Publication Details

Mutlu, R., Alici, G., in het Panhuis, P. & Spinks, G. M. (2016). 3D printed flexure hinges for soft monolithic prosthetic fingers. Soft Robotics, 3 (3), 120-133.


Mechanical compliance is one of the primary properties of structures in nature playing a key role in their efficiency. This study investigates a number of commonly used flexure hinges to determine a flexure hinge morphology, which generates large displacements under a lowest possible force input. The aim of this is to design a soft and monolithic robotic finger. Fused deposition modeling, a low-cost 3D printing technique, was used to fabricate the flexure hinges and the soft monolithic robotic fingers. Experimental and finite element analyses suggest that a nonsymmetric elliptical flexure hinge is the most suitable type for use in the soft monolithic robotic finger. Having estimated the effective elastic modulus, flexion of the soft monolithic robotic fingers was simulated and this showed a good correlation with the actual experimental results. The soft monolithic robotic fingers can be employed to handle objects with unknown shapes and are also potential low-cost candidates for establishing soft and one-piece prosthetic hands with light weight. A three-finger gripper has been constructed using the identified flexure hinge to handle objects with irregular shapes such as agricultural products.

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