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A 3D-printed polymer micro-gripper with self-defined electrical tracks and thermal actuator

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posted on 15.05.2017, 13:39 by Khalid Alblalaihid, J.K. Overton, Simon Lawes, Peter KinnellPeter Kinnell
This paper presents a simple fabrication process that allows for isolated metal tracks to be easily defined on the surface of 3D printed micro-scale polymer components. The process makes use of a standard low cost conformal sputter coating system to quickly deposit thin film metal layers on to the surface of 3D printed polymer micro parts. The key novelty lies in the inclusion of inbuilt masking features, on the surface of the polymer parts, to ensure that the conformal metal layer can be effectively broken to create electrically isolated metal features. The presented process is extremely flexible, and it is envisage that it may be applied to a wide range of sensor and actuator applications. To demonstrate the process a polymer micro-scale gripper with an inbuilt thermal actuator is designed and fabricated. In this work the design methodology for creating the micro-gripper is presented, illustrating how the rapid and flexible manufacturing process allows for fast cycle time design iterations to be performed. In addition the compatibility of this approach with traditional design and analysis techniques such as basic finite element simulation is also demonstrated with simulation results in reasonable agreement with experimental performance data for the micro-gripper.

Funding

This research was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council of the UK via the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Intelligent Automation (grant EP/I033467/1).

History

School

  • Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering

Published in

Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering

Citation

ALBLALAIHID, K. ...et al., 2017. A 3D-printed polymer micro-gripper with self-defined electrical tracks and thermal actuator. Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering, 27 (4), 045019 [10 pp.]

Publisher

© IOP Publishing

Version

VoR (Version of Record)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Acceptance date

27/02/2017

Publication date

2017

Notes

Original content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 licence. Any further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the title of the work, journal citation and DOI.

ISSN

0960-1317;1361-6439

Language

en

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