The Soft Articulating Hand: is a research project into soft robotics through re-creating a prosthetic hand that enables better grip than a normal robotic hand.
The Soft Articulating Hand evolved out of an exploration into of the potential of Soft Robotics. Soft robots have the ability to create refined movements that would otherwise require many motors or servos to create the same movement. This project is modeled off two preexisting soft robotic prosthetic hands. The goals of the Soft Articulating Hand are to enable lateral movement, to allow a more refined grip; to have hands that expand and contract; for gripping objects better; and to create wrist movement, to enhance fine motor skills. This device is designed for a person with a hand or arm amputation.
The hand movement is actuated through air flow pneumatics. It is comprised of seven primary components: four pneumatic-operated bellows, five silicone fingers (including the thumb), and two palm pieces. The process of mold making includes 3D-printing a mold, mixing silicone, and pouring silicone into the mold. After the silicone cures, the mold is removed. The hand movement is controlled by an Arduino that connects to twelve solenoid valves that are triggered by the push of buttons that correlate with each movement.
For future exploration, this prosthetic could have additional abilities that improve on the human hand itself: an example of this could include a feature like suction-cup grip, for a better hold on slippery things.