2012 R&D 100 Winner
ME220_ORNL_RoboticHandA lightweight, fluid-powered robotic hand that combines fluid power with additive manufacturing technologies could have application potential in robotic assembly, prosthetics, and remote handling of hazardous materials. The Low-Cost, Lightweight Robotic Hand Based on Additive Manufacturing from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tenn., has only 46 parts (compared to hundreds of parts on existing robotic hands) and can be manufactured in approximately 24 hours and assembled in 16 hours.

A hydraulic pump powered by an electric motor located in the palm of the hand provides pressurized fluid to the finger joints that cause gripping motion. An electric motor turns a cam that drives two master pistons each connected to five slave pistons that cause the fingers to open or close. Since the fingers are hydraulically coupled, the fingers will naturally conform to any device they are grasping.

A major breakthrough was the use of additive manufacturing that selectively adds material to underlying material in a layered format, eventually building up the final shape of the part. All of the fluid components (pistons, pump, motor housing, cams, fluid passages, etc.) were integrated directly with the mesh structure, significantly reducing parts, materials, weight, energy used to fuse the material, and cost. Weight is reduced by more than five times and process time by more than three times.

Robotic hand based on additive manufacturing

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Development Team

(l-r): Bradley Richardson, Craig Blue, Andrew Klarner, Larry Lowe, Art Clemons, William Peter, Ryan Dehoff, Lonnie Love, Randall Lind, and Martin Keller


The Low-Cost, Lightweight Robotic Hand Based On Additive Manufacturing Development Team from Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Lonnie J. Love, Principal Developer
Craig Blue
Art Clemons
Ryan Dehoff
Martin Keller
Andrew Klarner
Randall Lind
Larry Lowe
William Peter
Bradley Richardson