Variable Grip Robotic Hand

by Dimorgoniv, published

Variable Grip Robotic Hand by Dimorgoniv Mar 15, 2017

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As a result of this activity, students should develop an understanding of:

i. design concepts
ii. teamwork needed in the design process
iii. impact of technology in manufacturing
iv. Students will explore design, construction, teamwork, and mechanical movement.

This Hand can be used with LEGO Mindstorms robot and is compatible with LEGO Technics pieces

Print Settings

Printer Brand:











How I Designed This

The 3D printed parts were designed in Tinkercad.


Overview and Background

Build A Robotic Hand

Participating teams of three or four students are provided with a bag of printed robotic hand parts, pins and springs. Each team must use the given materials to build a working robotic hand.

The robotic hand must be able to pick up a small container such as an empty pill bottle.

Teams of students must agree on the proper construction of the hand and identify what materials will be used. Students will draw a sketch of proper parts placement prior to construction.

Resulting robotic hands will then be tested and checked for range of motion and successful completion of the given task.

Special note should be made of the pistons and springs as this is the component that gives this "Hand" its variable grip.

Unlike many other designs, this is not an "All or Nothing" approach to grabbing an object and maintaining a grip. This design gives some leeway as to the grip pressure and the movement range where an object can still be successfully secured and carried.

Through this lesson, students will:

  • Learn design concepts.
  • Learn teamwork.
  • Learn problem solving techniques.
  • Learn about simple machines.

Lesson Plan and Activity

Instruct students to examine the materials provided and to work as a team to build a robotic hand out of the given materials.

Provide students with the following parameters:

  • The robotic hand must be able to pick up and hold an empty pill bottle.
  • Teams of students must agree on the proper design for the robotic hand and identify what materials will be used.
  • Students should draw a sketch of proper parts placement prior to construction.

You should explain that teamwork, trial and error are part of the construction process.

Questions for Students

  • Did you use all the materials provided to you? Why, or why not?
  • Which item was most critical to the robotic hand design?
  • How did working as a team help in the process?
  • Were there any drawbacks to working as a team relating to construction?
  • Name three industries that could make use of a robotic hand like this?

Materials Needed

To prepare for this lesson you will need the following supplies:

  • Various printed appendage pieces
  • A few dozen connector pins
  • Small springs such as those found on ball point pens

Duration of Lesson

2 - 60 minute periods

Rubric and Assessment

These reflective questions will help assess student understanding:

  • What was one thing you liked about your hand? What is its main weakness?
  • How can you change the attachment point to be compatible with other robots?
  • Are there algebraic and physical principles that can be applied to this activity?
  • How would you modify the design to create a better robotic hand?


  • TryEngineering (www.tryengineering.org)
  • Design Your Own Robot (www.mos.org/robot/robot.html)
  • FIRST Robotics Competition (www.usfirst.org)
  • ITEA Standards for Technological Literacy: Content for the Study of Technology (www.iteaconnect.org/TAA)
  • NSTA National Science Education Standards (www.nsta.org/publications/nses.aspx)
  • NCTM Principles and Standards for School Mathematics (http://standards.nctm.org)
  • Robot Books (www.robotbooks.com)

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