A team of researchers from the University of Maryland has 3D printed a soft robotic hand that is agile enough to play Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. – and win! The feat demonstrates a promising innovation in the field of soft robotics, which centers on creating new types of flexible, inflatable robots that are powered using water or air rather than electricity.
The inherent safety and adaptability of soft robots has sparked interest in their use for applications like prosthetics and biomedical devices. Unfortunately, controlling the fluids that make these soft robots bend and move has been especially difficult – until now. The key breakthrough by the team, led by University of Maryland assistant professor of mechanical engineering Ryan D. Sochol, was the ability to 3D print fully assembled soft robots with integrated fluidic circuits in a single step. For further information see the IDTechEx report on Flexible, Printed and Organic Electronics 2020-2030: Forecasts, Technologies, Markets . “Previously, each finger of a soft robotic hand would typically need its own control line, which can limit portability and usefulness,” explains co-first author Joshua Hubbard, who performed the research during his time as an undergraduate researcher in Sochol’s Bioinspired Advanced Manufacturing ( […]
Above: PepsiCo food, snack, and beverage product line-up/Source: PepsiCo PepsiCo turned to tooling with 3D printing...