“3D Printing of Inflatable Elastomeric Tensegrity Structures”, Presented by Fergal Coulter, Nottingham Trent University

“3D Printing of Inflatable Elastomeric Tensegrity Structures”, Presented by Fergal Coulter, Nottingham Trent University.This talk details the design of an additive manufacturing system for Dielectric Elastomer Actuators (artificial muscles), with uses in soft robotic and medical applications.
The purpose is create tubular ‘Minimum Energy Structure’ tensegrities using a combination of silicone spray deposition and pneumatic inflation to create a tensioned structure. This inflated ‘balloon’ is 3D scanned and various auxetic geometries are calculated and extruded over the stretched surface using a hard silicone.
The silicone structures are cured and bonded, then the balloon is deflated. The extruded support comes under compression, eventually equalizing with the tension of the balloon membrane.

About Fergal Coulter

Fergal Coulter studied Computer Engineering at University of Limerick. After a number of years in industry, and then freelance system designer and printmaker he completed an MSc in Smart Materials and Product Design at Nottingham Trent University. He specialised in artificial muscles for in-vivo implants.
He has just submitted his PhD thesis entitled “Additive manufacturing method for dielectric elastomer based cardiac assist device”, which concentrates on the design of a system capable of “4D printing” silicone artificial muscles which contain varying levels of elastic strain throughout the object’s layers.

About Nottingham Trent University

Nottingham Trent University is ranked amongst the UK’s greenest universities in the Green League for our environmental commitment. We have 28,000 students (HESA 2011 / 12) and have invested £350 million since 2003 across our three campuses to create an inspiring learning environment.

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