Characterization and Analysis of Extensile Fluidic Artificial Muscles

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Garbulinski, J.; Balasankula, S.C.; Wereley, N.M. Characterization and Analysis of Extensile Fluidic Artificial Muscles. Actuators 2021, 10, 26.


Extensile fluidic artificial muscles (EFAMs) are soft actuators known for their large ranges of extension, low weight, and blocked forces comparable to those of pneumatic cylinders. EFAMs have yet to be studied in a way that thoroughly focuses on their manufacturing, experimental characterization, and modeling. A fabrication method was developed for production of two EFAMs. The quasi-static axial force response of EFAMs to varying displacement was measured by testing two specimens under isobaric conditions over a pressure range of 103.4–517.1 kPa (15–75 psi) with 103.4 kPa (15 psi) increments. The muscles were characterized by a blocked force of 280 N and a maximum stroke of 98% at 517.1 kPa (75 psi). A force-balance model was used to analyze EFAM response. Prior work employing the force-balance approach used hyper-elastic constitutive models based on polynomial expressions. In this study, these models are validated for EFAMs, and new constitutive models are proposed that better represent the measured stress values of rubber as a function of strain. These constitutive models are compared in terms of accuracy when estimating pressure-dependent stress–strain relationships of the bladder material. The analysis demonstrates that the new hyper-elastic stress models have an error 5% smaller than models previously employed for EFAMs for the same number of coefficients. Finally, the analysis suggests that the new stress functions have smaller errors than the polynomial stress model with the same number of coefficients, guarantee material stability, and are more conservative about the stress values for strains outside of the testing range.