A scalable syringe-actuated microgripper for biological manipulation

Ageel Farraj Ali Alogla, Paul Crichton Scanlan, Will Shu*, Robert Lewis Reuben

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Recent developments in the functionality of micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS), particularly for medical and biological applications, have led to an increasing demand for micromanipulation devices. This paper describes the design, fabrication, and testing of a family of pneumatically driven microgrippers which can be scaled to handle millimetre to nanometre compliant and non-compliant objects, with the potential to control gripping forces. In contrast to conventional actuation methods including piezoelectric, magnetic and thermal, pneumatic actuation has the advantages of large power density, the potential for force control, low cost and simplicity. The reported prototypes were fabricated using straightforward processes, in contrast to previously reported pneumatically actuated manipulators. The overall aim of the work is to demonstrate a family of low-cost, polymer based micro grippers that can be actuated manually using pneumatic forces (e.g. via a syringe). A version of the device has been successfully fabricated using laser micromachining and assembled to give an output force of up to 8 ± 0.01 mN. The pneumatic actuation was implemented in such as way that it can open the jaws of the micro gripper in a precisely controlled way, demonstrated on a prototype for handling various compliant objects smaller than 200 μm in diameter. Finite Element Analysis (FEA) was used to calculate the gripping force, and the results compared with the experimental measurements. The scaling of the demonstrator and its reverse actuation to increase the gripping force are discussed on the basis of the FEA. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-139
Number of pages5
JournalSensors and Actuators A: Physical
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2013
Event26th European Conference on Solid-State Transducers - Krakow, Poland
Duration: 9 Sept 201212 Sept 2012


  • Microgripper
  • Pneumatic
  • Syringe-actuated
  • Micromanipulation
  • Finite Element Analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Metals and Alloys
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Instrumentation


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