Like human hands, grippers enable robots to grasp, hold and manipulate various objects. Many times, grippers are customized to a specific tasks or purpose. For example, soft grippers are frequently utilized to handle delicate objects and are designed with soft, flexible or compliant materials in order to create a gentle touch.

The grippers proposed in this guide are designed to be assembled as a supplementary activity following the SDM Finger Fabrication Guide. The gripper activity encourages a problem-based learning approach through the addition of various student led design decisions within the described activity. At the start of the SDM finger activity, students can choose to make one of the two offered design for the fingers. Continuing on through this guide, students then test their chosen finger designs and create a gripper that can successfully grasp a self-selected object. When creating the electronic gripper, students can work hands-on to test various configurations and design to suit their object’s unique features, thereby creating a customized gripper.

These instructions describe how to assemble two different designs of grippers that can be utilized to test the soft fingers created. The electronic gripper, calls for the inclusion of a motor and electronics to drive the fingers open and closed and enables the fingers to be repositionable to suit various configurations. A manual gripper version, utilizing zip-tie and plastic tubing for a handle is also included as a cost saving and ease of manufacturing option. Both designs can be utilized to encourage problem-based learning.

elctronic and manual gripper

The following list describe the steps of the activity in order to achieve the problem-based approach:

1. Students select (or can be assigned) an object to influence the customization of the gripper
2. Students form a hypothesis for how the gripper should be configured based on their object

3. Students complete the SDM Finger Fabrication Guide and supplemental activity to build the soft fingers needed for the gripper.

4. Students assemble their gripper hypothesis using this guide
5. Hypothesis is tested with the selected object and results are recorded

6. Adjustments are made as needed for a perfect solution!


The complete process is described in detail in the Testing section.