Dead Simple Jamming Gripper Design


This jamming gripper design is the simplest we’ve seen so far. It uses a syringe to generate the suction necessary for the orange appendage to grip an object.

As with previous offerings this uses coffee grounds inside of a balloon. When pressed against an object the grounds flow around it. When a vacuum is applied to the balloon those grounds are locked in place, jamming themselves around the item for a firm grip. About a year ago we saw a hardware-store grade design which used a vacuum pump for suction and a shower head as the gripper body. This time around the plastic syringe serves as both.

The plastic tip was cut away and the resulting hole covered with a cloth to keep the coffee in place. After installing the coffee-filled balloon the grip can be operated by pulling the plunger to lock the grounds in place. It’s not going to be as easy to automate as a pump-based rig. But if you just want to toy with the concept this is the way to go.

19 thoughts on “Dead Simple Jamming Gripper Design

  1. Something like this could work with a post-join prostheses. That would be something.

    Maybe the elbow joint would have the syringe plunger and they could use a hose. How do current prosthetic hands work? How much power could this apply? How much pulling power does an elbow provide?

  2. Every time I one of these, it reminds me of the stretch armstrong villain VAC-MAN! It was a fun toy as a kid. That little pump and valve would be handy in something like this.

  3. “Plastic syringe (ask your pharmacist, he/she will look weird but give it to you if you don’t look like a drug addict)”

    even better any inkjet refill supplier carries syringe like devices that will work and you dont raise suspicion or feel goofy for getting it.

    1. Pharmacy? For a syringe? Just go down to your neighborhood feed store, pick an appropriate size, grab a box off of them off of the shelf at the back, pay for them at the register at the front, and leave.

      Suspicion? Goofy? These are just tools, or perhaps parts. The last time I used a syringe at home, I stabbed it into an old bottle of Gorilla Glue that I couldn’t get the lid off of, and proceeded to fix a chair. It made a lovely dispenser; very precise.

      If folks are really worried about buying tools and parts, then we’ve lost more tinkerer aspect than I thought.

        1. I’ve yet to enter the state doesn’t allow something like a syringe style turkey baster(Which honestly, I’m surprised no one mentioned). And I’ve been to a lot of states.

  4. These should be easier to automate than a pump, not less, using a linear actuator made out of a piece of threaded rod, a nut, and a motor.

    …Dang, I think the end effector on my robot arm is going to be replaced now :)

    1. Yeah that’s actually what I thought! I thought not needing a pump is a very big advantage. In the article I proposed a solenoid for automation, but your idea is even better and a lot more practical! I hope you don’t mind that I would try this myself as well! Thanks!

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