A soft pneumatic actuator with integrated deformation sensing elements produced exclusively with extrusion based additive manufacturing

  • Antonia Georgopoulou Papadonikolaki (Creator)
  • Lukas Egloff (Creator)
  • Bram Vanderborght (Creator)
  • Frank Clemens (Creator)



In recent years, soft pneumatic actuators have come into the spotlight because of their simple control and the wide range of complex motions. To monitor the deformation of soft robotic systems, elastomer-based sensors are being used. However, the embedding of sensors into soft actuator modules by polymer casting is time consuming and difficult to upscale. In this study, it is shown how a pneumatic bending actuator with an integrated sensing element can be produced using an extrusion-based additive manufacturing method, e.g., fused deposition modeling (FDM). The advantage of FDM against direct printing or robocasting is the significantly higher resolution and the ability to print large objectives in a short amount of time. New, commercial launched, pellet-based FDM printers are able to 3D print thermoplastic elastomers of low shore hardness that are required for soft robotic applications, to avoid high pressure for activation. A soft pneumatic actuator with the in situ integrated piezoresistive sensor element was successfully printed using a commercial styrene-based thermoplastic elastomer (TPS) and a developed TPS/carbon black (CB) sensor composite. It has been demonstrated that the integrated sensing elements could monitor the deformation of the pneumatic soft robotic actuator. The findings of this study contribute to extending the applicability of additive manufacturing for integrated soft sensors in large soft robotic systems.
Date made available12 Jan 2022
Date of data production2022


  • piezoresistive sensor
  • soft robotics
  • additive manufacturing
  • fused deposition modeling
  • pneumatic actuator


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  • csv

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