Centre for Fine Print Research University of the West of England Centre for Fine Print Research

Three-Dimensional Fabrication of Smart Actuators: Design Applications

Author/Co Author:
Peter Walters and Jonathan Rossiter
Name of conference: IS&T International Conference on Digital Fabrication
Place: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania , USA
Date: 6-11.9.08
Paper Presented by:
URL Links: www.imaging.org

This paper describes the design and digital fabrication of a series of “smart” devices which exhibit changes in shape and/or surface texture in response to external stimuli. Such stimuli include changes in temperature, pressure, or the application of electric current. Smart shape-changing devices which exhibit dynamic visual and tactile characteristics may in future be incorporated into the design of interactive products and systems, providing a new multi-sensory dimension in the communication of information to product users.

Working devices employing shape memory alloy, electroactive polymer and bio-actuation technologies are presented. These have been fabricated through a combination of laser cutting, photopolymer jetting (3D printing system by Objet Geometries Ltd), and vacuum casting of silicone rubber. Here the use of soft, compliant materials has enabled the realization of devices with novel tactile qualities. Possible functional and aesthetic applications for such devices will include product interfaces which respond to users and/or changes in their environment.
The paper reports on an interdisciplinary investigation which brings together design, smart materials and digital fabrication technologies. Implications of the research are identified within the area of multi-sensory product interface design.

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