We have developed a microscale hydraulic soft gripper and demonstrated the handling of an insect without damage. This gripper is built on Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) with the soft material casting technique to form three finger-like columns, which are placed on a circular membrane. The fingers have a length of 1.5 mm and a diameter of 300 µm each; the distance between the two fingers is 600 µm of center-to-center distance. A membrane as a 150 µm soft film is built on top of a cylindrical hollow space. Applying pressure to the interior space can bend the membrane. Bending the membrane causes the motion of opening/closing of the gripper, and as a result, the three fingers can grip an object or release it. The PDMS was characterized, and the experimental results were used later in Abaqus software to simulate the gripping motion. The range of deformation of the gripper was investigated by simulation and experiment. The result of the simulation agrees with the experiments. The maximum 543 µN force was measured for this microfluidic-compatible microgripper and it could lift a ball that weighs 168.4 mg and has a 0.5 mm diameter. Using this microgripper, an ant was manipulated successfully without any damage. Results showed fabricated device has great a potential as micro/bio manipulator.
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