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Multi-material 3D printed hydraulic actuator for medical robots

: Siegfarth, Marius; Pusch, Tim Philipp; Pfeil, Antoine; Renaud, Pierre; Stallkamp, Jan

Volltext urn:nbn:de:0011-n-5863381 (861 KByte PDF)
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Erstellt am: 23.4.2020

Rapid Prototyping Journal 26 (2020), Nr.6, S.1019-1026
ISSN: 1355-2546
Zeitschriftenaufsatz, Elektronische Publikation
Fraunhofer IPA ()
3D-Druck; 3D-Printing; Additive Manufacturing (AM); Hydraulik; Medizinroboter

Purpose – This study aims to investigate the potential of using polymer multi-material additive manufacturing (MMAM) to produce miniature hydraulic piston actuators combining rigid structures and flexible seals. Such actuators offer great potential for medical robots in X-ray and magnetic resonance environments, where conventional piston actuators cannot be used because of safety issues caused by metal components.
Design/methodology/approach – Hydraulic pistons with two different integrated flexible seal shapes are designed and manufactured using MMAM. Design 1 features a ring-shaped seal made from a flexible material that is printed on the surface of the rigid piston shaft. Design 2 appears identical from the outside, yet an axial opening in the piston shaft is added to enable self-reinforced sealing as fluid pressure increases. For both designs, samples with three different outer diameters are fabricated leading to a total of six different piston versions. The pistons are then evaluated regarding leakage, friction and durability.
Findings – Measurement results show that the friction force for Design 2 is lower than that of Design 1, making Design 2 more suitable for the intended application. None of the versions of Design 2 shows leakage for pressures up to 1.5 MPa. For Design 1, leak-tightness varies with the outer diameter, yet none of the versions is consistently leak-tight at 1.5 MPa. Furthermore, the results show that prolonged exposure to water decreases the durability of the flexible material significantly. The durability the authors observe may, however, be sufficient for short-term or single-use devices.
Originality/value – The authors investigate a novel design approach for hydraulic piston actuators based on MMAM. These actuators are of particular interest for patient-specific medical devices used in radiological interventions, where metal-free components are required to safely operate in X-ray and magnetic resonance environments. This study may serve as a basis for the development of new actuators, as it shows a feasible solution, yet pointing out critical aspects such as the influence of small geometry changes or material performance changes caused by water absorption.