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Origami-Inspired Shape Memory Folding Microactuator
1 , 2 , 2 , 3 , 3 , * 1
1  Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Karlsruhe, Germany
2  IFW Dresden, Dresden, Germany
3  Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), Fürth, Germany (registering DOI)

This paper presents the design, fabrication and performance of origami-based folding microactuators based on a cold-rolled NiTi foil of 20 µm thickness showing the one-way shape memory effect. Origami refers to a variety of techniques of transforming planar sheets into three-dimensional (3D) structures by folding, which has been introduced in science and engineering for, e.g., assembly and robotics. Here, NiTi microactuators are interconnected to rigid sections (tiles) forming an initial planar system that self-folds into a set of predetermined 3D shapes upon heating. While this concept has been demonstrated at the macro scale, we intend to transfer this concept into microtechnology by combining state-of-the art methods of micromachining. NiTi foils are micromachined by laser cutting or photolithography to achieve double-beam structures allowing for direct Joule heating with an electrical current. A thermo-mechanical treatment is used for shape setting of as-received specimens to reach a maximum folding angle of 180°. The bending moments, bending radii and load-dependent folding angles upon Joule heating are evaluated. The shape setting process is particularly effective for small bending radii, which, however generates residual plastic strain. After shape setting, unloaded beam structures show recoverable bending deflection between 0° and 140° for a maximum heating power of 900 mW. By introducing additional loads to account for the effect of the tiles, the smooth folding characteristic evolves into a sharp transition, whereby full deflection up to 180° is reached. The achieved results are an important step towards the development of cooperative multistable microactuator systems for 3D self-assembly.

Keywords: self-folding origami; microactuation; shape memory alloy films; microtechnology