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Title:
ARTICULATING DEVICES
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2015/134335
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
One aspect of the invention provides an articulating device including: an inflatable elastic layer and a textile shell surrounding or impregnated within at least a portion of the inflatable elastic layer. The textile shell includes at least two regions having different material properties or knit patterns. The textile shell selectively constrains expansion of the inflatable elastic layer to produce controlled bending or torsion. Another aspect of the invention provides an articulating device including: an inflatable elastic layer and a textile shell surrounding or impregnated within at least a portion of the inflatable elastic layer. The textile shell has a curved profile and selectively constrains expansion of the inflatable elastic layer to produce controlled bending.

Inventors:
DION GENEVIEVE (US)
PRIMERANO RICHARD (US)
Application Number:
US2015/018190
Publication Date:
September 11, 2015
Filing Date:
February 27, 2015
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
UNIV DREXEL (US)
DION GENEVIEVE (US)
PRIMERANO RICHARD (US)
International Classes:
F16L11/12; B29C70/44; B29C70/88; F16L9/128
Foreign References:
US20120168012A12012-07-05
US20130170158A12013-07-04
US8025942B22011-09-27
US20140208937A12014-07-31
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DOYLE, Kathryn et al. (Center Square West1500 Market Stree, Philadelphia Pennsylvania, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. An articulating device comprising:

an inflatable elastic layer; and

a textile shell surrounding or impregnated within at least a portion of the inflatable elastic layer, the textile shell including at least two regions having different material properties or knit patterns, wherein the textile shell selectively constrains expansion of the inflatable elastic layer to produce controlled bending or torsion.

2. The articulating device of claim 1, wherein the inflatable elastic layer is an elastomeric bladder.

3. The articulating device of claim 2, wherein the elastomeric bladder is received within the textile shell.

4. The articulating device of claim 1, wherein the inflatable elastic layer is bonded to an inner surface of the textile shell.

5. The articulating device of claim 1, wherein the at least two regions include:

a region of relatively lower elasticity; and

a region of relatively higher elasticity.

6. The articulating device of claim 5, wherein the region of relatively higher elasticity is positioned on an opposite side of the articulating device from the region of relatively lower elasticity.

7. The articulating device of claim 5, wherein the region of higher elasticity includes a material having a lower Young's modulus than a material in the region of lower elasticity.

8. The articulating device of claim 5, wherein the region of higher elasticity includes thinner fibers than the region of lower elasticity.

9. The articulating device of claim 5, wherein the region of higher elasticity has a different pattern than the region of lower elasticity.

10. An articulating device comprising:

an inflatable elastic layer; and

a textile shell surrounding or impregnated within at least a portion of the inflatable elastic layer, the textile shell having a curved profile, wherein the textile shell selectively constrains expansion of the inflatable elastic layer to produce controlled bending.

11. The articulating device of claim 10, wherein the inflatable elastic layer is an elastomeric bladder.

12. The articulating device of claim 11, wherein the elastomeric bladder is received within the textile shell.

13. The articulating device of claim 10, wherein the inflatable elastic layer is bonded to an inner surface of the textile shell.

14. A method comprising:

applying fluid pressure within the inflatable elastic layer of the articulating device according to any of claims 1-13.

15. The method of claim 14, further comprising:

releasing the fluid pressure.

16. The method of claim 14, wherein fluid pressure is applied to a plurality of articulating devices in order to grasp an object.

Description:
ARTICULATING DEVICES

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS This application claims priority to U.S. Patent Application Serial No. 61/946,815, filed March 2, 2014. The entire contents of this application is hereby incorporated by reference herein.

BACKGROUND

Despite recent advances in both robotics technologies and applications therefor, robotic devices continue to utilize materials that are have undesirable weight, form factors, and the like.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

One aspect of the invention provides an articulating device including: an inflatable elastic layer; and a textile shell surrounding or impregnated within at least a portion of the inflatable elastic layer. The textile shell includes at least two regions having different material properties or knit patterns. The textile shell selectively constrains expansion of the inflatable elastic layer to produce controlled bending or torsion.

This aspect of the invention can have a variety of embodiments. The inflatable elastic layer can be an elastomeric bladder. The elastomeric bladder can be received within the textile shell.

The inflatable elastic layer can be bonded to an inner surface of the textile shell.

The at least two regions can include a region of relatively lower elasticity and a region of relatively higher elasticity. The region of relatively higher elasticity can be positioned on an opposite side of the articulating device from the region of relatively lower elasticity. The region of higher elasticity can include a material having a lower Young's modulus than a material in the region of lower elasticity. The region of higher elasticity can include thinner fibers than the region of lower elasticity. The region of higher elasticity can have a different pattern than the region of lower elasticity.

Another aspect of the invention provides an articulating device including: an inflatable elastic layer and a textile shell surrounding or impregnated within at least a portion of the inflatable elastic layer. The textile shell has a curved profile. The textile shell selectively constrains expansion of the inflatable elastic layer to produce controlled bending. This aspect of the invention can have a variety of embodiments. The inflatable elastic layer can be an elastomeric bladder. The elastomeric bladder can be received within the textile shell.

The inflatable elastic layer can be bonded to an inner surface of the textile shell.

Another aspect of the invention provides a method including: applying fluid pressure within the inflatable elastic layer of the articulating device as described herein.

This aspect of the invention can have a variety of embodiments. The method can further include releasing the fluid pressure. Fluid pressure can be applied to a plurality of articulating devices in order to grasp an object.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For a fuller understanding of the nature and desired objects of the present invention, reference is made to the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the figures wherein:

FIGS. 1A and IB depict longitudinal cross-sectional views of articulating devices in accordance with embodiments of the invention;

FIGS. 2A and 2B depict articulating devices in uninflated states in accordance with embodiments of the invention;

FIGS. 2C and 2D depict articulating devices in inflated states in accordance with embodiments of the invention;

FIGS. 3 A and 3B depict articulating devices for producing torsion in accordance with embodiments of the invention; and

FIG. 4 depicts an articulating device formed from a single yarn in accordance with embodiments of the invention.

DEFINITIONS

The instant invention is most clearly understood with reference to the following definitions.

As used in the specification and claims, the singular form "a," "an," and "the" include plural references unless the context clearly dictates otherwise. Unless specifically stated or obvious from context, as used herein, the term "about" is understood as within a range of normal tolerance in the art, for example within 2 standard deviations of the mean. About can be understood as within 10%, 9%, 8%, 7%, 6%, 5%, 4%, 3%, 2%, 1%, 0.5%, 0.1%, 0.05%, or 0.01% of the stated value. Unless otherwise clear from context, all numerical values provided herein are modified by the term about.

As used in the specification and claims, the terms "comprises," "comprising,"

"containing," "having," and the like can have the meaning ascribed to them in U.S. patent law and can mean "includes," "including," and the like.

Ranges provided herein are understood to be shorthand for all of the values within the range. For example, a range of 1 to 50 is understood to include any number, combination of numbers, or sub-range from the group consisting 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, or 50 (as well as fractions thereof unless the context clearly dictates otherwise).

Unless specifically stated or obvious from context, as used herein, the term "or" is understood to be inclusive.

DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring now to FIG. 1A, a longitudinal cross- sectional view of an articulating device 100a is provided. Articulating device 100a includes an inflatable elastic layer 102 and a textile shell having at least two regions 104, 106 of different material properties or knit patterns. The textile shell selectively and/or differentially constrains expansion of the inflatable elastic layer 102 to produce controlled bending or torsion as will be discussed further herein.

Inflatable elastic layer 102 can be formed of any material capable of resilient expansion when an internal fluid pressure is applied. For example, inflatable elastic layer 102 can be formed from an elastomer such as rubber, acrylonitrile -butadiene rubber, hydrogenated acrylonitrile-butadiene rubber, fluorocarbon rubber, perfluoroelastomer, ethylene propylene diene rubber, silicone rubber, fluorosilicone rubber, chloroprene rubber, neoprene rubber, polyester urethane, polyether urethane, natural rubber, latex, polyacrylate rubber, ethylene acrylic, styrene-butadiene rubber, ethylene oxide epichlorodrine rubber, chlorosulfonated polytethylene, butadiene rubber, isoprene rubber, butyl rubber, and the like. Inflatable elastic layer 102 can be preformed and then inserted into or wrapped with a textile shell. Alternatively, the inflatable elastic layer can be applied to an inner surface of the textile shell by spray coating, rolling, or application with a puck as described in U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 2010/0183893.

Referring now to FIG. IB, inflatable elastic layer 102 can completely envelop the textile shell. For example, the textile shell can be dipped in liquid elastomer or the elastomer can be applied to both the inner and outer surfaces of textile shell.

The textile shell can be fabricated from a variety of materials. For example, textiles can be made from a variety of natural and synthetic fibers such as natural fibers, cotton, wool, silk, hemp, flax, animal hair, jute, modal, cellulose, bamboo, pina, ramie, nettles, milkweed, seaweed, metals, metal cables, manufactured fibers, monofilament, azlon, acetate, triacetate, viscose, lyocell, glass, graphite carbon, carbon fiber, carbon nanotube, liquid crystal, ceramics, polyesters, aramids, para-aramids, meta-aramids, aromatic polyesters, rayon, acrylics, modacrylics, polyacrylonitrile, polylactides (PLAs), polyamides, polyamide 6, polyamide 6.6, rubber lastrile, lastol, polyethylene (PE), high-density polyethylene (HDPE), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polypropylene (PP), polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), vinyl, vinyon, vinylidene chloride, polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC), polybenzimidazole (PBI), novoloid, melamine, anidex, nytril, elastoester, nylon, spandex/elastane, olefins, biosynthetic polymers, and blends of the same. Suitable aramids, para-aramids, and meta-aramids are sold under the KEVLAR® and NOMEX® brands by E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company of Wilmington, Delaware, under the TECHNORA® brand by Teijin Limited of Osaka, Japan, and under the TWARON® brand by Teijin Aramid B.V. of Arnhem, The Netherlands. Suitable aromatic polyesters are available under the VECTRAN® and VECTRAN® EX brands from Kuraray America, Inc. of Fort Mill, South Carolina.

Differences in compliance between regions 104 and 106 can be achieved using a variety of techniques. For example, one region can be made from textiles having thinner fibers than the other region. In another example, one region can have a denser and/or tighter weave, knit, or the like. In another example, a knit geometry can be created with a single yarn.

In yet another example, one region can be treated by applying energy to fuse, melt, cross- link, or otherwise increase the rigidity of the textile (especially synthetic textiles) to decrease its compliance. For example, the textile shell can be placed over a mold including energy-supplying regions corresponding to the desired locations of less compliant regions. For example, energy- supplying regions can include a plurality of vents adapted and configured to release hot air or steam into the desired less compliant regions.

Textiles for regions 104, 106 can be formed using a variety of manual or automated means. For example, textiles can be formed using an industrial flatbed knitting machine.

Knitting is the intermeshing of yarns into loops resulting in fabrics. In particular, knitting is the process of creating fabric with yarns by forming a series of interconnected loops. Three- dimensional knitted shapes can be made using various loop configuration (knit stitches) such as knit and purl, tuck, miss and the like and/or various shaping techniques such as flechage, bindoff, tubular half gauge and the like. All techniques can be used individually or in combinations with one another within the same structure.

Textiles for regions 104, 106 can have varying compliance or stiffness. For example, either of the textiles can have a Young's modulus of between about 0.01 GPa and about 0.1 GPa, between about 0.1 GPa and about 1 GPa, between about 1 GPa and about 5 GPa, between about 5 GPa and about 10 GPa, between about 10 GPa and about 50 GPa, between about 50 GPa and about 100 GPa, between about 100 GPa and about 150 GPa, between about 150 GPa and about 200 GPa, and the like.

Referring now to FIGS. 2A and 2B, two views of an articulating device 200 in an uninflated state are provided. Regions 204 and 206 are fabricated from different color yarns. In some embodiments, the regions 204 having greater compliance can have profile (e.g. , a triangular or sector- shaped profile) adapted and configured to produce a desired articulation when the articulating device 200 is inflated.

As can be best seen in FIGS. 2C and 2D, when articulating device 200 is inflated, the regions 204 composed of blue yarn have a greater compliance than the regions 206 composed of yellow yarn and deform to a greater extent. As a result, articulating device elongates more on one side relative to opposite side and articulates, bends, or curves in a desired direction.

A grasping device including a plurality of articulating devices can be fabricated in order to grasp, hold, and/or lift a device. For example, three or more arms can be provided in a similar architecture to that depicted in International Publication Nos. WO 2012/148472,

WO 2013/103412, and WO 2013/148340. In such an arrangement, the articulating devices would be arranged in a radial pattern with the regions of each device having less compliance positioned on the grasping side of the device. When the articulating devices are inflated, each articulating device would bend in the same direction to engage a device to be lifted.

In another embodiment, the articulating device can twist to produce torsion. Referring now to FIGS. 3 A and 3B, the textile shell can include helically wound strips of material 302 having a lower compliance than the textile in adjacent textiles 304. When the device 300 is inflated, material 302 will seek to straighten and, as a result, produce torsion.

Referring now to FIG. 4, another embodiment of the invention provides an articulating device 400 utilizing a uniform textile shell. By varying the length of the textile shell on an inner side 402 (e.g. , through flechage 404), a preexisting curve can be produced that is enhanced when the articulating device 400 is inflated. Outer side 406 has a longer length of material and, therefore, greater stretchability.

The articulating devices described herein can be used in a variety of robotics applications including industrial, defense, law enforcement, wearable robotics, and the like. For example, a tool, an effector, or other attachment can be positioned on one end of the articulating device for movement from a starting position to a desired position and then retraction to an initial position.

In one embodiment, the articulating devices described herein can be incorporated into an exoskeleton or garment and utilized to mimic the functionality of missing finger. In another embodiment, the articulating devices can be incorporated into an exoskeleton or garment and positioned along one or limbs such as fingers, arms, and legs can facilitate and/or support movement of those limbs. For example, one or more articulating devices can be positioned along the dorsal, ventral, medial, and/or lateral sides of a leg and can be controlled to cause or assist extension and/or flexion and/or to hold the leg in a desired position (e.g. , when lifting or holding a heavy object). In some embodiments, opposing pairs of articulating devices can be used in which one articulating device facilitates extension while the opposing articulating device facilitates flexion. The opposing pairs can be positioned on the same or opposite surfaces of the limb.

EQUIVALENTS

Those skilled in the art will recognize, or be able to ascertain using no more than routine experimentation, many equivalents of the specific embodiments of the invention described herein. Such equivalents are intended to be encompassed by the following claims. INCORPORATION BY REFERENCE

The entire contents of all patents, published patent applications, and other references cited herein are hereby expressly incorporated herein in their entireties by reference.