Automated metamaterial development
Metamaterials are composite materials that display unusual properties, emerging as a result of their structure.
Metamaterials have the ability to advance many fields but precise, scaleable manufacturing techniques requires innovation.
This project has designed and built a pneumatic gripper to replace previously manual, labour-intensive processes through automating the placement of spheres into a liquid resin. The metamaterial structure is like a sultana cake: arrays of sultanas (or spheres) are embedded in layers of cake mix (or resin). The resin is continuously curing, so all the objects must be placed simultaneously to guarantee uniform material properties.
In its current configuration it places 100 spheres, each held by an individual vacuum suction cup independently controlled by a solenoid valve - reducing the risk of failure and increasing flexibility. The gripper uses standard components to create a versatile and extendable platform enabling development of the materials of the future. Sponsored by DSTG.
Securing our future