Modular Soft Robotic Actuators from Flexible Perforated Sheets

Nicholas Pagliocca, Mitja Trkov, Behrad Koohbor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Soft robotic actuators can be designed to achieve complex and tailored motions while simultaneously leveraging their compliance to interact with complex and often delicate environments. Mechanical metamaterials reveal a route to customizable deformations, force exertion, and mechanical energy efficiency attainable by careful arrangement of local geometric features. Herein, modular soft robotic actuators are developed from soft elastomers and flexible thermoplastic sheets of various unit cell designs. The efforts are focused on center-symmetric perforated sheets, which are formed into flexible cylindrical skins that surround the soft inflatable actuators. The results demonstrate the influence of perforation geometry on the spatial stiffness of the reinforcement structure and the proposed actuators’ response through several investigations. It is demonstrated that the free-boundary displacement, maximal force exertion, and mechanical energy efficiency of extensile actuators are dependent on a change of deformation mode in the mesostructure. The spatial stiffness concept is extended to develop soft robotic actuators that can bend, twist, and perform hybrid motions, such as simultaneous bending and twisting. Multisegment soft robotic arms are also developed from the aforementioned actuators. Investigations in this study provide a step toward the development of highly customizable and programmable soft robotic actuators for various applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2300583
JournalAdvanced Engineering Materials
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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