I’m such a sucker for little robot arms and animals. It doesn’t matter where I am, if I see an articulated bot I can’t help but go watch, and judging by the crowds I’m typically joining, I suspect many others feel the same way.
I was really happy to see this little robot arm, called LittleArm pop into my inbox. The LittleArm is a largely 3D printed robot powered by an Arduino and a couple metal-gear servos. It usually retails for $115, but I noticed they’ve got a holiday special going right now for $95.
According to Gabe Bentz, the creator, the story of LittleArm is a quite refreshing one; starting in a garage and following through to a successful Kickstarter where the rewards were delivered ahead of time!
In the Summer of 2016, I was messing around in my garage with a few different project. A bunch of them had something to do with the Arduino. But I wanted a platform that I could test code on before I put it into the prototypes. I decided that I needed a small robot arm.
I went online looking for a kit that I could just put together quickly and cheaply. I couldn’t find one that I really liked. So that weekend I drafted up and printed a couple of designs for a simple robot arm that could be 3D printed.
I started taking my prototypes around to maker groups and a few classrooms where I talk about STEM. Repeatedly, I was approached by people, particularly teachers, that wanted the kit. After talking with the team at Slant Concepts, we decided to try it out. Slant was all set-up to produce 3D printed parts on a greater scale. So we took a couple more days and designed some software and improved printing files for what we started calling the LittleArm.
We put the LittleArm on Kickstarter in August. We really did not know what to expect. But we were funded in under a week, and by the end we had hit 263% of our goal. Immediately we started delivering orders. And since about a third of the units were going to schools, we immediately started building out the website to provide tutorials and teaching resources for teachers. He delivered every order a month ahead of schedule.
Gabe has found that many of these have gone to schools, so he’s now working with teachers to come up with an educational curriculum as well as a redesigned version that can handle a bit more abuse from children.
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