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Design and Characterization of Edible Soft Robotic Candy Actuators

  • Aditya N. Sardesai (a1), Xavier M. Segel (a1), Matthew N. Baumholtz (a1), Yiheng Chen (a1), Ruhao Sun (a1), Bram W. Schork (a1), Richard Buonocore (a1), Kyle O. Wagner (a1) and Holly M. Golecki (a1)...


One of the goals of soft robotics is the ability to interface with the human body. Traditionally, silicone materials have dominated the field of soft robotics. In order to shift to materials that are more compatible with the body, developments will have to be made into biodegradable and biocompatible soft robots. This investigation focused on developing gummy actuators which are biodegradable, edible, and tasty. Creating biodegradable and edible actuators can be both sold as an interactive candy product and also inform the design of implantable soft robotic devices. First, commercially available gelatin-based candies were recast into pneumatic actuators utilizing molds. Edible robotic devices were pneumatically actuated repeatedly (up to n=8 actuations) using a 150 psi power inflator. To improve upon the properties of actuators formed from commercially available candy, a novel gelatin-based formulation, termed the “Fordmula” was also developed and used to create functional actuators. To investigate the mechanics and functionality of the recast gummy material and the Fordmula, compression testing and biodegradation studies were performed. Mechanical compression tests showed that recast gummy materials had similar properties to commercially available candies and at low strain had similar behavior to traditional silicone materials. Degradation studies showed that actuation was possible within 15 minutes in a biologically relevant solution followed by complete dissolution of the actuator afterwards. A taste test with elementary aged children demonstrated the fun, edible, and educational appeal of the candy actuators. Edible actuator development was an entry and winning submission in the High School Division of the Soft Robotics Toolkit Design Competition hosted by Harvard University. Demonstration of edible soft robotic actuators created by middle and high school aged students shows the applicability of the Soft Robotics Toolkit for K12 STEM education.


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[8]Baumholtz, Matthew, Buonocore, Richard, Chen, Yiheng, Golecki, Holly, Sardesai, Aditya, Segel, Xavier, Schork, Bram, Sun, Ruhao, Wagner, Kyle, Baldurs, William, Haabestad, Grahm US Patent Application Number 62/517,299 (9 June 2017)



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