Robotic Equipment Spotlight: Grippers


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 RobotWorx has integrated: Grippers.

RobotWorx' 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 RobotWorx Sales Department at 740-251-4312. 

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