Smart material graspers have shown potential for different applications in terms of functionality and actuation, especially in handling arbitrary shapes, fragile objects and complex 3D geometries. However, to take these initial designs further towards real applications, the challenge remains to determine the optimal size, shape, and passive and smart material location. Virtual reality can be beneficial in the early concept generation as it can help visualize and understand the grasping process. The access to suitable hardware and the development of virtual reality (VR) software has resulted in increased use of this technology. The 3D visualization offered by VR especially in the early stages of the design process assists engineers in making appropriate and efficient decisions, and it can also support the interaction with the end user to iterate on potential design improvements.

The conceptual phase is often overlooked and rushed by the other departments involved in the design and development process although it is of great importance for successful outcome. It is important to make the most of it in order to assure quality result. In order to ensure short conceptual phase that will not reflect on the products’ quality we propose introduction of the VR in the early stages of the design process.

In this paper we show how the use of VR can be beneficial in new product development. In this case we focus on the design of smart material grasper.

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