The design for the actuators of the soft robotic hand is based on the concepts of fiber-reinforced actuators, but the materials and fabrication techniques are much simpler. Ribbed plastic hose, of the kind found on inexpensive foot pumps, is used as the reinforcing material.
A standard latex 350Q balloon, the kind used for making balloon animals and available at any party store, is used as the inner bladder.
There is a clear trade-off in reliability, as many of the fingers eventually failed... sometimes quite comically as the balloon expanded through the failed plastic of the constraining ribbed hose (see Actuator Testing and Performance section). Nevertheless the low cost and ease of fabrication make this a reasonable option where reliability is not a key factor. It is fairly easy to make a new finger to replace a broken one as needed.
Each actuator forms a finger, which was combined to make a completed hand by fastening to a toy armor gauntlet that happened to be available.
The subsections will outline the design of the individual actuators, the hand as a whole, and the control board.