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Design Innovation

A Self-Sealing Suction Cup Array for Grasping

[+] Author and Article Information
Chad C. Kessens1

 Motile Robotics Inc., Joppa, MD 21085; Robotics, Automation, and Medical Systems, (RAMS) Laboratory University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742 e-mail: ckessens@umd.edu

Jaydev P. Desai

 Robotics, Automation, and Medical Systems (RAMS) Laboratory, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742 e-mail: jaydev@umd.edu

1

This work was sponsored in part by the US Army Research Laboratory under contract number DAAB07-03-D-B010. The United States Government retains, and by accepting the article for publication, the publisher acknowledges that the United States retains, a nonexclusive, paid-up, irrevocable, worldwide license to publish or reproduce the published form of this work, or allow others to do so, for United States Government purposes. Portions reprinted, with permission, from: Chad C. Kessens and Jaydev P. Desai, “Design, Fabrication, and Implementation of Self-sealing Suction Cup Arrays for Grasping”, in 2010 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), pp. 765-770, May 3-8, 2010, Anchorage, Alaska, USA. Digital Object Identifier: 10.1109/ROBOT.2010.5509818. © 2010 IEEE.

J. Mechanisms Robotics 3(4), 045001 (Sep 27, 2011) (8 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4004893 History: Received October 03, 2010; Revised June 06, 2011; Published September 27, 2011

While suction technology was invented long ago, the application of suction to object manipulation thus far has been confined to many small, well-defined problem sets. Its potential for grasping a large range of unknown objects remains relatively unexplored. This paper introduces the design of a suction cup that is “self-sealing.” The suction cups comprising the grasper exert no suction force when the cup(s) are not in contact with an object, but instead exert suction force only when they are in physical contact with an object. Since grasping is achieved purely by passive means, the cost and weight associated with individual sensors, valves, and/or actuators are essentially eliminated. This paper presents the design, analysis, fabrication, and experimental results of an array of such self-sealing suction cups. Finite element analysis of the cup is shown for both compressive and tensile loading, and the quality of the internal seal is quantified. Finally, performance is shown to be comparable to that of a commercially available cup, and grasping capability is demonstrated on a wide range of objects.

Copyright © 2011 by Society for Imaging Science and Technology
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References

Figures

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Figure 1

(a) Vertical cross-section of the suction cup. This figure shows a 3D CAD representation of all functional parts. Cup lip, base, tube, springs, and plug are made of rubber (shown in black). Cup side, collar, hinges, and flange are made of plastic (shown in light gray). (b) Horizontal cross-section, highlighting the internal structures of the cup with a 2D CAD representation. [19]. © 2010 IEEE.

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Figure 2

Schematic of the cup in the uncompressed and compressed positions. [19]. © 2010 IEEE.

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Figure 3

Schematic of compressed hinge. Relevant variables are defined for Eqs. 1–4. [19]. © 2010 IEEE.

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Figure 4

Theoretical pressure tradeoff. This chart shows the expected pressure loss due to spring force resistance for varying cup diameters. [19]. © 2010 IEEE.

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Figure 5

Finite element analysis showing displacements inside a 2D cross-section of the cup under external loading. [19]. © 2010 IEEE.

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Figure 6

Finite element analysis showing maximum principal stress inside a 2D cross-section of the cup under external loading. [19]. © 2010 IEEE.

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Figure 7

Finite element analysis showing maximum principal strain inside a 2D cross-section of the cup under external loading

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Figure 8

Finite element analysis showing maximum principal stress for a 3D model of the spring. [19]. © 2010 IEEE.

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Figure 9

Axisymmetric static finite element model showing maximum principal strain for a cup constructed with base and tube made of TangoBlackPlus® . A 6N tensile load was placed on the side wall. Greater loads could not be supported in the model.

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Figure 10

(a) A single fabricated self-sealing (plugged) cup is shown mounted on a test slide. Adapted from [19]. © 2010 IEEE. (b) An “open cup,” which does not contain the internal structures of the plugged cup. (c) A “blank” test slide, sealed with epoxy.

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Figure 11

Experimental setup to obtain force versus displacement data for suction cups with and without plugs

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Figure 12

Test results for an object descending on the cup, with no applied suction. (a) Force versus time and (b) Force versus displacement on a single cup with (solid) and without (dashed) a plug. Note that positive displacement is compressive in this figure. [19]. © 2010 IEEE.

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Figure 13

Test results for an object ascending from the cup, with applied suction. (a) Force versus time and (b) Force versus displacement on a single cup with (solid) and without (dashed) a plug. Note that positive displacement is tensile in this figure. Regions of compression (comp) and tension are labelled. Adapted from [19]. © 2010 IEEE.

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Figure 14

Repeated results of Fig. 1, with 5 times faster object ascension velocity. (a) Force versus time and (b) Force versus displacement on a single cup with (solid) and without (dashed) a plug. Note that positive displacement is tensile in this figure. Regions of compression (comp) and tension are labelled.

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Figure 15

Average in-line pressure for various configurations of self-sealing and open cups. Sealed “blank” slides filled ports in the flexible array as needed. All data are in kPa.

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Figure 16

Objects successfully grasped. (a) TV remote. (b) Pill bottle. (c) Glue stick. (d) Eye glasses. (e) Fork. (f) Disposable bottle. (g) Spoon. (h) Toothpaste. (i) Coffee cup/mug. [19]. © 2010 IEEE. (j) Bowl. (k) Plate. (l) Book. (m) Cell phone. (n) Bar of soap. (o) Paper money. (p) Mail. (q) Keys. (r) Shoe. (s) Table knife. (t) Medicine box. (u) Credit card. (v) Plastic container. (w) Coin (dime). (x) Pillow. (y) Hairbrush. (z) Nondisposable bottle. (aa) Wallet. (ab) Magazine (ac) Soda can. (ad) Newspaper. (ae) Scissors. (af) Wrist watch. (ag) Purse. (ah) Lighter. (ai) Compact disc. (aj) Telephone receiver. (ak) Full wine bottle. (al) Full wine glass. (am) Light bulb. (an) Lock. (ao) Padded volleyball. (ap) Wooden block.

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Figure 17

Axisymmetric static finite element model showing maximum principal strain for a cup constructed with base and tube made of DM_9860® . A 13 N tensile load was placed on the side wall.

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