May 18, 2015 | By Simon

When it comes to glue sticks, the extrudable adhesives have been used as a way of explaining the process of fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printing for years now.  Similar to how filament is fed through a heated element to be melted and placed in a custom arrangement, glue guns are essentially a 3D printer in their own right provided that the user is capable of building a 3D object - not unlike the popular 3Doodler that became a runaway Kickstarter success a couple of years ago.

Perhaps it was glue sticks then, that inspired 3D printing enthusiast Pavel Mihaylov to create a soft robot using little more than glue sticks, some 3D printing parts, servos and an Arduino Uno.  The result is a “one-hour or less” Instructables project that Mihaylov has titled “Soft Robot Out of Hot Glue Sticks”.

Mihaylov, who is an electronical engineering student at the University of Edinburgh when not tinkering with his own DIY Projects, explains on his Instructables project page that the not only are the glue sticks soft, but they also provide a very important feature: they form the body of the robot and act as springs.   

“The robot is able to move because its tail has very little friction with the ground when moves in one direction and very high friction on the opposite direction,” says Mihaylov.  

“The tail is simply pulled forwards by the two ropes. Then they release, the springy quality of the glue sticks pushes the front forwards while the tail is stuck to the ground.”

The project - which is a great starter project for those who are building their first robot - includes only very simple parts to create - which Mihaylov has outlined in an informative photograph.  In addition to the aforementioned glue sticks, a creator will need to obtain thin nylon rope, an Arduino Uno (or other microcontroller if one is already on hand), a power supply and a servo (or two).  

To build the functioning, movable components of the robot, the servo is connected to the microcontroller and the power supply.  For his own build, Mihaylov used two servos to give it more power “on the ropes”, however this is up to you depending on how many servos you might have on hand.  As for the necessary programming for the microcontroller, Mihaylov has provided the code directly on the Instructables page for easy installation.  Finally, the robot can be assembled together and Mihaylov has even supplied a handy diagram for feeding the rope through the main housing.  

As for what the final robot looks like - the external housing design can be completely customized so long as they fit the existing parameters of the internal part dimensions.  For his example, Mihaylov simply used boxes.

“It’s able to crawl over artificial grass, smooth plastic and rough terrain,” added Mihaylov. “I had to add spikes to the tail to make the friction greater on the grass terrain. It isn’t rocket science, but it is cool.”

So whether you decide to create a garden snake for outdoor parties this summer or perhaps even a caterpillar for the living room floor, this is one of the more unique robot projects we’ve seen in awhile.  You can find the build instructions in-full over on Instructables.  


Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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