Development of a 3D Printed Double-Acting Linear Pneumatic Actuator for the Tendon Gripping

Polymers (Basel). 2021 Jul 30;13(15):2528. doi: 10.3390/polym13152528.


The lack of standardization in tissue testing procedures results in a variety of custom-made devices. In the case of the determination of the mechanical properties of tendons, it is sometimes necessary to adapt the existing laboratory equipment for conducting experiments when specific commercial equipment is not applicable to solve issues such as proper gripping to prevent tendon slipping and rupturing, gripping control and manoeuvrability in case of tendon submerging and without contamination of the testing liquid. This paper presents the systematic development, design, and fabrication using 3D printing technology and the application of the double-acting linear pneumatic actuator to overcome such issues. It is designed to do its work submerged in the Ringers' solution while gripping the tendon along with the clamps. The pneumatic foot valve unit of the Shimadzu AGS-X tensile testing machine controls the actuator thus preventing Ringers' solution to be contaminated by the machine operator during specimen set-up. The actuator has a length of 60 mm, a bore of 50 mm, and a stroke length of 20 mm. It is designed to operate with an inlet pressure of up to 0.8 MPa. It comprises the cylinder body with the integrated thread, the piston, the piston head, and the gripper jaw. Fused deposition modeling (FDM) has been used as the 3D printing technique, along with polylactic acid (PLA) as the material for 3D printing. The 3D printed double-acting linear pneumatic actuator was developed into an operating prototype. This study could open new frontiers in the field of tissue testing and the development of similar specialized devices for medical purposes.

Keywords: 3D printing; fused deposition modeling; linear pneumatic actuator; tendon gripping.