Artimus Robotics Completes Initial Study into the Failure Modes of HASEL Actuators. NSF SBIR Phase 1



At the end of 2021, Artimus Robotics completed a one-year study on the electromechanical failure modes of HASEL actuators. Since founding the company in 2018, a regular concern of Artimus’ customers has been the lifetime of HASEL actuators in their unique motion applications. Artimus was extremely fortunate to leverage the National Science Foundation’s prestigious Small Business Innovation Research Grant Program to allocate $225k to better understand and subsequently improve the lifetime of HASEL actuators. Furthermore, this project enabled the advancement of fabrication processes of HASEL actuators, improved physical performance (stronger actuators), and resulted in better understanding of long term operation. This significant advancement of Artimus Robotics’ understanding of their core technology, HASEL actuators, had immediate impacts on their business and customers, with many of the technical advancements being immediately applied to customer projects and products.


Key results and learnings summarized below:


Lifetime: The lifetime (both mean time between failure and max) of a particular actuator was improved over 10X. The lifetime was determined to be highly dependent on the operational and environmental considerations. Artimus continues to study and improve the lifetime of HASEL actuators to reach the level of acceptance for the most challenging applications such as industrial automation and automotive.


Strength: The strength of a given size actuator was increased over 5X. The overall strength of the actuators was found to be dependent on a variety of factors including geometric and materials considerations. While the current physical performance of HASEL actuators is suitable for many applications such as on-body actuation for haptics and healthcare, other applications such as industrial automation for pneumatic bladder replacements continue to require higher performance HASEL actuators and thus research continues in this avenue of study.


Processing: To support the above two areas of research, Artimus significantly improved and expanded their fabrication and manufacturing processes. Additionally, Artimus developed new materials testing capabilities to enable rapid, in-depth testing of HASEL actuators in further support of customer-specific development.


As all of the above technical advancements are highly dependent on the specifics of the use-case, all customers and potential customers should reach out directly to better understand how these NSF sponsored advancements can be applied to their soft actuator use case.


Artimus was successful in accomplishing all their stated technical goals proposed for this Phase I project and also made significant inroads with a variety of customers and applications. This NSF SBIR research was directly aimed at the needs of Artimus’ current and future customers, making Artimus an exemplary partner of the SBIR program. These business advancements were supported by additional sources such as the NSF I-Corps program, external funding, and product sales. After realizing success during the Phase I project, Artimus has requested additional support from the National Science Foundation in the form of a Phase II SBIR grant with expected notice in mid-2022.


About America’s Seed Fund

America’s Seed Fund powered by the National Science Foundation (NSF) awards $200 million annually to startups and small businesses, transforming scientific discovery into products and services with commercial and societal impact. Startups working across almost all areas of science and technology can receive up to $1.75 million in non-dilutive funds to support research and development (R&D), helping de-risk technology for commercial success. America’s Seed Fund is congressionally mandated through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The NSF is an independent federal agency with a budget of about $8.1 billion that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. For more information, visit seedfund.nsf.gov.


Learn more about Artimus Robotics’ SBIR award here:

https://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=2014648


Learn about the NSF SBIR program here:

https://seedfund.nsf.gov/


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