The Soft Robotic Gripper, which is 3D printed, operates without the use of electronics, according to a report from 3DPrinting.com.

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The researchers at the University of California San Diego have made a groundbreaking discovery in the field of 3D printing. They have developed a gripper that can pick up, hold, and release objects, all without the use of electronics. This innovation opens up new possibilities for a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, food production, research, and exploration.

Unlike most 3D printed soft robots, which require complex assembly and often suffer from leaks and stiffness, this gripper is printed in one go. The printing process uses a novel method in which the printer nozzle follows a continuous path throughout each layer. This reduces leaks and defects commonly associated with soft materials and also enables the printing of thin walls, enhancing the gripper’s flexibility and overall softness.

What truly sets this gripper apart, however, is its fluidic logic. By simply turning the gripper horizontally, it can grip and release objects. The gripper is powered by a high-pressure gas, and the change in airflow in the valves triggers the release of the gripper’s fingers. This fluidic logic provides a seamless and efficient gripping experience.

Yichen Zhai, a postdoctoral researcher in the Bioinspired Robotics and Design Lab at the University of California San Diego, explains, “We designed functions so that a series of valves would allow the gripper to both grip on contact and release at the right time. 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 applications for this soft gripper are vast. In industrial automation, it can revolutionize the way objects are handled and manipulated. In delicate fruit handling, it can provide a gentle touch and minimize damage. Additionally, thanks to its soft structure, it can enable safer interactions between robots and humans.

The full paper detailing this innovative gripper, titled “Desktop fabrication of monolithic soft robotic devices with embedded fluidic control circuits,” can be found in the Science Robotics journal. It is a fascinating read for anyone interested in the field of robotics and additive manufacturing.

If you want to share your thoughts on this groundbreaking discovery, go ahead and visit the University of California San Diego’s Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages. And for more additive manufacturing news, be sure to sign up for their weekly newsletter. Stay updated with all the latest stories delivered right to your inbox.

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