Programmable matter, a material whose properties can be programmed to achieve desired density with volume change, shapes or structural properties (stiffness, strength, Poisson’s ratio, etc.) upon command, is an important technology for intelligent materials. Recently emerging soft robotics-based pneumatic control can be potentially used for the design of programmable matter due to its several advantages — quick response for actuation, stiffening effect with internal air pressure, easy to manufacture, inexpensive materials, etc. The objective of this work is to construct programmable two-dimensional (2D) cellular structures with pneumatic actuators, investigating the effect of local deformation of the pneumatic actuators on the macroscopic pattern generation and mechanical properties of cellular structures. We synthesize 2D soft triangular structures with pneumatic actuators embedding dual air channels wrapped with fiber reinforcement. The local deformation modes provide different macroscopic deformations of cellular structures. We build an analytical model integrating the deformation of a single actuating member with nonlinear deformation of cellular structures. Finite element based simulations and experimental validation are followed. This study integrates soft robotics with cellular structures for intelligent materials design, expanding the design space of materials with programming. The fast response of the tunable soft cellular structures may be an ideal for the application of acoustic metamaterials with tunable band gaps.

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