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Fabrication of soft devices with buried fluid channels by using sacrificial 3D printed molds

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2019 2nd IEEE International Conference on Soft Robotics (RoboSoft)
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)9781538692608
Publication statusPublished - 24 May 2019
Publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventIEEE International Conference on Soft Robotics, RoboSoft - Seoul, Korea, Republic of
Duration: 14 Apr 201918 Apr 2019


ConferenceIEEE International Conference on Soft Robotics, RoboSoft
CountryKorea, Republic of


Casting silicone elastomers into 3D printed molds has seen a surge of applications in soft robots, soft manipulators, microfluidics, wearable technologies and stretchable sensors. In such devices, buried fluid channels are used to transport fluids, as fluidic actuators and as sensors with liquid metal. However, it is difficult to demold structures with buried channels or overhangs. As a solution, using sacrificial molds made of dissolvable materials has been proposed. In this paper, we evaluate different commercially available 3D printing materials as dissolvable mold materials. We tested dissolving prints made of high-impact polystyrene (HIPS), acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polyvinyl butyral (PVB) and polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) in limonene, acetone, isopropanol/ethanol and water, respectively. We further studied the effect of magnetic stirring and ultrasonic bath on the dissolution times. Finally, we fabricated buried channels using different mold materials and silicone elastomers. The results show that at least ABS, PVB and PVA can be used as mold materials. In particular, PVA is a promising material as it is soluble in water. The studied method simplifies the fabrication of soft devices, allowing the fabrication of overhangs and buried channels in a single casting step.