How Do I Build a Syringe Robot Out of Plastic?

Written by grahame turner
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While the term "robot" conjures up a high-tech metal machine, but the term actually refers to an automated device designed to perform a task. You can make a robot out of plastic and power it, not with motors and wires but with syringes and tubes. This uses a principle called hydraulics, which uses the behaviour of a liquid or a gas trapped in a tube. If you push on one end of the tube, the air trapped inside can only go one way, and it pushes something at the other end.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Rigid plastic
  • Utility knife or saw
  • Rubber cement
  • Nuts and bolts
  • Plastic tubing
  • Plastic syringes

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  1. 1

    Diagram your robot. You may have a specific need in mind, in which case make your robot capable of that. A basic robotic arm has a round base, an upright elbow and a pincerlike hand.

  2. 2

    Measure and draw the parts you need to make for the robot onto the rigid plastic. Cut these pieces out. Drill holes where necessary to make hinges.

  3. 3

    Assemble the main base and stand. Push a nut and bolt through the stand and the base to create a hinge. Extend the plunger on a syringe. Glue the syringe nozzle to the stand and the handle to the base. When you rotate the base, it should push on and pull out the plunger.

  4. 4

    Attach a plastic hose to the end of the syringe and a second syringe (plunger down) to the end of the hose. When you pull out the plunger, it will rotate the base.

  5. 5

    Build the frame of the robotic arm using the pieces you cut out according to your diagram. Glue the pieces together where appropriate and use nuts and bolts to assemble the hinges.

  6. 6

    Make the elbow actuator (mechanism). Attach a depressed syringe to the bottom of the base and the underside of the elbow. When you pull up the arm, it should lift the plunger. Attach a second tube to the nozzle of this plunger and a open syringe to the end of this hose. When you push this syringe down, it will lift the arm.

  7. 7

    Build the hand mechanism and attach it to the model so that you can pull the hand open and closed from the back. Open the hand and open a syringe, then attach the plunger of the syringe to the back of the hand. Attach the syringe to a second, closed syringe with a tube. When you pull out the depressed plunger, it should pull the hand closed --- when you push the plunger in, the hand should open.

  8. 8

    Label the 3 loose syringes for the shoulder, elbow and hand. Use these 3 syringes to control your robot. The shoulder syringe moves the hand, the elbow lifts the arm, and the hand opens and closes the hand.

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