The production of soft microrobotic systems requires machines and processes of extremely high precision. These soft robotic systems are conventionally fabricated through molding processes where accuracy and precision of micromold fabrication is fundamental to achieve reliable results. Microfabrication includes techniques such as micromilling and micro-electrodischarge machining (micro-EDM) of a wide range of materials such as metals, semi-conductors and ceramics, as well as soft lithography processes to further minimize the size of polymer-based molds.
Our group is part of the Micro and precision engineering group, which has a great expertise in microfabrication using state-of-the-art equipments like 5-axis micro-milling machine tool (Kern MMP) and 3-axis micro-EDM machine tool (Sarix). Furthermore, we are hosted in the Leuven NanoCenter, which collects all the groups at KU Leuven that are working at the micro and nanoscale, creating a multidisciplinary environment with top research facilities, including well-equipped clean room facility for R&D and small-scale production of microsystems, MEMS and lab-on-chip devices. We use this lithographic equipment to make micromoulds in SU8 for soft microactuators and biomimetic ciliary propulsion systems.