A Miniature Size 3D Printed Linear Pneumatic Actuator for Robotic Applications




Trevino, Christian L.

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3D printing has been used to create passive machines and mechanisms that require the integration of external actuators for movements. Printing actuators has the potential of expanding the utility of 3D printing, yet has little been explored. We have created a miniature size, double- acting, ON-OFF type, linear pneumatic actuator with a sufficiently high power to weight ratio using a hobby-grade Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D printer. The actuator has a bore size of 1.2 cm, a stroke length of 2.0 cm, and a wall thickness just under 0.2 cm. The overall weight of the actuator is 12 g and generates a peak output power of 2 W when operating at an input pressure of 40 psi. This thesis explores novel methods to solve the challenges that arise when during fabrication that include: (1) chemical processing to achieve airtight 3D printed parts with reduced surface roughness, (2) strategic placement of a metallic part for imparting strength, (3) O-ring design for a tight piston seal, and (4) chemical bonding of printed parts using adhesive. The power to weight ratio of our actuator is comparable to that of high-end commercial actuators of the same size. To demonstrate the utility of the actuator, we created a hopping Pixar lamp. Our conclusion is that 3D printed pneumatic actuators combine the high power of pneumatics with the low weight of plastics and structural strength through selective placement of metal parts, thus offering a promising actuator for robotic applications.


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Mechanical Engineering