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Robotics 2018, 7(2), 24;

A Structural Optimisation Method for a Soft Pneumatic Actuator

School of Mechanical, Materials, Mechatronic and Biomedical Engineering, University of Wollongong, Wollongong 2522 NSW, Australia
ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science, University of Wollongong, Wollongong 2522 NSW, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 12 April 2018 / Revised: 21 May 2018 / Accepted: 30 May 2018 / Published: 1 June 2018
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This study aims to investigate the effects of various design parameters on the actuation performance of a pneumatic network actuator (PNA), optimise its structure using the finite element method (FEM), and subsequently quantify the performance of the resulting actuator topology experimentally. The effects of the structural parameters, including the operation pressure, the wall thickness and the gap between the chambers, bottom layer thickness, and the geometry of the channel cross section, on the deformation and bending angle of the actuator were evaluated to optimise the performance of the pneumatic actuator. A Global Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was performed to investigate how the variables affect the mechanical output of the actuator and, thus, the significance of variables affecting the deformation (and bending angle) of the pneumatic actuator was identified. After the parameter optimisation, a pneumatic channel with a 4.5 mm bottom layer thickness, 1.5 mm wall thickness, and 1.5 mm gap between sequential chambers is recommended to perform optimised bending motion for the pneumatic network actuator. The optimised FE model results were verified experimentally. This design optimisation method based on the FEM and ANOVA analysis can be extended to the topology optimisation of other soft actuators. View Full-Text
Keywords: pneumatic actuators; soft robotics; FEM; simulation; design optimisation pneumatic actuators; soft robotics; FEM; simulation; design optimisation

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Hu, W.; Mutlu, R.; Li, W.; Alici, G. A Structural Optimisation Method for a Soft Pneumatic Actuator. Robotics 2018, 7, 24.

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