TWISTER, origami-inspired robotic mechanism
Origami brings novel inspiration and perspective to designing semi-soft robotic mechanisms. Instead of relying on materials deformations to achieve structural compliance as in many soft robots, origami - in particular "action" origami which exhibits kinematic motion - achieves coexisting properties of flexibility and rigidity. One particular origami design of our interest is called Twisted Tower by Mihoko Tachibana (See the picture below).
This origami can generate bending, linear contraction and elongation, and twisting via structural reconfiguration.
Inspired by the origami twisted tower, we created a new scalable, customizable, and 3D printable mechanism, called TWISTER. The deisgn was diversified to use any regular polygon (e.g., triangle, pentagon, hexagon, etc.) as the base geomtry, carefully converted into a CAD model, and printed using a PolyJet 3D printing machine using a soft material for creases and a hard material for relatively rigid surfaces.
MIT Technology Review
This 3D printed TWISTER and its robot embodiment into a robotic arm has been featured in media, including MIT Technology Review, CNN Technology, 3D Printing Industry, Cleveland.com, and WKSU. This project has been supported by the ACES+ program at Case Western Reserve University and Nord Distinguished Assistant Professorhip.