Robotics News
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New multimaterial 3D printing can help create better robotic systems.
Written By Edsel Cook
Researchers have been working on materials that can increase and decrease stiffness. A soft robot made from these stiffness-tunable materials could have better load capacity while also retaining its safety around humans and their work environment. (Related: HP goes “full Orwellian” with its 3D printers, says it will prohibit users from printing objects the government doesn’t want you to print.)

Developing a heat-activated polymer for use in soft robotics.
Students Create Soft 3D Printed Robot
"We combine a commercial inkjet multimaterial 3D printing technology with the direct-ink writing approach to fabricate our fully printed FRST actuator," remarked SUTD assistant professor Qi (Kevin) Ge. "The stiffness tunability is provided by an embedded SMP layer, and the fast response is enabled by embedded heating and cooling elements."

A soft actuator that can go from soft to hard and back in half a minute.
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In the published paper, Ge described how adding a theoretical layer of SMP to the mechanical actuator boosted the stiffness by as much as 12,000 percent. At the same time, the FRST actuator would maintain its flexibility and versatility.
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