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SELF ASSEMBLY ROBOTS

Seminar Report
Submitted by

Aman kukreja
(Roll No. : M140157ME)
In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of the degree of
Master of Technology
In
Manufacturing Technology

DEPARTMENT OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERING


NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY CALICUT
NIT CAMPUS PO, CALICUT
KERALA, INDIA 673601

May 2015

CERTIFICATE
This is to certify that the report entitledSELF ASSEMBLY ROBOTS is a bonafide
record of the Seminar presented by Aman kukreja(Roll No.: M140157ME), in partial
fulfillment of the requirements for the award of the degree ofMaster of Technology in
Manufacturing Technology from National Institute of Technology Calicut.

Faculty-in-charge
(ME6325 - Seminar)
Dept. of Mechanical Engineering

Professor & Head


Dept. of Mechanical Engineering
Place : NIT Calicut
Date : 15 may 2015

ABSTRACT

Self assembly robots have number of small modules(or robots) which can stick or
bond together to perform various funtions. In this report bonding methods between
modules of self assembly robots are analysed . Tests are conducted and the strength of the
bonds for each method are presented for different module styles, bonding conditions and
breaking conditions in a destructive test, and arecompared with magnetic bonding
methods.
For 80micrometer modules, bond strengths of up to 500 mN areobserved with
thermoplastic bonds, which indicates that theassemblies could be potentially used in
high-force structuralapplications of programmable matter, microfluidic channelsor
healthcare. And finally simulation was performed using small magnetic modules to show
the assembly and disassembly functions.

CONTENTS
List of Abbreviations and Tables

ii

List of Symbols

iii

List of Figures

iv

List of Tables
1

Introduction

1.1

Introduction

1.2

Problem Definition

1.3

Outline of the Report

The Evolution of Manufacturing Industry

Actuation and Heating Methods

3.1

Actuators

3.2

Heating methods

10

Experimental setup

14

4.1

Module design and fabrication

14

4.2

Bonding using heating

17

4.3

Motion actuation

19

4.4

Module addressing by magnetic disabling

19

Bond analysis

22

5.1

Bonding types

23

5.2

Bonding face styles

24

5.3

Bonding temperature

25

5.4

Assembly and bonding demonstration

26

Disabling for module addressability

29

6.1

30

Disabling for magnetic disassembly

Conclusions

31

References

32

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
PCM

Photo chemical machining process

LIST OF TABLES
Table 1

Evolution of self assembly robots

Table 2

Comparison between conventional and solid state refrigeration

Table 3

comparison of bonding forces

ii

LIST OF SYMBOLS

total magnetic torque;

total magnetic force;

total magnetic field;

magnetic moment;

permeability of free surface;

current through the coil;

iii

LIST OF FIGURES
Fig. 1.1 Space molycubes
Fig. 1.2 Kilobots
Fig. 3.1 Magnetic actuation system
Fig. 3.2 Electric actuators
Fig. 3.3 Peltier element
Fig. 3.4 LASER heating
Fig. 3.5 Induction heating
Fig. 4.1 Photolithography technique
Fig. 4.2 Thermoplastic bonding modules
Fig. 4.3 Solder bonding modules
Fig. 4.4 Heating of modules using peltier element
Fig. 4.5 Focussed laser heating
Fig. 4.6 Magnetic coils
Fig. 4.7 Magnetisation curve
Fig. 5.1 Destructive test setup
Fig. 5.2 Change in displacement force with time
Fig. 5.3 Bond face style
Fig. 5.4 Bonding temperature
Fig. 5.5 Assembly demonstration
Fig. 6.1 Sequence of self assembly
Fig. 6.2 Experimental procedure
Fig. 6.3 Magnetic disassembly

iv

CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
1.1

INTRODUCTION
Modular self-assembly robotic systems or self-reconfigurable modular robots are

autonomous kinematic machines with variable morphology. Beyond conventional


actuation, sensing and control typically found in fixed-morphology robots, selfreconfiguring robots are also able to deliberately change their own shape by rearranging
the connectivity of their parts, in order to adapt to new circumstances, perform new tasks,
or recover from damage.
For example, a robot made of such components could assume a worm-like shape to move
through a narrow pipe, reassemble into something with spider-like legs to cross uneven
terrain, then form a third arbitrary object (like a ball or wheel that can spin itself) to move
quickly over a fairly flat terrain; it can also be used for making "fixed" objects, such as
walls, shelters, or buildings.

Fig. 1.1

1.2

Fig. 1.2

PROBLEM DEFINITION AND CHALLENGES

Recent work in reconfigurable robotics has involved the scaling down of individual
robotic modules for increased resolution and access to small spaces. This has brought
with it several challenges in actuation, computation, and module bonding . Many largescale modular robotic systems use traditional actuators such as dc motors or shape
memory alloys to power the assembly, reconfiguring, motion, and disassembly processes

using algorithms or motion primitives. However, as these systems are scaled down below
the centimeter-scale, compromises must be made which reduce functionality, resulting in
modules with less mobility.
Since the early demonstrations of early modular self-reconfiguring systems, the size,
robustness and performance has been continuously improving. In parallel, planning and
control algorithms have been progressing to handle thousands of units. There are,
however, several key steps that are necessary for these systems to realize their promise
of adaptability, robustness and low cost. These steps can be broken down into challenges
in the hardware design, in planning and control algorithms and in application. These
challenges are often intertwined.

1.3

OUTLINE OF THE REPORT


Depending on the application area, desirable capabilities for micro-scale modular

robotassemblies could include:

Small module size

Physical presence (large assembly size)

Addressable modules

Creation of arbitrary 2D/3D shapes

Mechanical strength

Electrical conductivity/continuity

Reconfiguration

Disassembly

Here in this report, small size robotic modules are made using photo chemical
machining(PCM) process. When assembled together using actuation mechnism it can
form large assembly. Each module is addresed separately i.e. we should be able to control
motion of each module separately. Here it is controlled using magnetic field in different
samples having different composition of magnetic particles. Assembly creates various
2D/3D shapes. Bonding of these small modules can be done using thermal bonding or
magnetic attraction. Strength of the bonds are analysed using destructive test. And then
assembly and disassembly is shown by performing simulation.

CHAPTER 2
THE EVOLUTION OF SELF ASSEMBLY ROBOTS
The roots of the concept of modular self-reconfigurable robots can be traced back to the
quick change end effector and automatic tool changers in computer numerical
controlled machining centers in the 1970s. Here, special modules each with a common
connection mechanism could be automatically swapped out on the end of a robotic arm.
However, taking the basic concept of the common connection mechanism and applying it
to the whole robot was introduced by Toshio Fukuda with the CEBOT (short for cellular
robot) in the late 1980s.
The early 1990s saw further development from Greg Chirikjian, Mark Yim, Joseph
Michael, and Satoshi Murata. Chirikjian, Michael, and Murata developed lattice
reconfiguration systems and Yim developed a chain based system. While these
researchers started with from a mechanical engineering emphasis, designing and building
modules then developing code to program them, the work of Daniela Rus and Wei-min
Shen developed hardware but had a greater impact on the programming aspects. They
started a trend towards provable or verifiable distributed algorithms for the control of
large numbers of modules.
One of the more interesting hardware platforms recently has been the MTRAN II and III
systems developed by Satoshi Murata et al. This system is a hybrid chain and lattice
system. It has the advantage of being able to achieve tasks more easily like chain
systems, yet reconfigure like a lattice system.
More recently new efforts in stochastic self-assembly have been pursued by Hod
Lipson and Eric Klavins. A large effort atCarnegie Mellon University headed by Seth
Goldstein and Todd Mowry has started looking at issues in developing millions of
modules.
Many tasks have been shown to be achievable, especially with chain reconfiguration
modules. This demonstrates the versatility of these systems however, the other two
advantages, robustness and low cost have not been demonstrated. In general the prototype
systems developed in the labs have been fragile and expensive as would be expected
during any initial development.

There is a growing number of research groups actively involved in modular robotics


research. To date, about 30 systems have been designed and constructed, some of which
are shown below.
Table 1: Physical systems created
System
CEBOT
Polypod

Metamorphic

Fracta
Fractal Robots
Tetrobot

3D Fracta

Molecule

CONRO

PolyBot

TeleCube
Vertical
Crystalline
I-Cube
Micro Unit

M-TRAN I

Class,

Author

DOF
Mobile
chain, 2,
3D
lattice, 6,
2D
lattice, 3
2D

Fukuda et al. (Tsukuba)

1988

Yim (Stanford)

1993

Chirikjian (Caltech)

1993

Murata (MEL)

1994

lattice, 3D Michael(UK)
chain, 1
3D
lattice, 6
3D
lattice, 4
3D
chain, 2
3D
chain, 1
3D
lattice, 6
3D

2D

1996

Murata et al. (MEL)

1998

Kotay & Rus (Dartmouth)

1998

Will & Shen (USC/ISI)

1998

Yim et al. (PARC)

1998

Suh et al., (PARC)

1998

Vona & Rus, (Dartmouth)

lattice, 3D Unsal, (CMU)


lattice, 2
2D
hybrid, 2
3D

1995

Hamline et al. (RPI)

lattice, 2D Hosakawa et al., (Riken)


lattice, 4

Year

1998
1999
1999

Murata et al.(AIST)

1999

Murata et al.(AIST)

1999

Pneumatic
Uni Rover

M-TRAN II

Atron

S-bot

Stochastic

Superbot

Y1 Modules

M-TRAN III

AMOEBA-I

Catom

Stochastic-3D

Molecubes

Prog. parts

Miche

GZ-I Modules

The Distributed Flight Array

Evolve

lattice, 2D Inou et al., (TiTech)


mobile, 2
2D
hybrid, 2
3D
lattice, 1
3D
mobile, 3
2D
lattice, 0
3D
hybrid, 3
3D
chain, 1
3D
hybrid, 2
3D
Mobile, 7
3D
lattice, 0
2D
lattice, 0
3D
hybrid, 1
3D
lattice, 0
2D
lattice, 0
3D

Hirose et al., (TiTech)

2002

Murata et al., (AIST)

2002

Stoy et al., (U.S Denmark)

2003

Mondada et al., (EPFL)

2003

White, Kopanski, Lipson (Cornell)

2004

Shen et al., (USC/ISI)

2004

Gonzalez-Gomez et al., (UAM)

2004

Kurokawa et al., (AIST)

2005

Liu JG et al., (SIA)

2005

Goldstein et al., (CMU)

2005

White, Zykov, Lipson (Cornell)

2005

Zykov, Mytilinaios, Lipson (Cornell)

2005

Klavins, (U. Washington)

2005

Rus et al., (MIT)

2006

chain, 1

Zhang & Gonzalez-Gomez (U. Hamburg,

3D

UAM)

lattice, 6
3D
chain, 2
3D

2002

2006

Oung & D'Andrea (ETH Zurich)

2008

Chang Fanxi, Francis (NUS)

2008

Odin

EM-Cube

Roombots
Programmable Matter by
Folding
Sambot

Moteins

ModRED

Hybrid, 3

Lyder et al., Modular Robotics Research Lab,

3D

(USD)

Lattice, 2
2D

An, (Dran Computer Science Lab)

Hybrid, 3

Sproewitz, Moeckel, Ijspeert, Biorobotics

3D

Laboratory, (EPFL)

2008

2009

Sheet, 3D Wood, Rus, Demaine et al., (Harvard & MIT) 2010

Hybrid, 3D
Chain, 1
3D
Chain, 4
3D

HY Li, HX Wei, TM Wang et al., (Beihang


University)

Hybrid, 4,
3D

2010

Center for Bits and Atoms, (MIT)

2011

C-MANTIC Lab, (UNO/UNL)

2011

Programmable Smart Sheet Sheet, 3D An & Rus, (MIT)


SMORES

2008

Davey, Kwok, Yim (UNSW, UPenn)

Symbrion

Hybrid, 3D EU Projects Symbrion and Replicator

ReBiS - Re-configurable

Chain, 1,

Rohan, Ajinkya, Sachin, S. Chiddarwar, K.

Bipedal Snake

3D

Bhurchandi (VNIT, Nagpur)

2011
2012
2013
2014

CHAPTER 3
ACTUATION AND HEATING METHODS
3.1 Actuators
An actuator is a type of motor that is responsible for moving or controlling a mechanism
or system. There are several actuation methods available, but in the case of self assembly
robots it can mainly be divided into two categories as:
i) Actuation through external magnetic field
ii) Actuation through electric signals

3.1.1 Actuation using magnetic field


A MEMS magnetic actuator is a device that uses the microelectromechanical
systems (MEMS) to convert an electrical current into a mechanical output by employing
the well-known Lorentz Force Equation or the theory of Magnetism .
Motion is accomplished by rolling, direct pulling or by vibration based stick slip
crawling.
.

Fig. 3.1

3.1.1.1 Mathematic analysis of magnetic actuator


Case Magnetic modules can be controlled by the magnetic coilssurrounding the
workspace, and also interact with eachother. The total magnetic torque and force
thatgovern these interactions are:

(1)

(2)

The magnetic field and its spatial gradients depend linearlyon the currents
through the coils, and so the fieldand gradient terms can be expressed as:

(3)

(4)

where each element ofI is current through each of the ccoils, H is a 3 c


matrix mapping these coil currents to themagnetic field vectorand Hx , Hy ,
Hzare the 3 cmatrices mapping the coil currents to the magnetic field
spatialgradients in the x, y and z directions, respectively. Thesemapping
matrices are calculated for a given coil arrangementby treating the coils as
magnetic

dipoles

in

space

andare

measurements.

calibrated

through

workspace

Thus, for a desired field and force on a single magneticmicro-robot we arrive


atas:

(5)

In this way, we can achieve 5 DOF control of magnetic modules,enabling


motion on 2D surfaces for assembly tasks as will be shown in the
experimental

demonstrations.

Motion

is

accomplished

by

rolling,

directpulling or by vibration-based stick-slip crawling, methodswhich have


been demonstrated previously. Feedbackcontrol of single or teams of microrobots moving in3D are not fully exploited in this work, but the feasibility
ofsuch control has been shown in our previous studies.

3.1.2

Actuation using electricity

An electric actuator is powered by a motor that converts electrical energy


into mechanical torque. The electrical energy is used to actuate equipment
such as multi-turn valves. It is one of the cleanest and most readily available
forms of actuator because it does not involve oil.

Fig. 3.2

3.2 Heating methods


A heating system is a mechanism for maintaining temperatures at an acceptable level; by
using thermal energy. As you will see in the coming chapters, how are these method s are
being used to form strong bonds with the neighboring modules.
We can heat the small modules of assembly robots using three methods, which have their
own advantages and disadvantages. These methods are:
i) Heating by Peltier element
ii) Heating by focused laser
iii) Inductive heating by high power AC fields

3.2.1 Heating by Peltier element


The Peltier effect thermoelectric heat pump is a semiconductor based electronic
component that functions as a heat pump. Just by applying a low DC voltage to this
module, one surface gets cold and the other surface gets hot. And just by reversing the
applied DC voltage, the heat moves to the other direction. Thus this thermoelectric device
works as a heater or a cooler.
The Peltier thermoelectric heat pumps have been used for medical devices sensor
technology, cooling integrated circuits, automotive applications and military applications.
3.2.1.1 Principle and operation
The thermoelectric heat pump was discovered by a French watchmaker during the 19th
century. It is described as a solid state method of heat transfer generated primarily
through the use of dissimilar semiconductor material (P-type and N-type).

Fig. 3.3
10

Figure 3.3 shows a Peltier effect heat pump typical mechanical and electrical installation.
Like conventional refrigeration, Peltier modules obey the laws of thermodynamics.
Basically the refrigerant in both liquid and vapor form is replaced by two dissimilar
conductors. The solid junction (evaporator surface) becomes cold through absorption of
energy by the electrons as they
pass from the low energy level to the high energy level. The compressor is replaced by a
DC power source that pumps the electrons from one semiconductor to another one. A
heat sink replaces the conventional condenser fins, discharging the accumulated heat
from the system. The following table outlines the differences and similarities between the
thermoelectric module and the conventional refrigerator.

Table 2 : Comparison between conventional and solid state refrigeration.


The evaporator

Allows

the

pressurized At the cold junction, heat is

refrigerant to expand, boil and absorbed by the electron as


evaporate (The heat is absorbed they pass from a low energy
during the change of state from level (P-type) to a high energy
liquid to gas).
The compressor

level (N-type)

Acts on the refrigerant and The power supply provides the


recompresses the gas to liquid. energy to move the electrons.
The

refrigerant

leaves

the

compressor as a vapor.
The condenser

Expels the heat absorbed at the At the hot junction, heat is


evaporator to the environment expelled to the heat sink as the
plus the heat produced during electrons

move

from

high

compression into the ambient. energy level to the low energy


Also, the refrigerant returns to level.
theliquid phase.

11

3.2.2 Focused LASER:


n this process the laser is used to heat the surface of materials. Any subsurface heating is
accomplished by conduction. For intensity values up to about 1x104 W/cm2, the absorbed
power depends on the wavelength ( ), the material (and its surface condition). Generally,
as the material temperature increases, so does the absorption of laser light. The most
relevant processing parameters are the laser power and the beam/material interaction
time. In metals, local surface heating is very rapid and produces a thin hot layer on a
relatively cool bulk material. This conducts heat away from the surface very quickly.
Cooling rates of the order of several thousand degrees per second are possible, which can
be used to advantage in producing microstructural changes, for example, in
transformation hardening which uses IR lasers.

Fig. 3.4

3.2.3 Induction heating:


Induction heating is the process of heating an electrically conducting object (usually a
metal) by electromagnetic induction, through heat generated in the object by eddy
currents (also called Foucault currents).An induction heater consists of an electromagnet,
and an electronic oscillator which passes a high-frequency alternating current (AC)
through the electromagnet. The rapidly alternating magnetic fieldpenetrates the object,
generating electric currents inside the conductor called eddy currents. The eddy currents
flowing

through

the resistance of

the

material

heat

it

by Joule

heating.

In ferromagnetic (andferrimagnetic) materials like iron, heat may also be generated by

12

magnetic hysteresis losses. Thefrequency of current used depends on the object size,
material type, coupling (between the work coil and the object to be heated) and the
penetration depth.An important feature of the induction heating process is that the heat is
generated inside the object itself, instead of by an external heat source via heat
conduction. Thus objects can be very rapidly heated. In addition there need not be any
external contact, which can be important where contamination is an issue.

Fig. 3.5

13

CHAPTER 4
EXPERIMENTAL SETUP

4.1Module design and fabrication:


Modules were fabricated by using PCM technique, Photolithography, also
termed optical lithography or UV lithography, is a process used in microfabrication to
pattern parts of a thin film or the bulk of a substrate. It uses light to transfer a geometric
pattern from a photomask to a light-sensitivechemical "photoresist", or simply "resist," on
the substrate. A series of chemical treatments then either engraves the exposure pattern
into, or enables deposition of a new material in the desired pattern upon, the material
underneath the photo resist.

Fig. 4.1

This process is generally used for manufacturing of electronic circuits, about 0.0125 mm
tolerance can be achieved with this process.

14

4.1.1Thermoplastic bonding modules:


Modules with bonding sites are fabricated in a multi-step molding process,First, a
polyurethanemodule with embedded magnetic composite particles isfabricated in a batch
process using a micro-molding techniqueusing SU-8 photolithography.
They are composed of a mixture of neodymium-iron-boron(NdFeB) particles
(Magnequench MQP-15-7) suspended ina polyurethane matrix (TC-892, BJB
enterprises). The shapewas chosen as roughly hexagonal to allow tessellation ofmany
modules in 2D. Curved edges are used to aid in alignmentof adjacent faces prior to
bonding. The module hasvoids along its edges of approximate size several hundredm,
which will ultimately becomethe binding sites. As a low-temperature thermoplastic
forbonding, commercially available Ethylene-vinyl acetatehot-melt adhesive is used.
These adhesives are availablewith a variety of properties, including different
meltingtemperatures. To fill the binding sites with thermoplasticmaterial in a controlled
manner, the module is placed in asoft rubber jig designed to match the shape of the
module without voids. The thermoplastic is thendeposited under high temperature (130
C) to melt into thevoids, bubbles are removed by placing in a vacuum chamber,and the
remaining material is scraped clean using a sharp edge. After cooling, the moduleis
removed from the jig and is ready for bonding withother modules under low heat
(approximately 70 C). the whole process is shown in the figures below:

Fig. 4.2

15

4.1.2Solder bonding modules:


Modules with solder bonding sites are fabricated in a similarmanner to the thermoplastic
bonding modules, with thethermoplastic replaced by low-melting point metal.
Thisprocedure is shown in figure below. To permit the solder to wetthe the module,
copper is sputtered onto the top and bottom
polyurethane surface. Some copper is deposited into thebinding sites on the side of the
modules during this sputtering.The solder is then applied manually to each bonding
site using tweezers in an optical microscope at 80 C. Anindium alloy (Fields metal) is
used as low melting temperaturesolder, with a sharp melting point of about 62 C.
Thismetal fuses well with itself at high temperature, when in air,water or oil.

Fig. 4.3

4.1.3Magnetic bonding modules:


Bonding by magnetic attraction alone is a simple methodwhich follows naturally from the
use of magneticallyactuatedmodules. This method is widely used in large-scalerobotics,
was investigated for micro-scale robotic elementsin detail in our previous work, and has
the major advantageof being an easily reversible bond. However, the majorlimitation is
that the bonding strength is low, and it requiresspecial out-of-plane module geometry to
resist contact slidingand rotation, as the magnetic force provides no interfaceshear
strength. In addition, modules can only be bondedin a limited number of magnetically
stable configurations.The most stable shapes are long straight chains, althoughsome other
geometries can be assembled, albeit with alower bonding strength.

16

4.2Bonding using heating:


Module bonding occurs by heating to temperatures around5090 C, depending on the
bonding material. As manypotential applications of micro-robots occur in liquid
environments,all experiments are conducted in silicone oil orwater. One heating approach
involves raising the temperatureof the entire liquid volume. This method has
theadvantage of simplicity, and does not require precise knowledgeof the module
locations. However, it melts all bondingsites in the workspace, and takes a longer time to
heat andcool than other methods. It also required mechanical accessto the workspace
area. An experimental setup has been createdto heat the workspace liquid by
electrothermal heating.This setup, shown in Fig. 4.4 , is based around a well ofwater or
oil on a glass slide, which forms the experimentalworkspace. Underneath the glass slide
is glued a Peltierheating element, heated by a 1.0A power supply. In theexperiments in
this paper, the water temperature is monitoredby a thermocouple, and is assumed constant
overthe water volume due to the thin water layer and the highthermal conductivity of
water when compared with the air above it.

Fig. 4.4

Once the desired bonding temperature is reached,the heating current is removed or


reversed and the systemcools to room temperature, at which point adjacent modules

17

are bonded together. For a thin 2mm water layer, heatingfrom 30 C to 70 C with 1A
takes approximately 12 secwhile cooling takes approximately 30 sec with no
currentapplied. Larger volumes of liquid take a longer duration toheat and cool. Heating
by electrical means is used as the primarymethod in this paper due to its simplicity and
precisetemperature control capability.
Laser heating is a second possible method which wouldachieve fast, localized bonding.
This method could be integratedinto an experimental setup for targeted bonding ofonly a
single glue site pair. As a proof-of-concept demonstrationof this method, a commercial
CO2 laser (PinnacleV-Series Laser Engraver, 35W) is used to bond two modules, as
shown in Fig. 4.5. Here the laser power is approximately 3W with a spot size of
approximately 100m, andis traced across the module bond at a speed of 0.55 m/sfour
times with a spacing of 0.5 s. This power providesenough heat to bond the modules
without damaging thepolyurethane module base.

Fig. 4.5

As a third potential method for heating, inductive heatingby high-power AC fields could
be used remotely withouta line-of-sight to the modules. While inductive heating
ofmagnetic particles and particle suspensions have been studied, achieving the desired
temperature rise of over 15 Ccould be a practical challenge with this method, especially
as the module size is reduced below hundreds of micronsize. Magnetic modules are
fabricatedusing the same methods used to make the thermoplastic andsolder modules, but
without the bonding sites. As the bondingstrength is dependent on the magnetic moment
of themodules, a strong magnetic moment is necessary.

18

4.3 Motion actuation:


Magnetic modules are actuated by a set of independentelectromagnetic coils, aligned
pointing towards a commoncenter point, with an open space of approximately 10.4 cm.
The coils are operated with an air or iron core, dependingon the desired magnetic fields
and gradients. The maximumfields produced by the system driven at maximum current
(19A each) are 6.6 kA/m using air cores, and 19.4 kA/m using iron cores. Similarly,
maximum field spatial gradientsare 271 A/m2 using air cores, and 812 A/m2 usingiron
cores. Fields are measured using a Hall effect sensor(Allegro A1321) with an error of
about 80 A/m. Control ofthe currents driving the electromagnetic coils are performedby a
PC with data acquisition system at a control bandwidthof 20 kHz, and the coils are
powered by linear electronicamplifiers (SyRen 25). A photograph of the experimental
coil system is shown in Fig. 4.6.

Fig. 4.6

Magnetic influences have already been explained in 3.1.1.1, using the same effect
magnetic modules are moved to form different assemblies.

4.4 Module addressing by magnetic disabling:


Remotely and selectively turning on and off the magnetizationof individual modules
could allow for addressablecontrol of each module. We have developed a

19

compositematerial whose net magnetic moment can be selectivelyturned on or off by


application of a large magnetic fieldpulse. The material is made from a mixture ofmicronscale neodymium-iron-boron and ferrite particles,and can be formed into arbitrary
actuator shapes using thesimple molding procedure discussed before. Themagnetic
coercivity and remanence (retained magnetizationvalue when the applied field His
reduced to zero)are distinct, which allows for moderately-large fields tore-magnetize the
ferrite while maintaining the NdFeB magnetization.By applying a pulse in the desired
directiongreater than the coercivity field (Hc) of the ferrite, its magnetizationdirection can
be switched instantly. In addition,the magnetic states of both NdFeB and ferrite can be
preservedwhen driving an actuator using small fields of lessthan 12 kA/m.
In general it is difficult to demagnetize a single magnetby applying a single
demagnetizing field because theslope of the hysteresis loop (i.e. the magnetic
permeability)near the demagnetized state is very steep. Thus, such ademagnetization
process must be very precise to accuratelydemagnetize a magnet. While steadily
decreasing AC fieldscan be used to demagnetize amagnetic material, thismethoddoes not
allow for addressable demagnetization becauseit will disable all magnets in the
workspace.

This

motivatesthe

use

of

magnetic

composite

to

enable

untetheredaddressable magnetic disabling.

Fig. 4.7

We employ a demagnetization procedure to achieve amore precise demagnetization by


employing two materials,both operating near saturation where the permeabilityis
relatively low. In this method, an applied switching fieldHpulsecan be applied to switch
only one materials (ferrite)magnetization without affecting the second material(NdFeB).

20

As the two materials are mixed in one magneticmodule, this switching allows the device
to be switchedbetween on and off states as the magnetic moments add inthe on state or
cancel in the off state. While the internal fieldof the magnet at any point will not be zero,
the net field outsidethe magnet will be nearly zero, resulting in negligiblenet magnetic
actuation forces and torques.
When fields are applied below the NdFeB coercivity, theNdFeB acts as a permanent
magnet, biasing the device magnetization,as shown in Fig. 4.9 for Hpulseup to about 240
kA/m. Traversing the hysteresis loop, the device begins inthe off state at point A, where
motion actuation fields, indicatedby the 12 kA/m range, only magnetize the device
toabout 0.08 Am2, resulting in minimal motion actuation.To turn the device on, a 240
kA/m pulse is applied in theforward direction, bringing the device to point B. After
thepulse, the device returns to point C, in the on state. Here,motion actuation fields vary
the device moment betweenabout 1.7 and 1.8 Am2. To turn the device off, a pulse inthe
backward direction is applied, traversing point D, andreturning to the off state at point A
at the conclusion of thepulse. For small motion actuation fields in the lateral direction,the
device is expected to show even lower permeabilityin the on or off state due to the shape
anisotropy inducedduring the molding process.Thus, modules can be magnetically
disabled by a shortfield pulse of high strength. This will allow for multiplemodules to be
added to an assembly at a time and sequentiallydisabled. As the process is reversible, the
modules canbe re-enabled magnetically once the assembly process iscomplete, allowing
for the entire assembly to be actuated.

21

CHAPTER 5
BOND ANALYSIS

Module bonding strength is measured in a destructive testwhich pulls two modules


directly apart while measuring theloading force using a load cell, as shown in Fig. 5.1.
Themodule pair is glued to a 3-axis motion stage with manuallinear motion. The loading
beam is placed on the loadcell and a fulcrum, and serves to reduce the force
transmittedto the load cell, as shown schematically in the figureinset. The modules are
first glued on a removable plastictip by instant adhesive. Then the tip is fixed on the
motionstage and aligned manually using the camera such that themodules come into
contact with the loading beam, which iscoated in a thin layer of adhesive. When the
adhesive hascured, the motion stage is lowered at a constant rate untilthe bond between
the modules breaks. The load cell datais acquired by amplifier/conditioner (TMO-2) and
DAQ ata rate of 10 kHz. To get the breaking force, the differencebetween the maximum
value during the breaking and thevalue of zero load after the break is calculated, as
shown inFig. 5.2. Calibration is made by a 20 g proof mass placed atthe same position on
the loading beam in a separate measurement.

Fig. 5.1

Fig. 5.2
22

The bond breaking phase is not instantaneous dueto the viscoelastic nature of the
thermoplastic at elevatedtemperatures.

5.1 Bonding types


Representative thermoplastic, solder, and magnetic bondingmodule pairs are compared
with respect to bonding force,with results shown in Table 3. Module style refers to
thesize, number and shape of the bonding sites, and can be referencedin Fig. 5.3. This
table shows the mean and standarddeviation in force for five module pairs for each type
oftest. Modules assembled by hand are pushed together usingtweezers in a microscope
and then heated. Those assembledby coils are pushed together in the magnetic coil
systemusing magnetic force on one module while the secondmodule remains in place.
Assembly by hand using tweezersis also directly compared with assembly using
magneticforces in the magnetic coil system, showing that while handassembly can result
in larger bond force, the coil-assembledpairs maintain an adequate force. Bonding by
laser wasonly performed for one module pair as a proof-of-conceptdemonstration due to
the difficulty in aligning the laser inthe current setup. Results for solder bonding show
moderatebond force, where it is noted that the failure mode is the delamination of the
solder with the copper seed layerrather than failure of the bulk solder. As expected,
magneticbonding is by far the weakest bonding style, but has theadvantage of easily
reversible bonding.
Table 3 Comparison of bonding forces

23

5.2 Bonding face style


For thermoplastic bonds, the bonding faces of each modulecontain voids for
thermoplastic to reside. By varyingthe number, shape and size of these voids, different
bondingstrengths are achieved, with results shown in Fig. 5.3for five samples of each
face style. Six styles of modulewith the same outer diameter size of 800m but different
bonding faces are designed and fabricated for direct comparison.Below the bar graph, the
polyurethane module bodyis shown in white while the thermoplastic is shown in grey.To
obtain a thin layer of thermoplastic in style A with novoids, the 800m module is
placed into a jig with diameterof810m. All other module styles are prepared in a jigA
three-dimensional

system

approach

is

presented in this paper as a decisionsupport framework for environmentally


sustainable manufacturing. This system
approach considers the three components
of

manufacturing:

technology,of

size

800m. Results in the bar graph show the


advantagesof

using

dedicated

thermoplastic voids over the A


style. This indicates that the design of
bonding faces withvoids has improved the
bonding

force

between

modulesfrom

Fig. 5.3

approximately 100mN to several hundred mN. It isseen that all void styles show adequate
bond force, but thesingle-void of wide size but shallow depth (style C) showsthe highest
bond force. It is expected that the wider bondingsite increases the bond strength as it
should depend primarilyon the cross-sectional bond area, but the depth of style
Dprevents it from having high adhesion as the glue needs topenetrate deep into the
recess to adhere fully.
Thus, whileit is determined that any module style with voids resultsin acceptable bond
force, further study could improve thebond force even further through optimized void
style. It isthus desired to increase the cross-sectional bond area whilemaintaining full glue
penetration.

24

5.3 Bonding temperature:


To determine the required temperature to form a securebond, the breaking force of
thermoplastic module pairsbonded under different temperatures is investigated,
withresults shown in Fig. 5.4a. Here
heat is applied carefully toeach Cstyle module pair using a heat gun in
an air environment.The temperature
at the bonding site is monitoredusing
a thermocouple. After cooling to
room temperature,each module pair
is mounted in the destructive test, for
breaking at 22 C. Results show that
a critical temperatureof about 55 C
is

necessary

Modulepairs
bonding

to

form

indicated

force

bond.

with

achievement

0
no

binding atall, as indicated by them


not being able to support their

Fig. 5.4 a, b

ownweight when lifted with tweezers. At temperatures above55 C, high bonding force is
relatively consistent (with onefailed bond at 65 C). However, above about 80 C
thethermoplastic melts to such a degree that it flows from thebond sites. While this can
allow for high bonding force, thegeometry of the module pair is distorted by the pool of
thermoplasticwhich forms around the base of the modules. Theduration of heating was
not observed to have an effect onbond strength.
The strength of a thermoplastic bond broken at high temperature is investigated in Fig.
5.4 b, where identical modulesbonded at 70 C are broken at varying temperatures.
Hightemperature during the break test is achieved using a Peltierthermo-electric element,
driven by 1A current, and monitoredwith a thermocouple glued to the Peltier elementface
near the module pair. The plot shows that for temperatureslower than about 40 C, the
bond

force

is

highand

relatively

insensitive

25

to

temperature.

However,

at

highertemperatures the bond force is lower. The bond force neverreduces to zero due to
the strong capillary and visco-elasticnature of the melted thermoplastic. The results from
bothof these temperature tests are specific to the thermoplasticused.

5.4 Assembling and bonding demonstration:


A demonstration to show the bonding of 2D tessellating shapes is shown in Fig. 8. Here,
six F thermoplastic modulesare moved in the magnetic coil system for assemblyin Fig.
5.5. Modules are bonded by applying heat
using theintegrated resistive heating setup.
The insetin Fig. 5.5b shows the capillary
drawing action which pullsadjacent modules
into intimate contact during the reflowprocess.
In this experiment, only one module is
magnetic,allowing

for

the

step-by-step

addition of the non-magnetic modules.When


the assembly is moved adjacent to a
newmodule, heat is applied to bond it to the
assembly. Thisproves that subsequent bonding

Fig. 5.5

cycles can be performed inthe presence of existing bonds at other sites without
negativeeffect. The single magnetic module is able to carrythe non-magnetic modules,
although when the assemblyreaches a size of five modules, as in Fig. 5.5e, the mobilityis
somewhat reduced, making it more difficult to preciselyadd more modules to the
assembly in the desired configuration. However, the large assembly is still very mobile
usingthe methods of stick-slip crawling or tumbling cartwheellikerolling motion. The
bond force is high enough that theassembly is not broken by moving in the coil system
undermagnetic torques and forces, even when the temperature iselevated to 70 C.

26

CHAPTER 6
DISABLING FOR MODULE ADDRESSABILITY
To add more magnetic modules to an assembly, each moduleis magnetically disabled
after assembly, as shown schematicallyin Fig. 6.1. This process allows individual
modulesto be added to the assembly one at a time into arbitrarylocations on the assembly
without regard for the magneticattraction or repulsion associated with that assembly
location.Compared with bonding by magnetic attraction, thisallows for a much wider
range of assembly morphologiesto
be made. New modules can be
added to the assemblyin any
position or orientation. However, it
is desirable tobond all modules
with the same orientation so that
they canbe disabled and enabled as
a group using a single globalpulse.
Heat bonding of

modules

is

accomplished by individualheating
(i.e. by laser or inductive heating),
or by globalheating (i.e. heat
conduction through

the entire

medium).Once the assembly is

Fig. 6.1

completed, it is re-enabled magnetically and is free to move through the workspace as a


singleunit.
As further demonstration of the assembly plus heat activated bonding, a 2D ship-in-bottle
morphology is createdin a microfluidic chip environment, as shown in Fig. 6.2.Creating a
ship in a bottle requires individual modules topass through a small opening (the
bottleneck) and assembleinto a ship shape one at a time. The simple 2D ship shapemade
here consists of nine modules, and consists of a hull,mast and sail. Such a demonstration
shows the capability ofthe presented addressability, bonding and control method
toachieve the creation of arbitrary shapes in remote inaccessibleareas. The assembled

27

ship is enabled magnetically bya magnetic pulse for actuation as a rigid body. The
strengthof the assembly is demonstrated by fast actuation after it is assembled, and is
promising for future physical interactionswith the environment.

Fig. 6.2

6.1 Disabling for magnetic disassembly:


A final study is conducted using magnetic disabling to show that magnetic module bonds
can be broken directly. Whilewe have demonstrated that magnetic bonds aremuch
weakerthan the new thermally-activated bonds, they could be usefulfor reversible
bonding capability. Our previous workshowed such magnetic bonds can be broken by
anchoringand pulling modules apart. However, such a methodrequired electrostatic
anchoring to apply pulling forces. Wenow introduce the concept of magnetic disabling to
such magnetic bonds for reversible control without the needfor electrostatic anchoring. In
this method, a magneticallystableassembly is created, with the restriction that allmagnetic
modules must be assembled oriented in the samedirection. To disassemble the group, all
modules are magneticallydisabled using a magnetic field pulse, in themanner of the
previous section. Thus, the magnetic bondingforce reduces to near-zero and the assembly

28

is brokenapart by small magnetic actuation forces and torques. Atthis point, individual
modules can be re-enabled for re-usein further assemblies. The process is thus completely
repeatable.A demonstration of this type of disassembly is shownin Fig. 6.3. Assembly in
this case was performed by handusing tweezers. Magnetic modules in this study are
identicalto those used in the heat-assisted bonding study in thischapter, but without heat
activation. This demonstrates thatthe principle could be used to create easily
disassembledassemblies

for

reconfigurable magnetic

micro-robotic

tasks.Further

investigations of the limits and usefulness of thistechnique could lead to a robust and
simple disassemblymethod for magnetically-bonded assemblies.

Fig. 6.3

29

CHAPTER 7
CONCLUSIONS
In this report, a comparison of severalbonding methods for micro-scale modular robotics
is shown. As areversible bonding method, we investigated magnetic attractionbetween
modules, and as a stronger but non-reversiblebonding method,heat-activated metal solder
and

thermoplastic

bonding

methods

were

shown.We

showed

solder

and

thermoplasticbonds activated by increasing the temperaturethrough heating of the entire


workspace, or as a proof-ofconceptdemonstration, through focused laser heating forfaster
heating/cooling in environments which may not beconducive to large heating elements.
As a potential methodfor use in applications which lack line-of-sight view, weproposed
the use of inductive heating to perform bondingwith additional study required. The
temperature increaserequired for bonding could be reduced through the use ofdifferent
temperature sensitive materials with lower meltingpoints. Bond strength was tested for a
variety of differentmodule styles for the thermoplastic bonds, and thetemperatures
required for solid bonding and cooling wereinvestigated. As a demonstration, the
magnetic

moduleswere

moved

in

magnetic

coil

system

as

addressable

microroboticagents to remotely form a target structure from upto nine independent


modules in a fluid environment accessiblefrom only a small opening. Such an assembly
methodcould potentially be used to form complex desired shapes ininaccessible small
spaces for microfluidic manipulation orhealthcare applications. As an additional bonding
technique,we also demonstrated reversible magnetic bonding using amagnetic disabling
technique for easy bond reversal. Futurework will involve developing reversible adhesive
bonds,and creating larger complex assemblies for tasks insidefluid channels. In addition,
the formation of out-of-plane3D assemblies will be investigated for applications suchas
in-situ heterogeneous tissue scaffold construction. Suchapplications may require reduced
scale using fabricationmethods such as flip-chip assembly and biocompatibilitythrough
proper choice of materials and coatings.

30

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[1]

Diller E, Zhang N, SittiM , 2013, Bonding methods for modular micro-robotic


assemblies, International conference on robotics and automation, pp 25732578.
manufacturing, 61, pp. 39-42.

[2]

http://users.wfu.edu/ucerkb/Nan242/L15-Photolithography.pdf

[3]

Alaoui C, 2011, Peltier Thermoelectric Modules Modeling and Evaluation,


International Journal of Engineering., 5, pp. 115-121.

[4]

Diller E, Pawashe C, Floyd S, Sitti M, 2011, Assembly and disassembly of


magnetic mobile micro-robots towards deterministic 2-D reconfigurable microsystems, International Journal of Robot Res., 14, pp 16671680.

[5]

Christopher J. Morris, Brian Isaacson, Michael D. Grapes, and Madan Dubey, 2011,
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[6]

Mastrangeli M, Abbasi S, Varel C, Van Hoof C, Celis JP, Bohringer KF (2009)


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31