Directly Printable Flexible Strain Sensors for Bending and Contact Feedback of Soft Actuators

Elgeneidy, Khaled and Neumann, Gerhard and Jackson, Michael and Lohse, Niels (2018) Directly Printable Flexible Strain Sensors for Bending and Contact Feedback of Soft Actuators. Front. Robot. AI . ISSN 2296-9144

Full content URL: https://doi.org/10.3389/frobt.2018.00002

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Directly Printable Flexible Strain Sensors for Bending and Contact Feedback of Soft Actuators
Elgeneidy K, Neumann G, Jackson M and Lohse N (2018) Directly Printable Flexible Strain Sensors for Bending and Contact Feedback of Soft Actuators. Front. Robot. AI 5:2. doi: 10.3389/frobt.2018.00002
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Abstract

This paper presents a fully printable sensorized bending actuator that can be calibrated to provide reliable bending feedback and simple contact detection. A soft bending actuator following a pleated morphology, as well as a flexible resistive strain sensor, were directly 3D printed using easily accessible FDM printer hardware with a dual-extrusion tool head. The flexible sensor was directly welded to the bending actuator’s body and systematically tested to characterize and evaluate its response under variable input pressure. A signal conditioning circuit was developed to enhance the quality of the sensory feedback, and flexible conductive threads were used for wiring. The sensorized actuator’s response was then calibrated using a vision system to convert the sensory readings to real bending angle values. The empirical relationship was derived using linear regression and validated at untrained input conditions to evaluate its accuracy. Furthermore, the sensorized actuator was tested in a constrained setup that prevents bending, to evaluate the potential of using the same sensor for simple contact detection by comparing the constrained and free-bending responses at the same input pressures. The results of this work demonstrated how a dual-extrusion FDM printing process can be tuned to directly print highly customizable flexible strain sensors that were able to provide reliable bending feedback and basic contact detection. The addition of such sensing capability to bending actuators enhances their functionality and reliability for applications such as controlled soft grasping, flexible wearables, and haptic devices.

Keywords:soft gripper, flexible sensors, Robotics
Subjects:H Engineering > H671 Robotics
H Engineering > H730 Mechatronics
Divisions:College of Science > School of Computer Science
ID Code:32562
Deposited On:05 Jul 2018 14:47

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