Action-at-a-distance’ metamaterials for soft robotics, developed by TU Delft researchers
Mechanical metamaterials are a sub-category of designer materials where the geometry of the material at the small-scale is rationally designed to give rise to unusual properties and functionalities. Here, we propose the concept of “action-at-a-distance” metamaterials where a specific pattern of local deformation is programmed into the fabric of (cellular) materials. The desired pattern of local actuation could then be achieved simply through the application of one single global and far-field force. We proposed graded designs of auxetic and conventional unit cells with changing Poisson’s ratios as a way of making “action-at-a-distance” metamaterials.
We explored five types of graded designs including linear, two types of radial gradients, checkered, and striped. Specimens were fabricated with indirect additive manufacturing and tested under compression, tension, and shear. Full-field strain maps measured with digital image correlation confirmed different patterns of local actuation under similar far-field strains. These materials have potential applications in soft (wearable) robotics and exosuits.