Thermoplastic electroactive gels for 3D-printable artificial muscles

Tim Helps, Majid Taghavi, Jonathan Rossiter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
298 Downloads (Pure)


3D-printable artificial muscles have only recently garnered interest, and few 3D-printed artificial muscles have been demonstrated. In this article, we introduce the concept of thermoplastic electroactive gels, new smart materials that can be fabricated simply and rapidly by heating, overcoming the limitations of previous dangerous and time-consuming solvent-based manufacturing methods, and enabling hot-pressing, melt-recycling, extrusion and 3D-printing. We present and characterise a new example material, PVC-DIDA (polyvinyl chloride and diisodecyl adipate) gel and demonstrate multi-layer PVC-DIDA gel artificial muscles. Finally, the extrudability of PVC-DIDA gel is confirmed, and an artificial muscle made from extruded electroactive gel is presented. The electroactivity and extrudability of these thermoplastic gels highlights them as excellent candidate materials for 3D-printing artificial muscle structures.
Original languageEnglish
Article number085001
Number of pages8
JournalSmart Materials and Structures
Issue number8
Early online date21 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019

Structured keywords

  • Tactile Action Perception


  • artificial muscles
  • PVC gel
  • actuators
  • soft robotics
  • 3D printing


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