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This paper experimentally investigates the optimization of directional dry adhesives that can be used for robotic climbing and gripping applications. Directional dry adhesives are modeled on gecko setae. The adhesives are comprised of arrays of micro-scale polymer stalks. The geometry of the polymer stalks has a significant effect upon their adhesion properties. A set of parameters including stalk thickness, stalk angle, face angle and stalk curvature have been identified as factors that influence both normal and shear adhesion levels. A new micro-resolution rapid prototyping process is used to create adhesives with varying geometry and advanced features such as curved stalks. A series of experimental tests characterize the significance of each parameter. Tests indicate that the new curved stalk geometry presented here can provide the greatest overall adhesion and robustness to variations in pull-off angle.
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