Robotic Equipment Spotlight: Grippers

Jan 9, 2010

If you are integrating an industrial robot and need to pick up or manipulate your product or part, than you most likely will need to use a robotic gripper. The EOAT on robots come in a variety of types, sizes, and configurations. The experts at work hard to listen to the specific needs of each customer and then help decide on the best robotic gripper solution, customizing when necessary.


If you need robot tool­ing to pick up, manip­u­late, and place your product/​part, chances are you’re going to use a robot­ic gripper.

Arguably the most com­mon type of end of arm tool­ing (EOAT), robot­ic grip­pers are found in vir­tu­al­ly every indus­try and con­text from food pro­duc­tion and clean­room envi­ron­ments to foundries and dis­tri­b­u­tion centers.

Robot­ic grip­pers come in a vari­ety of types, sizes, and con­fig­u­ra­tions — fric­tion, encom­pass­ing, hydraulic, pneu­mat­ic, elec­tric, mag­net­ic, etc. Here’s a video demon­stra­tion of some of the types of robot­ic grip­pers Robots​.com has inte­grat­ed: Grip­pers.

Robots​.com’ inte­gra­tion team works with each cus­tomer to deter­mine which robot­ic grip­pers is best suit­ed to the appli­ca­tion, work­cell design, and most impor­tant­ly, the part/​product. Some prod­ucts, for exam­ple, will be dam­aged if too much force is applied while oth­ers can han­dle sig­nif­i­cant amounts of force. A num­ber of fac­tors, such as tool­ing cost, force nec­es­sary, part weight, and accel­er­a­tion /​deceleration rates are con­sid­ered when select­ing a robot­ic grip­per solution.

Find out more about the vari­ety of robot­ic grip­pers available…

Fric­tion vs. Encompassing:

Grip­pers can be bro­ken down into two basic cat­e­gories: fric­tion and encompassing.

Fric­tion robot­ic grip­pers hold the part with force alone.

Encom­pass­ing robot­ic grip­pers sur­round the part and do not exert as much force.

Gen­er­al­ly speak­ing, fric­tion grip­pers are a bet­ter match for hard­er mate­ri­als, while encom­pass­ing grip­pers are well-suit­ed for soft­er mate­ri­als. If the part or prod­uct being manip­u­lat­ed is flex­i­ble (bags, for instance) then an encom­pass­ing jaw style is best. Once again, decid­ing between fric­tion and encom­pass­ing styles involves care­ful­ly eval­u­a­tion of the prod­uct and application.

Source of Force:

Robot­ic grip­pers are pow­ered in many dif­fer­ent ways. Cost, space con­straints, part mate­r­i­al and weight are just some of the things that are con­sid­ered when nar­row­ing down the source of your robot­ic grip­per force.

Pneu­mat­ic Grippers

The most pop­u­lar robot­ic grip­per type, pneu­mat­ic grip­pers are com­pact, light­weight, and capa­ble of apply­ing a sig­nif­i­cant amount of force. Com­pressed air is read­i­ly avail­able and pneu­mat­ic grip­pers don’t have the added bulk of motors and gears so they can be incor­po­rat­ed into tight work­cells. Pneu­mat­ic grip­pers are often com­bined with oth­er ele­ments — mag­nets and suc­tion cups for example.

Hydraulic Grip­pers

Need more force? Hydraulic grip­pers are often used when a siz­able amount of force is nec­es­sary. How­ev­er, hydraulic grip­pers can involve more mess with the oil, pump, and reser­voir, etc.

Elec­tric Grippers

Elec­tric grip­pers are becom­ing more pop­u­lar because they are clean­er and eas­i­er to main­tain than hydraulic grip­pers while pro­vid­ing the same amount of force. With help from micro­proces­sors, elec­tric grip­pers are much more adapt­able. Elec­tric grip­pers include motors so they can be larg­er than pneu­mat­ic options.

Grip­per Fin­gers and Jaws:

Robot­ic grip­pers come in many dif­fer­ent designs. The length of the jaws can have an impact on cycle speed and effec­tive­ness. Longer jaws many be nec­es­sary depend­ing on the work­cell and appli­ca­tion (exam­ple: remov­ing a part from an injec­tion mold machine). In addi­tion, grip­pers are com­mon­ly con­struct­ed with two or three fin­gers (actu­a­tors) for grasp­ing an object. Inte­gra­tors con­sid­er the size and con­struc­tion of the part being manip­u­lat­ed to deter­mine how many actu­a­tors are best. 

For more infor­ma­tion about robot­ic grip­pers, con­tact them online or the Robots​.com Sales Depart­ment at 8777626881.

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