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11. Soft Robotics


I am so excited to try out soft robotics this week. I want to start building prosthetics in my Neuroscience class as part of their last unit. Learning the basics of soft robotics will help me incorporate this into my curriculum.


Soft Robotics Toolkit

I wanted to try out the Soft Gripper Fabrication educators guide for students from Soft Robotics Toolkit. This method does not require 3D printing. Instead, you make a mold out of cardboard. This seems like a viable option for large groups of students.

step one cut cardboard Figure 1. First step is to cut the cardboard to size using the given template and laminate one side with tape.

step two glue cardboard **FIgure 2. Next step is to glue the cardboard onto a base (also laminated with tape). I then mixed a 1:1 ratio of the 2-part silcone rubber components from Let's Resin. I tried dehydrating the silicone rubber at 140F for 20 minutes as suggested in the instructions but it didn't seem to work. I'm hoping I mixed the components well enough to cure.

Laser cut soft robot

3D printed soft robot

Solenoid Air Pump

I tried to use Chat GPT to help me build a circuit for the 3V mini air pump from scratch. I think the two resistors used in the circuit were too high and the circuit did not work. I searched for other circuit diagrams for a similar setup and found one under the Arduino forums. I did not have a diode with me but tried out the circuit anyways (see circuit diagram under Methods and Materials). Using that persons setup I got it to work and I also used their code to program the Arduino to pump air in for 5 seconds and rest for 5 seconds.

Fritzing circuit diagram Figure 1. First time using Fritzing to create a circuit diagram. I found it helpful to visualize where all the components were going. This circuit did not end up working probably because the resistance was too high.

Methods and Materials

Solenoid Air Pump:

Circuit Diagram:

correct circuit diagram

Code: *from Arduino forums

const int pumpPin =  9;   

void setup() {
  pinMode(pumpPin, OUTPUT);

void loop() {
    digitalWrite(pumpPin, HIGH);  
    digitalWrite(pumpPin, LOW);    

Soft Robotics Toolkit

Methods and materials for the soft gripper is located on the Soft Robotics Toolkit website. You can download the guide, template, and student worksheets.