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Home Industry News New artificial muscles ‘offer significant strength at low cost’

New artificial muscles ‘offer significant strength at low cost’

29th November 2017

Researchers have developed a new type of artificial muscle that can offer significant lifting power at a low cost.

Created by the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard, the origami-inspired muscles are able to lift objects that are up to 1,000 times their own weight using only air or water pressure.

Each artificial muscle consists of an inner skeleton surrounded by air or fluid, and sealed inside a plastic or textile bag that serves as a sort of skin. A vacuum applied to the inside of the bag causes the skin to collapse on to the skeleton, creating tension that drives motion.

Since this design is extremely compact by its nature, it can be utilised in mobile or body-mounted systems that cannot accommodate large or heavy machinery, and can be made using materials ranging from metal springs and packing foam to sheets of plastic.

Moreover, a single muscle can be constructed within ten minutes using materials that cost less than $1, despite being able to generate about six times more force per unit area than mammalian skeletal muscle.

Dr Rob Wood, corresponding author of the paper and founding core faculty member of the Wyss Institute, said: "Now that we have created actuators with properties similar to natural muscle, we can imagine building almost any robot for almost any task."

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