Special Issue "3D Printed Actuators"

A special issue of Micromachines (ISSN 2072-666X). This special issue belongs to the section "E:Engineering and Technology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2022) | Viewed by 7801

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Ed Habtour
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
William E. Boeing Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics, University of Washington, Box 352400, Seattle, WA 98195-2400, USA
Interests: biomimetic actuation; artificial muscles; biomimicry; bioinspiration; distributive control; smart materials; dynamic structures; multifunctional structures; nature-inspired robots; nonlinear phenomena
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Samuel Stanton
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Aeronautics Department, United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO 80840-5002, USA
Interests: mechanical metastructures; embodied control; distributed actuation and sensing; agile motion

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

It is quite remarkable to witness the achievements made in just the past decade in improving the efficiency, speed, shape factor, range of motion, and utility of 3D-printed actuators for applications in engineering, medicine, and robotics. The emergence of the 3D-printed actuators field and its achievements was enabled by advances in four key areas: active materials, additive manufacturing, reduced-order modeling, and design optimization. For example, the application of active materials into 3D-printed actuators brings together control theory and material science to enable microscopic programming and control of the actuators’ mechanical properties commensurate to those seen in biological systems. Recent research activities residing at the intersection of the aforementioned areas show great promise in creating a new class of transformable 3D actuators capable of changing their shape, dimension, speed, and adaptation to a myriad of internal and external stimuli.

This Special Issue addresses the scientific and engineering challenges and reports recent advancements and discoveries in the field of 3D-printed actuators. Therefore, manuscripts from different branches of engineering, natural and physical sciences, and medicine are invited. Topics of interest include but are not limited to:

  • Large range of motion;
  • Fabrication;
  • Miniaturization;
  • Distributive actuation and control;
  • Proprioceptive and haptic feedback;
  • Transformable and reconfigurable actuators;
  • Active and hybrid materials;
  • Modeling and optimization;
  • Nonlinear behaviors;
  • Degradation and self-repair.

Dr. Ed Habtour
Dr. Samuel Stanton
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Micromachines is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Living machines
  • Micromachines
  • Soft robots
  • Biomimicry and bioinspiration
  • Control
  • Power density
  • Reconfigurable actuation
  • Advanced materials
  • Nonlinear
  • Dynamics

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Published Papers (7 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Editorial for the Special Issue on 3D Printed Actuators
Micromachines 2023, 14(1), 77; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi14010077 - 28 Dec 2022
Viewed by 384
Abstract
After decades of curiosity-driven innovation and engineering advancements of 3D-printed actuators, we continue to witness their endless impacts and ever-expanding opportunities in many applications that touch our lives [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Printed Actuators)

Research

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Article
Hybrid Compliant Musculoskeletal System for Fast Actuation in Robots
Micromachines 2022, 13(10), 1783; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi13101783 - 20 Oct 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 692
Abstract
A nature-inspired musculoskeletal system is designed and developed to examine the principle of nonlinear elastic energy storage–release for robotic applications. The musculoskeletal system architecture consists of elastically rigid segments and hyperelastic soft materials to emulate rigid–soft interactions in limbless vertebrates. The objectives are [...] Read more.
A nature-inspired musculoskeletal system is designed and developed to examine the principle of nonlinear elastic energy storage–release for robotic applications. The musculoskeletal system architecture consists of elastically rigid segments and hyperelastic soft materials to emulate rigid–soft interactions in limbless vertebrates. The objectives are to (i) improve the energy efficiency of actuation beyond that of current pure soft actuators while (ii) producing a high range of motion similar to that of soft robots but with structural stability. This paper proposes a musculoskeletal design that takes advantage of structural segmentation to increase the system’s degrees of freedom, which enhances the range of motion. Our findings show that rigid–soft interactions provide a remarkable increase in energy storage and release and, thus, an increase in the undulation speed. The energy efficiency achieved is approximately 68% for bending the musculoskeletal system from the straight configuration, compared to 2.5–30% efficiency in purely soft actuators. The hybrid compliance of the musculoskeletal system under investigation shows promise for alleviating the need for actuators at each joint in a robot. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Printed Actuators)
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Article
Automated Open-Hardware Multiwell Imaging Station for Microorganisms Observation
Micromachines 2022, 13(6), 833; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi13060833 - 26 May 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1117
Abstract
Bright field microscopes are particularly useful tools for biologists for cell and tissue observation, phenotyping, cell counting, and so on. Direct cell observation provides a wealth of information on cells’ nature and physiological condition. Microscopic analyses are, however, time-consuming and usually not easy [...] Read more.
Bright field microscopes are particularly useful tools for biologists for cell and tissue observation, phenotyping, cell counting, and so on. Direct cell observation provides a wealth of information on cells’ nature and physiological condition. Microscopic analyses are, however, time-consuming and usually not easy to parallelize. We describe the fabrication of a stand-alone microscope able to automatically collect samples with 3D printed pumps, and capture images at up to 50× optical magnification with a digital camera at a good throughput (up to 24 different samples can be collected and scanned in less than 10 min). Furthermore, the proposed device can store and analyze pictures using computer vision algorithms running on a low power integrated single board computer. Our device can perform a large set of tasks, with minimal human intervention, that no single commercially available machine can perform. The proposed open-hardware device has a modular design and can be freely reproduced at a very competitive price with the use of widely documented and user-friendly components such as Arduino, Raspberry pi, and 3D printers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Printed Actuators)
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Article
Feasibility of Optical Bearing Fabrication Using Radiation Pressure
Micromachines 2022, 13(5), 733; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi13050733 - 02 May 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 677
Abstract
A three-dimensional (3D) printer was used to create a model device to discuss the reduction in friction generated by rotation and investigate the possibility of friction reduction in microelectromechanical systems (MEMSs) using light as a future technology. Experiments on this model showed that [...] Read more.
A three-dimensional (3D) printer was used to create a model device to discuss the reduction in friction generated by rotation and investigate the possibility of friction reduction in microelectromechanical systems (MEMSs) using light as a future technology. Experiments on this model showed that friction could be reduced using the light radiation pressure. In addition, the possibility of reducing the effect of the friction generated during rotation was demonstrated by adding a mechanism to the rotating rotor mechanism that reduces friction based on the radiation pressure. The effectiveness and associated problems of 3D printers as a fabrication technology for MEMSs were explored. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Printed Actuators)
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Article
Impact of 3D Printing Technique and TPE Material on the Endurance of Pneumatic Linear Peristaltic Actuators
Micromachines 2022, 13(3), 392; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi13030392 - 28 Feb 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1236
Abstract
In this paper, additive manufacturing was used in order to produce hose prototypes for peristaltic linear pneumatic actuators. In order to optimise the endurance of the actuator, we 3D printed different thermoplastic polyurethane elastomers with different shore hardness levels using ARBURG Plastic Freeforming [...] Read more.
In this paper, additive manufacturing was used in order to produce hose prototypes for peristaltic linear pneumatic actuators. In order to optimise the endurance of the actuator, we 3D printed different thermoplastic polyurethane elastomers with different shore hardness levels using ARBURG Plastic Freeforming technology. Furthermore, effects of the hose geometries on the lifetime of the actuator were investigated. Experimental evidence showed that the lifetime of the actuator was dependent on the combination of the hose design and on the material used to manufacture the hose. Moreover, experimental tests showed that the use of the Aurburg-Freeformer 3D printing technology led to a much higher hose endurance than the one reported by using the fused layer manufacturing technique. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Printed Actuators)
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Article
Design of a Single-Material Complex Structure Anthropomorphic Robotic Hand
Micromachines 2021, 12(9), 1124; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi12091124 - 18 Sep 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1746
Abstract
In the field of robotic hand design, soft body and anthropomorphic design are two trends with a promising future. Designing soft body anthropomorphic robotic hands with human-like grasping ability, but with a simple and reliable structure, is a challenge that still has not [...] Read more.
In the field of robotic hand design, soft body and anthropomorphic design are two trends with a promising future. Designing soft body anthropomorphic robotic hands with human-like grasping ability, but with a simple and reliable structure, is a challenge that still has not been not fully solved. In this paper, we present an anatomically correct robotic hand 3D model that aims to realize the human hand’s functionality using a single type of 3D-printable material. Our robotic hand 3D model is combined with bones, ligaments, tendons, pulley systems, and tissue. We also describe the fabrication method to rapidly produce our robotic hand in 3D printing, wherein all parts are made by elastic 50 A (shore durometer) resin. In the experimental section, we show that our robotic hand has a similar motion range to a human hand with substantial grasping strength and compare it with the latest other designs of anthropomorphic robotic hands. Our new design greatly reduces the fabrication cost and assembly time. Compared with other robotic hand designs, we think our robotic hand may induce a new approach to the design and production of robotic hands as well as other related mechanical structures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Printed Actuators)
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Article
Fabrication and Characterization of a Microscale Piezoelectric Vibrator Based on Electrohydrodynamic Jet Printed PZT Thick Film
Micromachines 2021, 12(5), 524; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi12050524 - 06 May 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1178
Abstract
This paper proposes a novel way of preparing a PZT thick film micro vibrator using the electrohydrodynamic jet (E-Jet) printing technique. Initially, a micro piezoelectric vibrator was simulated and designed for obtaining optimized structure, which has a total thickness of less than 600 [...] Read more.
This paper proposes a novel way of preparing a PZT thick film micro vibrator using the electrohydrodynamic jet (E-Jet) printing technique. Initially, a micro piezoelectric vibrator was simulated and designed for obtaining optimized structure, which has a total thickness of less than 600 µm. Subsequently, the PZT thick film element was directly printed on the elastic body using the E-Jet printing. This method avoids the glue fabrication process involved in the bulk piezoelectric fabrication, thus avoiding the limits of voltage drops, isolating and absorbing amplitude usually occurred in the vibrator having glue interface. It was observed that B02 and B03 modes were generated at frequencies of 29.74 and 79.14 kHz, respectively, and the amplitudes of B02 and B03 modes were 406 and 176 nm, respectively. The error between the simulation and test result in the B03 modal is only 0.35%, which indicates the accuracy of the simulation analysis and the fabrication process. The PZT thick film traveling-wave micro vibrator successfully realized bidirectional rotation of a rotor, with a maximum speed of 681 rpm, which also shows a linear relationship between excitation voltage and rotary speed. This paper provides an effective method for preparing a micro piezoelectric vibrator for MEMS ultrasonic devices, which simplifies the manufacturing process and enhances the performance of the piezoelectric vibrator. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Printed Actuators)
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