Published by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, TN, USA
A novel, lightweight, low cost fluid powered robotic hand based on an innovative approach combining fluid power (hydraulics and pneumatics) with the structure fabricated using additive manufacturing (AM) technologies developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) was selected for a 2012 R&D 100 award as one of the most technologically significant products introduced into the marketplace over the past year.
The robotic hand is a manifestation of a broader basic technology using additive manufacturing to fabricate complex fluid-powered components and systems.
Integrated components – Fluid power components (acutators, pumps, hoses, energy storage, etc.) and fluid passages are integrated into the structure. There are no drilled holes or plugs, no hoses, no couplings. Everything is included in the design and fabricated into one part through the additive manufacturing (AM) process. Fluid powered systems have a strength and power density ten times greater than electric systems.
Additive Manufacturing (AM) – Electron beam consolidation of titanium powder creates lightweight, yet durable, structures with fewer parts and ease of assembly.
Mechanical properties similar to wrought material – Stress tests on the mesh structures show the mechanical properties are similar to wrought properties down to wire mesh that is 0.015 in. thick.
Mesh construction – Speeds manufacturing and reduces costs using additive manufacturing (AM) for extremely complex mesh structures that reduce weight (by more than 5X), cost, and process time (by more than 3X).
Increased performance – Pinch force (10 kg) and grip force (50 kg) are 5X improved over competing technologies.
What Is Additive Manufacturing?
Additive Manufacturing (AM) creates components directly from a computer model, adding material only where needed, which means unlimited design flexibility, decreased energy consumption, and reduced time to market.
Direct Manufacturing, an AM technology, uses an electron beam to melt powdered metal that is injected into the beam. Metal parts are built up layer-by-layer as the material rapidly cools and solidifies, similar to process in the video below.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Tennessee, USA, is working with additive manufacturing (AM) equipment manufacturers and end users to revolutionize the way products are designed and built. ORNL research and development in this crucial field are enabling a wealth of opportunities for product customization, improved performance, multifunctionality, and lower overall manufacturing costs. Not only does additive manufacturing remove the traditional limits on part geometry, but highly complex components can also be fabricated faster while consuming less material and using less energy. Additive manufacturing also eliminates the need for expensive part tooling and detailed drawing packages, causing a paradigm shift for the design-to-manufacture process.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
P.O. Box 2008
Oak Ridge, TN 37831
ORNL has a long history of working closely with industry and offers world-leading capabilities in materials development, characterization, and processing. It also has specialized facilities for modeling and simulation, creating an unmatched environment for breakthroughs in additive manufacturing.
ORNL is a multiprogram science and technology laboratory managed for the U.S. Department of Energy by UT-Battelle, LLC. ORNL’s mission is to deliver scientific discoveries and technical breakthroughs that will accelerate the development and deployment of solutions in clean energy and global security, and in doing so create economic opportunity for the nation.
Our sincere appreciation to Jennifer A. Palmer of Oak Ridge National Laboratory for permission to share ORNL news. Reprinted with permission of “Oak Ridge National Laboratory“.