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Three-Dimensional Fabrication of Smart Actuators: Design Applications

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This paper describes the design and digital fabrication of a series of “smart” devices which exhibit changes in shape and/or surface texture in response to external stimuli. Such stimuli include changes in temperature, pressure, or the application of electric current.

Smart shape-changing devices which exhibit dynamic visual and tactile characteristics may in future be incorporated into the design of interactive products and systems, providing a new multisensory dimension in the communication of information to product users.

Working devices employing shape memory alloy, electroactive polymer and bio-actuation technologies are presented. These have been fabricated through a combination of laser cutting, photopolymer jetting (3D printing system by Objet Geometries Ltd Rehovot, Israel), and vacuum casting of silicone rubber. Here the use of soft, compliant materials has enabled the realization of devices with novel tactile qualities. Possible functional and aesthetic applications for such devices will include product interfaces which respond to users and/or changes in their environment.

The paper reports on an interdisciplinary investigation which brings together design, smart materials and digital fabrication technologies. Implications of the research are identified within the area of multi-sensory product interface design.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-01-01

More about this publication?
  • For more than 30 years, IS&T's series of digital printing conferences have been the leading forum for discussion of advances and new directions in 2D and 3D printing technologies. A comprehensive, industry-wide conference that brings together industry and academia, this meeting includes all aspects of the hardware, materials, software, images, and applications associated with digital printing systems?particularly those involved with additive manufacturing and fabrication?including bio-printing, printed electronics, page-wide, drop-on-demand, desktop and continuous ink jet, toner-based systems, and production digital printing, as well as the engineering capability, optimization, and science involved in these fields. In 2016, the conference changed its name formally to Printing for Fabrication to better reflect the content of the meeting and the evolving technology of printing.

    Please note: For purposes of its Digital Library content, IS&T defines Open Access as papers that will be downloadable in their entirety for free in perpetuity. Copyright restrictions on papers vary; see individual paper for details.

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