Hydraulic cylinders are the most common actuators for small, passive hydraulic systems. Friction and leakage of the actuators are the most crucial factors for force and volume efficiency. Development of a frictionless and leak-free cylinder would enable implementation of a passive human body controlled device. Due to the limitation of short stroke length in commercial rolling diaphragm (RD) cylinders, a novel fabric-elastomer long-stroke rolling diaphragm (LSRD) cylinder was developed, evaluated, and compared to the commercial rolling diaphragm, O-ring, and gap seal cylinders. The LSRD cylinder has low friction, zero leakage, and can operate at up to 700 kPa (100 psi). The performance of the LSRD cylinders was evaluated using an antagonist hydraulic transmission benchtop device.
Axial motion of the LSRD cylinders was converted to a rotary motion on the input and output shafts using timing belts and pulleys. Two LSRD cylinders were engaged on each shaft and two lever arms were used to control the transmission device. A rotation of 90 degrees was achieved using LSRD cylinders with 1.5-inch stroke length.
Friction, stiffness, tracking, impulse response, and step response tests were performed at 70, 170, and 275 kPa (10, 25, and 40 psi) preload pressures to evaluate the transmission device and LSRD cylinder dynamic performance. The results demonstrated that at least 275 kPa preload pressure is needed to have a satisfactory performance.
The passive antagonist hydraulic transmission can be used in applications such as wearable robots and telepresence devices.