Robotic Arm And Claw Sculpted Entirely From ShapeLock


[Alexey] wrote in to share a mechanical claw (Google Translation) he has been hard at work on for quite some time. While a lot of people will turn to some sort of 3D plastic printer such as the MakerBot if they need plastic parts built, [Alexey] didn’t have access to one. Instead, he carefully crafted the entire mechanism from polycaprolactone, or as it’s more commonly known, Shapelock.

Using a wide range of tools from hair dryers and knives to lighting fixtures, he manually sculpted the claw and its control arm out of plastic, piece by piece. We are particularly impressed by the gearing he was able to cut from the plastic, which can be finicky at times.

As you can see in the video below, The claw mimics each movement he makes with the control arm via a handful of Arduino-driven servos. Everything seems to work quite well, and despite the rough translation by Google, we think this is a great project. If you are looking to do something similar yourself, he has plenty of pictures on his site, which should give you a pretty good idea as to how things were put together.



24 thoughts on “Robotic Arm And Claw Sculpted Entirely From ShapeLock

  1. Nice hack!

    I wonder if the same sort of idea would work to make a full function gripping prosthetic hand with off the shelf parts?

    When something basic costs £30K then you can see the advantage of a homebrew version.
    Combine with dry electrode EEG based control and this could help a lot of people use a PC, etc.

    Come to think of it, did anyone other than me come up with the idea of using eye iris diameter/ focus muscles as a control for people who have virtually no remaining muscle movements i.e. ALS patients? would make sense, as it is relatively easy to read the eye’s focal length using a simple CMOS camera and low power IR LED.

    1. I’ve thought about the same thing. Prosthetics seem ludicrously expensive for what is in essence some bits of plastic and silicone, 3 emg electrodes and amplifier, a microcontroller, a servo and some decent rechargeable batteries.

      Even more astounding is the fact that I have yet to see any off-the-shelf prosthetic device with any form of feedback! Sensory substitution anyone? The cost of adding a couple of flex and force sensors coupled to button vibrators in contact with the skin seems negligible compared to the vast improvement in usability and the astonishingly high price of the device as is.

    1. That’s a 1.23oz trial. Amazon sells Instamorph for $9.95 for 8oz – with free shipping through Amazon Prime (free trials can be found – google “Amazon Mom”)

      I’ve never heard of the stuff before – might have to give it a try! I have a share of things that I wish I had a RepRap to print a part for – maybe this stuff could work?

      How many ounces of Shapelock would make the posted project?

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.