Joseph G. Beckett


This presentation was given live at 10:00 a.m. (Eastern Time) on Thursday, April 22, 2021 via Zoom. A recording of the presentation is included below.



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Digital light processing (DLP) additive manufacturing (AM) is a recent development in 3D printing where full layers of photo-curable polymers (photoresins) are irradiated and cured with projected ultraviolet (UV) light to create a three-dimensional part layer-by-layer. Recent breakthroughs in polymer chemistry have led to a growing number of ultra-stretchable, self-healing UV-curable elastomeric photoresins, some capable of over 450% elongation at fracture. Coupled with the practical manufacturing advantages of DLP AM, these novel elastomeric photoresins are compelling candidates for numerous exciting applications, ranging from regenerative medicine (e.g., vascular grafts and tissue scaffolds) to soft robotics (the focus of this research). In general, soft robotics refers to the use of “soft” materials (i.e., those with a high degree of flexibility, stretchability, and conformability, such as natural rubber) in robotic devices, producing conformal mechanisms that safely interact with humans and are adept at grasping and manipulating assorted objects. To advance the role of DLP AM in this novel and promising technological space, a fundamental understanding of the mechanical behavior (i.e., deformation and fracture) of UV-curable elastomeric materials over a broad range of loading conditions is requisite. At present, however, this remains an open problem. Thus, the research described herein takes a first step toward addressing this critical technological gap by (a) designing and implementing a stereo digital image correlation (DIC) system optimized for large-deformation soft materials testing; (b) conducting an inaugural experimental test program on a novel self-healing UV-curable elastomer synthesized at the Air Force Research Laboratory; (c) using the resulting mechanical test data to develop working analytical and computational models that facilitate the design, optimization, control, and virtual testing of a prototype soft robot; and (d) validating the models using 3D DIC strain measurements of a full-scale soft robotic actuator.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Independent Research

Primary Advisor

Robert L. Lowe

Primary Advisor's Department

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Stander Symposium project, School of Engineering

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure

Toward DLP 3D-Printed Soft Robots: A Stereo DIC Investigation of the Mechanics of Ultra-Stretchable Self-Healing UV-Curable Photopolymers