Compliant Shell Structures in Upper Extremity Exoskeletons

Compliant shell structures are thin-walled structures that can move due to large elastic deflections. They are characterized by a high degree of function integration and enable the creation of hollow, thin-walled mechanisms that are extremely slender, lightweight and robust.  

The objective of this research is to develop an exoskeleton or orthesis that fits underneath clothing, where flexible shells, possibly made from composite materials, will support body mass and potentially also other loads due to non-linear force-displacement behaviour. To this end, it is intended to develop shape optimization methods in which both complex spatial shapes and anisotropic material properties are considered.

The anticipated output of this research is the creation of a theoretical foundation, a synthesis framework and a sequence of physical demonstrators.

This research is conducted within the framework of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 funded ‘SoftPro’ project, which aims to develop robotic assistive and rehabilitation devices for people with upper extremity amputations and people suffering from post-stroke impairments.