Robots are becoming increasingly prevalent in everyday life, and their functionality continues to expand. One of the most essential features contributing to a robot’s utility is its Gripper technology. A robotic gripper acts as a hand, allowing the robot to pick up, manipulate, and place objects with precision.
There are multiple types of mechanical grips that each bring their unique advantages and disadvantages based on size, weight capacity, speed requirements–and more. In this article, we will discuss the different types of grippers available for use in modern robotics applications so that you can make an educated decision when selecting appropriate equipment for your projects.
An Overview of Robot Grippers
Robot grippers are a crucial component in the realm of robotics. Their primary purpose is to interact with objects in the environment and manipulate them in a precise and controlled manner. One type of robot gripper that has gained popularity in recent years is the soft gripper. Soft grippers are designed to gently grasp and manipulate delicate objects without causing any damage. They are made from various materials, such as silicone and rubber, that provide a soft surface for gripping.
Their elasticity allows them to fit snugly around various objects, making them versatile and practical when working with irregularly shaped items. As technology advances, soft grippers will continue to become a more prevalent tool in robotics.
Vacuum Suction Gripper
Vacuum suction grippers, also known as vacuum cups or suction pads, are another commonly used type of gripper. They create a vacuum seal between the gripping surface and the picked-up object. As air is removed from the space between the two surfaces, atmospheric pressure causes them to stick together.
These grippers are ideal for picking up flat objects, such as sheets of paper or metal plates. They are also commonly used in the packaging industry for tasks like picking up and placing cardboard boxes. One of the main advantages of vacuum suction grippers is their ability to pick up objects without damaging them. However, they do have limitations when it comes to uneven or irregularly shaped objects.
Magnetic grippers, with their ingenious use of magnetism, provide a reliable method for securely holding objects in place. Notably, these grippers excel in effortlessly picking up and placing metal objects like screws or bolts, thanks to their unrivalled magnetic strength. One of the standout advantages of magnetic grippers lies in their energy efficiency, as they can securely hold onto objects without needing a constant power source.
However, it’s essential to acknowledge that magnetic grippers do have their limitations when it comes to handling non-metal objects, as their magnetic force is explicitly tailored for metallic items. Furthermore, when utilising magnetic grippers near electronic equipment or sensitive materials, caution must be exercised to prevent unintended consequences. It’s this careful consideration that ensures the optimal and safe usage of magnetic grippers in various applications.
Parallel Jaw Gripper
Parallel jaw grippers are designed to mimic the human hand and have two parallel moving surfaces close to an object to grip it. They come in various sizes and can handle objects, from small electronic components to large industrial parts. This type of gripper is beneficial for tasks that require a firm grasp or when dealing with heavier objects.
The main advantage of parallel jaw grippers is their precision and gripping force, making them suitable for applications that require a high level of accuracy. However, they do have limitations when it comes to picking up objects with irregular shapes or sizes.
Mechanical Finger Gripper
Mechanical finger grippers, or three-finger grippers, are designed with three individual fingers that work together to grip objects. This type of gripper is versatile and can handle various objects, including irregularly shaped items and delicate objects.
Their ability to adapt to various object shapes makes them a popular choice in the manufacturing industry. They also have a high gripping force, making them suitable for heavier objects. However, they do require more complex programming and control compared to other types of grippers.
Intelligent Robotic Arm with Multiple End Effectors
In addition to the different types of grippers mentioned above, there are also intelligent robotic arms that come equipped with multiple end effectors. These robots have a built-in mechanism that allows them to switch between various grippers based on the task.
This technology is beneficial in applications where a robot needs to perform multiple tasks or handle objects with varying shapes and sizes. The ability to switch between grippers seamlessly allows for increased efficiency and productivity in the workplace.
In many instances, intelligent cobots are compatible with IoT (Internet of Things) technology, allowing them to be controlled and monitored from afar. Their presence in a network of existing devices also allows cobot managers to integrate them with other devices or monitor the status of the entire network from one place.
In conclusion, robot grippers play an essential role in the functionality of robotic technology. Each type of gripper has its advantages and limitations, making it necessary to carefully consider the specific task at hand when selecting a gripper for a project. As technology continues to advance, we will see even more diverse and specialised types of grippers being developed, further expanding the capabilities of robotics in various industries.
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