Soft Robots

I’ve been working on this project for a few months, focused on changing how soft robots get designed and made. Traditionally these robots are complex to design and build, and they require and unexpectedly large amount of hand labor to stitch together. This ends up with parts being produced slowly, with small deviations from known working designs. I’ve been trying to come up with a method that allows you to design a robot in CAD, queue up the design on a powder printer, cast silicone into the printed mold, and pull out a working robot. The idea is to allow for a huge variety of geometry, experimentation, and prototypes that are quick and inexpensive to produce. I want to make the process a whole lot more like a scientific experiment, where you test and observe multiple samples while adjusting a single variable.

I’ve been focusing on these tapered tentacle shapes because they’re pretty easy to model and mold, but there’s some more complex and exciting geometry coming out of the machines all the time. Here’s a list of posts on the project, including information on the methods, techniques, and materials involved:

You can also find a running feed of photo documentation from the project here. I’ve also uploaded a number of the major revisions to Thingiverse.