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Open AccessArticle

Directional Stiffness Control Through Geometric Patterning and Localized Heating of Field’s Metal Lattice Embedded in Silicone

School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164, USA
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Current address: WSU M3 Robotics Laboratory, Dana 250, 305 NE Spokane Street, Pullman, WA 99164, USA.
Actuators 2018, 7(4), 80; https://doi.org/10.3390/act7040080
Received: 1 October 2018 / Revised: 13 November 2018 / Accepted: 21 November 2018 / Published: 27 November 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Materials and Designs for Soft Actuators)
This research explores a new realm of soft robotic materials where the stiffness magnitude, directionality, and spatial resolution may be precisely controlled. These materials mimic biological systems where localized muscle contractions and adjustment of tissue stiffness enables meticulous, intelligent movement. Here we propose the use of a low-melting-point (LMP) metal lattice structure as a rigid frame using localized heating to allow compliance about selectable axes along the lattice. The resulting shape of the lattice is modeled using product of exponentials kinematics to describe the serial chain of tunably compliant axes; this model is found to match the behavior of the physical test piece consisting of a Field’s metal (FM) lattice encased in silicone rubber. This concept could enable highly maneuverable robotic structures with significantly improved dexterity. View Full-Text
Keywords: soft robotics; compliant materials; spatial control; axes of compliance; manipulator kinematics; robot dexterity; bio-inspired design; low-melting-temperature metal soft robotics; compliant materials; spatial control; axes of compliance; manipulator kinematics; robot dexterity; bio-inspired design; low-melting-temperature metal
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Allen, E.A.; Swensen, J.P. Directional Stiffness Control Through Geometric Patterning and Localized Heating of Field’s Metal Lattice Embedded in Silicone. Actuators 2018, 7, 80.

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