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Increasing the Dimensionality of Soft Microstructures through Injection‐Induced Self‐Folding


Devices fabricated using soft materials have been a major research focus of late, capturing the attention of scientists and laypersons alike in a wide range of fields, from microfluidics to robotics. The functionality of such devices relies on their structural and material properties; thus, the fabrication method is of utmost importance. Here, multilayer soft lithography, precision laser micromachining, and folding to establish a new paradigm are combined for creating 3D soft microstructures and devices. Phase-changing materials are exploited to transform actuators into structural elements, allowing 2D laminates to evolve into a third spatial dimension. To illustrate the capabilities of this new fabrication paradigm, the first "microfluidic origami for reconfigurable pneumatic/hydraulic" device is designed and manufactured: a 12-layer soft robotic peacock spider with embedded microfluidic circuitry and actuatable features.

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