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Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.1016/J.EML.2021.101263

Magnetically switchable soft suction grippers.

05 Mar 2021-Extreme Mechanics Letters (Elsevier)-Vol. 44, pp 101263-101263
Abstract: Grasping is one of the key tasks for robots. Gripping fragile and complex three-dimensional (3D) objects without applying excessive contact forces has been a challenge for traditional rigid robot grippers. To solve this challenge, soft robotic grippers have been recently proposed for applying small forces and for conforming to complex 3D object shapes passively and easily. However, rigid grippers are still able to exert larger forces, necessary for picking heavy objects. Therefore, in this study, we propose a magnetically switchable soft suction gripper (diameter: 20 mm) to be able to apply both small and large forces. The suction gripper is in its soft state during approach and attachment while it is switched to its rigid state during picking. Such stiffness switching is enabled by filling the soft suction cup with a magnetorheological fluid (MR fluid), which is switched between low-viscosity (soft) and high-viscosity (rigid) states using a strong magnetic field. We characterized the gripper by measuring the force required to pull the gripper from a smooth glass surface. The force was up to 90% larger when the magnetic field was applied (7.1 N vs. 3.8 N). We also demonstrated picking of curved, rough, and wet 3D objects, and thin and delicate films. The proposed stiffness-switchable gripper can also carry heavy objects and still be delicate while handling fragile objects, which is very beneficial for future potential industrial part pick-and-place applications.

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Topics: Grippers (59%), Soft robotics (56%), Contact force (54%)
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5 results found


Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.1016/J.COMPOSITESB.2021.109148
Abstract: Magnetorheological elastomers (MREs), consisting of an elastomeric matrix filled with magnetic particles, are one of the most promising multifunctional composites. The main advantage of these materials is their response to external magnetic fields by mechanically deforming and/or changing their magnetorheological properties. This multi-physical nature makes them ideal candidates for timely applications in soft robotics and bioengineering. Although several works have addressed the magneto-mechanical coupling in these composites from both experimental and modelling approaches, there is still a big gap of knowledge preventing the full understanding of their underlying physics. In this regard, there is no experimental work addressing a comprehensive magneto-mechanical characterisation combining different MRE configurations, mechanical deformation modes and magnetic conditions. Furthermore, the interplays of rate dependences into such magnetorheological behaviour still remain elusive. In this work, we provide an unprecedented experimental characterisation of a soft MRE considering more than 100 different experimental conditions involving more than 600 tests. The experiments include monotonous uniaxial compression at different deformation rates and magnetic conditions, magneto-mechanical DMA tests, relaxation tests, oscillatory shear tests at different deformation rates and magnetic conditions, magneto-mechanical shear frequency sweep tests, and novel magneto-mechanical experiments. The results obtained in this work provide full characterisation of soft MREs with a special focus on rate dependences, forming the basis to explain novel multifunctional mechanisms identified behind their coupled response. In addition, it opens the door to new constitutive and modelling approaches.

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Topics: Magnetorheological fluid (58%)

6 Citations


Open accessDOI: 10.3389/FROBT.2021.752290
19 Nov 2021-
Abstract: This paper presents a multi-purpose gripping and incision tool-set to reduce the number of required manipulators for targeted therapeutics delivery in Minimally Invasive Surgery. We have recently proposed the use of multi-arm Concentric Tube Robots (CTR) consisting of an incision, a camera, and a gripper manipulator for deep orbital interventions, with a focus on Optic Nerve Sheath Fenestration (ONSF). The proposed prototype in this research, {\color{blue} called {\it Gripe-Needle}}, is a needle equipped with a sticky suction cup gripper capable of performing both gripping of target tissue and incision tasks in the optic nerve area by exploiting the multi-tube arrangement of a CTR for actuation of the different tool-set units. As a result, there will be no need for an independent gripper arm for an incision task. The CTR innermost tube is equipped with a needle, providing the pathway for drug delivery, and the immediate outer tube is attached to the suction cup, providing the suction pathway. Based on experiments on various materials, we observed that adding a sticky surface with bio-inspired grooves to a normal suction cup gripper has many advantages such as, (i) enhanced adhesion through material stickiness and by air-tightening the contact surface, (ii) maintained adhesion despite internal pressure variations, e.g. due to the needle motion, and (iii) sliding resistance. {\color{blue} Simple Finite Element and theoretical modeling frameworks are proposed, based on which a miniature tool-set is designed to achieve the required gripping forces during ONSF. The final designs were successfully tested for accessing the optic nerve of a realistic eye phantom in a skull eye orbit, robust gripping and incision on units of a plastic bubble wrap sample, and manipulating different tissue types of porcine eye samples.}

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Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.1002/AISY.202100139
Bonan Sun1, Rong Jia1, Hang Yang1, Xi Chen1  +3 moreInstitutions (2)
19 Oct 2021-
Topics: Self-healing hydrogels (52%)

Proceedings ArticleDOI: 10.1109/AIRPHARO52252.2021.9571044
01 Oct 2021-
Abstract: The installation and removal of bird diverters from power lines is conducted nowadays by human operators working from manned helicopters or from the power line itself, which entails a certain risk and cost that can be reduced if an aerial manipulator performs these tasks. This paper presents the design of a lightweight gripper (70 g) which is specific for the installation of helical bird diverters. It consists of a claw-type compliant mechanism that is integrated in an anthropomorphic dual arm system, which is intended to perform the operation, and is attached to a multirotor through a long-reach pendulum configuration. The paper also covers the mechanical integration as well as the utilization of a teleoperation system to test the gripper for the installation at a test bench.

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Topics: Multirotor (51%), Teleoperation (50%)

Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.3390/POLYM13203481
Chi Zhang1, Lei Liu1, Kanghui Xu, Zhonghong Dong1  +3 moreInstitutions (1)
11 Oct 2021-Polymers
Abstract: Suction cups of cephalopods show a preeminent performance when absorbing irregular or flat objects. In this paper, an octopi-inspired suction cup, driven by hydraulically coupled dielectric elastomer actuators (HCDEAs), is proposed, which is considered to be controlled easily and have compact structure. To investigate the performance of suction cups, experiments have been conducted to clarify the effect of the pre-stretch ratio and chamber angle on suction forces. It could be seen that both factors have a complicated influence on suction forces, and the best performance obtained was a reasonable combination of the pre-stretch ratio and chamber angle. Here, we achieved a maximum suction force of 175 mN with λp = 1.2, α = 23° under a DC voltage of 3500 V. To enhance the capacity and adaptation of the suction cup, flat objects of various types of materials were introduced as targets. Experimental results displayed that for tested materials, including a dry/wet acrylic plate, CD, ceramic wafer, and aluminum plate, the suction cup showed outstanding performance of absorbing and lifting the target without any damage or scratch to them. Our research may serve as a guide to the optimal design and provide insights into the performance of the HCDEAs-actuated suction cup.

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Topics: Suction cup (64%), Suction (59%)
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30 results found


Journal ArticleDOI: 10.1038/NATURE05968
19 Jul 2007-Nature
Abstract: The adhesive strategy of the gecko relies on foot pads composed of specialized keratinous foot-hairs called setae, which are subdivided into terminal spatulae of approximately 200 nm (ref. 1). Contact between the gecko foot and an opposing surface generates adhesive forces that are sufficient to allow the gecko to cling onto vertical and even inverted surfaces. Although strong, the adhesion is temporary, permitting rapid detachment and reattachment of the gecko foot during locomotion. Researchers have attempted to capture these properties of gecko adhesive in synthetic mimics with nanoscale surface features reminiscent of setae; however, maintenance of adhesive performance over many cycles has been elusive, and gecko adhesion is greatly diminished upon full immersion in water. Here we report a hybrid biologically inspired adhesive consisting of an array of nanofabricated polymer pillars coated with a thin layer of a synthetic polymer that mimics the wet adhesive proteins found in mussel holdfasts. Wet adhesion of the nanostructured polymer pillar arrays increased nearly 15-fold when coated with mussel-mimetic polymer. The system maintains its adhesive performance for over a thousand contact cycles in both dry and wet environments. This hybrid adhesive, which combines the salient design elements of both gecko and mussel adhesives, should be useful for reversible attachment to a variety of surfaces in any environment.

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Topics: Synthetic setae (69%), Gekko gecko (56%), Gecko (52%) ... read more

1,551 Citations


Journal ArticleDOI: 10.1002/ANIE.201006464
Filip Ilievski1, Aaron D. Mazzeo1, Robert F. Shepherd1, Xin Chen1  +2 moreInstitutions (2)
18 Feb 2011-Angewandte Chemie
Abstract: In areas from assembly of machines to surgery, and from deactivation of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to unmanned flight, robotics is an important and rapidly growing field of science and technology. It is currently dominated by robots having hard body plans—constructions largely of metal structural elements and conventional joints—and actuated by electrical motors, or pneumatic or hydraulic systems. Handling fragile objects—from the ordinary (fruit) to the important (internal organs)—is a frequent task whose importance is often overlooked and is difficult for conventional hard robots; moving across unknown, irregular, and shifting terrain is also. Soft robots may provide solutions to both of these classes of problems, and to others. Methods of designing and fabricating soft robots are, however, much less developed than those for hard robots. We wish to expand the methods and materials of chemistry and soft-materials science into applications in fully soft robots. A robot is an automatically controlled, programmable machine. The limbs of animals or insects—structures typically based on rigid segments connected by joints with constrained ranges of motion—often serve as models for mobile elements of robots. Although mobile hard robots sometimes have limb-like structures similar to those of animals (an example is “Big Dog” by Boston Robotics), more often, robots use structures not found in organisms—for example, wheels and treads. The robotics community defines “soft robots” as: 1) machines made of soft—often elastomeric—materials, or 2) machines composed of multiple hard-robotic actuators that operate in concert, and demonstrate soft-robot-like properties; here, we consider only the former. Soft animals offer new models for manipulation and mobility not found, or generated only with difficulty and expense, using hard robots. Because materials from which this class of devices will be fabricated will usually be polymers (especially elastomers), they fall into the realm of organic materials science. The use of soft materials allows for continuous deformation. This type of deformation, in turn, enables structures with ranges of motion limited only by the properties of the materials. Soft robots have the potential to exploit types of structures found, for example, in marine organisms, and in non-skeletal parts of land animals. The tentacles of squid, trunks of elephants, and tongues of lizards and mammals are such examples; their structures are muscular hydrostats. Squid and starfish 14] are highly adept locomotors; their modes of movement have not been productively used, and permit solutions of problems in manipulation, locomotion, and navigation, that are different from those used in conventional hard robotics. The prototypical soft actuator—muscle—developed through the course of evolution. There is currently no technology that can replicate the balanced performance of muscle: it is simultaneously strong and fast, and enables a remarkable range of movements (such as those of a tongue). Muscle-like contraction and dilation occur in ionic polymeric gels on changes in the acidity or salinity of a surrounding ionic solution, but actuation in macroscopic structures is masstransport limited, and typically slow. Other electroactive polymers (EAPs) include dielectric elastomers, electrolytically active polymers, polyelectrolyte gels, and gel-metal composites. Pneumatically-driven McKibben-type actuators are among the most highly developed soft actuators, and have existed for more than fifty years; they consist of a bladder covered in a shell of braided, strong, inextensible fibers. These actuators can be fast, and have a length-load dependence similar to that of muscle but possess only one actuation mode—contraction and extension when pressurization changes. They are, in a sense, an analogue to a single muscle fibril ; using them for complex movements requires multiple actuators acting in series or parallel. Pneumaticallydriven flexible microactuators (FMAs) have been shown to be capable of bending, gripping, and manipulating objects. Roboticists have explored scalable methods for gripping and manipulating objects at the micro and nano scales. The use of compliant materials allows grippers to manipulate objects such as fruit with varied geometry. The field of robotics has not yet caught the attention of soft-materials scientists and chemists. Developing new materials, techniques for fabrication, and principles of design will create new types of soft robots. The objective of this work is to demonstrate a type of design that provides a range of behaviors, and that offers chemists a test bed for new materials and methods of fabrication for soft robots. Our designs use embedded pneumatic networks (PneuNets) of channels in elastomers [*] Prof. G. M. Whitesides Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering Harvard University, 3 Blackfan Circle, Boston, MA 02115 (USA) Fax: (+ 1)617-495-9857 and Kavli Institute for Bionano Science & Technology 29 Oxford Street, Cambridge MA (USA) E-mail: gwhitesides@gmwgroup.harvard.edu Homepage: http://gmwgroup.harvard.edu/

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Topics: Soft robotics (69%)

1,149 Citations


Journal ArticleDOI: 10.1039/C0SM01221A
05 Apr 2011-Soft Matter
Abstract: Magnetorheological (MR) materials are a kind of smart materials whose mechanical properties can be altered in a controlled fashion by an external magnetic field. They traditionally include fluids, elastomers and foams. In this review paper we revisit the most outstanding advances on the rheological performance of MR fluids. Special emphasis is paid to the understanding of their yielding, flow and viscoelastic behaviour under shearing flows.

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Topics: Magnetorheological fluid (62%), Rheometry (54%), Smart material (51%)

727 Citations


Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.1002/ADMA.201707035
07 May 2018-Advanced Materials
Abstract: Advances in soft robotics, materials science, and stretchable electronics have enabled rapid progress in soft grippers. Here, a critical overview of soft robotic grippers is presented, covering different material sets, physical principles, and device architectures. Soft gripping can be categorized into three technologies, enabling grasping by: a) actuation, b) controlled stiffness, and c) controlled adhesion. A comprehensive review of each type is presented. Compared to rigid grippers, end-effectors fabricated from flexible and soft components can often grasp or manipulate a larger variety of objects. Such grippers are an example of morphological computation, where control complexity is greatly reduced by material softness and mechanical compliance. Advanced materials and soft components, in particular silicone elastomers, shape memory materials, and active polymers and gels, are increasingly investigated for the design of lighter, simpler, and more universal grippers, using the inherent functionality of the materials. Embedding stretchable distributed sensors in or on soft grippers greatly enhances the ways in which the grippers interact with objects. Challenges for soft grippers include miniaturization, robustness, speed, integration of sensing, and control. Improved materials, processing methods, and sensing play an important role in future research.

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Topics: Grippers (66%), Soft robotics (63%), Stretchable electronics (53%)

519 Citations


Journal ArticleDOI: 10.1109/TRO.2011.2171093
Abstract: We describe a simple passive universal gripper, consisting of a mass of granular material encased in an elastic membrane. Using a combination of positive and negative pressure, the gripper can rapidly grip and release a wide range of objects that are typically challenging for universal grippers, such as flat objects, soft objects, or objects with complex geometries. The gripper passively conforms to the shape of a target object, then vacuum-hardens to grip it rigidly, later utilizing positive pressure to reverse this transition-releasing the object and returning to a deformable state. We describe the mechanical design and implementation of this gripper and quantify its performance in real-world testing situations. By using both positive and negative pressure, we demonstrate performance increases of up to 85% in reliability, 25% in error tolerance, and the added capability to shoot objects by fast ejection. In addition, multiple objects are gripped and placed at once while maintaining their relative distance and orientation. We conclude by comparing the performance of the proposed gripper with others in the field.

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Topics: Grippers (57%)

450 Citations


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