Project Explores Fiber Reinforced Elastometric Enclosures in Human Scale Technology

The fluid power research projects coming out of the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CCEFP) have continued to progress, and all ten of the newly funded projects were presented at the CCEFP Industry-University Summit in April 2017. The Portable Pneumatically Powered Orthoses project was presented by Girish Krishnan, and Industrial & Enterprise Systems Engineering student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. As it has progressed, the project has explored the potential use of fiber reinforced elastometric enclosures (FREEs) in human scale technology.

Project Premise: The project has focused on the design and analysis of a soft pneumatic sleeve for arm orthosis. This is expected to contribute to orthotic control mechanisms and clinical treatment strategies, both of which are areas that have significant potential for advancements. The final design will be lighter and more compact than what is currently available and will have enhanced power and performance. In addition to making strides in orthotics, this research will also drive the use of compact fluid power technologies in other human scale devices.

Recent Progress and Next Steps: The current project design has replaced rigid, stiff actuators and structures with soft, fiber-reinforced, fluid-filled designs. Modeling for the design had to factor in external forces, as soft actuators are more heavily influenced by external forces and interactions than rigid designs. Further refinement and development of these soft actuators will require:

  • Additional FREE design space exploration.
  • Miniaturized architectures for more compact design.

See the presentation slides from the summit below:

Watch for project updates as the project progresses.

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