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Synthetic Muscle Electroactive Polymer (EAP) based actuation and pressure sensing for prosthetic and robotic gripper applications
Author(s): Lenore Rasmussen; Simone Rodriguez; Matthew Bowers; Damaris Smith; Greig Martino; Leon Moy; Patrick S. Mark; Daniel L. Prillaman; Robert Nodarse; Ryan Carpenter; Darold Martin; Cole Scheiber; Jesse d’Almeida
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Paper Abstract

Ras Labs’ Synthetic Muscle technology promises to resolve major issues facing amputees, most notably the pain of prosthetic slippage and tissue breakdown. Synthetic Muscle, comprising electroactive polymers (EAPs), actively expand or contract at low voltages, while offering impact resistance and pressure sensing, in one integrated solution. In collaboration with United Prosthetics (UPI), customer testing was initiated with these EAP based pads located in strategic areas of the prosthetic socket of both below knee (BK) and above knee (AK) amputees for evaluation and feedback, with very promising results. The goal is to give amputees natural locomotion with a worry-free prosthesis, maintaining dynamic perfect fit throughout the day and preventing tissue damage from even beginning to occur. Robotic gripper applications, with sensing fingertips, were also prototyped. Characterization of Synthetic Muscle as dual use pressure sensors was investigated, with variable voltage observed and quantified when the EAP sensor was mechanically compressed. The integration of EAP shape-morphing actuation into grippers was also initiated. The EAP shape-morphing control is expected to be modulated as needed by controlling the voltage level. This technology is expected to provide for an adjustable prosthetic liner or socket that can maintain dynamic perfect fit and for biomimetic prosthetic hands and robotic grippers.

Paper Details

Date Published: 13 March 2019
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 10966, Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD) XXI, 1096626 (13 March 2019); doi: 10.1117/12.2514429
Show Author Affiliations
Lenore Rasmussen, Ras Labs, Inc. (United States)
Simone Rodriguez, Univ. of Pittsburgh (United States)
Matthew Bowers, Ras Labs, Inc. (United States)
Worcester Polytechnic Institute (United States)
Damaris Smith, Ras Labs, Inc. (United States)
Greig Martino, United Prosthetics, Inc. (United States)
Leon Moy, US Army ARDEC Labs (United States)
Patrick S. Mark, US Army ARDEC Labs (United States)
Daniel L. Prillaman, US Army ARDEC Labs (United States)
Robert Nodarse, US Army ARDEC Labs (United States)
Ryan Carpenter, US Army ARDEC Labs (United States)
Darold Martin, US Army ARDEC Labs (United States)
Cole Scheiber, Tufts Univ. (United States)
Jesse d’Almeida, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 10966:
Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD) XXI
Yoseph Bar-Cohen, Editor(s)

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