S. Turkoglu, M.N. Walker, J. Zhang, J. Mead
University of Massachusetts Lowell,
Keywords: soft robot, textile-based, rubber coated fabrics
Summary:The application of soft robotics to wearable robots that can safely and effectively interact closely with humans is compelling, leading to increased research efforts internationally. In particular, pneumatic powered soft actuators are promising candidates for robotics applications because of their lightweight, high power-to-weight ratio, low material cost, and ease of fabrication with emerging digital fabrication techniques. Upon pressurization, embedded chambers in the soft actuator expand in the directions associated with low stiffness and give rise to a variety of motions. In order to keep admirable performance, such embedded chambers need to have excellent airtightness under operating pressure (up to 25 psi). To this end, coated fabrics based on butyl rubber were investigated in this work. A bromobutyl rubber (BIIR) formulation was created and a blade coating approach was used to prepare different rubber coatings on commercial nylon fabrics supplied by the Harvard team. Test results show that our coated fabrics exhibit excellent air tightness (impermeability) and good adhesion to the fabric.