Pouch Motors: Printable Soft Actuators Integrated with Computational Design


We propose pouch motors, a new family of printable soft actuators integrated with computational design. The pouch motor consists of one or more inflatable gas-tight bladders made of sheet materials. This printable actuator is designed and fabricated in a planar fashion. It allows both easy prototyping and mass fabrication of affordable robotic systems. We provide theoretical models of the actuators compared with the experimental data. The measured maximum stroke and tension of the linear pouch motor are up to 28% and 100 N, respectively. The measured maximum range of motion and torque of the angular pouch motor are up to 80° and 0.2 N, respectively. We also develop an algorithm that automatically generates the patterns of the pouches and their fluidic channels. A custom-built fabrication machine streamlines the automated process from design to fabrication. We demonstrate a computer-generated life-sized hand that can hold a foam ball and perform gestures with 12 pouch motors, which can be fabricated in 15 min.

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