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Title: Development of a fabrication technique for soft planar inflatable composites
Author: Kow, Jun Wai
ISNI:       0000 0004 9358 127X
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2020
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Soft robotics is a rapidly growing field in robotics that combines aspects of biologically inspired characteristics to unorthodox methods capable of conforming and/or adapting to unknown tasks or environments that would otherwise be improbable or complex with conventional robotic technologies. The field of soft robotics has grown rapidly over the past decade with increasing popularity and relevance to real-world applications. However, the means of fabricating these soft, compliant and intricate robots still poses a fundamental challenge, due to the liberal use of soft materials that are difficult to manipulate in their original state such as elastomers and fabric. These material properties rely on informal design approaches and bespoke fabrication methods to build soft systems. As such, there are a limited variety of fabrication techniques used to develop soft robots which hinders the scalability of robots and the time to manufacture, thus limiting their development. This research focuses towards developing a novel fabrication method for constructing soft planar inflatable composites. The fundamental method is based on a sub-set of additive manufacturing known as composite layering. The approach is designed from a planar manner and takes layers of elastomeric materials, embedded strain-limiting and mask layers. These components are then built up through a layer-by-layer fabrication method with the use of a bespoke film applicator set-up. This enables the fabrication of millimetre-scale soft inflatable composites with complex integrated masks and/or strain-limiting layers. These inflatable composites can then be cut into a desired shape via laser cutting or ablation. A design approach was also developed to expand the functionality of these inflatable composites through modelling and simulation via finite element analysis. Proof of concept prototypes were designed and fabricated to enable pneumatic driven actuation in the form of bending soft actuators, adjustable stiffness sensor, and planar shape change. This technique highlights the feasibility of the fabrication method and the value of its use in creating multi-material composite soft actuators which are thin, compact, flexible, and stretchable and can be applicable towards real-world applications.
Supervisor: Alazmani Nodeh, Ali ; Culmer, Peter Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available