Rapid manufacture of monolithic micro-actuated forceps inspired by echinoderm pedicellariae

Leigh, S. J.; Bowen, J.; Purssell, C. P.; Covington, J. A.; Billson, D. R. and Hutchins, D. A. (2012). Rapid manufacture of monolithic micro-actuated forceps inspired by echinoderm pedicellariae. Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, 7(4), article no. 044001.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-3182/7/4/044001

Abstract

The concept of biomimetics and bioinspiration has been used to enhance the function of materials and devices in fields ranging from healthcare to renewable energy. By developing advanced design and manufacturing processes, researchers are rapidly accelerating their ability to mimic natural systems. In this paper we show how micro-actuated forceps inspired by echinoderm pedicellarie have been produced using the rapid manufacturing technology of micro-stereolithography. The manufactured monolithic devices are composed of sets of jaws on the surface of thin polymer resin membranes, which serve as musculature for the jaws. The membranes are suspended above a pneumatic chamber with the jaws opened and closed through pneumatic pressure changes exerted by a simple syringe. The forceps can be used for tasks such as grasping of microparticles. Furthermore, when an object is placed in the centre of the membrane, the membrane flexes and the jaws of the device close and grasp the object in a responsive manner. When uncured liquid photopolymer is used to actuate the devices hydraulically instead of pneumatically, the devices exhibit self-healing behaviour, sealing the damaged regions and maintaining hydraulic integrity. The manufactured devices present exciting possibilities in fields such as micromanipulation and micro-robotics for healthcare.

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