The goal of this thesis project was to determine the lower limit of scale for the RIT robotic grasping hand. This was accomplished using a combination of computer simulation and experimental studies. A force analysis was conducted to determine the size of air muscles required to achieve appropriate contact forces at a smaller scale. Input variables, such as the actuation force and tendon return force, were determined experimentally. A dynamic computer model of the hand system was then created using Recurdyn. This was used to predict the contact (grasping) force of the fingers at full-scale, half-scale, and quarter-scale. Correlation between the computer model and physical testing was achieved for both a life-size and half-scale finger assembly. To further demonstrate the scalability of the hand design, both half and quarter-scale robotic hand rapid prototype assemblies were built using 3D printing techniques. This thesis work identified the point where further miniaturization would require a change in the manufacturing process to micro-fabrication. Several techniques were compared as potential methods for making a production intent quarter-scale robotic hand. Investment casting, Swiss machining, and Selective Laser Sintering were the manufacturing techniques considered. A quarter-scale robotic hand tested the limits of each technology. Below this scale, micro-machining would be required. The break point for the current actuation method, air muscles, was also explored. Below the quarter-scale, an alternative actuation method would also be required. Electroactive Polymers were discussed as an option for the micro-scale. In summary, a dynamic model of the RIT robotic grasping hand was created and validated as scalable at full and half-scales. The model was then used to predict finger contact forces at the quarter-scale. The quarter-scale was identified as the break point in terms of the current RIT robotic grasping hand based on both manufacturing and actuation. A novel, prototype quarter-scale robotic hand assembly was successfully built by an additive manufacturing process, a high resolution 3D printer. However, further miniaturization would require alternate manufacturing techniques and actuation mechanisms.
Monahan, Melissa, "Scalability study for robotic hand platform" (2010). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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