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Additively manufactured industrial robotic grippers


When we talk about an industrial gripper, we refer to the part of a robot that moves the elements that need to be manipulated in the production process. We increasingly ask robots to perform tasks of little added value or repetitive tasks in production chains, which means that the demand for this technology, considering that its cost is becoming increasingly reduced, increases every year. According to Research and Markets, in 2022 the market size of robotics was 7.7B$ and an annual growth of 7,2% is expected until 2030.

This growing demand means that applications are becoming more diverse. From handling boxes in the logistics sector to handling fragile or bulky elements, or in corrosive environments.

Due to all these requirements, the cost of grippers increases depending on these factors. This is where additive manufacturing can greatly help the sector.

3D printing of industrial grippers offers numerous advantages, such as the ability to produce customized parts, reduce costs, and improve efficiency. In addition, additive manufacturing allows for the creation of high-quality parts with great precision and tolerance, as well as the possibility of creating lightweight and durable parts. The flexibility and speed in the manufacturing of grippers allow companies to adapt to changes in production processes and market needs quickly. In addition, thanks to existing 3D printing technologies such as PBF, BJ, FFF, SLA, etc., it is possible to create part consolidations, single-component mechanisms, internal channels, multi-materials, and an infinity of other qualities that only additive manufacturing and its design freedom can offer us.

In this article, we explain an example of consolidation between an industrial gripper and a gripper completely made through MJF 3D printing in PA12. Currently, industrial grippers are made of moving elements and complex pneumatic or electrical systems or mechanisms. These perform a set of movements necessary for the desired application. Unlike current complex grippers, this 3D printed gripper contains toroids that simulate "lungs" that, when air pressure is applied, perform the desired movement to grip a piece, in this case, an aluminum cube from a machining center, achieving the desired movement with pneumatic pressure alone. This piece was tested with 500,000 cycles at 4Bar, achieving validation suitable for the automotive sector. It achieves the same technical capabilities and is also four times cheaper. Because it is a digital element, which can be modified and reprinted, this gripper can be adapted to any shape, hardness, and size. Simply by modifying the design and launching it for manufacturing. Here are the advantages of design for additive manufacturing (DfAM).

Today, there is multiple design software that allows us to optimize the topology of parts. In case it is necessary, it would be possible to reduce the weight of the gripper to a minimum, without losing performance in operation.

The possibilities are endless, as many as materials, requirements, sizes, and so on. It is only necessary to consider the application and to study the specific case.

If you or your company needs a customized gripper, whatever its function, do not hesitate to contact 3dpmaven. We can help you with your design, manufacturing, and implementation needs.  

This article was prepared by Carlos V, an expert with 3dpmaven for DfAM Product Engineering.

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