Soft Somatosensitive Actuators via Embedded 3D Printing

Ryan L. Truby, Michael Wehner, Abigail K. Grosskopf, Daniel M. Vogt, Sebastien G.M. Uzel, Robert J. Wood*, Jennifer A. Lewis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

427 Scopus citations


Humans possess manual dexterity, motor skills, and other physical abilities that rely on feedback provided by the somatosensory system. Herein, a method is reported for creating soft somatosensitive actuators (SSAs) via embedded 3D printing, which are innervated with multiple conductive features that simultaneously enable haptic, proprioceptive, and thermoceptive sensing. This novel manufacturing approach enables the seamless integration of multiple ionically conductive and fluidic features within elastomeric matrices to produce SSAs with the desired bioinspired sensing and actuation capabilities. Each printed sensor is composed of an ionically conductive gel that exhibits both long-term stability and hysteresis-free performance. As an exemplar, multiple SSAs are combined into a soft robotic gripper that provides proprioceptive and haptic feedback via embedded curvature, inflation, and contact sensors, including deep and fine touch contact sensors. The multimaterial manufacturing platform enables complex sensing motifs to be easily integrated into soft actuating systems, which is a necessary step toward closed-loop feedback control of soft robots, machines, and haptic devices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1706383
JournalAdvanced Materials
Issue number15
StatePublished - Apr 12 2018


  • 3D printing
  • haptics
  • ionogels
  • soft robotics
  • soft sensors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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