Soft Bending Actuators
Soft robotics is a hot research topic because soft robots are lighter, cheaper and safer when compared to their serial counterparts. Soft inflatable bending actuators are used for converting pressured gas/fluid input to rotational motion. Soft grippers and soft wearable robots are common application areas of these actuators.
Soft inflatable bending actuators are mainly made from silicone and fabric materials. I personally prefer working on fabric-based ones since they are more elastic, more suitable for human-robot interaction, and they can exert higher forces on the environment. From the figure on the right, it can be seen that in terms of applying forces, commonly used silicone actuators cannot keep up with ones made of fabric.
Elastic Band Integrated Actuator
The video on the left shows our novel elastic band integrated fabric actuator. This actuator is tailored such that it can apply high forces to the environment and can bend high angles even with low input pressure values.
Check out more about a comparison of silicone and fabric actuators in the paper below.
To read more about elastic band integrated fabric actuators, see our soft hand exoskeleton prototype below.