the controller, such as reference tracking and disturbance rejection are achieved and evaluated through real-time implementation of the controller. The compensator also performed reasonably well during the dynamic operations, i.e., when the rotor-propeller assembly was spun at 1500 rpm. This rotor speed is needed to generate a thrust of 40–45 N and up to 1 m/s forward velocity, which is necessary to propel the UUV under consideration. By deploying AMB in MCT assembly, it is anticipated that problems associated with the conventional directly coupled thruster operating in harsh underwater environment, such as water ingress into electronics compartment, rusting, lubrication, and vibrations would be eliminated. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Precision Actuators)
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14 pages, 660 KiB  
Article
An Alternative Method for Calculating the Eddy Current Loss in the Sleeve of a Sealless Pump
by Tomislav Strinić, Bianca Wex, Gerald Jungmayr, Thomas Stallinger, Jörg Frevert and Martin Panholzer
Actuators 2021, 10(4), 78; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10040078 - 15 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1767
Abstract
A sealless pump, also known as a wet rotor pump or a canned pump, requires a stationary sleeve in the air gap to protect the stator from a medium that flows around the rotor and the pump impeller. Since the sleeve is typically [...] Read more.
A sealless pump, also known as a wet rotor pump or a canned pump, requires a stationary sleeve in the air gap to protect the stator from a medium that flows around the rotor and the pump impeller. Since the sleeve is typically made from a non-magnetic electrically conductive material, the time-varying magnetic flux density in the air gap creates an eddy current loss in the sleeve. Precise assessment of this loss is crucial for the design of the pump. This paper presents a method for calculating the eddy current loss in such sleeves by using only a two-dimensional (2D) finite element method (FEM) solver. The basic idea is to use the similar structure of Ampère’s circuital law and Faraday’s law of induction to solve eddy current problems with a magnetostatic solver. The theoretical background behind the proposed method is explained and applied to the sleeve of a sealless pump. Finally, the results obtained by a 2D FEM approach are verified by three-dimensional FEM transient simulations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Precision Actuators)
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27 pages, 10194 KiB  
Review
A Review on Disturbance Analysis and Suppression for Permanent Magnet Linear Synchronous Motor
by Xuezhen Wang, Feixue Chen, RenFeng Zhu, Xiaolu Huang, Na Sang, Guilin Yang and Chi Zhang
Actuators 2021, 10(4), 77; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10040077 - 13 Apr 2021
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 3903
Abstract
In high-end testing and manufacturing equipment, a trend exists whereby the traditional servo feed system with a ball screw and rotary motor will gradually be replaced by a direct drive system. The precision motion system driven by a permanent magnet linear synchronous motor [...] Read more.
In high-end testing and manufacturing equipment, a trend exists whereby the traditional servo feed system with a ball screw and rotary motor will gradually be replaced by a direct drive system. The precision motion system driven by a permanent magnet linear synchronous motor (PMLSM) offers several advantages, including high speed, high acceleration, and high positioning accuracy. However, the operating precision of the feed device will be affected by the PMLSM robustness to nonlinear and uncertain disturbances, such as cogging force, friction, thermal effects, residual vibration, and load disturbance. The aim of this paper was to provide a survey on disturbance analysis and suppression approaches to improve the dynamic performance of PMLSM motion systems. First, the origin and inhibition methods of thrust ripple and friction are presented. Second, the mechanisms, modeling approaches, and mitigation measures of thermal effects are introduced. Additionally, the residual vibration characteristics and suppression methods are discussed. Finally, disturbance observers of periodic and aperiodic loads are introduced. These suppression methods from structural design and control compensation are then discussed in order to improve the dynamic response and steady-state accuracy of PMLSM. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Actuators for Manufacturing Systems)
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20 pages, 7546 KiB  
Article
Pressure Estimation Based on Vehicle Dynamics Considering the Evolution of the Brake Linings’ Coefficient of Friction
by Biaofei Shi, Lu Xiong and Zhuoping Yu
Actuators 2021, 10(4), 76; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10040076 - 08 Apr 2021
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 2989
Abstract
To mitigate the issue of low accuracy and poor robustness of the master cylinder pressure estimation (MCPE) of the electro-hydraulic brake system (EHB) by adopting EHB’s own information, a MCPE algorithm based on vehicle information considering the evolution of the brake linings’ coefficient [...] Read more.
To mitigate the issue of low accuracy and poor robustness of the master cylinder pressure estimation (MCPE) of the electro-hydraulic brake system (EHB) by adopting EHB’s own information, a MCPE algorithm based on vehicle information considering the evolution of the brake linings’ coefficient of friction (BLCF) is proposed. First, the MCPE algorithm was derived combining the vehicle longitudinal dynamics and the wheel dynamics, in which the inertial measurement unit (IMU) was adopted to adapt the MCPE algorithm to road slope change. In order to estimate the brake pressure accurately, the driving resistance of the vehicle was obtained through a vehicle test under coasting condition. After that, with the active braking function of EHB, the evolution of the BLCF was acquired through extensive real vehicle test under different initial temperatures, different initial vehicle speeds, and different brake pressures. According to the test results, a revised model of the BLCF is proposed. Finally, the performance of the MCPE based on the revised BLCF model was compared with that based on a fixed BLCF model. Vehicle test demonstrates that the former MCPE algorithm is not only more accurate at low vehicle speed than the later, but also robust to road slope change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Actuators for Intelligent Electric Vehicles)
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20 pages, 13771 KiB  
Article
Design and First Operation of an Active Lower Limb Exoskeleton with Parallel Elastic Actuation
by Bernhard Penzlin, Lukas Bergmann, Yinbo Li, Linhong Ji, Steffen Leonhardt and Chuong Ngo
Actuators 2021, 10(4), 75; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10040075 - 08 Apr 2021
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 3836
Abstract
The lower limb exoskeleton investigated in this work actively supports the knee and hip and is intended to provide full motion support during gait. Parallel elastic actuators are integrated into the hip joints to improve the energy efficiency in gait. The prototype was [...] Read more.
The lower limb exoskeleton investigated in this work actively supports the knee and hip and is intended to provide full motion support during gait. Parallel elastic actuators are integrated into the hip joints to improve the energy efficiency in gait. The prototype was tested in sit-to-stand and gait trials, in which the actuators were cascade-controlled with position trajectories. The compliant actuation of the hip in gait experiments proved to be more efficient; the peak torque was reduced by up to 31% and the RMS power was reduced by up to 36%. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers to Celebrate the SCIE Coverage)
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14 pages, 12000 KiB  
Article
A Magneto-Active Elastomer Crawler with Peristaltic and Caterpillar Locomotion Patterns
by Tsam Lung You, Hemma Philamore and Fumitoshi Matsuno
Actuators 2021, 10(4), 74; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10040074 - 08 Apr 2021
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 2709
Abstract
In this work we present a soft crawler fabricated using a magneto-active elastomer. The crawler is controlled by an external magnetic field to produce two locomotion patterns: peristaltic and caterpillar crawling. Due to its structural simplicity, low mass, wirelessly controlled actuation and compliant [...] Read more.
In this work we present a soft crawler fabricated using a magneto-active elastomer. The crawler is controlled by an external magnetic field to produce two locomotion patterns: peristaltic and caterpillar crawling. Due to its structural simplicity, low mass, wirelessly controlled actuation and compliant body the design of this crawler has the potential to address the key challenges faced by existing crawling robots. Experimental data were gathered to evaluate the performance of the crawler locomotion in a pipe. The results validated the mathematical models proposed to estimate the distance traveled by the crawler. The crawler shows potential for use in exploration of confined spaces. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Actuators for Robotics)
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21 pages, 4972 KiB  
Article
Comparison of Novel Seismic Protection Devices to Attenuate the Earthquake Induced Energy
by Osman Hansu and Esra Mete Güneyisi
Actuators 2021, 10(4), 73; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10040073 - 07 Apr 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2522
Abstract
This study addresses an alternative use of viscous dampers (VDs) associated with buckling restrained braces (BRBs) as innovative seismic protection devices. For this purpose, 4-, 8- and 12-story steel bare frames were designed with 6.5 m equal span length and 4 m story [...] Read more.
This study addresses an alternative use of viscous dampers (VDs) associated with buckling restrained braces (BRBs) as innovative seismic protection devices. For this purpose, 4-, 8- and 12-story steel bare frames were designed with 6.5 m equal span length and 4 m story height. Thereafter, they were seismically improved by mounting the VDs and BRBs in three patterns, namely outer bays, inner bays, and all bays over the frame heights. The structures were modeled using SAP 2000 software and evaluated by the nonlinear time history analyses subjected to the six natural ground motions. The seismic responses of the structures were investigated for the lateral displacement, interstory drift, absolute acceleration, maximum base shear, and time history of roof displacement. The results clearly indicated that the VDs and BRBs reduced seismic demands significantly compared to the bare frame. Moreover, the all-bay pattern performed better than the others. Full article
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27 pages, 4360 KiB  
Article
Photogrammetric Measurement and Analysis of the Shape Profile of Pneumatic Artificial Muscles
by Jonathan M. Chambers and Norman M. Wereley
Actuators 2021, 10(4), 72; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10040072 - 06 Apr 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2903
Abstract
Inaccuracies in modeling of the geometric shape of PAMs has long been cited as a probable source of error in modeling and design efforts. The geometric shape and volume of PAMs is commonly approximated using a cylindrical shape profile, even though its shape [...] Read more.
Inaccuracies in modeling of the geometric shape of PAMs has long been cited as a probable source of error in modeling and design efforts. The geometric shape and volume of PAMs is commonly approximated using a cylindrical shape profile, even though its shape is non-cylindrical. Correction factors—based on qualitative observations of the PAM’s general shape—are often implemented to compensate for error in this cylindrical shape approximation. However, there is little evidence or consensus on the accuracy and form of these correction factors. Approximations of the shape profile are also used to calculate the internal volume of PAMs, as experimental measurements of the internal volume require intrusive testing methods and specialized equipment. This research presents a photogrammetric method for measuring the shape profile and internal volume of PAMs. A test setup, method of image data acquisition, and a preliminary analysis of the image data, is presented in this research. A 22.2 mm (7/8 in) diameter PAM is used to demonstrate the photogrammetric procedure and test its accuracy. Analysis of the tested PAM characterizes trends of the shape profile with respect to pressure and contraction. The common method of estimating the diameter—through the use of the cylindrical approximation and initial geometry of the PAM—is tested by comparison to the measured shape profile data. Finally, a simple method of calculating the internal volume using the measured shape profile data is developed. The presented method of acquiring photogrammetric measurements of PAM shape produces an accurate characterization of its shape profile, thereby mitigating uncertainty in PAM shape in analysis and other efforts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pneumatic Soft Actuators)
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15 pages, 5432 KiB  
Article
Investigation of Mechanical and Damping Performances of Cylindrical Viscoelastic Dampers in Wide Frequency Range
by Teng Ge, Xing-Huai Huang, Ying-Qing Guo, Ze-Feng He and Zhong-Wei Hu
Actuators 2021, 10(4), 71; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10040071 - 04 Apr 2021
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 2929
Abstract
This paper aims to develop viscoelastic dampers, which can effectively suppress vibration in a wide frequency range. First, several viscoelastic materials for damping performance were selected, and different batches of cylindrical viscoelastic dampers were fabricated by overall vulcanization. Second, the dynamic mechanical properties [...] Read more.
This paper aims to develop viscoelastic dampers, which can effectively suppress vibration in a wide frequency range. First, several viscoelastic materials for damping performance were selected, and different batches of cylindrical viscoelastic dampers were fabricated by overall vulcanization. Second, the dynamic mechanical properties of the cylindrical viscoelastic dampers under different amplitudes and frequencies are tested, and the hysteretic curves under different loading conditions are obtained. Finally, by calculating the dynamic mechanical properties of the cylindrical viscoelastic dampers, the energy dissipation performance of these different batches of viscoelastic dampers is compared and analyzed. The experimental results show that the cylindrical viscoelastic damper presents a full hysteretic curve in a wide frequency range, in which the maximum loss factor can reach 0.57. Besides, the equivalent stiffness, storage modulus, loss factor, and energy consumption per cycle of the viscoelastic damper raise with the frequency increasing, while the equivalent damping decreases with the increase of frequency. When the displacement increases, the energy consumption per cycle of the viscoelastic damper rises rapidly, and the equivalent stiffness, equivalent damping, storage modulus, and loss factor change slightly. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Vibration Control and Structure Health Monitoring)
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14 pages, 6939 KiB  
Article
Contactless Picking of Objects Using an Acoustic Gripper
by Marc Röthlisberger, Marcel Schuck, Laurenz Kulmer and Johann W. Kolar
Actuators 2021, 10(4), 70; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10040070 - 31 Mar 2021
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 4244
Abstract
Acoustic levitation forces can be used to manipulate small objects and liquids without mechanical contact or contamination. This work presents analytical models based on which concepts for the controlled insertion of objects into the acoustic field are developed. This is essential for the [...] Read more.
Acoustic levitation forces can be used to manipulate small objects and liquids without mechanical contact or contamination. This work presents analytical models based on which concepts for the controlled insertion of objects into the acoustic field are developed. This is essential for the use of acoustic levitators as contactless robotic grippers. Three prototypes of such grippers are implemented and used to experimentally verify the lifting of objects into an acoustic pressure field. Lifting of high-density objects (ρ > 7 g/cm3) from acoustically transparent surfaces is demonstrated using a double-sided acoustic gripper that generates standing acoustic waves with dynamically adjustable acoustic power. A combination of multiple acoustic traps is used to lift lower density objects (ρ0.25g/cm3) from acoustically reflective surfaces using a single-sided arrangement. Furthermore, a method that uses standing acoustic waves and thin reflectors to lift medium-density objects (ρ1g/cm3) from acoustically reflective surfaces is presented. The provided results open up new possibilities for using acoustic levitation in robotic grippers, which has the potential to be applied in a variety of industrial use cases. Full article
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21 pages, 7895 KiB  
Article
Design, Manufacturing, and Characterization of Thin, Core-Free, Rolled Dielectric Elastomer Actuators
by Julian Kunze, Johannes Prechtl, Daniel Bruch, Bettina Fasolt, Sophie Nalbach, Paul Motzki, Stefan Seelecke and Gianluca Rizzello
Actuators 2021, 10(4), 69; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10040069 - 30 Mar 2021
Cited by 20 | Viewed by 5042
Abstract
In this work, we develop a coreless rolled dielectric elastomer actuator (CORDEA) to be used as artificial muscles in soft robotic structures. The new CORDEA concept is based on a 50 µm silicone film with screen-printed electrodes made of carbon black suspended in [...] Read more.
In this work, we develop a coreless rolled dielectric elastomer actuator (CORDEA) to be used as artificial muscles in soft robotic structures. The new CORDEA concept is based on a 50 µm silicone film with screen-printed electrodes made of carbon black suspended in polydimethylsiloxane. Two printed silicone films are stacked together and then tightly rolled in a spiral-like structure. Readily available off-the-shelf components are used to implement both electrical and mechanical contacts. A novel manufacturing process is developed to enable the production of rolled actuators without a hollow core, with a focus on simplicity and reliability. In this way, actuator systems with high energy density can be effectively achieved. After presenting the design, an experimental evaluation of the CORDEA electromechanical behavior is performed. Finally, actuator experiments in which the CORDEA is pre-loaded with a mass load and subsequently subject to cycling voltage are illustrated, and the resulting performance is discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Electroactive Polymer Actuators)
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23 pages, 8914 KiB  
Article
XYZ Micropositioning System Based on Compliance Mechanisms Fabricated by Additive Manufacturing
by Andres Ferrara-Bello, Pedro Vargas-Chable, Gerardo Vera-Dimas, Rafael Vargas-Bernal and Margarita Tecpoyotl-Torres
Actuators 2021, 10(4), 68; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10040068 - 28 Mar 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 4323
Abstract
This article presents the design and implementation of a micropositioning system actuated by three piezoelectric stacks to control its displacements on XYZ axes. The use of conventional piezoelectric buzzers allows us to reduce fabrication costs. The working or mobile platform is the base [...] Read more.
This article presents the design and implementation of a micropositioning system actuated by three piezoelectric stacks to control its displacements on XYZ axes. The use of conventional piezoelectric buzzers allows us to reduce fabrication costs. The working or mobile platform is the base for objects that will be manipulated, for example, in automated assembling. The micropositioner can be integrated into a microgripper to generate a complete manipulation system. For micropositioner fabrication, at first, Polylactic Acid (PLA) was chosen as the structural material, but after simulation and some experimental tests performed with a micropositioner made of Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS), it showed larger displacement (approx. 20%) due to its lower stiffness. A third test was performed with a positioner made with Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol (PETG), obtaining an intermediate performance. The originality of this work resides in the geometrical arrangement based on thermoplastic polymer compliance mechanisms, as well as in the use of additive manufacturing to fabricate it. An experimental setup was developed to carry out experimental tests. ANSYS™ was used for simulation. Full article
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14 pages, 58884 KiB  
Article
An Origami Flexiball-Inspired Metamaterial Actuator and Its In-Pipe Robot Prototype
by Fuwen Hu and Tian Li
Actuators 2021, 10(4), 67; https://doi.org/10.3390/act10040067 - 26 Mar 2021
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 5642
Abstract
Usually, polyhedra are viewed as the underlying constructive cells of packing or tiling in many disciplines, including crystallography, protein folding, viruses structure, building architecture, etc. Here, inspired by the flexible origami polyhedra (commonly called origami flexiballs), we initially probe into their intrinsic metamaterial [...] Read more.
Usually, polyhedra are viewed as the underlying constructive cells of packing or tiling in many disciplines, including crystallography, protein folding, viruses structure, building architecture, etc. Here, inspired by the flexible origami polyhedra (commonly called origami flexiballs), we initially probe into their intrinsic metamaterial properties and robotized methods from fabrication to actuation. Firstly, the topology, geometries and elastic energies of shape shifting are analyzed for the three kinds of origami flexiballs with extruded outward rhombic faces. Provably, they meet the definitions of reconfigurable and transformable metamaterials with switchable stiffness and multiple degrees of freedom. Secondly, a new type of soft actuator with rhombic deformations is successfully put forward, different from soft bionic deformations like elongating, contracting, bending, twisting, spiraling, etc. Further, we redesign and fabricate the three-dimensional (3D) printable structures of origami flexiballs considering their 3D printability and foldability, and magnetically actuated them through the attachment of magnetoactive elastomer. Lastly, a fully soft in-pipe robot prototype is presented using the origami flexiball as an applicable attempt. Experimental work clearly suggests that the presented origami flexiball robot has good adaptability to various pipe sizes, and also can be easily expanded to different scales, or reconfigured into more complex metastructures by assembly. In conclusion, this research provides a newly interesting and illuminating member for the emerging families of mechanical metamaterials, soft actuators and soft robots. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Printable Soft Robotics and Soft Actuators)
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