Soft robotics is a young field of robotics that makes robots out of soft materials. Although many soft robotics projects out there are entirely soft, soft robotics will have it's biggest impacts when combined with hard robots. To prove this, I took a MeArm (http://www.mearm.com/), a DIY, open-source robot arm, and fitted it with a soft robotic gripper that closes when inflated. This guide covers how to build the gripper and attach it to the MeArm.
- MeArm v1.4 or higher
- PLA or ABS filament
- Ecoflex 00-30
- 1/8" tubing
- 1/16" tubing
- 1/8" Y-connector
- 4x small zip-ties
- Small air source
- Scissors or flush snips
- 3D printer
Also, I am entering this guide in the 2016 Full Spectrum Laser Contest. If you like this guide, I would highly appreciate it if you voted for me.
Step 1: Printing the Molds
Print all three parts in PLA or ABS at .1mm-.2mm layer height with 10% infill and 3 shells.
Step 2: Casting
Press the mold block into the slot in the mold as shown in the pictures. Mix up a small amount of Ecoflex 00-30. It is a 1:1 mixture, so be sure to have an equal amount of both liquids when mixing. Pour the mixture into the mold and let it cure for 4 hours.
Step 3: Demolding
Remove the mold block from the mold and carefully pull the cast out of the mold. It is best to pinch the tips of the gripper with your fingers and pull it out (remember to have patience at this step).
Step 4: Tubing
Cut two short pieces of 1/16" tubing and insert each into the two airlines of the gripper. Sinch two zip-ties around the pieces as shown. Slide one piece of 1/8" tubing over the exposed end of each 1/16" tubing piece. Put the other zip-ties around these junctions. Connect the exposed ends of the 1/8" tubing to the two close legs of the Y-connector and connect the tubing that goes to your air source to the last leg of the connector.
Step 5: Mounting
Slot the gripper into the carriage piece. Unscrew the three screws that hold the MeArm's claw onto the arm and hold onto them. Screw in the carriage and gripper and you are done with the building.
Step 6: Use
To use the gripper, position the fingers of the gripper around an object and inflate. You can then move the arm however you like and still have a nice grip on your object.