Flexible actuators are a growing class of devices implemented in soft robotic applications, medical devices and processes involving food and pharmaceutical products. Such actuators have traditionally been manufactured using casting processes or other conventional methods requiring more than one fabrication step. The arrival of flexible 3D printing materials and 3D printing techniques has facilitated the creation of these flexible actuators via additive manufacturing. The work presented in this article displays the analytical characterization and experimental validation of two materials and two actuator designs. The first case presents a finite element analysis (FEA) simulated model of a bellows actuator using a photocurable flexible resin (TangoPlus FLX930) and studies the effect of printing orientation on the simulation. The simulation used a 5 parameter Mooney-Rivlin model to predict the strain behavior of the actuator under hydrostatic pressure. A second case is presented where a Thermoplastic Polyurethane actuator was 3D printed and simulated using the same FEA model and a second calibration of the Mooney-Rivlin 5 parameter model. In both cases experimental data was used to calibrate and validate the simulation. The resulting simulated strain was consistent when the printing orientation of actuators was parallel (0 degrees) to the strain direction of the actuators. Results were less consistent when a print orientation of 45 degrees was applied.

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