Fabrication of load-bearing soft actuators

3D printing load-bearing stimuli-responsive materials

Many natural materials, including plant tissues and the cladding of the mussel byssus, are composed of a strong organic matrix encompassing soft inclusions. These inclusions have been shown to strongly influence the mechanical properties of the cladding, and can drive dramatic changes to tissue shape with environment stimuli. To date, these concepts have never been employed to design actuatable load-bearing soft materials like nature does. In this project, we aim at filling this gap to use the resulting materials as soft actuators. To achieve this goal, we will formulate stimuli-responsive micro particle that can be 3D printed into load-bearing granular double network polymers. We will study the influence of the local composition and structure of these materials on their mechanical properties and response to external stimuli. The project builds on Phase 2 research by the team on the fabrication of strong and tough granular double network hydrogels and phase separation in polymeric networks.

Main investigator

Involved people