A nested pneumatic muscle arrangement for amplified stroke and force behavior

Xiaotian Zhang, Girish Krishnan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article presents a compact nested architecture to amplify the displacement and forces of pneumatic artificial muscles for potential use in human assistive devices and other robotic applications. The nested architecture consists of several levels in series, and each level is made up of contracting pneumatic muscles, passive force transfer members, and additively manufactured interconnects. The stroke obtained from the nested pneumatic artificial muscle architecture is not always beneficial and is limited by the length-dependent behavior of pneumatic artificial muscles and other practical manufacturing constraints such as the size of the interconnects. Thus, this article studies the effect of the pneumatic artificial muscle length on its stroke using a modified constrained volume maximization formulation, which predicts the actual shape of the deformed pneumatic artificial muscle, and models additional stiffness due to membrane bending. Using this formulation, a framework is presented to optimally design the number of nested levels and individual actuators in each level to obtain a required stroke. Such a system is designed to actuate the human elbow by an angle of 80°, where almost 40% contraction is obtained using custom-manufactured pneumatic artificial muscles inherently capable of contracting upto 17% of its length. The framework can be used to amplify the stroke and forces of any pneumatic artificial muscle actuator and adapt it to different application requirements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1139-1156
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Intelligent Material Systems and Structures
Issue number6
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018


  • Pneumatic actuators
  • assistive devices
  • soft robotics
  • stroke amplification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Mechanical Engineering


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