Air-powered 3D-printed robot tentacle

Matthew Borgatti has built an air-powered, 3D-printed robot tentacle that waves in a friendly fashion and lends a helping hand. It is in no way erotic. Nuh-uh, not at all.

So, with a very nice looking tentacle in hand, it was time to start experimenting with robotic air control. I believe I’ve found a system that works in a pretty simple and straightforward way. It still needs some work when it comes to the programming end, but I think the mechanics are well sorted. The idea is to pulse air into the tentacle using a solenoid valve, and have a constant bleed on the line so that flex will entirely be controlled by how long the valve stays on. It’s sort of a low frequency PWM. I’d like to get this working using a visual interface in Processing but, given how little I program, progress has been slow. I’ve got a thread on Adafruit with what I’ve come up with. In the meanwhile, you might like to check a rough video of the trefoil inflating.

Print Your Own Robot: Part 6 (via JWZ)


  1. Erotic?
    High pressure air hoses inflating cheap plastic inserted into your body. What could possibly go wrong?

      1.  Have you talked to A&E about your own reality show?  :D  Srsly, I’m sort of waiting for that to be the next exploitation/reality show:  “You got WHAT WHERE?”  Think of the social media possibilities:

        “Like us on Facebook and get a chance to vote on what this week’s guest GOT WHAT WHERE.  If you guess right, you’ll be entered to win an all-expenses paid trip to our studio, and a $500 gift certificate to….”  *click through to Facebook page to see a voting-button system showing a taxidermed badger, a moped engine block, and a size 14 sneaker as choices*

    1.  Simon,

      Yeah.  High pressure air ANYTHING and uteri=possible air embolism.  Common cause of death before Roe v. Wade. 

      OTOH something battery-operated, with a small chip that sent low-level charges to an electro-reactive gel, the whole being enclosed in an insulating skin…could get interesting.

  2. In a nondescript filthy Hollywood office, a horror movie producer is diving for his phone.  This thing has quality movie prop written all over it.  My flesh crawled a bit just watching this small example.  Scale this badboy up, use the right paint and light (and perhaps the right sort of screaming female), and it’s creep-out city.

  3. That is very cool and I’m fascinated with how it moves and how he controls it. But its not 3D printed. Its cast silicone.

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