A 3D Printed Paper-Based Thermally Driven Soft Robotic Gripper Inspired by Cabbage

  • Fuwen Hu
  • Limei Lyu
  • Yunhua HeEmail author
Regular Paper


Biologically inspired or mimetic approaches have been traditionally widely adopted in robotic creative design. Generally, the most considered source for biorobotics and soft robotics are animals. Rarely, plants have been considered as a model of inspiration for innovative engineering solutions owing to their inconspicuous motion principles. In this work, a new type of plant-inspired soft robotic gripper was created by reconstructing and simulating the leaf structure and head formation mechanisms of cabbage. Firstly, according to the research reports of biological morphology and curling development mechanism of cabbage leaves, we determined that the flexible leaf with special hierarchical veins is the biological structure basis of curling formation. In the light of this observation, we designed a cabbage-inspired leaf bionic structure using paper substrate as a leaf body and using polylactic acid (PLA) polymer as leaf veins. This bionic design schema of cabbage leaves first has the advantage of ease of manufacture using 3D printing technology. In addition, due to the shape memory effect of PLA, we can control the reciprocal deformation of bionic leaves by controlling the temperature field. Undoubtedly, when two or more pieces of such bionic leaves are assembled together, they can be considered as a soft robotic gripper. Furthermore, we thoroughly studied the embodiment design of this bionic design concept as well as its 3D printing process. Finally, we built a prototype of this cabbage-inspired soft robotic gripper and successfully performed small objects (e.g., spitballs and cylinders) grasping experiments. Obviously, this research achievement first successfully integrated the bionic structure of plant deformation, direct digital manufacturing, and the control of shape memory materials. Secondly, this work realized the unified design of the structure, function, driving, and fabrication of robotics, and further expanded the family of the bionic robot, especially plant-like or plant-inspired robotic solutions.


Soft robot 4D printing Gripper Cabbage Biomimetics 



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Copyright information

© Korean Society for Precision Engineering 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Mechanical and Material EngineeringNorth China University of TechnologyBeijingChina
  2. 2.Department of Mechanical and Electronic EngineeringShandong University of Science and TechnologyTai’anChina

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