• Frank Daerden Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, Multibody Mechanics Research Group, Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussel, Belgium
  • Dirk Lefeber Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, Multibody Mechanics Research Group, Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussel, Belgium


pleated pneumatic artificial muscle, PAM, PPAM, McKibben muscle, pneumatic, actuator, lightweight, compliance


This paper describes the design of a new type of Pneumatic Artificial Muscle (PAM), namely the Pleated Pneumatic Artificial Muscle (PPAM). It was developed as an improvement with regard to existing types of PAM, e.g. the McKib-ben muscle. Its principle characteristic is its pleated membrane. It can inflate without material stretching and friction and has practically no stress in the direction perpendicular to its axis of symmetry. Besides these it is extremely strong and yet very lightweight and it has a large stroke compared to most other designs. A general introduction on PAMs is given together with a short discussion and motivation for this new design. The concept of the PPAM is explained and a mathematical model is derived. This model proves its principle of operation. From the model, several characteristics, such as developed force, maximum contraction, diameter, volume and membrane tensile stress, are obtained. Material choices and dimensions of a typical PPAM are next discussed and its measured values of static force and diameter are compared to the model predicted values. The agreement between both is found to be very good.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Frank Daerden, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, Multibody Mechanics Research Group, Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussel, Belgium

Frank Daerden (1966) Study of Mechanical Engineering at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. PhD in Applied Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, 1999. Research and teaching assistant at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, 1991–1999. Doctor-Assistant at the dept. of Mechanical Engineering, Vrije Uni-versiteit Brussel since 1999.

Dirk Lefeber, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, Multibody Mechanics Research Group, Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussel, Belgium

Dirk Lefeber (1956) Study of Civil Engineering at the Vrije Uni-versiteit Brussel. PhD in Applied Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, 1986. Professor, chairman of the department of Mechanical Engineering, head of the Multibody Mechanics Research Group, Vrije Universiteit Brussel.


Baldwin, H. A. 1969. Realizable models of muscle function. Biomechanics, Proceedings of the First Rock Biomechanics Symposium, Plenum Press, New York, pp. 139 – 148.

Caldwell, D. G., Tsagarakis, N., Badihi, D. and Medrano-Cerda, G. A. 1998. Pneumatic muscle actuator technology: a lightweight power system for a humanoid robot. IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, Leuven, Belgium, pp. 3035 – 3058.

Caldwell, D. G., Medrano-Cerda, G. A. and Good-win, M. J. 1995. Control of pneumatic muscle ac-tuators. IEEE Control Systems Magazine, Vol. 15(1), pp. 40 - 48.

Chou, C.-P. and Hannaford, B. 1996. Measurement and modeling of McKibben pneumatic artificial muscles. IEEE Transactions on Robotics and Au-tomation, Vol. 12(1), pp. 90 - 102.

Daerden, F. 1999. Conception and Realization of Pleated Pneumatic Artificial Muscles and their Use as Compliant Actuation Elements. PhD thesis. Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium.

Daerden, F., Verrelst, B., Lefeber, D. and Kool, P. 1999. Controlling motion and compliance with folded pneumatic artificial muscles. Proceedings of CLAWAR ’99: International Workshop and Confer-ence, Portsmouth, UK, pp. 667 – 677.

Greenhill, S. 1993 The digit muscle. Industrial Robot, Vol. 20(5), pp. 29 - 30.

Hannaford, B., Winters, J. M., Chou, C.-P. and Marbot, P. H. 1995. The anthroform biorobotic arm: a system for the study of spinal circuits. In An-nals of Biomedical Enineering, Vol. 23, pp. 399 - 408.

Hesselroth, T., Sarkar, K., van der Smaght, P. and Schulten, K. 1994. Neural network control of a pneumatic robot arm. IEEE Transactions on Sys-tems, Man and Cybernatics, Vol. 24(1), pp. 28 - 38.

Immega, G. B. 1986. ROMAC muscle powered robots. MS86–777, Society of Manufacturing Engineers, Dearborn.

Inoue, K. 1987. Rubbertuators and applications for robotics. 4th International Symposium on Robotics Research, pp. 57 - 63.

Klute, G. and Hannaford, B. 1998. Fatigue character-istics of McKibben artificial muscle actuators. Pro-ceedings of IROS 1998, Victoria, B.C., Canada, pp. 1776 – 1782.

Marcinčin, J. and Palko, A. 1993. Negative pressure artificial muscle—An unconventional drive of ro-botic and handling systems. Transactions of the University of Košice, Riecansky Science Publishing Co, Slovak Republic, pp. 350 – 354.

Morecki, A., Ekiel, J. and Fidelus, K. 1967. Some problems of controlling a live upper extremity and bioprosthesis by myopotential. International Sym-posium on External Control of Human Extremities, Belgrade, Yugoslavia, pp. 128 – 141.

Morin, A. H. 1953. Elastic Diaphragm. US Patent No. 2,642,091.

Noritsugu, T. and Tanaka, T. 1997. Application of rubber artificial muscle manipulator as a rehabilita-tion robot. IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mecha-tronics, Vol. 2(4), pp. 259 - 267.

Raparelli, T., Zobel, P. B. and Durante, F. 2001. The design of a 2-dof robot for functional recovery ther-apy driven by pneumatic muscles. 10th Internation-al Workshop on Robotics in Alpe-Adria-Danube re-gion, paper RD-078, Vienna, Austria.

Schulte, H. F. 1961. The characteristics of the McKib-ben artificial muscle. The application of external power in prosthetics and orthotics, Publication 874 of the National Academy of Sciences–National Re-search Council, Lake Arrowhead, pp. 94 – 115.

Sensaud de Lavaud, D. 1929. Vorrichtung zur Erzeugung eines Über- oder Unterdruckes in Gasen oder Flüssigkeiten. Deutsches Patentschrift Nr. 503775.

Tondu, B. 1997. Analysis and modeling of the dynam-ic behaviour of the McKibben artificial muscle. Re-prints of the 5th IFAC Symposium on Robot Con-trol, Nantes, France, pp. 315 – 319.

Tondu, B., Boitier, V. and Lopez, P. 1995. Théorie d’un muscle artificiel pneumatique et application à la modelisation du muscle artificiel de McKibben. Comptes Rendus de l’Académie des Sciences, Tome 320, Série IIb, Académie des Sciences, Paris, pp.Verrelst, B., Daerden, F., Lefeber, D., Van Ham, R. and Fabri, T. 2000. Introducing pleated pneumatic artificial muscles for the actuation of legged robots: a one–dimensional setup. Proceedings of CLAWAR 2000: Third International Conference, Madrid, pp. 583 – 590.

Winters, J. M. 1995. Braided artificial muscles: me-chanical properties and future uses in prosthet-ics/orthotics. RESNA 13th Annual Conference, Washington DC, pp. 173 – 174.






Original Article

Most read articles by the same author(s)