Researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have received nine R&D 100 awards. The awards, presented by R&D Magazine, recognize the top 100 innovations of 2012 and are sometimes referred to as the "Academy Awards of Science."
One reward is received for a low-cost, lightweight robotic hand based on additive manufacturing. This robot hand combines fluid power with additive manufacturing technologies and costs approximately 10 times less than similar devices. It is composed of only 46 parts while other existing robotic hands have hundreds of parts. This simplified lightweight robotic hand can be manufactured in approximately 24 hours and assembled in 16 hours, and its size can be adjusted based on need.
This robotic hand has potential in robotics, prosthetics, to remote handling and biomedical and surgical applications.
A hydraulic pump powered by an electric motor located in the palm of the hand provides pressurized fluid to the finger joints that cause gripping motion. An electric motor turns a cam that drives two master pistons each connected to five slave pistons that cause the fingers to open or close. Since the fingers are hydraulically coupled, the fingers will naturally conform to any device they are grasping.
In June 2012 3D printer manufacturer Stratasys announced a joint initiative with ORNL to advance the additive manufacturing technology, known as fused deposition modeling (FDM) into a mainstream manufacturing process.
Using additive manufacturing process scientists could integrate all of the fluid components (pistons, pump, motor housing, cams, fluid passages, etc.) directly with the mesh structure. This process could reduces material consumption, waste streams, large investments into metal tooling, weight, energy used to fuse the material. "Weight is reduced by more than five times and process time by more than three times."
Development Team from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (Images credit: rdmag)
(l-r): Bradley Richardson, Craig Blue, Andrew Klarner, Larry Lowe, Art Clemons, William Peter, Ryan Dehoff, Lonnie Love (Principal Developer) , Randall Lind, and Martin Keller
Posted in 3D Printing Applications
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