The most interesting materials I found at MaterialConnexion was this soft gel aptly named “Softgel” made by TechnoGel Italia (there is a PA based distributor or subsidiary company which can be contacted through their website). This product was displayed as a colored block of around 8” x 8” x 2” with bumps on one side. It was extremely soft (low shore hardness) and pliable to the touch, feeling as though there were a liquid gel bound inside a relatively harder exterior shell.
As of March 3rd, 2018, there does not exist a digital ‘browsing’ experience as generative (or as random) as the physical one. The experience of finding those things we do not know we are looking for is difficult to replicate in the digital world. In the digital world, connections between books, products, etc. are all due to logical connection algorithms – algorithms that presume to know why we would be looking for something in the first place.
This week, I made a two-part mold for an inflatable silicone actuator. My hope for this design was that the three corners of the triangular actuator would bend inwards to act as a simple gripper. To that end, I designed the mold with the following features: fabric was embedded into the inside half of the gripper to restrict stretching on that side. When inflated, I hoped this differential stretching between the two halves of the gripper would encourage it to bend inward,
Bio-Inspiration When reading about bio-inspired robot design, it seems that a common approach for a roboticist to take is as follows: specify a need or problem (robot needs to move across variety of terrain) look to nature for systems which adequately fill this need (snake can slither across variety of terrain) develop mechanical system inspired by biological system (snake robot) This approach allows roboticists to find specific mechanical systems to apply to their designs, but does not necessarily encourage them to look to nature as a source for inspiration more broadly.
Our task this week was to familiarize ourselves with the materials and techniques for prototyping inflatable structures. We are using aluminized Mylar, sealed with a various heating implements, to create these prototypes. This thin (5 mil) Mylar film has been coated on one side with aluminum, and is most commonly seen in the form of drug store balloons – specifically the round, star, and otherwise non-balloon-shaped balloons. The aluminum coating allows us to easily heat-seal different sections of Mylar together by without gumming up our tools with melted plastic.