A few weeks back before the corona pandemic our class had a chance to visit the Material Connexion museum. It’s basically a research institute where they source and document all kinds of materials. Since our class is called Soft Robotics, we mostly looked at soft materials.
Before I dive into materials I looked up for class, I wanted to showcase this natural materials that is made from recovered cotton. I thought it was pretty cool.
Stretchable Conductor Paste
I really liked this one because of its use in wearables. We can definitely apply this to soft robotics because it can stretch quite a lot.
Interesting thing about it is that the company producing these is called Namics, they are located in Niigata, Japan, and I actually drove past them couple summers ago. Small world!
This one caught my attention because of the embedded LEDs. I think that what can set apart a traditional robot and a soft robot is the LED. You can just stuff some leds anywhere on a traditional robots, but with a soft robot you have limited availability. This material lets you do that. It has an operating temperature of -4 to 140°F, which is awesome. The material was flexible and returned to its form (not 100% accurately) in a slow and satisfying manner.
There is another similar material they had, but with a different amount of LEDs.
Oh, and these are produced in the UK.
This material is a polymer that is designed to basically withstand collision. Think bicycle/motorcyle incident type of situation. What attracted me was not the cushiony part only, but also the hexagon shape. I am curious if it’s possible to flex/actuate the material where hexagons don’t meet.
This one is produced in USA.
SunGreat Silver Leaf + Fabric
Last but not least is this super interesting (almost alien like) soft fabric that is made from polyester fabric and silver leaf. The stretch and pattern of the material is quite interesting. In the description it said that is used decoratively and I can see why. Looks very future renaissance.
I think if a soft robot got covered in this, it would look spectacular!