Title: Prototyping and characterisation of a variable stiffness actuation mechanism based on low melting point polymer

Authors: Wenjun Xu; Angelique Sixuan Huan; Hongliang Ren

Addresses: Department of Biomedical Engineering, National University of Singapore, 4 Engineering Drive 3, 117583, Singapore ' Department of Biomedical Engineering, National University of Singapore, 4 Engineering Drive 3, 117583, Singapore ' Department of Biomedical Engineering, National University of Singapore, 4 Engineering Drive 3, 117583, Singapore

Abstract: With the advent of automation and robotic systems, flexible robotic manipulators are becoming increasingly popular in various applications where safe interaction with surrounding environments is needed. This project aims to investigate stiffness varying technology for a class of flexible manipulators with the aim of online changing manipulator stiffness. We propose and develop a stiffness varying mechanism based on low melting point polycaprolactone (PCL), characterise it and test out together with extensive experiments. The proposed mechanism is further integrated into a tendon-driven flexible manipulator and it successfully changed the overall stiffness of the manipulator. This paper mainly involves design improvement, modelling, characterisation and hands-on experiments.

Keywords: flexible manipulator; stiffness varying mechanism; surgical manipulator; stiffness control.

DOI: 10.1504/IJMA.2016.084241

International Journal of Mechatronics and Automation, 2016 Vol.5 No.4, pp.211 - 220

Available online: 18 May 2017 *

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