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Shaping Soft Robotic Microactuators by Wire Electrical Discharge Grinding.

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Bellotti, Mattia 
Gorissen, Benjamin 
De Volder, Michaël  ORCID logo


Inflatable soft microactuators typically consist of an elastic material with an internal void that can be inflated to generate a deformation. A crucial feature of these actuators is the shape of ther inflatable void as it determines the bending motion. Due to fabrication limitations, low complex void geometries are the de facto standard, severely restricting attainable motions. This paper introduces wire electrical discharge grinding (WEDG) for shaping the inflatable void, increasing their complexity. This approach enables the creation of new deformation patterns and functionalities. The WEDG process is used to create various moulds to cast rubber microactuators. These microactuators are fabricated through a bonding-free micromoulding process, which is highly sensitive to the accuracy of the mould. The mould cavity (outside of the actuator) is defined by micromilling, whereas the mould insert (inner cavity of the actuator) is defined by WEDG. The deformation patterns are evaluated with a multi-segment linear bending model. The produced microactuators are also characterised and compared with respect to the morphology of the inner cavity. All microactuators have a cylindrical shape with a length of 8 mm and a diameter of 0.8 mm. Actuation tests at a maximum pressure of 50 kPa indicate that complex deformation patterns such as curling, differential bending or multi-points bending can be achieved.



electrical discharge machining (EDM), micromoulding, soft microrobotics, wire electrical discharge grinding (WEDG)

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Micromachines (Basel)

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