Jul 1, 2016 | By Benedict

High school graduate Sam Baumgarten and senior Graham Hughes have used 3D printing to build an Arduino-powered robotic gripper. A glove fitted with flex sensors is used to control the device, which uses three large servos to control its 3D printed fingers.

You can do some pretty great things with a 3D printer, an Arduino, and a handful of other components. Just ask Baumgarten and Hughes, whose incredible robotic gripper demonstrates a level of skill and ambition well beyond the students’ years. The device consists of a three-fingered gripper unit at the end of a metal handle, which has a box of electronic components at its base. A separate flex sensor-equipped glove is used to operate the gripper, with the user able to perform natural squeezing motions which are replicated in real time by the robotic device.

Robotic grippers can have many uses, industrial and otherwise, but roboticists are still some way from achieving the perfect design. It is therefore refreshing to see talented youngsters really “getting to grips” with advanced projects like this one. Baumgarten recently posted a video demonstrating how he and Hughes built the robotic device, and some of the revelations are pretty interesting. Just don’t ask why there are two Arduinos.

The robotic gripper consists of three hobby servos and mechanical, 3D printed fingers with force sensors at their tips. The glove, worn by the user to control the gripper, uses flexible sensors whose resistance changes as the wearer flexes their fingers. The signal from these resistors is processed by an Arduino and sent to the gripper module via an Xbee module.

According to the recently graduated high-schooler, one of the most exciting features of the 3D printed robotic gripper is its haptic feedback feature. The force sensors attached to the fingers of the gripper are used to send haptic feedback to the fingertips of the glove, letting users know how hard their remote hand is gripping an object. This feature is incredibly useful for gripping fragile objects, since the user will immediately know when they are applying too much (or too little) pressure.

Another interesting feature of the 3D printed device is its joint anatomy. Each finger of the robotic gripper uses two joints, but is powered by a single servo motor, with the top section of the finger bending downward when the lower section makes contact with the gripped object. Other secrets revealed in Baumgarten include the DIY approach to the gripper’s handle: a metal bar covered in the kind of grip tape used on stairs.

Using SolidWorks CAD software, Baumgarten and Hughes were able to design CAD models for the fingers of the robotic gripper, which were then 3D printed and assembled with the device’s electronic components.

Baumgarten is planning to enrol in a computer science course at college next year. From the look of this project, he should have no trouble getting accepted.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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