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Research Papers: Design of Mechanisms and Robotic Systems

Pneumatic Soft Arm Based on Spiral Balloon Weaving and Shape Memory Polymer Backbone

[+] Author and Article Information
Jianbin Liu

Key Laboratory of Mechanism Theory and Equipment Design, Ministry of Education,
Tianjin University,
Tianjin 300072, China
e-mail: jianbin_liu@tju.edu.cn

Junbo Wei

Key Laboratory of Mechanism Theory and Equipment Design, Ministry of Education,
Tianjin University,
Tianjin 300072, China
e-mail: haibo_wang@tju.edu.cn

Guokai Zhang

Key Laboratory of Mechanism Theory and Equipment Design, Ministry of Education,
Tianjin University,
Tianjin 300072, China
e-mail: zhang_gk@tju.edu.cn

Shuxin Wang

Key Laboratory of Mechanism Theory and Equipment Design, Ministry of Education,
Tianjin University,
Tianjin 300072, China
e-mail: shuxinw@tju.edu.cn

Siyang Zuo

Key Laboratory of Mechanism Theory and Equipment Design, Ministry of Education,
Tianjin University,
Tianjin 300072, China
e-mail: siyang_zuo@tju.edu.cn

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Mechanisms and Robotics Committee of ASME for publication in the Journal of Mechanical Design. Manuscript received June 28, 2018; final manuscript received January 2, 2019; published online April 16, 2019. Assoc. Editor: David Myszka.

J. Mech. Des 141(8), 082302 (Apr 16, 2019) (13 pages) Paper No: MD-18-1496; doi: 10.1115/1.4042618 History: Received June 28, 2018; Accepted January 09, 2019

This paper presents a novel design of soft arm with triplet spiral balloons weaving and a shape memory polymer (SMP) backbone mechanism, which enables dexterous actuation and an additional variable stiffness function. The soft arm is aimed for assisting minimally invasive surgery (MIS). The triplet spiral balloons, which are actuated by pressure air, are woven helically around the SMP backbone, covered by a rubber sheath. This structure gives the soft arm a wide range of actuation, which allows it to reach the target without damaging surrounding tissues blocking its way. The SMP backbone, whose stiffness changes with the temperature, gives the arm the ability of shape holding. Temperature control of the SMP backbone is realized by the electric wire and cooling channels. A prototype is manufactured and a set of experiments is conducted with the aim of assessing the performance of variable stiffness and actuation. The effects of different loads and pressures on trajectory of the arm are evaluated together with the force-deflection curves. The prototype has also been validated with abdominal phantom, demonstrating the potential clinical value of the system.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

3D model of the soft arm: (a) assembled view, (b) exploded view, and (c) cross-sectional view of the soft arm

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Fig. 2

(a) Relationship between the elastic modulus and the temperature of the SMP MM3520 and (b) the fabricated SMP backbone

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Fig. 3

(a) The fabricated balloon components, (b) three balloons of the soft arm, (c) incorporation of silicone rubber balloons and the SMP backbone, and (d) spiral balloon weaving

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Fig. 4

(a) Parameters definition and (b) shape and stiffness control of the soft arm

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Fig. 5

Schematic diagram of the soft arm control system

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Fig. 6

The surface temperature changes of the SMP backbone: the heating response (rising) and the cooling response (decreasing). Both the heating and the cooling experiments are performed five times.

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Fig. 7

(a) The initial experimental results of one balloon with the SMP backbone: initial state without SMP heating (left), and actuating state with SMP heating (right), (b) static characteristics of one pneumatic balloon with the SMP backbone under different pressures, (c) relationship between bending angle and pressure, and (d) relationship between bending angle and pressure at different temperatures

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Fig. 8

Results of the single spiral-woven balloon with the SMP backbone: (a) deformation of the spiral-woven balloon with the SMP backbone, (bh) the photo of the actuating experimental results with different pressures

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Fig. 9

The actuating test results of the soft arm: (a) deformation of the soft arm, (b) preactuating state while cooling down the SMP backbone, (c) inflated one balloon with SMP backbone heating, (d) inflated two balloons with SMP backbone heating, (e) inflated three balloons with SMP backbone heating, and (f) the shape-locking state while cooling down the SMP backbone

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Fig. 10

Results of tip trajectory experiments, (a) coordinate definition, (b) tip trajectory tracking result, (c) xy view of trajectory tracking, (d) xz view of trajectory tracking, and (e) yz view of trajectory tracking

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Fig. 11

Shape-holding experiment of the soft arm

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Fig. 12

Stiffness experimental results: (a) experiment design, (b) experimental setup, and (c) deflection-force curves in rigid and flexible states

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Fig. 13

Results of the deflection experiment, (a, b) setups of the deflection experiments of lateral and longitudinal loads, respectively, (c, d) results of the deflection experiment with lateral load Fx at 60 kPa and 100 kPa pressures, and (e, f) results of deflection evaluation with longitudinal load Fz at 60 kPa and 100 kPa pressures

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Fig. 14

(a) Soft arm incorporated with a micro CCD camera, (b) and (c) the photo of the developed prototype, (d) abdominal exploration performance, and (e) and (f) the CCD camera views in an abdominal cavity model

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