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Achieving multimodal locomotion by a crosslinked poly(ethylene-co-vinyl acetate)-based two-way shape memory polymerAbstract Locomotion is a critically important topic for soft actuators and robotics, however, the locomotion applications based on two-way shape memory polymers (SMPs) have not been well explored so far. In this work, a crosslinked poly(ethylene-co-vinyl acetate) (cPEVA)-based two-way SMP is synthesized using dicumyl peroxide (DCP) as the crosslinker. The influence of the DCP concentration on the mechanical properties and the two-way shape memory properties is systematically studied. A Venus flytrap-inspired soft actuator is made by cPEVA, and it is shown that the actuator can efficiently perform gripping movements, indicating that the resultant cPEVA SMP is capable of producing large output force and recovering from large deformations. This polymer is also utilized to make a self-rolling pentagon-shaped device. It is shown that the structure will efficiently roll on a hot surface, proving the applicability of the material in making sophisticated actuators. With introducing an energy barrier, jumping can be accomplished when the stored energy is fast released. Finite element simulations are also conducted to further understand the underlying mechanisms in the complex behavior of actuators based on cPEVA SMP. This work provides critical insights in designing smart materials with external stimulus responsive programmable function for soft actuator applications.
Generative Design of Multi-Material Hierarchical Structures via Concurrent Topology Optimization and Conformal Geometry Method
Topology optimization has been proved to be an automatic, efficient and powerful tool for structural designs. In recent years, the focus of structural topology optimization has evolved from mono-scale, single material structural designs to hierarchical multimaterial structural designs. In this research, the multi-material structural design is carried out in a concurrent parametric level set framework so that the structural topologies in the macroscale and the corresponding material properties in mesoscale can be optimized simultaneously. The constructed cardinal basis function (CBF) is utilized to parameterize the level set function. With CBF, the upper and lower bounds of the design variables can be identified explicitly, compared with the trial and error approach when the radial basis function (RBF) is used. In the macroscale, the ‘color’ level set is employed to model the multiple material phases, where different materials are represented using combined level set functions like mixing colors from primary colors. At the end of this optimization, the optimal material properties for different constructing materials will be identified. By using those optimal values as targets, a second structural topology optimization is carried out to determine the exact mesoscale metamaterial structural layout. In both the macroscale and the mesoscale structural topology optimization,more »
Digital synthesis of free-form multimaterial structures for realization of arbitrary programmed mechanical responsesProgramming structures to realize any prescribed mechanical response under large deformation is highly desired for various functionalities, such as actuation and energy trapping. Yet, the use of a single material phase and heuristically developed structural patterns leads to restricted design space and potential failure to achieve specific target behaviors. Here, through a free-form inverse design approach, multiple hyperelastic materials with distinct properties are optimally synthesized into composite structures to precisely achieve arbitrary and extreme prescribed responses under large deformations. The digitally synthesized structures exhibit organic shapes and motions with irregular distributions of material phases. Within the structures, different materials play distinct roles yet seamlessly collaborate through sophisticated deformation mechanisms to produce the target behaviors, some of which are unachievable by a single material. While complex in geometry and material heterogeneity, the discovered structures are effectively manufactured via multimaterial fabrication with different polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) elastomers with distinct behaviors and their highly nonlinear responses are physically and accurately realized in experiments. To enhance programmability, the synthesized structures are heteroassembled into architectures that exhibit highly complex yet navigable responses. The proposed synthesis, multimaterial fabrication, and heteroassembly strategy can be utilized to design function-oriented and situation-specific mechanical devices for a wide range of applications.
High-performance lightweight architectures, such as metallic microlattices with excellent mechanical properties have been 3D printed, but they do not possess shape memory effect (SME), limiting their usages for advanced engineering structures, such as serving as a core in multifunctional lightweight sandwich structures. 3D printable self-healing shape memory polymer (SMP) microlattices could be a solution. However, existing 3D printable thermoset SMPs are limited to either low strength, poor stress memory, or non-recyclability. To address this issue, a new thermoset polymer, integrated with high strength, high recovery stress, perfect shape recovery, good recyclability, and 3D printability using direct light printing, has been developed in this study. Lightweight microlattices with various unit cells and length scales were printed and tested. The results show that the cubic microlattice has mechanical strength comparable to or even greater than that of metallic microlattices, good SME, decent recovery stress, and recyclability, making it the first multifunctional lightweight architecture (MLA) for potential multifunctional lightweight load carrying structural applications.
Shape memory polymers (SMPs) are one of the intriguing functional materials and have been widely and intensively studied. In order to apply these new polymers to load bearing engineering structures and devices, developing physics-based thermomechanical constitutive models is mandatory. The aim of this Tutorial is to demonstrate how to establish a thermomechanical constitutive model for SMPs. It begins with classifications of SMPs, followed by a discussion on the underlying physics for different SMPs. After that, three classical SMP thermomechanical modeling frameworks are introduced, which include the visco-elasto-plastic based rheological framework, the storage strain-based phase transition framework, and the representative unit cell based multi-branch framework. Next, three commonly adopted new model establishment methods are presented within these frameworks with detailed examples. Finally, future perspectives on this research direction are discussed. We hope that this Tutorial will help readers understand the roadmap from physics to mathematical modeling of SMPs.