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Actuators, Volume 9, Issue 1 (March 2020) – 23 articles

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Cover Story (view full-size image) Robots that enable safe human–robot collaboration can be realized using compliant drive units. In [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle
Observer-Based Tracking Control for Polysolenoid Linear Motor with Unknown Disturbance Load
Actuators 2020, 9(1), 23; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9010023 - 24 Mar 2020
Viewed by 879
Abstract
Linear motors have been playing a crucial role in mechanical motion systems due to its ability to provide a straight motion directly without mediate mechanical actuators. This paper investigates tracking control problems of Polysolenoid Linear Motor, which is a particular type of permanent [...] Read more.
Linear motors have been playing a crucial role in mechanical motion systems due to its ability to provide a straight motion directly without mediate mechanical actuators. This paper investigates tracking control problems of Polysolenoid Linear Motor, which is a particular type of permanent magnet linear motor in a tubular structure. In order to deal with unmeasurable velocity, our method proposes a novel observer guaranteed asymptotic convergence of the observer errors. Then, based on observed velocity, our method proposes controllers for position-velocity and current tracking control concerning an unknown disturbance load problem by using Lyapunov direct method. The proposed controllers ensure that the position-velocity tracking error converges to arbitrarily small values by adjusting control parameters. Finally, the validity and effectiveness of our approach are shown in illustrative examples. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Sensorless Driving/Braking Control for Electric Vehicles
Actuators 2020, 9(1), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9010022 - 22 Mar 2020
Viewed by 775
Abstract
A sensorless driving/braking control system for electric vehicles is explained in the present paper. In the proposed system, a field-oriented control (FOC) was used to integrate driving and braking controls in a unified module for reducing the cost of hardware and simultaneously incorporating [...] Read more.
A sensorless driving/braking control system for electric vehicles is explained in the present paper. In the proposed system, a field-oriented control (FOC) was used to integrate driving and braking controls in a unified module for reducing the cost of hardware and simultaneously incorporating functional flexibility. An antilock braking system can swiftly halt a vehicle during emergency braking. An electromagnetic reverse braking scheme that provided retarding torque to a running wheel was developed. The scheme could switch the state of the MOSFETs used in the system by alternating the duty cycle of pulse width modulation to adjust the braking current generated by the back electromotive force (EMF) of the motor. In addition, because the braking energy required for the electromagnetic braking scheme is related only to the back EMF, the vehicle operator can control the braking force and safely stop an electric vehicle at high speeds. The proposed integrated sensorless driving and electromagnetic braking system was verified experimentally. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Piezoelectric Actuators for Tactile and Elasticity Sensing
Actuators 2020, 9(1), 21; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9010021 - 19 Mar 2020
Viewed by 904
Abstract
Piezoelectric actuators have achieved remarkable progress in many fields, being able to generate forces or displacements to perform scanning, tuning, manipulating, tactile sensing or delivering functions. In this work, two piezoelectric PZT (lead zirconate titanate) bimorph actuators, with different tip contact materials, were [...] Read more.
Piezoelectric actuators have achieved remarkable progress in many fields, being able to generate forces or displacements to perform scanning, tuning, manipulating, tactile sensing or delivering functions. In this work, two piezoelectric PZT (lead zirconate titanate) bimorph actuators, with different tip contact materials, were applied as tactile sensors to estimate the modulus of elasticity, or Young’s modulus, of low-stiffness materials. The actuators were chosen to work in resonance, taking advantage of a relatively low resonant frequency of the out-of-plane vibrational modes, associated with a convenient compliance, proven by optical and electrical characterization. Optical measurements performed with a scanning laser vibrometer confirmed that the displacement per applied voltage was around 437 nm/V for the resonator with the lower mass tip. In order to determine the modulus of elasticity of the sensed materials, the stiffness coefficient of the resonator was first calibrated against a force sensor, obtaining a value of 1565 ± 138 N/m. The actuators were mounted in a positioning stage to allow approximation and contact of the sensor tip with a set of target materials. Electrical measurements were performed using the resonator as part of an oscillator circuit, and the modulus of elasticity of the sample was derived from the contact resonant frequency curve of the cantilever–sample system. The resulting sensor is an effective, low-cost and non-destructive solution compared to atomic force microscopy (AFM) techniques. Materials with different modulus of elasticity were tested and the results compared to values reported in the literature. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Miniature and Micro-Actuators)
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Open AccessArticle
A Novel Solution for the Elimination of Mode Switching in Pump-Controlled Single-Rod Cylinders
Actuators 2020, 9(1), 20; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9010020 - 14 Mar 2020
Viewed by 869
Abstract
This paper concerns the stability issue of pump-controlled single-rod cylinders, known as mode switching. First, a review of the topic is provided. Thereafter, the most recently proposed solution for the elimination of mode switching is investigated and shown to result in unstable behavior [...] Read more.
This paper concerns the stability issue of pump-controlled single-rod cylinders, known as mode switching. First, a review of the topic is provided. Thereafter, the most recently proposed solution for the elimination of mode switching is investigated and shown to result in unstable behavior under certain operating conditions. A theoretical analysis is provided demonstrating the underlying mechanisms of this behavior. Based on the analysis, a novel control strategy is proposed and investigated numerically. Proper operation and stability are demonstrated for a wide range of operating conditions, including situations under which the most recently proposed solution results in unstable behavior and loss of control over the actuator. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Electro-Hydraulic Actuators)
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Open AccessArticle
Design and Experimental Validation of a 3-DOF Force Feedback System Featuring Spherical Manipulator and Magnetorheological Actuators
Actuators 2020, 9(1), 19; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9010019 - 13 Mar 2020
Viewed by 886
Abstract
This research focuses on the development of a new 3-DOF (Degree of Freedom) force feedback system featuring a spherical arm mechanism and three magnetorheological (MR) brakes, namely two rotary MR brakes and one linear MR brake. The first rotary MR brake is integrated [...] Read more.
This research focuses on the development of a new 3-DOF (Degree of Freedom) force feedback system featuring a spherical arm mechanism and three magnetorheological (MR) brakes, namely two rotary MR brakes and one linear MR brake. The first rotary MR brake is integrated in the waist joint to reflect the horizontal tangent force, the other rotary MR brake is integrated in the shoulder joint to reflect the elevation tangent force, while the linear MR brake is integrated in the sliding joint of the arm to reflect the radial force (approach force). The proposed configuration can reflect a desired force to the operator at the end-effectors of the arm independently in 3 DOFs by controlling the current applied to the coils of the MR brakes. After the introduction, the configuration of the proposed force feedback system is presented. Afterward, the design and conducted simulation of the MR brakes for the systems are provided. The prototype of the force feedback system, which was manufactured for the experiment, is then presented as well as some of the obtained experimental results. Finally, the proposed control system is presented and its implementation to provide a desired feedback force to the operator is provided. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Linear-Quadratic Regulator for Control of Multi-Wall Carbon Nanotube/Polydimethylsiloxane Based Conical Dielectric Elastomer Actuators
Actuators 2020, 9(1), 18; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9010018 - 13 Mar 2020
Viewed by 725
Abstract
Conventional rigid actuators, such as DC servo motors, face challenges in utilizing them in artificial muscles and soft robotics. Dielectric elastomer actuators (DEAs) overcome all these limitations, as they exhibit complex and fast motions, quietness, lightness, and softness. Recently, there has been much [...] Read more.
Conventional rigid actuators, such as DC servo motors, face challenges in utilizing them in artificial muscles and soft robotics. Dielectric elastomer actuators (DEAs) overcome all these limitations, as they exhibit complex and fast motions, quietness, lightness, and softness. Recently, there has been much focus on studies of the DEAs material’s non-linearity, the non-linear electromechanical coupling, and viscoelastic behavior of VHB and silicone-based conical DEAs having compliant electrodes that are based on graphite powder and carbon grease. However, the mitigation of overshoot that arises from fast response conical DEAs made with solid electrodes has not received much research focus. In this paper, we fabricated a conical configuration of multi-walled carbon nanotube/polydimethylsiloxane (MWCNT/PDMS) based DEAs with a rise time of 10 ms, and 50% peak overshoot. We developed a full feedback state-based linear-quadratic regulator (LQR) having Luenberger observer to mitigate the DEAs overshoot in both the voltage ON and OFF instances. The cone DEA’s model was identified and a stable and well-fitting transfer function with a fit of 94% was obtained. Optimal parameters Q = 70,000, R = 0.1, and Q = 7000, R = 0.01 resulted in the DEA response having a rise time value of 20 ms with zero overshoot, in both simulations and experiments. The LQR approach can be useful for the control of fast response DEAs and this would expand the potential use of the DEAs as artificial muscles in soft robotics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dielectric Elastomer Actuators (DEAs))
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Open AccessArticle
Analysis of Current Ripples in Electromagnetic Actuators with Application to Inductance Estimation Techniques for Sensorless Monitoring
Actuators 2020, 9(1), 17; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9010017 - 06 Mar 2020
Viewed by 911
Abstract
Techniques for estimating the plunger position have successfully proven to support operation and monitoring of electromagnetic actuators without the necessity of additional sensors. Sophisticated techniques in this field make use of an oversampled measurement of the rippled driving current in order to reconstruct [...] Read more.
Techniques for estimating the plunger position have successfully proven to support operation and monitoring of electromagnetic actuators without the necessity of additional sensors. Sophisticated techniques in this field make use of an oversampled measurement of the rippled driving current in order to reconstruct the position. However, oversampling algorithms place high demands on AD converters and require significant computational effort which are not desirable in low-cost actuation systems. Moreover, such low-cost actuators are affected by eddy currents and parasitic capacitances, which influence the current ripple significantly. Therefore, in this work, those current ripples are modeled and analyzed extensively taking into account those effects. The Integrator-Based Direct Inductance Measurement (IDIM) technique, used for processing the current ripples, is presented and compared experimentally to an oversampling technique in terms of noise robustness and implementation effort. A practical use case scenario in terms of a sensorless end-position detection for a switching solenoid is discussed and evaluated. The obtained results prove that the IDIM technique outperforms oversampling algorithms under certain conditions in terms of noise robustness, thereby requiring less sampling and calculation effort. The IDIM technique is shown to provide a robust position estimation in low-cost applications as in the presented example involving a end-position detection. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Concentric Design of a Bypass Magnetorheological Fluid Damper with a Serpentine Flux Valve
Actuators 2020, 9(1), 16; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9010016 - 06 Mar 2020
Viewed by 911
Abstract
This work presents a new concentric design structure of a bypass magnetorheological (MR) damper with a serpentine flux valve type. In this design, the serpentine valve is installed not in the middle of the piston but on the bypass channel of the damper. [...] Read more.
This work presents a new concentric design structure of a bypass magnetorheological (MR) damper with a serpentine flux valve type. In this design, the serpentine valve is installed not in the middle of the piston but on the bypass channel of the damper. However, to make it less bulky, the location of the valve installation is chosen to be in line with the cylinder axis, which is different from the common configuration of the bypass damper. With the proposed design concept, the performance flexibility of the bypass configuration and the compactness of the piston valve configuration can be accomplished. In this study, these benefits were demonstrated by firstly deriving an analytical model of the proposed MR damper focusing on the bypass concentric valve structure, which is vital in determining the damping force characteristics. The prototype of MR damper was also fabricated and characterized using the dynamic test machine. The simulation results show that the damping force could be adjusted from 20 N in the off-state to around 600 N in the on-state with 0.3 A of excitation current. In the experiments, during low piston velocity measurement, the on-state results from the simulation were generally in good agreement with the experimental results. However, with the increase in piston velocity, the deviation between the simulation and the experiment gets higher. The deviations are most probably due to seal frictions that were not accounted for in the model. The seal friction is probably dominant as the seals in the prototype need to be prepared for handling higher fluid pressure. As a result, the frictions are quite prevalent and significantly affect the measured off-state damping forces as well, where it was recorded ten times higher than the predicted values from the model. Nevertheless, although there were deviations, the dynamic range of the concentric bypass structure is still 1.5 times higher than the conventional structure and the new structure can be potentially explored more to achieve an improved MR damper design. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Variable Stiffness Actuators)
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Open AccessReview
Review on the Development, Control Method and Application Prospect of Brake-by-Wire Actuator
Actuators 2020, 9(1), 15; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9010015 - 05 Mar 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 904
Abstract
This paper reviews and summarizes the development, key technologies, and application of brake-by-wire (BBW) actuators. BBW is the technology orientation of future vehicle brake system. The main feature of BBW is to replace some of the mechanical and hydraulic components of traditional brake [...] Read more.
This paper reviews and summarizes the development, key technologies, and application of brake-by-wire (BBW) actuators. BBW is the technology orientation of future vehicle brake system. The main feature of BBW is to replace some of the mechanical and hydraulic components of traditional brake system with electronic control components, and use cables and wires to transmit energy and signals. BBW actuators have outstanding advantages, such as fast response, accurate control, and compact structure. They are easy to integrate with active safety functions and they are easily matched with the regenerative braking systems of electric vehicle. First, this paper summarizes the classification, characteristics, performance, and architecture of BBW actuators. Subsequently, the braking process regulation of vehicle is considered to be the main target, which is summarized from two aspects of actuator regulation and braking force distribution. The state estimation algorithm and control algorithm applied to these actuators are summarized and analyzed, and the development trend, challenges, and schemes of the braking force distribution are proposed. The development and research trend of braking force match strategies between the regenerative brake system and BBW system are also analyzed and summarized. The further electrification and intelligence of vehicle demand BBW’s braking force control method and distribution method must have higher control accuracy, stronger robustness, and wider adaptability, and the effects on braking comfort and handling stability must be further discussed. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Parametric Solution to the Generalized Bias Linearization Problem
Actuators 2020, 9(1), 14; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9010014 - 04 Mar 2020
Viewed by 959
Abstract
Previously, a generalized bias current linearization was presented for the control of radial magnetic bearings. However, a numerically intensive procedure was required to obtain bias linearization currents. The present work develops an analytical solution to the generalized bias linearization problem in which solutions [...] Read more.
Previously, a generalized bias current linearization was presented for the control of radial magnetic bearings. However, a numerically intensive procedure was required to obtain bias linearization currents. The present work develops an analytical solution to the generalized bias linearization problem in which solutions are indexed by a small number of parameters. The formulation also permits the analytical computation of bias linearization currents for faulted-coil cases. A limitation of the solution presented is that it only applies to stators with an even number of evenly spaces poles of equal area. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Electromagnetic Levitation Actuators)
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Open AccessArticle
Experimental Assessment of Fractional-Order PDD1/2 Control of a Brushless DC Motor with Inertial Load
Actuators 2020, 9(1), 13; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9010013 - 26 Feb 2020
Viewed by 1004
Abstract
The application of Fractional Calculus to control mechatronic devices is a promising research area. The most common approach to Fractional-Order (FO) control design is the PIλDµ scheme, which adopts integrals and derivatives of non-integer order λ and µ. A [...] Read more.
The application of Fractional Calculus to control mechatronic devices is a promising research area. The most common approach to Fractional-Order (FO) control design is the PIλDµ scheme, which adopts integrals and derivatives of non-integer order λ and µ. A different possible approach is to add FO terms to the PID control, instead of replacing integer order terms; for example, in the PDD1/2 scheme, the half-derivative term is added to the classical PD. In the present paper, by mainly focusing on the transitory behaviour, a comparison among PD, PDµ, and PDD1/2 control schemes is carried out, with reference to a real-world mechatronic implementation: a position-controlled rotor actuated by a DC brushless motor. While using a general non-dimensional approach, the three control schemes are first compared by continuous-time simulations, and tuning criteria are outlined. Afterwards, the effects of the discrete-time digital implementation of the controllers are investigated by both simulation and experimental tests. The results show how PDD1/2 is an effective and almost cost-free solution for improving the trajectory-tracking performance in position control of mechatronic devices, with limited computational burden and, consequently, easily implementable on most commercial motion control drives. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Energy Recovery on Efficiency in Electro-Hydrostatic Closed System for Differential Actuator
Actuators 2020, 9(1), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9010012 - 25 Feb 2020
Viewed by 1130
Abstract
This paper investigates energy efficiency and dynamic behavior through simulation and experiments of a compact electro-hydrostatic actuator system (EHA) consisting of an electric motor, external gear pump/motors, hydraulic accumulator, and differential cylinder. Tests were performed in a stand-alone crane in order to validate [...] Read more.
This paper investigates energy efficiency and dynamic behavior through simulation and experiments of a compact electro-hydrostatic actuator system (EHA) consisting of an electric motor, external gear pump/motors, hydraulic accumulator, and differential cylinder. Tests were performed in a stand-alone crane in order to validate the mathematical model. The influence and importance of a good balance between pump/motors displacement and cylinder areas ratios is discussed. The overall efficiency for the performed motion is also compared considering the capability or not of energy recovery. The results obtained demonstrate the significant gain of efficiency when working in the optimal condition and it is compared to the conventional hydraulic system using proportional valves. The proposed system presents the advantages and disadvantages when utilizing components off-the-shelf taking into account the applicability in mobile and industrial stationary machines. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Electro-Hydraulic Actuators)
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Open AccessArticle
Feed-Forward Controlling of Servo-Hydraulic Actuators Utilizing a Least-Squares Support-Vector Machine
Actuators 2020, 9(1), 11; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9010011 - 17 Feb 2020
Viewed by 1143
Abstract
Feed-forward control of hysteretic systems is a challenging task due to the hysteresis nonlinearity. Hysteresis models are utilized not only for identification, but also for hysteresis control. The feed-forward control, which is not an error-based (feedback-based) algorithm, plays a significant role in hysteresis [...] Read more.
Feed-forward control of hysteretic systems is a challenging task due to the hysteresis nonlinearity. Hysteresis models are utilized not only for identification, but also for hysteresis control. The feed-forward control, which is not an error-based (feedback-based) algorithm, plays a significant role in hysteresis control problems. Instead, it works based on knowledge about the process in the form of a mathematical model of the process. In feed-forward control problems, it is important to identify the inverse relationship of the output and input of the system, i.e., determining the mapping of the output and input of the system plays a key role in feed-forward controlling. This paper presents a new feed-forward controller model to control an actuator in a laboratory to tackle the restrictions of feedback control systems. For this purpose, first, a numerical model of a Proportional-Integral-Derivative (PID)-controlled actuator was created, and sets of numerical data of inputs and outputs of the plant were generated. Then, a least-squares support-vector machine (LS-SVM) hysteresis model was trained inversely on the generated data sets of the numerical modeling. Afterwards, to examine the efficacy of the proposed method for real-world hydraulic actuators in the presence of experimental errors and noise, sets of experimental data were obtained from physical modeling at KNTU’s Structural and Earthquake Engineering Laboratory (KSEEL). The results indicate the high performance of the proposed model. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Two-Way and Multiple-Way Shape Memory Polymers for Soft Robotics: An Overview
Actuators 2020, 9(1), 10; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9010010 - 15 Feb 2020
Viewed by 1467
Abstract
Shape memory polymers (SMPs) are smart materials capable of changing their shapes in a predefined manner under a proper applied stimulus and have gained considerable interest in several application fields. Particularly, two-way and multiple-way SMPs offer unique opportunities to realize untethered soft robots [...] Read more.
Shape memory polymers (SMPs) are smart materials capable of changing their shapes in a predefined manner under a proper applied stimulus and have gained considerable interest in several application fields. Particularly, two-way and multiple-way SMPs offer unique opportunities to realize untethered soft robots with programmable morphology and/or properties, repeatable actuation, and advanced multi-functionalities. This review presents the recent progress of soft robots based on two-way and multiple-way thermo-responsive SMPs. All the building blocks important for the design of such robots, i.e., the base materials, manufacturing processes, working mechanisms, and modeling and simulation tools, are covered. Moreover, examples of real-world applications of soft robots and related actuators, challenges, and future directions are discussed. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Optimization of Ultrasonic Acoustic Standing Wave Systems
Actuators 2020, 9(1), 9; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9010009 - 14 Feb 2020
Viewed by 1027
Abstract
Ultrasonic acoustic standing wave systems find use in many industrial applications, such as sonochemical reactions, atomization of liquids, ultrasonic cleaning, and spray dry. In most applications, highest possible sound pressure levels are needed to achieve optimum results. Until now, the atomization of liquids [...] Read more.
Ultrasonic acoustic standing wave systems find use in many industrial applications, such as sonochemical reactions, atomization of liquids, ultrasonic cleaning, and spray dry. In most applications, highest possible sound pressure levels are needed to achieve optimum results. Until now, the atomization of liquids is limited to fluids with low viscosity, as systems generating sufficient sound pressure for atomizing fluids with higher viscosities are often not marketable due to their low throughput or high costs. For the production of polymer or metal powders or the dispensing of adhesives, highest sound pressures should be achieved with systems in suitable size, with good efficiency and at low cost but without contamination of sonotrodes and reflectors by the dispersed media. An alternative to the use of more powerful transducers is increasing the intensity of the acoustic standing wave field by optimizing the boundary conditions of the acoustic field. In most existing standing wave systems a part of the radiating sound waves does not contribute to the process, as the waves spread into the wrong direction or wipe themselves out due to interference. In order to obtain maximum sound pressure amplitudes in the standing wave field, all waves should be trapped between the sonotrode and the reflector. In addition, the resonance condition should be met for all radiated waves. These conditions can be fulfilled by optimizing the shapes of sonotrode and resonator as well as the distance between them. This contribution reports on a model, which is able to simulate the sound field between a transducer surface and a reflector. Using a linear finite-element model, the boundary conditions of the standing wave system are optimized. Sound pressure levels of the standing wave field are calculated for different shapes of reflectors and boundary conditions like the distance between the transducer and the reflector. The simulation results are validated by sound-field measurements via refracto-vibrometry and a microphone. Finally, optimization guidelines for the generation of high-intensity acoustic standing wave fields are shown and verified by measurements. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Electromagnetic Damping on System Performance of Voice-Coil Actuator Applied to Balancing-Type Scale
Actuators 2020, 9(1), 8; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9010008 - 01 Feb 2020
Viewed by 1233
Abstract
Changing a time-varying magnetic field induces an electromotive force (EMF) in non-magnetic conductive materials, resulting in an eddy current across the conductor. Thus, electromagnetic damping can be used as viscous damping. This study theoretically and experimentally investigates the electromagnetic damping characteristics of a [...] Read more.
Changing a time-varying magnetic field induces an electromotive force (EMF) in non-magnetic conductive materials, resulting in an eddy current across the conductor. Thus, electromagnetic damping can be used as viscous damping. This study theoretically and experimentally investigates the electromagnetic damping characteristics of a bobbin-wounded coil with an attached cantilever beam floating over a permanent magnet; the beam is balanced by electromagnetic force compensation (EMFC) instead of applied weight. System identification is carried out for the mass (m), damping coefficient (c), and spring constant (k) values. The presence of a back EMF seen in either conductive or non-conductive material responses in the experiments includes the step input and corresponding output responses to measure the electromagnetic damping force with and without a voice-coil actuator (VCA). The results were validated using bobbins of conductive (aluminum) and non-conductive (plastic) materials. The experimental results for the conductive material show that the electromagnetic damping force is 10 times greater than that of the non-conductive material; the opposite was true in the case without a VCA, where the force was almost zero for the non-conductive material. In conclusion, conductivity is directly related to the electromagnetic damping force, which affects the performance of a VCA. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Electromechanical Vibration Characteristics of Porous Bimorph and Unimorph Doubly Curved Panels
Actuators 2020, 9(1), 7; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9010007 - 28 Jan 2020
Viewed by 1276
Abstract
The aim of this study is developing an analytical solution for the free vibration of piezoelectric bimorph and unimorph doubly curved panels with a porous substrate. The panel is assumed to be relatively thick, and the effects of its shear deformation are taken [...] Read more.
The aim of this study is developing an analytical solution for the free vibration of piezoelectric bimorph and unimorph doubly curved panels with a porous substrate. The panel is assumed to be relatively thick, and the effects of its shear deformation are taken into account. Nonlinear models are considered to describe the variation of mechanical properties and of the electric potential within porous host and piezoelectric layers, respectively. Furthermore, short and open circuit electrical conditions are studied to predict the frequency response for sensing and actuation applications. Employing the first-order shear deformation theory (FSDT), in conjunction with the Hamilton’s variational principle and Maxwell’s equation allows deriving six highly coupled partial differential equations to describe the system dynamics under electromechanical coupling. After analytically solving those equations for simply supported panels, the system frequency response is investigated, for various values of design parameters such as porosity, electrical boundary conditions, and geometry. Moreover, some types of smart panels, including bimorphs and unimorphs layouts, are analyzed. The analysis confirms that the above-mentioned parameters play major roles in the natural frequency response of this system and must be carefully considered in the mechatronic design of this smart structure, although they allow to tailor the system behaviour to the selected application. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Design, Modelling and Control of Novel Series-Elastic Actuators for Industrial Robots
Actuators 2020, 9(1), 6; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9010006 - 23 Jan 2020
Viewed by 1429
Abstract
This paper describes data-driven modelling methods and their use for the control of a novel set of series-elastic actuators (SEAs). A set of elastic actuators was developed in order to fulfill the end-user needs for tailored industrial collaborative robot manipulators of different morphologies [...] Read more.
This paper describes data-driven modelling methods and their use for the control of a novel set of series-elastic actuators (SEAs). A set of elastic actuators was developed in order to fulfill the end-user needs for tailored industrial collaborative robot manipulators of different morphologies and payloads. Three different types of elastic actuation were investigated, namely, disc springs, coil springs and torsion bars. The developed algorithms were validated both on single actuators and on a 6-DOF robotic arm composed of such actuators. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Microfluidic Jetting Deformation and Pinching-off Mechanism in Capillary Tubes by Using Traveling Surface Acoustic Waves
Actuators 2020, 9(1), 5; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9010005 - 23 Jan 2020
Viewed by 1181
Abstract
To date, there has been little research attention paid to jetting deformation and pinching-off of microfluidic flows induced by the surface acoustic wave (SAW) mechanism. Further, such studies were almost limited to one sessile drop actuation without any confinement mechanisms. Such a scenario [...] Read more.
To date, there has been little research attention paid to jetting deformation and pinching-off of microfluidic flows induced by the surface acoustic wave (SAW) mechanism. Further, such studies were almost limited to one sessile drop actuation without any confinement mechanisms. Such a scenario is likely attributable to the mechanism’s relatively poor controllability, the difficulty of maintaining the fluid loading position and issues related to stability and repeatability. In this paper, a novel SAW-microfluidic jetting system with a vertical capillary tube was designed, accompanied by a large number of experiments investigating the single droplet jetting mechanism with different device dimensions, resonance frequencies and radio frequency (RF) power capabilities. The study began with the whole jetting deformation and droplet pinching off through the use of a microscope with a high-speed camera, after which the results were discussed to explain the droplet jetting mechanism in a vertical capillary tube. After that, the study continued with experimental and theoretical examinations for high-quality single droplet jetting conditions. Jetting characterization parameters, including threshold RF power, resonance frequency, liquid volume, pinching off droplet dimensions, were thoroughly analyzed. Lastly, the Weber number range, a significant parameter in SAW-microfluidic jetting, was verified, and the pinching off microdroplet dimension was analyzed and compared via experiments. The significance of this study lies in the realization of microfluidic drop-on-demand based on SAW technology. Full article
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Open AccessEditorial
Acknowledgement to Reviewers of Actuators in 2019
Actuators 2020, 9(1), 4; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9010004 - 21 Jan 2020
Viewed by 1147
Abstract
The editorial team greatly appreciates the reviewers who have dedicated their considerable time and expertise to the journal’s rigorous editorial process over the past 12 months, regardless of whether the papers are finally published or not [...] Full article
Open AccessReview
Soft Robotics: A Review of Recent Developments of Pneumatic Soft Actuators
Actuators 2020, 9(1), 3; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9010003 - 10 Jan 2020
Viewed by 1971
Abstract
This paper focuses on the recent development of soft pneumatic actuators for soft robotics over the past few years, concentrating on the following four categories: control systems, material and construction, modeling, and sensors. This review work seeks to provide an accelerated entrance to [...] Read more.
This paper focuses on the recent development of soft pneumatic actuators for soft robotics over the past few years, concentrating on the following four categories: control systems, material and construction, modeling, and sensors. This review work seeks to provide an accelerated entrance to new researchers in the field to encourage research and innovation. Advances in methods to accurately model soft robotic actuators have been researched, optimizing and making numerous soft robotic designs applicable to medical, manufacturing, and electronics applications. Multi-material 3D printed and fiber optic soft pneumatic actuators have been developed, which will allow for more accurate positioning and tactile feedback for soft robotic systems. Also, a variety of research teams have made improvements to soft robot control systems to utilize soft pneumatic actuators to allow for operations to move more effectively. This review work provides an accessible repository of recent information and comparisons between similar works. Future issues facing soft robotic actuators include portable and flexible power supplies, circuit boards, and drive components. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pneumatic Soft Actuators)
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Open AccessArticle
Switching Modes of Mixing Due to an Adjustable Gap in a Continuous-Flow Microreactor
Actuators 2020, 9(1), 2; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9010002 - 23 Dec 2019
Viewed by 1579
Abstract
Microreactors are an important development in chemical engineering since the pharmaceutical industry needs flexible production rather than a large amount of product yield. The size of the microreactor may be so small that it requires the development of non-mechanical methods for reagent mixing. [...] Read more.
Microreactors are an important development in chemical engineering since the pharmaceutical industry needs flexible production rather than a large amount of product yield. The size of the microreactor may be so small that it requires the development of non-mechanical methods for reagent mixing. In this paper, we propose the design of a continuous-flow microreactor in the form of a narrow cell with a variable gap. By tuning the gap width in time and space, one can control the reaction rate and regulate the product yield. We show that the governing equation for the fluid flow can be reduced to the Darcy equation with permeability varying in space and time. As a test reaction, we consider the neutralization of nitric acid with sodium hydroxide resulting in the solutal convection in the presence of gravity. We show numerically that the prototyping spatially-distributed relief of the reactor walls can successfully separate the incoming and outgoing flows of reagents, control the mixing intensity, increase or decrease the product yield. We demonstrate also the dynamic control of the reactor efficiency via real-time local changes in the gap width. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Mechatronic Control System for a Compliant and Precise Pneumatic Rotary Drive Unit
Actuators 2020, 9(1), 1; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9010001 - 20 Dec 2019
Viewed by 1534
Abstract
Robots that enable safe human-robot collaboration can be realized by using compliant drive units. In previous works, different mechanical designs of compliant pneumatic rotary drive units with similar characteristics have been presented. In this paper, we present the overall control approach that we [...] Read more.
Robots that enable safe human-robot collaboration can be realized by using compliant drive units. In previous works, different mechanical designs of compliant pneumatic rotary drive units with similar characteristics have been presented. In this paper, we present the overall control approach that we use to operate one of these compliant pneumatic rotary drive units. We explain the mechanical design and derive the differential equation that describes the dynamics of the system. In order to successfully operate a pneumatic drive unit with three or more working chambers, the torque specified by the controller has to be split up onto the working chambers. We transfer the well-known field-oriented control approach from electric motors to the investigated pneumatic drive unit to create such a torque mapping. Moreover, we develop optimized torque mappings that are tailored to work with this type of drive unit. Furthermore, we introduce and compare two control algorithms based on different implementations of state feedback to realize position control. Finally, we present the step responses that we achieve when we implement either one of the control algorithms in combination with the different torque mappings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soft and Compliant Actuators and Their Robotic Applications)
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