Fully Mechanical Desktop Robot Arm

Prints (1)

Description

DESIGN PROCESS

I have always been intrigued by robot arms and the different mechanisms that allow them to work. I really wanted to pursue the challenge of designing a small, desktop sized robot arm that could be controlled without servos or stepper motors. 

After researching various types of robot arms, I discovered that all of them were utilizing servos or motors in the arm themselves. Basically, I found that to build a robot arm you needed some of the motors housed in the base of the arm that will rotate. My vision when I first started to design the arm, was a small 3D printed arm with a number of knobs on the base that would control it. No servos, no stepper motors, no electricity. I really wanted to test the limits of 3D printing and my mechanical knowledge to design a functional, fully mechanical desktop arm.

The biggest challenge was designing the base of the arm that would allow the knobs to turn parts of the arm that would rotate with the base of the robot as it turned. Initially I thought I would be able to get away with only using universal joints for this, but I soon found out this wouldn't work alone, because as the base rotates the connection would move further or closer to the base. I ended up using telescoping tubes with a cross intersection that would allow the axle to rotate, change lengths, and change direction. I went through a number of iterations to design universal joints that would work with my design. My final design allows each joint to bend up to 64 degrees while still transmitting the rotation. 

This project was designed in SolidWorks, and I am very happy with how it turned out. I learned a lot along the way, and I will be going forth and making future improvements to my design. I have since added some bike wax lubricant to the joints and it moves a lot smoother now.  It can pickup and move small objects around, success! 

You can see a video of it in action here!

SETTINGS

Machine: Makerbot Replicator z18

Material: PLA

Layer Height: 0.2 mm

Infill: 50 %

Support: No support up to 2 mm

Rafts: Yes

PRINTING

Print the following parts, in the correct orientation, and correct amount. Note some of the parts are printed horizontally to increase strength.

lower_base x1 - flat

spur_gear_18_9 x3 -  flat

spur_gear_24_12 x1 - flat

spur_gear_60_30 x1 -  flat

bevel_gear_20_15_gear1 x2 -  flat

bevel_gear_20_15_gear2 x2 - flat

U_joint1 x2 - lying horizontally with the opening facing up and holes parallel to floor

U_joint2 x2 - lying horizontally with the opening facing up and holes parallel to floor

U_joint3 x2 - lying horizontally with the opening facing up and holes parallel to floor

U_joint_cross x4 -  flat

telescoping_tube1 x2 - vertically

right_arm_ext1 x3 -  flat

right_arm_ext2 x1 -  flat

right_arm_ext3 x31 - flat

left_arm_ext1 x1 - flat

left_arm_ext3 x1 - flat

pin x12 - horizontally

pin2 x1 - horizontally

arm_ext_spacer x1 - horizontally

fishing_wire_spool x1 -  flat

gripper1 x1 - flat

claw1 x1 - flat

claw2 x1 - flat

top_base x1 - flat

knob1 x1 - lying horizontally, rod is parallel to floor

knob2 x1 - lying horizontally, rod is parallel to floor

knob3 x1 - lying horizontally, rod is parallel to floor

knob4 x1 - lying horizontally, rod is parallel to floor

ASSEMBLY INSTRUCTIONS

Please watch the assembly video here for detailed instructions on how to assemble the arm.

Thanks for checking it out! 

Design Files

File Size

knob2.STL
40 KB
right_arm_ext2.STL
272 KB
left_arm_ext3.STL
272 KB
arm_ext_spacer.STL
20.4 KB
bevel_gear_20_15_gear1.STL
137 KB
bevel_gear_20_15_gear2.STL
142 KB
claw1.STL
160 KB
claw2.STL
160 KB
fishing_wire_spool.STL
48.8 KB
gripper1.STL
314 KB
knob1.STL
40 KB
knob3.STL
40.4 KB
knob4.STL
40 KB
left_arm_ext1.STL
31.6 KB
left_arm_ext2.STL
22.5 KB
lower_base.STL
584 KB
pin.STL
81.2 KB
pin2.STL
74.2 KB
right_arm_ext1.STL
22.5 KB
right_arm_ext3.STL
47.9 KB
spur_gear_18_9.STL
42.5 KB
spur_gear_24_12.STL
54 KB
spur_gear_60_30.STL
337 KB
telescoping_tube1.STL
15.2 KB
top_base.STL
125 KB
U_joint_cross.STL
227 KB
U_joint1.STL
414 KB
U_joint2.STL
915 KB
U_joint3.STL
455 KB

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