Extending the abilities of soft wearables and healthcare robots by exploring the symbiosis of robotics and additive manufacturing
The Soft Robotics Lab at the University of Twente combines advanced manufacturing techniques with the intelligence of robotic systems. We use these sophisticated fabrication tools to unpack the potential of soft sensors, actuators, and stiffness tunable structures for human-focused applications.
Our research is inspired by the multi-functionality of composite structures in biological organisms. Through synergistic use of robotics and manufacturing techniques like assembly integrated additive manufacturing (AIAM), fiber-reinforced additive manufacturing (FRAM), and smart textile technologies, we believe we can embed more functionality into soft robots.
3D PRINTING IS ONLY THE BEGINNING OF A NEW MANUFACTURING AGE...
Assembly integrated additive manufacturing (AIAM), fiber-reinforced additive manufacturing (FRAM), and (smart) textile technologies are great but are just the start. We integrate state-of-the-art in robotics technologies with these manufacturing techniques to enhance their potential to create intelligent, moving, and ultimately independently functioning (soft) robots.
NATURE DID IT FIRST, USING COMPOSITES TO EMBED MULTI-FUNCTIONALITY INTO MATERIALS.
We draw inspiration from the way composites are formed in nature to direct our research into roboticizing advanced manufacturing. We also examine how nature forms intelligent composites. This influences our choices of integrated materials and mechanisms that show the most promise as target creations of our unique manufacturing techniques.
HUMANS ARE NEITHER SOFT NOR HARD.
Our aim is to use advanced automated manufacturing of soft-hard material composites to create robots that optimally interact with humans. Soft robots lend well to physically flexible and versatile operation in uncertain conditions. Hard robots lend well to high power, accurate and rapid movements. What impact can we have on healthcare if we combine them both in robots?
HUMAN FOCUSED ROBOTICS HAVE DEMANDING SAFETY, PERFORMANCE, ERGONOMICS AND INTELLIGENCE REQUIREMENTS.
We strive to make robotic technologies friendly by fabricating them out of composites that can actuate, sense and change their stiffness. This is level of integration is made possible through advanced additive manufacturing of complex composities.
Check out our latest research findings or projects, or get involved through one of our bachelor's or master's assignments.