Spider Toy: CDR/PDR

COOL! That is what I want people to say when they see my final project. My overall goal for the Aesthetics of Design course is to fabricate a toy spider that can walk or jump across a table. I do not want to create a creepy realistic spider, in my mind that is boring. I haven’t finalized my idea if the final spider toy will look cute, creepy, mean/scary, modern, or tech-y. Similar to the combination of these two images:


I have always had a fascination and appreciation for nature since I was a wee little lad in preschool, but I thought spiders were especially intriguing. They have the abilities to make webs, climb on walls, super strong for their overall size, extremely agile, and holy crap do I sound like a huge weirdo obsessing over spiders. Spiders move remarkably well for their relative size, because they do not have muscles (like you or myself) but instead a hydraulic like system with tendons always contracting towards the center. That is why when you see a spider, scream like a little girl, and kill it; there legs curl up towards their abdominal. If one of their legs comes off by injury the spider can deflate like a balloon.

Here is my blog post from my biomimicry blog if your interested in reading more about the subject matter (https://biomimicry2016.wordpress.com/) . Also, here is a research paper explaining the actual spider hydraulic mechanism, and possible applications (http://jeb.biologists.org/content/215/4/578).


Functional Goals:

As I mentioned above, I want my spider robot to walk or jump using a mechanical hydraulic system, similar to how real spiders walk, for a children’s toy (or office desk toy). The first task is to design a system that incorporates hydraulics and elastics to develop a unique way to  The critical component of my dynamic toy is its ability to walk or jump. So, if the spider cannot move in any way, then I have failed my own project. I am still working and finalizing how the spider “hydraulic/elastic-human-powered-toy” will move, so I am very open to suggestions at this time!


Aesthetic Goals:

I want this toy to look cool! Now what looks cool changes with each individual audience, so I am exploring some different possibilities: One idea is to make the spider squishy and soft, so it could be considered cute and cuddly. Another is to make it look gross and scary, like monster movie latex make-up. Next possible idea is create a walking-eye robot, something similar to the robot in The Incredibles. My last idea at the moment was to fabricate a spiky spider that looks tough and mean, like a violin spider.


Cost Estimate:

  1. Silicone Rubber 1lb kit – $32.25
  2. FDM Colored ABS spool – $29.95
  3. Helical Torsion Spring – $11.00
  4. 58 plastic Gear Cog Wheels – $2.76
  5. Key Faucet 1/4″ – $3.29
  6. Steel Wire (12ga) – $2.26

Total Estimated Cost: $81.51 



  • March 3rd-6th: Pretotype the toys movement mechanism/Finalize three different aesthetic choices.
  • March 4th: Design Review Presentation
  • March 7th: Purchase all necessary materials.
  • March 8-16th: Build the spiders actual hydraulic-elastic walking system/Draw realistic aesthetic drawings for shell.
  • March 17-18th: Dimension the shells/Explore silicon casting and 3D printing options for outer shell.
  • March 19th: Unavailable due to FE Exam.
  • March 21-24th: Design and CAD the Outer Shell for Aesthetics.
  • March 25th-30th: Unavailable to help on AoD project prior commitments.
  • March 31st- April 4th: 3D printing or silicon casting time.
  • April 5th – 13th: Final Assembly/Trouble-Shooting



Side Note to Group Part:

Hey Team,

Over the next 2 months, my life will become extremely busy! I have sometime available during the weeks and a lot over the weekends, but I will need some heads up (like 24 notice) if you need help fabricating, or reviewing your design.


Featured image taken from google images.

Updated Title and Section link: May 4th, 2016

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7 Comments. Leave new

  • Sophia Glik
    March 6, 2016 7:52 pm

    I am curious about the hydraulic system you wrote about. How would that work exactly? I don’t know much about hydraulic systems at all, so I apologize if my questions seem stupid. Would you have water (or another type of fluid) in each leg of the toy? How exactly would the legs function and how would you program it to move the way you want? You don’t need to answer these to me, but these are things I would assume you need to consider before starting the construction process.

  • Great inspiration from biology. 3d printing is a good idea for the shell. It will yield good surfacing. Try a bigger size for the hydraulics.

  • Meridith Richter
    March 4, 2016 12:35 pm

    Sounds like you have a lot in mind for the appearance of the spider, and I’m excited to see how it turns out. I think what you have in mind to make the spider’s legs move is clever, especially with the crank. Keeping the motion simple is a good idea, and it will be impressive no matter what it ends up doing.

  • I like the idea of your project. The dynamic aspect of your project is really cool. Roughly how big is your item going to be? have you thought about adding lights or sounds to really add to the movement and what not?

  • The whole hydraulic system seems like it’d be pretty complex. How large do you plan to make it? How are you going to control the hydraulic system? If you do pull it off though (I think you can!) this will be pretty cool.

  • Samantha Maierhofer
    March 4, 2016 12:31 pm

    Really cool to learn about how a spider works and how it was your inspiration! I also like the aesthetic you are going with the creepy look.

  • I did not know the mechanism of spider legs, very interesting. I would try to keep a visual aesthetic in mind. If you are going for a “toy look” then maybe use bright funky colors or realistic creepy colors. Model it after a black widow for example.


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