3D-Printed Robotic Gripper Works Without Power

The soft robot uses gravity and touch sensors to work without electricity

Scarlett Evans, Assistant Editor, IoT World Today

August 1, 2023

1 Min Read
The robot uses gravity and touch sensors to work without electricity
UC San Diego

A new 3D-printed robotic gripper is being heralded as a game-changer in the fact that it doesn’t need any power to work.

The device, developed by a team of roboticists at the University of California San Diego in collaboration with researchers at the BASF Corp., can pick up, hold and release items and uses gravity and built-in touch sensors to work.

“We designed functions so that a series of valves would allow the gripper to both grip on contact and release at the right time,” said Yichen Zhai, study author. “It’s the first time such a gripper can both grip and release. All you have to do is turn the gripper horizontally. This triggers a change in the airflow in the valves, making the two fingers of the gripper release.”

The team’s design is also novel in that the gripper is created using a continuous 3D printing method, removing the need for device assembly and reducing the likelihood of defects in the final piece.

“It’s like drawing a picture without ever lifting the pencil off the page,” said Michael T. Tolley, study author.

This new method also allows the team to print extremely fine structures, down to 0.01 inches thick. These thinner materials help create soft structures with greater flexibility and deformation capabilities, making them ideal for soft robot purposes.

The gripper has a range of potential uses, including industrial manufacturing applications, food production or handling fruits and vegetables. It could also be mounted onto a robot for research and exploration tasks. 

“In addition,” the team said, “it can function untethered, with a bottle of high-pressure gas as its only power source.” 

About the Author(s)

Scarlett Evans

Assistant Editor, IoT World Today

Scarlett Evans is the assistant editor for IoT World Today, with a particular focus on robotics and smart city technologies. Scarlett has previous experience in minerals and resources with Mine Australia, Mine Technology and Power Technology. She joined Informa in April 2022.

Sign Up for the Newsletter
The most up-to-date news and insights into the latest emerging technologies ... delivered right to your inbox!

You May Also Like