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

3D Printing and Fabrication of “Smart” Responsive Devices: A Comparative Investigation.

Dr Peter Walters
Name of conference: Proceedings of IS&T NIP25/Digital Fabrication 2009
Place: Louisville, Kentucky. USA
Date: 20-24.9.2009
Paper Presented by: Dr Peter Walters
URL Links:

This paper describes methods for the three-dimensional fabrication of smart actuators and responsive devices incorporating functional parts in elastomeric materials. The paper focuses on the fabrication of a bi-stable device which exhibits a dramatic change in shape when subjected to an external pressure load.
Two different fabrication methods are described. In the first method, parts are fabricated by casting the elastomer material in moulds produced by 3D printing. In the second method, parts are fabricated directly by 3D printing in a printable elastomer material. Experimental results are presented for devices fabricated by both methods, comparing their response under a pressure load. The effect of changing part geometry (wall thickness) is also investigated.

In addition, a working device with two-way actuation is demonstrated, in which a pair of shape memory alloy actuators are employed to bring about changes in the device’s shape. Possible applications for such devices include visual and tactile indicators and displays for interactive products. Other areas where they may be employed include robotics and interactive art and design applications.

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