IPMC Kirigami: A distributed actuation concept

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Today’s mechatronics relies on conventional transducers, i.e. lumped sensors and actuators with rigid construction. Future consumer products, medical devices and manufacturing processes require sensing and actuation systems with high count and density of individual transducer units. Such systems can be addressed as distributed transducers. Building distributed sensing and actuation systems with conventional transducers is economically unaffordable, and an alternative solution is needed. In this work we propose and study a methodology to build such distributed sensor and actuator systems from soft bending smart material transducers. Individual transducer units can be separated from the planar material substrate by cutting and etching techniques, and transducer counts and densities are only limited by the available smart materials and equipment. In this study we use laser ablation techniques to separate individual transducer units from the ionic polymer-metal composite (IPMC) sheets, and produce translational actuation units on the bending material substrate. IPMCs are manufactured in-house, different bending structure geometries are studied, and four different designs of the cm-scale translational platform units are realized and validated experimentally. The results demonstrate that it is possible to etch and cut a multitude of actuation units into planar bending smart material transducers, that bending actuation can be used to realize translation, and that the designs can be further miniaturized. Therefore, bending smart materials can be utilized to build monolithic distributed transducers.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the International Conference on Manipulation, Automation and Robotics at Small Scales (MARSS 2018)
EditorsSergej Fatikow, Sinan Haliyo, Fumihito Arai, Albert Sill
Place of PublicationPiscataway, NJ, USA
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-5386-4841-4
ISBN (Print)978-1-5386-4842-1
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventMARSS 2018: 3rd International Conference on Manipulation, Automation and Robotics at Small Scales - Nagoya, Japan
Duration: 4 Jul 20188 Jul 2018


ConferenceMARSS 2018: 3rd International Conference on Manipulation, Automation and Robotics at Small Scales

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository 'You share, we take care!' - Taverne project https://www.openaccess.nl/en/you-share-we-take-care Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Kirigami
  • IPMC
  • Distributed
  • Actuation
  • Sensing


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