One of the main challenges for soft-robotics is the acceleration of prototyping processes from idea to implementation. Integrated fabrication of body structures, actuators, sensors, and antennas can be a better way to solve this challenge.
We took advantage of the liquid-to-gas phase change and proposed an electric phase-change actuator comprising a printable fluidic actuator controlled by an inkjet-printed electric heater. This actuator can easily be integrated not only with origami robots, but also electric wires and sensors implemented with conductive ink. We theoretically analyzed the dynamics of electro-fluidic conversion in the actuator and compared it with actual measurement data. We verified the proposed actuator in real examples of a shape-shifting origami structure and a robot gripper with a printed touch sensor.
Kenichi Nakahara, Koya Narumi, Ryuma Niiyama, and Yoshihiro Kawahara, "Electric Phase-change Actuator with Inkjet Printed Flexible Circuit for Printable and Integrated Robot Prototyping," IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), pp.1856-1863, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore, May 2017.