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Fabrication and Testing of a Simple “Bionic Arm” Demonstrator with an Artificial Tendon

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

NSF Grantees' Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.625.1 - 25.625.10



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Paper Authors


Larry D. Peel P.E. Texas A&M University, Kingsville

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Larry Peel received an A.S. from Snow College, in engineering, a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Utah State University, a M.S. in engineering mechanics from Virginia Tech, and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Brigham Young University. He has taught in the area of solid mechanics, materials science, design, and manufacturing at Texas A&M University, Kingsville for the past 11 years. His research is in the area of traditional and flexible composites, morphing structures, auxetic systems, and additive manufacturing.

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Mohamed Abdelrahman Texas A&M University, Kingsville

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Mohamed Abdelrahman received the B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering and Engineering Physics from Cairo University, Egypt in 1988 and 1992, respectively. He received an M.S. and a Ph.D. in measurement and control and nuclear engineering from Idaho State University in 1994 and 1996, respectively. He is currently the Associate Dean of Engineering at Texas A&M University, Kingsville. Abdelrahman's research focus is industrial applications of sensing and control with major research funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, and industry. He has also focused on collaborative and innovative educational research. Abdelrahman is passionate about outreach activities for popularizing engineering research and education. His activities in that arena included NSF-funded sites for research experience for undergraduates and research experience for teachers. He has published his research results in more than 90 papers in refereed journals and conference proceedings and 30+ technical reports.

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Jared Scott Cavazos

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Research Experience in Fabrication and Testing of a Simple “Bionic Arm” This paper reports on a research experience for a teacher in the fabrication of “Bionic” orhuman-like arms. These have inspired many movies and science fiction books, but have manypossible purposes, including active prosthetics, robotic arms, and exoskeletons to aid themovement of heavy objects. Previously, students and faculty at Texas A&M University-Kingsville fabricated two simple Bionic Arms that used Rubber Muscle Actuators (RMA). Thecurrent work develops an improved RMA that replicates human like range of movement throughthe use of integrated artificial “tendons.” The tendons made of a flexible elastomer and braidedcarbon fiber do not stretch but bend relative to their attached “bone structure.” Previous“Kingsville Arms One & Two” utilized actuators that transferred loads through rigid attachmentsto “bones.” The rigid attach points allowed good load transfer but restricted range of movement.The current Kingsville Arm 3 (KA3) utilizes a 3D printed mold of rigid and flexible elastomericcomposites to make artificial “tendons” that are placed between the rigid closure of a RMA andrigid attach points to the “bone.” Two KA3 actuators were completed. The first used a fiber-filled brittle resin for the rigid components on each side of the tendon. The tendon performedwell, but an adjoining rigid section failed under load. A second KA3 actuator used a carbon-fiber filled semi-rigid polyurethane for the rigid sections, and performed well in flexure and loadtransfer. A learning module based on a legacy cycle is developed that challenges the students toposition the actuators to allow for maximum range of movement and to find the relationship onhow the output force varies with the configurations. The learning modules will be introduced inbasic algebra classes in schools with majority Hispanic students in the fall semester. Assessmentof the students’ performance will be carried out and reported.

Peel, L. D., & Abdelrahman, M., & Cavazos, J. S. (2012, June), Fabrication and Testing of a Simple “Bionic Arm” Demonstrator with an Artificial Tendon Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21382

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