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Actuating Shape Memory Polymer for Thermoresponsive Soft Robotic Gripper and Programmable Materials

: Schönfeld, Dennis; Chalissery, Dilip; Wenz, Franziska; Specht, Marius; Eberl, Chris; Pretsch, Thorsten

Fulltext ()

Molecules 26 (2021), No.3, Art. 522, 20 pp.
ISSN: 1420-3049
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft FhG
Aktuation für programmierbare Formänderung und Mechanik
Journal Article, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer IAP ()
Fraunhofer IWM ()
additive manufacturing; soft robotics; actuation; programmable material; polyester urethane; shape morphing; unit cell

For soft robotics and programmable metamaterials, novel approaches are required enabling the design of highly integrated thermoresponsive actuating systems. In the concept presented here, the necessary functional component was obtained by polymer syntheses. First, poly(1,10-decyleneadipate) diol (PDA) with a number average molecular weight Mn of 3290 gmol?1 was synthesized from 1,10-decanediol and adipic acid. Afterward, the PDA was brought to reaction with 4,40-diphenylmethane diisocyanate and 1,4-butanediol. The resulting polyester urethane (PEU) was processed to the filament, and samples were additively manufactured by fused-filament fabrication. After thermomechanical treatment, the PEU reliably actuated under stress-free conditions by expanding on cooling and shrinking on heating with a maximum thermoreversible strain of 16.1%. Actuation stabilized at 12.2%, as verified in a measurement comprising 100 heating-cooling cycles. By adding an actuator element to a gripper system, a hens egg could be picked up, safely transported and deposited. Finally, one actuator element each was built into two types of unit cells for programmable materials, thus enabling the design of temperature-dependent behavior. The approaches are expected to open up new opportunities, e.g., in the fields of soft robotics and shape morphing.