A miniature plastic gripper actuated by inflation of a miniature balloon and method of fabricating same. The gripper is constructed of either heat-shrinkable or heat-expandable plastic tubing and is formed around a mandrel, then cut to form gripper prongs or jaws and the mandrel removed. The gripper is connected at one end with a catheter or tube having an actuating balloon at its tip, whereby the gripper is opened or closed by inflation or deflation of the balloon. The gripper is designed to removably retain a member to which is connected a quantity or medicine, plugs, or micro-components. The miniature plastic gripper is inexpensive to fabricate and can be used for various applications, such as gripping, sorting, or placing of micron-scale particles for analysis.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.