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The Art of 3d Printed Origami: Unfolding the Future of Robotics

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Conference Abstract: This research introduces the convergence of art, technology and robotics through the use of Additive Manufacturing (AM) in producing origami-like compliant structures as grippers. The ancient art of origami provides a valuable platform for studying the intricate structures and folding motions, offering insights into self-collapsing folds that can achieve force and motion transmission through elastic body deformation. A tessellated origami fold can conform to irregular surfaces, serving as a curve-fitting gripper capable of adapting to diverse geometries in applications such as the pick and place of fruits and vegetables (rigid components) or the pick and place of soft foods or fabrics (flexible components). When replicating origami design for 3D printing, living hinge elements can be used to mimic the range of motion of traditional paper folds. Using a multi-material approach, flexible hinges can be designed with rigid elements to create unique gripper geometry that exhibits controlled compliance as well as strategic rigidity. This idea essentially leverages the use of complaint mechanisms, more specifically Lamina Emergent Mechanisms (LEMs) for robot grippers, not only reducing the weight and assembly time of a robot end-effector, but increasing its flexibility and adaptability within its application. This study will discuss a few design case studies using well known origami folds and the approach to 3D print them. Several challenges exist with using AM for the production of single piece, moving details, due to failure points created by toolpath and material limitations. A design-build-test procedure is outlined and explored, including a discussion on the appropriate materials for 3D printing compliant structures as well as toolpath customization to control gripper failure points.