The objective of this thesis was to develop a novel bidirectional soft actuator for use in bioinspired and wearable robotic devices by investigating the effects that electromagnetic and material properties have on displacement. Findings from the thesis have the potential to significantly advance the field of soft robotics by demonstrating the viability of using elastomeric materials and magnetic fields as the driving mechanism for a new soft actuation method.

The three primary aims were to develop uniform electromagnetic coils for actuation, to create soft cores to be combined with the electromagnetic coils to bolster the magnetic field and to study the displacement of the embedded assembly in an elastomeric material, effectively creating a soft solenoid capable of bidirectional actuation. In practice, this was a success. The winding process for coils was improved for creating uniform coils with a 3D printed winder and the cores were tested for their magnetic field strength based on varying weight fraction of particles. Two final actuators were made to test for differences in displacement based on mixing ratio changes in the material fabrication processes. Ecoflex 00-20, (Smooth-On Inc.: Macungie, PA) made using a 1A:1B mixing ratio, was found to perform approximately 25.2% better in compression and about 52.5% better in repulsion (based on average values) than the actuator made using a 1A:2B ratio. The final device was capable of average displacement values of 0.135 mm in compression and 0.158 mm in repulsion.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Actuators--Materials; Actuators--Design and construction; Wearable technology; Electromechanical devices--Design and construction; Elastomers

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Mechanical Engineering (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Mechanical Engineering (KGCOE)


Kathleen Lamkin-Kennard

Advisor/Committee Member

Mario W. Gomes

Advisor/Committee Member

Michael Schrlau


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes