Soft actuators have demonstrated great potential for utilization in many industrial applications due to their ability to be produced in unusual shapes, their capacity to conform within a containing envelope and their large power to displacement ratios. A great majority of these flexible structures are produced by casting processes, since they are generally composed of silicone materials due to their high elasticity and flexibility. Innovative 3-D printing techniques and flexible materials have been explored and utilized to produce soft actuators to overcome this limitation in production. This paper presents a 3-D printed soft actuator with embedded sensing capabilities and the ability to produce a signal based on its actuation position. Computational simulations were done to evaluate the performance of the actuator with embedded sensing to determine the resistance change in the embedded conductive element based on the deformation of the soft actuator. This work demonstrates control to actuate the soft actuator while sensing its deformation using a resistance-based sensor. The entire structure was produced using fused deposition modeling (FDM) techniques, in one continuous process without support material.

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