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Design Principles for Rapid Prototyping Forces Sensors Using 3-D Printing

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2 Author(s)
Samuel B. Kesner ; Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Cambridge, USA ; Robert D. Howe

Force sensors provide critical information about robot manipulators, manufacturing processes, and haptic interfaces. Commercial force sensors, however, are generally not adapted to specific system requirements, resulting in sensors with excess size, cost, and fragility. To overcome these issues, 3-D printers can be used to create components for the quick and inexpensive development of force sensors. Limitations of this rapid prototyping technology, however, require specialized design principles. In this paper, we discuss techniques for rapidly developing simple force sensors, including selecting and attaching metal flexures, using inexpensive and simple displacement transducers, and 3-D printing features to aid in assembly. These design methods are illustrated through the design and fabrication of a miniature force sensor for the tip of a robotic catheter system. The resulting force sensor prototype can measure forces with an accuracy of as low as 2% of the 10 N measurement range.

Published in:

IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics  (Volume:16 ,  Issue: 5 )