Robotic Gripper Types
A robotic gripperis the device attached to the end of a robot manipulator arm that enables an industrial robot to be able to pick up, handle, or move parts. Grippers are one type out of many different types of end-effectors. Grippers are the most common type of end-effector for robots because of their versatility and adaptability. Many forms of EOATs are application specific, but grippers can be integrated with robots for the automation of material handling and assembly tasks. The FANUC M20ia may be integrated with a gripper for automated part transfer, robotic pick and place, or packaging applications. Many used robots for sale that were using a gripper typically still have them.
There are several robotic grippers types to choose from when automating a material handling application. Gripper types can be defined by the methods used to power them, the design of the gripper, or the gripper characteristics. Most categorize robotic grippers by their power source. When categorized this way there are four main types:
- • Vacuum - Vacuum grippers are popular since they can be used to handle a variety of parts and materials without damage. These grippers use suction cups made of either rubber or polyurethane and compressed air. A compressed air pump generates the vacuum flow needed for the suction cup to grasp workpieces. This vacuum flow must be continuous and free of interruptions for the articulated robot to be able to effectively hold workpieces. Compressed air vacuum grippers can be quite powerful, making them ideal for heavy lifting applications. Vacuum grippers excel the most at packaging and palletizing processes. The FANUC M410ib/700 can be integrated with a vacuum gripper for palletizing automation.
- • Pneumatic - Pneumatic robotic grippers typically feature a jaw-like design composed of either two or three fingers. These grippers utilize compressed air and pistons to move the fingers. They can operate in parallel or angular movements. During operation a six axis robot will place the open pneumatic gripper over a workpiece, the fingers or jaws of the gripper will then close around the part, allowing for a secure hold. Parts can then be transferred or manipulated and when the task is finished the robot will reopen the gripper fingers, releasing the part. Pneumatic grippers are ideal for handling single part types. They can operate in confined areas and are inexpensive.
- • Electric - Electric robotic grippers also feature a jaw-like design with either two or three fingers. Their ease to control has led to their use for robotic automation to become more common in recent years. The gripper fingers are controlled by electric motors making them extremely clean and cost-effective with the elimination of air lines. Electric grippers are best for applications requiring light to moderate force and high speed. The FANUC Lr Mate 200id can be integrated with an electric gripper for high-speed pick and place automation.
- • Hydraulic - Hydraulic grippers are the most powerful out of all four types. Hydraulic grippers utilize a pump in order to generate an incredible amount of force for heavy lifting applications. Although these grippers are incredibly strong, they are not the most ideal. The oil needed to operate the pump can be messy and prevents them from being used for any cleanroom applications. They also require more maintenance, have higher costs to operate, and can be complex.