An Investigation of the Mechanics of an Ultra-Stretchable, Self-Healing, DLP 3D-Printed Hydrogel for Damage-Resistant Soft Robots
Joshua Michonski (presenter); other authors: Joseph Beckett, Carl Thrasher, Braeden Windham, Allyson Cox, Timothy Osborn, Anesia Auguste, Robert Lowe, and Christopher Crouse
Inspired by nature, soft robots composed of compliant (“soft”) materials are well-suited for uncertain, dynamic tasks requiring safe interaction between a robot and its environment. Vat photopolymerization (VP) additive manufacturing (AM) processes such as digital light processing (DLP) have disrupted traditional manufacturing of soft devices, enabling the fabrication of soft robotic components with unprecedented speed, resolution, and complexity. Concurrently, the rapid development of novel self-healing photo-curable soft materials for VP-based AM has paved the way for soft robots with embedded healing of damage (e.g., perforations, tears) induced, for instance, by an unintended interaction with a sharp object in their operating environment. At present, however, the mechanical behavior (deformation and fracture) of self-healing photo-curable soft materials (elastomers and hydrogels) used for next-generation soft robots is not well understood. To address this compelling research opportunity, this work focuses on the design and execution of a mechanical testing program to characterize BeckOHflex, a novel self-healing photo-curable hydrogel synthesized using off-the-shelf chemicals. The large-strain elasticity of BeckOHflex is investigated through quasi-static uniaxial tension testing. Both virgin and self-healed mechanical properties are shown to be commensurate or superior to the best-performing self-healing hydrogels in the literature. Further, a suite of demonstration prints produced on a commercial VP 3D printer highlight the material’s scalability and the ability to yield prints with complex form factors.
Primary Advisor's Department
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Stander Symposium, School of Engineering
Institutional Learning Goals
"An Investigation of the Mechanics of an Ultra-Stretchable, Self-Healing, DLP 3D-Printed Hydrogel for Damage-Resistant Soft Robots" (2023). Stander Symposium Projects. 2873.