Artificial muscle for soft robotics: Low voltage, high hopes  Soft robots do a lot of things well but they're not exactly known for their speed. The artificial muscles that move soft robots, called actuators, tend to rely on hydraulics or pneumatics, which are slow to respond and difficult to store. Dielectric elastomers, soft materials that have good insulating properties, could offer an alternative to pneumatic actuators but they currently require complex and inefficient circuitry to deliver high voltage as well as rigid components to maintain their form—both of which defeat the purpose of a soft robot. Now, researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have developed a dielectric elastomer with a broad range of motion that requires relatively low voltage and no rigid components. They published their work recently in Advanced Materials.   Cont'd...

Types of Robotic Actuators

Actuators have become a crucial part of the automated system, as they help with controlling equipment using hydraulic, pneumatic or in some of the cases electronic signals.

Case Study: Validated High Speed Capping

SMAC's LAR Series linear-rotary actuators provide the ideal technology for improving capping quality while cost-effectively providing 100% real time on- and off-torquing validation.

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E4T & S4T Miniature Optical Kit Encoders - Available in CPRs up to 500

E4T & S4T Miniature Optical Kit Encoders - Available in CPRs up to 500

High resolution. Limited space. Not a problem for our latest miniature encoders that provides precise feedback and is easy to install within smaller-sized applications. Now available in 400 and 500 CPRs. Coming in at about the size of a nickel, we've added our proprietary Opto-ASIC sensor technology and improved quadrature for even greater motion control. Product Features: 10 resolutions up to 360 CPR, plus new 400 and 500 CPR resolution; 288 configurations available, including single and differential output; Compact form factor • 0.866 inch (in) / 22.00 millimeter (mm) package outside diameter • 0.446 in / 11.33 mm package height • Fits NEMA 8, 11, 14 and 17 motors; Simple and efficient assembly process • Four-piece construction • Push-on hub disk design, patent pending; 100 kilohertz frequency response; Shafted version up to 0.25 in / 6.25 mm diameter.