3D printed linear soft multi-mode actuators expanding robotic applications


Soft pneumatic actuators can produce a range of motions and deliver a high force-to-mass ratio whilst offering intrinsic compliance. Presently, the majority of soft pneumatic actuators are used to create bending motions, with very few able to produce significant linear movements. Fewer can actively produce strains in multiple directions. The purpose of this study is to produce and characterize a novel 3D printed actuator which is capable of both extension and contraction under differential pressures. A new elastomeric resin was synthesized to be used on digital light projection (DLP) 3D printers. The presented pneumatic device, a linear soft multi-mode actuator (LSOMMA), is demonstrably scalable and provides a stable response over its lifetime of >10 000 cycles. The LSOMMA operates at low pressures, achieving full contraction and expansion at gauge pressures of -25 kPa and 75 kPa, respectively, corresponding to actuator strains of up to -50% and 37%. All actuators presented in this study had a rise time of less than 250 ms. The applications of these multi-mode actuators were demonstrated by developing a pipe-crawling robot capable of traversing horizontal, vertical, and bent sections of a pipe, and a ground locomotion robot capable of moving up to 652 mm min(-1) and turn at 361 degrees min(-1). An untethered locomotion robot which could navigate multiple surface materials was assembled to demonstrate the potential of the developed technologies for autonomous robotic applications.

subject category

Chemistry; Materials Science; Physics; Polymer Science


Drury, R; Sencadas, V; Alici, G

our authors


The authors thank Dr Rahim Mutlu for his contributions and support to the doctoral study of the first author during his time at the University of Wollongong. This research was supported by the Australian Government Research Training Program Award, and internal funds available to the AMBER group.

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