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a robot hand made of paper only

  • 5 fingers model (back of the hand)

  • Simple experiment using Origami-hand.

    Simple experiment using Origami-hand.

  • How to assemble

  • Passively grasp according to shape

  • 5 fingers model (palm)

  • 2 fingers model and prototypes

What it does

Origami-hand is a disposable robot hand that folds and assembles paper. I aim to expand the application range of robot by manufacturing the robot hand at low price which can perform complicated operation.

Your inspiration

As the aging progresses, the introduction of robots is progressing to solve labor input problems and labor problems. However, there are many environments where it is still difficult to apply robots. For example, it is a food processing factory. There are various kinds of food. And even the same food has a change in size and shape. Robots need to deal with them. However, providing a dedicated end effector for each food will increase the cost. Hygiene management is also a problem. Therefore, I thought about extending the application range of robot by realizing a multi-use, disposable and inexpensive robot hand.

How it works

Origami-hand has two major features. One is that each finger is made of a piece of water resistant paper and does not require any mechanical parts such as shafts and bearings. Therefore, no foreign matter enters between the joints, it is inexpensive and can be disposable, so there is no need to worry hygienically. Another feature is to adopt a mechanism called "Najimi mechanism" that moves passively according to the shape and size of the object to be gripped. This makes it possible to cope with variations in shape of food without complicated control. Because of these features, it can be used in many places other than the factory. It is lightweight because it is made of paper, and it can be used as a prosthetic hand or to be mounted on a drone easily because its size can be freely adjusted by changing the magnification. Also, since it does not use mechanical parts that require lubricating oil, it is easy to operate in the universe and the deep sea.

Design process

The laboratory that I belong to was working with NEDO (Natioal Research and Development Corporation New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization) on a highly versatile robot hand. I wanted to evolve it into a novel form. Then,I got an idea from "origami" which is one of the traditional Japanese games, and I folded the paper to make a robot hand. In the first Origami-hand has only one finger. I developed it drawing designed by CAD was printed on copy paper, cut manually and assembled. After that, I made more than 10 prototypes and repeated improvements. Currently there are two models. One is a two-finger model which is made up of index finger and thumb. The other is a five-finger model resembling human hand. I carried out a grip experiment that actually assumed the lunch box material using a two fingers model. From now on, I will also experiment with 5 fingers model.

How it is different

While many of the existing robot hands with multiple fingers use mechanical parts such as shafts, bearings, screws, etc. Origami-hand uses folds of paper for hinges of the joints, so that failure of the risk is small, and it can be easily assembled. It is possible to make it at low cost and to replace it when it is finished using it, and it can solve problems such as cost, maintenance and hygiene management which were problems in the conventional robot hand. It does not use a motor for each joint of the fingers. However, since it has a “Najimi mechanism”, it is possible to grasp various shapes with few actuators. In this way, it is made of paper and has a small number of actuators, so it is very lightweight. I am currently applying for a patent.

Future plans

In future, I would like to put it into practical use as an end effector of various robots. Currently, we are improving durability and grip strength further, and I am improving design which can grasp at least about 1 kg. Moreover, by further simplifying the structure, we are considering selling it as a robot learning kit for children.


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