This paper presents the mechanical design for a new five fingered, twenty degree-of-freedom dexterous hand patterned after human anatomy and actuated by Shape Memory Alloy artificial muscles. Two experimental prototypes of a finger, one fabricated by traditional means and another fabricated by rapid prototyping techniques, are described and used to evaluate the design. An important aspect of the Rapid Prototype technique used here is that this multi-articulated hand will be fabricated in one step, without requiring assembly, while maintaining its desired mobility. The use of Shape Memory Alloy actuators combined with the rapid fabrication of the non-assembly type hand, reduce considerably its weight and fabrication time. Therefore, the focus of this paper is the mechanical design of a dexterous hand that combines Rapid Prototype techniques and smart actuators. The type of robotic hand described in this paper can be utilized for applications requiring low weight, compactness, and dexterity such as prosthetic devices, space and planetary exploration.
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