Introduction: Print-in-Place Robotic Gripper

Picture of Print-in-Place Robotic Gripper

Robotics is a fascinating field, and we're lucky to live in a time when the DIY robotics community is producing some amazing work and projects. While many of these projects are astoundingly advanced and innovative, I've been seeking to make robots that are simple, both in composition and manufacturing. The goal of this project was to make a super-simple and easy to build robotic gripper. The gripper itself is 3D printed as one part in a flexible filament. After printing, cables, a servo motor and some screws are installed and the gripper is ready to move!



  • 3D printer
  • Torx Screwdriver
  • Philips Head Screwdriver
  • Tweezers

UPDATE: Thank you to everyone who voted for me in the Robotics Contest! I am so incredibly honored to be amongst the first prize winners!

Step 1: Printing

Picture of Printing

The first step is to 3D print the part that serves as the entire structure and body of the gripper. As the fingers move via live hinges, the part must be printed in a flexible filament such as WillowFlex, NinjaFlex or SemiFlex. I also suggest printing it on a flat and clean print surface, such as a glass bed, in order to ensure the best first layer possible. It can be printed with standard settings for whatever filament you are using.

Step 2: Add Servo Motor

Picture of Add Servo Motor

Connect the micro servo motor to the back of the gripper by using the two mounting screws included with the servo. The servo should slot into the gripper easily. Zero the servo by turning the shaft all the way to the left side. Then take the circular servo horn and place it on the motor so that the four holes on the servo horn line up with the four arms of the gripper. Secure the horn onto the motor using the included screw.

Step 3: Add Cables

Picture of Add Cables

Take the nylon string and thread it through the center of one arm from the outside to the center. Once it has reached the hub, thread it through the corresponding hole on the servo horn from underneath. Pull it through and cut the line so there is about 4 inches of it on each end. Screw in a 8mm M3 screw into the end on the arm and use a small Phillips screw to secure the string onto the horn. Repeat for all four arms.

Step 4: Operation

Picture of Operation

To use the gripper, connect the servo motor to an Arduino microcontroller as the wiring diagram shows and upload the sample code. You may need to adjust how much the servo turns depending on how taught your cables are. Happy gripping! :)


RueiS (author)2017-11-28

you are the best!! thank u

atomotec (author)2017-06-22


XYZAidan (author)atomotec2017-06-22


LynnS101 (author)2017-05-31

Super cool!

XYZAidan (author)LynnS1012017-06-01

Thank you!

AnthonyD118 (author)2017-05-14

This is some cool stuff, nice work.

XYZAidan (author)AnthonyD1182017-05-15


pjdixit (author)2017-05-14

Awesome! Love the simplicity of it.

XYZAidan (author)pjdixit2017-05-15


Joecool 3 (author)2017-05-14

Cool idea! Have you tested its weight capacity? I'd like to know about how much it can lift.


XYZAidan (author)Joecool 32017-05-14

Thanks! With grippers, the holding strength is more important, however I haven't measured this.

Joecool 3 (author)XYZAidan2017-05-15

Quite naturally; that's just my misuse of wording. I'd guess it could hold about 500g, but I'd like to know, if you have the time for it. Thanks :)

Chuckwilcox (author)2017-05-14

Great idea and great tutorial. Thanks for sharing.

XYZAidan (author)Chuckwilcox2017-05-14


Fruityfrog (author)2017-05-14

This would possibly be a remarkably easy way to make a alien Xenomorph hatchling. Obviously, there would be quite a bit more to it. But, possibly a good basis to start with?

XYZAidan (author)Fruityfrog 2017-05-14

I guess it could be ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

MidnightMaker (author)2017-05-14

Great idea! Thanks for posting this

XYZAidan (author)MidnightMaker2017-05-14

Thank you!

zvizvi (author)2017-05-14

execllent! what printing density did you use?

XYZAidan (author)zvizvi2017-05-14

Thank you! I printed the grippers at 10% infill. I'll be sure to add that to the printing instructions.

DejayRezme (author)2017-05-14

Wow very nice! Thanks for sharing! I previously only seen pneumatic grippers.

XYZAidan (author)DejayRezme2017-05-14

Thank you!

ThirdEarthDesign (author)2017-05-14

That's wicked, love it! Great idea and well executed.


Fruityfrog (author)2017-05-14

Alien project?

studleylee (author)2017-05-11

Very novel idea! Awesome!!!!!

XYZAidan (author)studleylee2017-05-11

Thank you!

penged (author)2017-05-10

Love it. I was curious as to how much the screws on the end of the fingers effect the gripping power. Perhaps countersinking the heads would be an improvement.

XYZAidan (author)penged2017-05-10

Thank you, that may be a future improvement.

Timothee Gillier (author)2017-05-09

Cool project!

Thank you!

About This Instructable




Bio: Hi! I'm Aidan Leitch, a robotics, electronics, and 3D printing hobbyist.
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