JRM Vol.32 No.2 pp. 333-343
doi: 10.20965/jrm.2020.p0333


Fabrication, Experiment, and Simulation of a Flexible Microvalve-Integrated Microarm for Microgrippers Using Electrorheological Fluid

Joon-Wan Kim*, Kazuhiro Yoshida*, Toru Ide**, and Shinichi Yokota***

*Laboratory for Future Interdisciplinary Research of Science and Technology (FIRST), Institute of Innovative Research (IIR), Tokyo Institute of Technology
4259 Nagatsuta, Midori-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa 226-8503, Japan

**Department of Mechano-Micro Engineering, Interdisciplinary Graduate School of Science and Engineering, Tokyo Institute of Technology
4259 Nagatsuta, Midori-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa 226-8503, Japan

***Precision and Intelligence Laboratory, Tokyo Institute of Technology
4259 Nagatsuta, Midori-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa 226-8503, Japan

December 6, 2019
March 18, 2020
April 20, 2020
electrorheological fluid (ERF), microgripper, soft actuator, fluid power control, MEMS

Because of the power density advantages of fluid power systems, many researchers have developed microactuators using homogeneous electrorheological (ER) fluids (ERFs) for applications to various micromachines. An ER valve, as a critical component of the ER actuator, can control ERF flow by the apparent viscosity increase resulting from the applied electric field without any mechanical moving parts. Hence, it is adequate for the miniaturization of a fluidic microactuator. However, it is not easy to integrate rigid ER valves into soft microrobots. To overcome these limitations, we developed a novel elastic ER microarm using flexible ER valves (FERVs) in this study. Each microarm consists of an FERV, a movable chamber, and a displacement constraint element, so that it bends with the inner pressure controlled by the FERV. We proposed and developed a micro-electromechanical system fabrication process for the FERV, movable chamber, and displacement constraint element. By utilizing the proposed method, we successfully fabricate a FERV-integrated microarm. The characteristics of the FERV were experimentally clarified. In addition, the bending motion of the FERV-integrated microarm was demonstrated by experiments and verified by finite-element method simulation. This ER microarm was shown to be feasible for an ER microgripper composed of multiple microarms.

Proposed ER Microarm for the ER microgripper

Proposed ER Microarm for the ER microgripper

Cite this article as:
J. Kim, K. Yoshida, T. Ide, and S. Yokota, “Fabrication, Experiment, and Simulation of a Flexible Microvalve-Integrated Microarm for Microgrippers Using Electrorheological Fluid,” J. Robot. Mechatron., Vol.32 No.2, pp. 333-343, 2020.
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