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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: January 1, 2008

More about this publication?
  • For more than 25 years, NIP has been the leading forum for discussion of advances and new directions in non-impact and digital printing technologies. A comprehensive, industry-wide conference, this meeting includes all aspects of the hardware, materials, software, images, and applications associated with digital printing systems, including drop-on-demand ink jet, wide format ink jet, desktop and continuous ink jet, toner-based electrophotographic printers, production digital printing systems, and thermal printing systems, as well as the engineering capability, optimization, and science involved in these fields.

    Since 2005, NIP has been held in conjunction with the Digital Fabrication Conference.

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