Robot Hand

by feklee, published

Robot Hand by feklee Oct 18, 2011
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Robot Hand by feklee is licensed under the Creative Commons - Attribution license.

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A robot hand, printable ready to use. No assembly required! To make this happen, I designed a special joint: no overhangs exceeding 45°

Modeled in Rhino.


The idea: Just print out the hand (hand.stl) on an Ultimaker, a MakerBot, a RepRap, or another sufficiently capable 3D printer.

Note: There are gaps between parts as small as 0.5 mm! I suggest first printing a single joint (joint.stl). If the joint does not move, then scale the model up. If it is too loose, then scale the model down.

Let me know if you need something, for example an STL mesh with different density.

Bernhard Kubicek has successfully printed a scaled up joint. See the photo, as well as his blog post: Printing a part of a robotic hand…

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Is it actual size?

Don’t know the size of your hand.

Hi feklee,
If I'm using ABS plastic, what is the best infill and should I print it with support and raft?

Actually I've never printed it myself. So - sorry - I cannot provide any suggestions concerning print parameters, other than: Try to print the individual joint first.


How can I tighten up the joint for a given size?

The model is not parametric, sorry!

So, changing the proportions of the joint would mean changing the model manually in Rhino.

Kinda like I figured... a fully-articulating hand in 1 print? And from someone who doesn't even own a 3D printer? Unlikely.

My print came out okay, other than the fact that the surface area of the palm created warping. (As do all of my larger prints... can't set the HBP at anything less than 130c or it won't even kick on--although Skeinforge
amp; the Gen 4 interface says it's at 129c even when nothing is set to heat up. Never had a lick of trouble with the nozzle temp. What it says it what it is. The HBP? Another story.)

Feklee, I can probably get your joints to move, from the print I just did... but it's going to take A LOT of meticulous Xacto-knife work, and (Marcellus Wallice says it best), "go to work on the homes here with a pair of pliers and a blow torch... I'monna get medieval on [this thing's] ass".

l post pictures, but perhaps not on Thingiverse. Ever been on http://ewwgross.comhttp://ewwgross.com ?

Heh heh. See ya' there! O:-)

I'll start cleaning this "thing" tomorrow AM. I make over $100/hr... I"ll send you my labor bill.

Just teasing. I love challenges! I may design my own "robotic hand" using some of your ideas, but it will be an entirely different design.

You're great at 3D design with Rhino, Feklee. I have Rhino (SolidWorks, Blender, SketchUp, AutoCAD, TurboCAD, Chief Architect, SolidBuilder, Xactimate, etc
, etc), and I couldn't do that design using Rhino. I haven't learned it well enough.

I'm a custom home builder by trade, turned into an insurance adjuster by economy. But I've been doing CAD for over 20-something years. I started out doing CAD using my Commodore 64 to design jet airplanes. I
had to sketch them in 3D (by hand), calculate the X-Y-Z coordinates of every vertex using math, and punch them all into BASIC code. And then wait. And wait. And wait. And even then, I got a VERY simple wireframe model of my design, with no texture or anything.

Things have come a LONG way. I'm
trying to learn it all as fast as it comes out, but that's impossible. I have to make a LIVING at doing CAD, but my job doesn't require doing things like this. My hobbies are mostly model airplanes, guns, ATVs, making things out of wood, gutting a deer or 2 once a year, raising my own cows for my
own meat
amp; some profit, drinking some beer, designing things that have never been done before, etc, etc.

A robotic hand is definitely NOT on my top priority list... but I'll see what I can do.

Hi Clint,

thank you very much for the feedback on the hand. It is always an honor when someone makes it, and I enjoy getting feedback! Pictures would be awesome - haven't found them on http://ewwgross.comewwgross.com. ;)

Still I don't have a printer myself, and without seeing printouts and being able to play with them, it se
ems hard to make a design that works. Plus: Any working design would probably highly depend on a particular printer model and setup.

Concerning 3D design with Rhino: I perceive the process as a merge between aesthetics and mathematics. There are many little puzzles. The mathematical part reminds me
of geometry taught in schools. Great fun! Unfortunately, I don't get around to working with Rhino very often.

In the case of the hand, it would be interesting to try a parametric design, one where joint dimensions can be easily adapted to fit printer models and setups. This could be possible wit
h a Rhino plugin called Grasshopper. However, for this case, a solid modeler may be more appropriate. Don't have experience with solid modeling, though.

  • Felix

PS: Sorry for replying so late. Your messages hit me when I was sick in bed plus very busy (I'm self employed). Then it kept lingering in
my inbox until now.

Just remembered: You did post a picture. Thanks again for the feedback!

I'm printing your design at 100% scale on my Gen-4 TOM with Mk7 extruder as I write this. It's into it's 10th to 12th layer or so, and printing very well so far (no plastic warp, and very nice looking profiles so far). However, I have my doubts that any of the joints will actually work. The joints all look far too close together to ever work, and due to the scale of the object, I don't believe there is enough material strength to allow forcing and residual material to break away and allow the joints to work. (We'll see when the print is finished.)

My print time was estimated at just over 2 hours. I'm printing off an SD card instead of my laptop, so I can't monitor remaining print time. The Gen-4 interface allows you to monitor the nozzle/bed temps during a build, but not build time or time remaining during a build (as Skeinforge does). I
'm sure there's a way to program that into the Gen-4 interface, but I'm not a programmer at all.

So far, it looks like all of the joints are being welded together due to filament spread. You may have designed 0.5mm gaps in your joints on SolidWorks, but due to filament spread 0.5mm gaps become alm
ost nothing. If you owned a MakerBot, you would probably understand this within a day or so of using it. ;)

(OTHER 3D PRINTER OWNERS PLEASE CORRECT ME IF I'M WRONG: a 3D printer follows the actual design elements, and does not correct for extrusion spreading. For instance, if you printed a 50
mm DIA circle
amp; you're printing with settings that create a 0.42mm wide extrusion, your 50mm circle design would actually end up being 50.42mm DIA... due to the fact that the extruder nozzle follows the 50mm DIA toolpath, yet extrudes 0.21mm on both sides of the toolpath. Am I correct? I'm relatively new to CNC plastic extruding, but certainly not new to CAD, or CNC metal machining.)

I'll post more results when my print is finished. Perhaps an Xacto knife
amp; a little bit of patience will pay off with this design (?).

Excellent design... you're obviously a telented 3D designer.

Nice drawing, realistic joint movement on thumb.

Prints well on a BFB 3D Touch printer. Thumb works fine, finger joints are too weak to try. Next one I'll print in 100% fill density instead of 50%. I'll run the joint test on 25% increased scale first using PLA instead of ABS to see if improvements work out well enough.

Print time was 4 hours us
ing 50% fill density, double speed.

Why would you want to print a test joint at 25% increased scale when you can't print the entire object at 25% increased scale?

For scientific observation? :) LOL

Just wondering.

Great to get feedback on the print process! Yes, the finger joints... Unfortunately, I don't have a printer myself. Otherwise, I could do some experimentation and see what works.

We'll do the experimentation for you... as long as you can take constructive criticism the way it's intended! :)

Neat joint this might be something I can build around! Thanks for sharing!

When closed what's the fist (theoretically) look like? Could you make space for cables and rubber bands like http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2408http://www.thingiverse.com/thi... ? Can you make the thumb better articulated?

I've wanted to modify armjunkie's hand to be a more natural shape and this looks like a step in the right direction, but you seem unaware of the previous project.

Robotic Hand

cymon, interesting idea with the cables and rubberbands! However, at the moment I have no intention of adding them. To me the challenge was the no-assembly part. In fact, armjunkie's hand is probably far better suited as the basis for a motorized robotic hand. It also has more degrees of freedom.

As for the fist: All joints can be bent by 90°.

The thumb - just like the rest of the hand - is designed so that its underside is perfectly flat, thereby avoiding the need for supports. Also, I tried to keep the design simple to handle, not adding more details than necessary. Other than that, th
e dimensions are roughly based on my own hand. And I'm quite happy with it. ;-)

Now I've got to get my printer back together - This is very cool!

Very cool, I look forward to seeing this work!