A Monolithic Shape Memory Alloy Microgripper for 3-D Assembly of Tissue Engineering Scaffolds

This paper describes a microgripper used for the micro-assembly of an artificial scaffold for tissue engineering. The porous sponge-like scaffold is a three dimensional construct built by tiny unit parts of biodegradable polymer. This application requires the assembly of several parts by applying a suitable level of force. In this framework, a monolithicshape memory alloy (SMA) microgripper was developed. It consists of two small fingers for grasping, an active part that changes its shape when heated and a parallel elastic structure used as a bias spring. The main aspect of the design is that all these elements are included within a single piece of material, but have different mechanical properties, and are used for different functions. Using a new technology of Shape Memory Alloy laser annealing developed at EPFL, a local shape memory effect is introduced on the active part while leaving the remaining areas in a state where no shape memory effect occurs, i.e., in a cold-worked state. The parallel elastic structure is used to provide a pullback force on cooling as well as to guide the finger movement. An electrical path is integrated to heat the active part and drive the gripper by Joule effect. This paper focuses on the principle of the micro-gripper, its design and describes the fabrication process. Some first experimental results are also presented.

Published in:
Proceedings of the SPIE, 4568, 50-60

 Record created 2015-07-20, last modified 2018-01-28

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