I would like to build a robotic hand.

Suppose all of the finger movement is controlled by a set of strings that are attached near the joints of some 3d printed skeleton hand and all exit through the wrist.

Now I would only need some sort of artificial muscles that are able to pull on the strings in a way similar to human muscles.

What would be the best solution in terms of cost, space and complexity?

Ideally the mechanisms would be cheap and small enough to support more than one string for each finger while still fitting in a casing about the size of a wine bottle.

Thank you for your help!


1 Answer 1


"Cost, space and complexity?" Be aware that you're asking for almost everything here. Pick two.

You don't have many options and I don't consider any of them good:

  • Linear actuators - conventional but slow and probably difficult to get in the sizes you need
  • Shape memory wire - cheap, small, but slow
  • Air muscles - fast and locally small but exotic and needs a compressor elsewhere
  • Gear Motor pulleys - inelegant

By the way, unless you need it to be modelled after a human hand for aesthetics purposes, I recommend just two fingers and a thumb.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you! I'd say that cost and complexity are the two important factors. In this regard, air muscles or something similar seem to be the best starting point for this. $\endgroup$ Mar 7, 2022 at 21:48
  • $\begingroup$ @BenHeckmann THe thing about air muscle is that once you get past the initial investment it is conducive to stuffing the hand full of little actuators since one compressor can power it all and you just need valves (and there are solenoid and muscle wire valves; muscle wire being the smaller of the two I think). $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Mar 7, 2022 at 21:49

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