Adaptive Self-Sealing Suction-Based Soft Robotic Gripper

Sukho Song, Dirk Michael Drotlef, Donghoon Son, Anastasia Koivikko, Metin Sitti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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While suction cups prevail as common gripping tools for a wide range of real-world parts and surfaces, they often fail to seal the contact interface when engaging with irregular shapes and textured surfaces. In this work, the authors propose a suction-based soft robotic gripper where suction is created inside a self-sealing, highly conformable and thin flat elastic membrane contacting a given part surface. Such soft gripper can self-adapt the size of its effective suction area with respect to the applied load. The elastomeric membrane covering edge of the soft gripper can develop an air-tight self-sealing with parts even smaller than the gripper diameter. Such gripper shows 4 times higher adhesion than the one without the membrane on various textured surfaces. The two major advantages, underactuated self-adaptability and enhanced suction performance, allow the membrane-based suction mechanism to grip various three-dimensional (3D) geometries and delicate parts, such as egg, lime, apple, and even hydrogels without noticeable damage, which can have not been gripped with the previous adhesive microstructures-based and active suction-based soft grippers. The structural and material simplicity of the proposed soft gripper design can have a broad use in diverse fields, such as digital manufacturing, robotic manipulation, transfer printing, and medical gripping.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAdvanced science
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Jul 2021
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • rubber friction
  • self-sealing
  • soft grippers
  • soft robotics
  • suction cups

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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