Scratch built air muscles


We first talked about air muscles in 2005 while lusting after Shadow Robotic’s dexterous hand. The pneumatic devices are known for being lightweight and compliant. They’re designed to be used in robot arms and legs. [jelengar] stumbled across this guide to building your own air muscles. We’re not exactly sure what the original source is since it reads like a machine translation. The core is a piece of silicone tubing used in aquariums. It’s sealed at one end with a bolt. Braided electrical sheathing is slid over the tube and secured using multiple wraps of 24gauge wire. They say to test it using 20psi, but there’s no mention of what the limits are.


  1. Solenoidclock says:
  2. Prowler50mil says:

    Here is a better guide on how to make air muscles.!/

  3. Ali Raheem says:

    Awesome translation.

  4. Tachyon says:

    Old news is SO EXCITING! I first read that ‘anthroform arm’ project (it’s the one with the white colored sleeve) in the late nineties for g-d’s sake.

  5. Triffid Hunter says:

    They’re called McKibben Muscles (sometimes McKibbon)

  6. zinguvok says:

    i believe i saw these in the book “gadgeteer’s goldmine”… and that came out a _while_ ago. very similar execution.

  7. Wwhat says:

    Seems on wikipedia they are known as PAM:

    I quote:
    PAMs were first developed (under the name of McKibben Artificial Muscles) in the 1950s for use in artificial limbs.

    1950’s eh, bit slow in development for such a simple useful invention?

  8. Taylor Alexander says:

    I’ve made these before too, they’re super simple. Some free used bike tubes from a bike shop (just ask) and some of that finger-trap style expandable sheathing for running wires and such (frys, mcmaster, etc) and they’re pretty simple. Bike tires run at 60psi or so (mountain bike) so I’d stay under that, but they’re not hard to make.

    Why has the tech not taken off? Air powered stuff still needs a pump and valves and possibly a tank, which makes it a pain to setup, and not very compact. That’s why I’ve never done anything with them anyway.

  9. Troy Tote says:

    Loved the post. Are you doing any new years resolution this year? Mine is to stop smoking and lose all this weight I’ve gained this month lol.

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