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Applied Bionics and Biomechanics
Volume 2018, Article ID 4031705, 12 pages
https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/4031705
Research Article

Active Tube-Shaped Actuator with Embedded Square Rod-Shaped Ionic Polymer-Metal Composites for Robotic-Assisted Manipulation

1School of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, Hohai University, Changzhou Campus, Changzhou 213022, China
2Department of Mechanical Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA
3School of Mechanical Engineering, Xi’an Jiaotong University, Xi’an 710049, China

Correspondence should be addressed to Yanjie Wang; nc.ude.uhh@gnawjy

Received 3 November 2017; Revised 9 January 2018; Accepted 15 February 2018; Published 25 March 2018

Academic Editor: QingSong He

Copyright © 2018 Yanjie Wang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

This paper reports a new technique involving the design, fabrication, and characterization of an ionic polymer-metal composite- (IPMC-) embedded active tube, which can achieve multidegree-of-freedom (MODF) bending motions desirable in many applications, such as a manipulator and an active catheter. However, traditional strip-type IPMC actuators are limited in only being able to generate 1-dimensional bending motion. So, in this paper, we try to develop an approach which involves molding or integrating rod-shaped IPMC actuators into a soft silicone rubber structure to create an active tube. We modified the Nafion solution casting method and developed a complete sequence of a fabrication process for rod-shaped IPMCs with square cross sections and four insulated electrodes on the surface. The silicone gel was cured at a suitable temperature to form a flexible tube using molds fabricated by 3D printing technology. By applying differential voltages to the four electrodes of each IPMC rod-shaped actuator, MDOF bending motions of the active tube can be generated. Experimental results show that such IPMC-embedded tube designs can be used for developing robotic-assisted manipulation.