HPN Manipulator

Honeycomb Pneumatic Networks (HPN) is a novel structure combining honeycomb shape skeleton with a pneumatic network, which can provide stable shapes, relatively large load bearing capacity, quick response and benignity to it's environment. This work is currently being developed by Multi-Agent System Lab in USTC. If you are interested in our work, please contact us for more information.

The hexagonal comb of the honey bee (honeycomb) can provide material with minimal density, high compression properties and shear properties. This structure is widely used in aerospace industry like aircrafts and rockets. Thanks to these properties, we use honeycomb structure to provide a skeleton for inside pneumatic networks and stable support for the whole manipulator.

Pneumatic networks are a series of channels and chambers inside an elastomer, which are rapidly responsive and environmentally benign. Moreover, they are cheap, accessible and easier to fabricate than traditional rigid actuators.  

Because most soft manipulators lack strength, this largely undermines their possibility in practical use. We aim to design and fabricate a soft manipulator with a relatively large load bearing capacity. We embedded pneumatic networks into a honeycomb structure skeleton, balancing advantages from both, to build a powerful, stable and flexible manipulator.

To get better understand of this structure, we use Finite Element Method (FEM) to analyze the mechanical properties and improve the performance by changing geometric variables. After that, we validate the result with a physical prototype.

This documentation set contains files and instructions to support the designfabricationmodeling and testing of a HPN manipulator. We also provide a case study of this manipulator's potential in practical use. Moreover, the modeling result can be the guideline for the fabrication of HPN manipulators to satisfied different requirements in practical senses.