The project intends to initiate in Lithuania research activities in the emerging field of 3D printed “soft mechatronics” with the objectives of simulation-assisted design, printing-based fabrication and electro-mechanical characterization of intrinsically-flexible transducers (actuators, sensors and mechanical energy harvesters) based on embedded electroactive polymers (EAPs). The proposed research work addresses one of the main “soft mechatronics” challenges of replacing traditional rigid electromechanical transducers with the flexible ones. Such transducers should effectively operate in large-deformation modes and simultaneously ensure safe interaction with damage-sensitive environments such as body parts, tissues or cells. Progress in this field is closely linked to further advancement of 3D printing technologies including their adaptation to fabrication of flexible EAP-based devices. 3D printing enables implementation of complex-shaped periodic cellular structures including mechanical metamaterials, which exhibit improved energy dissipation, toughness or dynamic characteristics. The main tasks undertaken in this project include fabrication of piezoelectric polymers and electrets by using different 3D printing and poling methods, design and multiphysics numerical modeling of EAP-based transducers, flexible devices and cellular structures, fabrication of proof-of-concept devices by maximally exploiting 3D printing capabilities and reducing manual assembly operations as well as mechanical, dynamical and electrical characterizations of the printed structures, transducers and devices.
Projects funded by the Research Council of Lithuania (RCL), Projects carried out by researchers’ teams
The project targets biomechanical and biomedical applications. Printed EAP transducers will be used to develop the following proof-of-concept devices: (a) flexible actuator applicable in biodiagnostic instruments intended for mechanical biostimulation of living tissues, (b) biomechanical energy absorber-harvester applicable in rehabilitation and human-assistive smart appliances, (c) body-mounted vibration energy harvester applicable in self-powered wearable smart devices intended for physiological sensing.
Period of project implementation: 2017-10-02 - 2020-09-30
Project coordinator: Kaunas University of Technology