Robotics Student Seminar: "Fully 3D Printed Soft Robotics with Integrated Logic"

Tuesday, May 7, 2019
3:00 p.m.
1146 AV Williams
Ania Picard
301 405 4358

Robotics Student Seminar 
Fully 3D Printed Soft Robotics with Integrated Logic

Joshua Hubbard (Chemical Engineering)
Kristen Edwards (Mechanical Engineering)
Ruben Acevedo (Mechanical Engineering)
Jennifer Landry (Mechanical Engineering) 
Advisor: Dr. Ryan Sochol  
In this research we investigate the use of the multi-material additive manufacturing technique, polyjet printing, for simultaneously constructing soft robotic actuators with fully integrated microfluidic circuitry and logic. Historically, the field of robotics has primarily relied on metal-based systems controlled by electronics; however, emerging applications that involve human-robot interactions have led to increasing interest in soft robotic systems comprised of compliant materials that are actuated by pneumatic and/or fluidic controls. At present, two core challenges limit the efficacy of soft robotics: (i) microfluidic circuits for soft robotics are first manufactured using clean room-based multi-layer soft lithography protocols, and then require subsequent integration with robotic systems, and (ii) current microfluidic circuits suffer from the “tyranny of interconnects” – a requirement that increasing the number of independently operated actuators (e.g., limbs or fingers) demands an increasing number of distinct, external control inputs. To bypass these challenges, we use polyjet 3D printing to manufacture soft robotic actuators with embedded microfluidic circuity in a single print run. Along with experimental characterization and FEA simulations of the actuators and  the microfluidic transistor gain components, in this research, we showcase a fully 3D printed soft robotic hand with integrated microfluidic logic that enables each finger to be independently actuated using only a single control input (rather than one input per finger). The integrated logic hand can press the buttons of a Nintendo controller and successfully complete the first level of the original Super Mario Bros game in real time.    

About the Robotics Student Seminars

The Robotics Student Seminars at the University of Maryland College Park are a student-run series of talks given by current robotics students.

The purpose of these talks is to:

  • Encourage interaction between Robotics students from different subfields;
  • Provide an opportunity for Robotics students to be aware of and possibly get involved in the research their peers are conducting;
  • Provide an opportunity for Robotics students to receive feedback on their current research;
  • Provide speaking opportunities for Robotics students.


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