Adam Allevato and his team of fellow mechanical engineering students at Colorado State University in Fort Collins have created a human-like hand that can be operated in environments that are toxic to humans.
The Glove-Operated Digitally Synced Hand is a mechanical device whose movement can be controlled remotely. The hand was created for use in environments that are too dangerous for humans, but still need the dexterity of a human hand. The students see the hand as an effective tool for bomb diffusing and for work in contaminated nuclear reactors.
Click the image below for a close-up view of the Glove-Operated Digital Hand:
The PIC for the hand is mounted on one of two protoboards along with the other required electrical components, and the protoboards are mounted vertically in the base of the forearm.
Thanks for showing interest in our project. Although it appears that the palm of the hand is made of metal, it is in fact the 3D-printed ABS that has been painted silver. We wanted to show that if this was a production device, the hand would most likely be made of metal and molded plastic, instead of rapid-prototyped material. Even the pins holding the finger joints together were made from plastic, but again, in the final product metal would probably be utilized.
Our team leader modeled the parts of the hand using Creo (Pro/ENGINEER) and exported to STL files for the printing. The printer filled the inside of the parts with a honeycomb-like structure. I was not the manufacturing lead on the project so I can't speak any more on the printing process, but I've asked our leader (who did the manufacturing) to come and comment regarding the printing.
The main reason that we chose to use rapid prototyping was because of the flexibility and speed it offered. We were able to make complex internal shapes (particularly the paths that the tension wires took through the palm) and were able to go through 4 design revisions within the course of 12 weeks or so. The speed was crucial because there was not much documentation available on how to design a robot like the one we were trying to build.
Thanks, Rob, for that info. How cool that Beth was right and it does use 3D printing. I'm also intrigued by the mix of materials among metals, rubber and whatever films are used for flex sensors these days. From the photo, it looked like a mix of metals and plastics of some kind. It will be interesting to see what else Adam has to say.
This is a great invention, and one that is a good example of what robotics are so good at: whatever we humans can't do, either because we'd not survive the environment, or sending us there is too costly (e.g., outer space), for example. Like Beth, I'd love to know more about the materials.
This is very cool and a good candidate for lots of different applications. And I'm curious about the rapid prototyping angle. Any intel on what systems/materials they used to produce the glove and why they choose the 3D printing route?
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