Mechanical Assembly of Thermo‐Responsive Polymer‐Based Untethered Shape‐Morphing Structures

Shape‐morphing robotic structures can provide innovative approaches for various applications ranging from soft robotics to flexible electronics. However, the programmed deformation of direct‐3D printed polymer‐based structures cannot be separated from their subsequent conventional shape‐programming process. This work aims to simplify the fabrication process and demonstrates a rapid and adaptable approach for building stimulus‐responsive polymer‐based shape‐morphing structures of any shape. This is accomplished through mechanically assembling a set of identical self‐bending units in different patterns to form morphing structures using auxiliary hard connectors. A self‐bending unit fabricated by a 3D printing method can be actuated upon heating without the need for tethered power sources and is able to transform from a flat shape to a bending shape. This enables the assembled morphing‐structure to achieve the programmed integral shape without the need for a shape‐programming process. Differently assembled morphing structures used as independent robotic mechanisms are sequentially demonstrated with applications in biomimetic morphing structures, grasping mechanisms, and responsive electrical devices. This proposed approach based on a mechanical assembling method paves the way for rapid and simple prototyping of stimulus‐responsive polymer‐based shape‐morphing structures with arbitrary architectures for a variety of applications in deployable structures, bionic mechanisms, robotics, and flexible electronics.eef910a2e279eb047c59729e33930210.png

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