Abstract

The motivation for this work has been a variety of motions like navigation of pipelines, insertion operations in assembly, and gripping actions, which require the adaptation of the mechanism to the external constraints, rather than avoid them. To this effect, efforts have been made towards building mechanisms that obtain the required degrees of freedom through deformations rather than explicit joints in them. Although the use of many joints provides the required number of degrees of freedom, it does so at the cost of making the system very bulky and complex. With the advent of new polymers, the possibility of building such mechanisms without joints, that fulfil the requirements of adaptation, have increased. Based on this approach, a Magneto Active Polymer (MAP) material has been developed in-house at the Texas A&M University, in which the actuation is performed by the conversion of electromagnetic energy into mechanical energy. The initial experimentation has proved the vast potential of the use of such a material, and a few mechanisms, like a magneto active peristaltic pump, have already been developed and tested, using this material. In this mechanism the pumping action is obtained when a moving magnetic field produces peristaltic waves in the magneto active material shaped as a tube. These waves help in pushing the fluid forward, in the tube. The advantage of this mechanism is that there is not physical contact of the actuating mechanism an the MAP tube, thereby reducing the wear. In developing the design for the peristaltic pump and other conceptual models described in this paper, ideas have been drawn from the different modes of locomotion and actuators used, in lower organisms and these have been good sources of inspiration for the work detailed in this paper.

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