Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS) is receiving much attention for a number of reasons, including less trauma, faster
recovery and enhanced precision. The traditional robotic actuators do not have the capabilities required to fulfill the
demand for new applications in MIS. Ionic Polymer-Metal Composite (IPMC), one of the most promising smart
materials, has extensive desirable characteristics such as low actuation voltage, large bending deformation and high
functionality. Compared with traditional actuators, IPMCs can mimic biological muscle and are highly promising for
actuation in robotic surgery. In this paper, a new approach which involves molding and integrating IPMC actuators into a
soft silicone tube to create an active actuating tube capable of multi-degree-of-freedom motion is presented. First,
according to the structure and performance requirements of the actuating tube, the biaxial bending IPMC actuators
fabricated by using solution casting method have been implemented. The silicone was cured at a suitable temperature to
form a flexible tube using molds fabricated by 3D Printing technology. Then an assembly based fabrication process was
used to mold or integrate biaxial bending IPMC actuators into the soft silicone material to create an active control tube.
The IPMC-embedded tube can generate multi-degree-of-freedom motions by controlling each IPMC actuator.
Furthermore, the basic performance of the actuators was analyzed, including the displacement and the response speed.
Experimental results indicate that IPMC-embedded tubes are promising for applications in MIS.