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Open AccessArticle

Self-Healing and High Interfacial Strength in Multi-Material Soft Pneumatic Robots via Reversible Diels–Alder Bonds

1
Brubotics, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and Flanders Make, Pleinlaan 2, B-1050 Brussels, Belgium
2
Physical Chemistry and Polymer Science (FYSC), VUB, Pleinlaan 2, B-1050 Brussels, Belgium
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Actuators 2020, 9(2), 34; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9020034
Received: 3 April 2020 / Revised: 25 April 2020 / Accepted: 28 April 2020 / Published: 30 April 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pneumatic Soft Actuators)
In new-generation soft robots, the actuation performance can be increased by using multiple materials in the actuator designs. However, the lifetime of these actuators is often limited due to failure that occurs at the weak multi-material interfaces that rely almost entirely on physical interactions and where stress concentration appears during actuation. This paper proposes to develop soft pneumatic actuators out of multiple Diels–Alder polymers that can generate strong covalent bonds at the multi-material interface by means of a heat–cool cycle. Through tensile testing it is proven that high interfacial strength can be obtained between two merged Diels–Alder polymers. This merging principle is exploited in the manufacturing of multi-material bending soft pneumatic actuators in which interfaces are no longer the weakest links. The applicability of the actuators is illustrated by their operation in a soft hand and a soft gripper demonstrator. In addition, the use of Diels–Alder polymers incorporates healability in bending actuators. It is experimentally illustrated that full recovery of severe damage can be obtained by subjecting the multi-material actuators to a healing cycle.
Keywords: self-healing polymers; biomimetic; bioinspired robotics; soft robots; soft grippers self-healing polymers; biomimetic; bioinspired robotics; soft robots; soft grippers
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MDPI and ACS Style

Terryn, S.; Roels, E.; Brancart, J.; Assche, G.V.; Vanderborght, B. Self-Healing and High Interfacial Strength in Multi-Material Soft Pneumatic Robots via Reversible Diels–Alder Bonds. Actuators 2020, 9, 34.

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