Soft, Multi-Layer, Disposable, Kirigami Based Robotic Grippers:
On Handling of Delicate, Contaminated, and Everyday Objects

Grasping and manipulation are complex and demanding tasks, especially when they are executed in dynamic and unstructured environments. Typically, such tasks are executed by rigid articulated end-effectors, with a plethora of actuators that need sophisticated sensing and complex control laws to execute them efficiently. Soft robotics offers an alternative that allows for a simplified execution of these demanding tasks, enabling the creation of robust and efficient but also lightweight and affordable solutions that are easy to control and therefore operate. In this work, we present a new class of soft, multi-layer, disposable, kirigami-based robotic grippers that are fabricated employing simple 3D printed layers or laser cut PET films and silicone rubber using the concept of Hybrid Deposition Manufacturing (HDM). The proposed grippers can be actuated using a single actuator, they conform to the object shapes, and they facilitate the efficient handling of a variety of objects. Several designs have been designed and compared aiming to investigate the effect that the different kirigami cuts have in the grasping capabilities of each device. For this reason, a series of grasping and force exertion experiments have been performed to assess and compare the capabilities of the various developed devices. The results demonstrate that the proposed design and manufacturing methods can enable the creation of soft, kirigami-based grippers with superior grasping capabilities that can handle delicate, contaminated, and everyday life objects and can even be disposed if needed (e.g., after handling hazardous materials, such as medical waste).