When Robotics met Fluidics? Is a paper written by mechanical engineers at the University of Maryland that explores the relationship between these two fields. It looks at the potential for embedded fluidic circuitry in soft robots and how they could be integrated into robots.
The authors describe how this can be achieved using the polyJet 3D printing method. In this process, multiple layers of materials are laid down before a liquid layer is set down on top. The printer then solidifies that layer and sets down the next one.
Soft robotics attempts to build robotic hands made from flexible materials that mimic properties of living animals. The flexible material of these robotic hands allows them to move in tight spaces and hold strong potential as biomedical devices and prosthetics.
The researchers developed a 3D printing technique to produce the hand and integrated the fluidic circuit with soft actuators. The three-dimensional printing process took just a few hours, but the result was an innovative robotic hand.