Nathan Wilkinson, a PhD Researcher within the Future Manufacturing Processes Research Group, recently presented his work at the IEEE’s International Conference on Soft Robotics (RoboSoft 2019) in Seoul, South Korea. His work on the “Aerosol Jet Printing for the Manufacture of Soft Robotic Devices” was well received and provided an excellent opportunity to interact with the wider soft robotics community.
Aerosol Jet Printing for the Manufacture of Soft Robotic Devices
Abstract— Soft robotics is a fast growing field of engineering where there are significant opportunities to realize new forms of actuation and sensing. However, there is also a challenge to translate some of the lab-based developments into a robust industrial manufacturing process. Linked to this is also the opportunity to create new forms of functionality in soft robotic devices by employing a flexible, digital manufacturing process for their creation. Overcoming these hurdles, and unlocking the possibilities for greater functionality, is likely to be a key enabler for wider applications and adoption of soft robotics in practical applications. We present a system of computer-controlled Aerosol Jet Printing that will enable complex soft robotic structures to be manufactured. The process is demonstrated through the deposition of a carbon-based conductive ink on to elastomeric substrates for high resolution, conformal and multi- layer patterning. Functional demonstrators, in the form of a dielectric elastomer actuator and strain sensor, are produced to showcase the potential of the technique.