Gripper Actuation Types

Close up of a robotic arm

The manufacturing industry is seeing a higher demand for automation. When robotics were first introduced into manufacturing processes, a single robot was only tasked with producing one type of product at very high speeds. This dynamic is changing and many factories are relying on very specialized custom grippers that help reduce manufacturing costs and meet customer demands. With numerous gripper actuation types, how can companies choose the best one to meet their needs?

Gripper Actuation

The first thing to consider when selecting a module is how the gripper module operates. There are several types of gripper actuations including pneumatic, electric, and hydraulic.

  • Electric: Electric grippers are actuated using a solenoid or electric motor which transfers the force to the jaws of the gripper.
  • Hydraulic: Hydraulic grippers use hydraulic fluid to drive a cylinder or piston linked to the jaws of the gripper module.
  • Pneumatic: Pneumatic grippers use compressed air to drive a cylinder or piston linked to the jaws of the gripper module.

Often times, the basis for selecting one over the other is usually determined by availability of power, air or hydraulics on the manufacturing floor. There can be many other project or environmental constraints that would make one actuation type more suitable than others and this is why it is important to speak with an expert when deciding which gripper module is right for your application.

Parallel Grippers

A parallel gripper is one of the most common gripper types available. Parallel grippers work with each jaw moving in a linear motion towards each other in the same plane. They usually have a specific parameters that need to be considered when selecting which gripper module will work for your project. They include but are not limited to:

  • Stroke per jaw refers to the available range of motion of each jaw or finger.
  • Gripping force is the force of the grip transferred to the workpiece at a specific power. It is usually measured in pounds or newtons.
  • The physical size of the gripper can be important in determining if it will fit in the available space of the project.
  • Gripper module weight needs to be considered in the payload calculations of the robot arm.

A parallel gripper is one of the most versatile options available, making it very popular.

Angular Grippers

Angular grippers are a bit different. The jaws work on two pivot points allowing the fingers to move in an arc away from the workpiece. Angular grippers have a unique set of specifications that make them useful in a variety of settings. A few examples include:

  • The gripping torque is similar to the gripping force of a parallel gripper and is usually measured in pounds or newtons.
  • Stroke per jaw in an angular gripper is measured in degrees and refers to the operational angle range of the finger.
  • Max gripping dimension is used to size the angular gripper to specific workpieces.

This is another popular option for those looking for a robot gripper that can accommodate more clearances around a workpiece.

3 Finger Robot Grippers

A more unique option is a 3 finger robot grippers with the jaws and fingers typically 120 degrees apart. The benefit to having three fingers working concentric is that it allows for a workpiece to be centered in the grip. Like other grippers, they come in a wide variety of sizes with varying degrees of gripping force. The fingers can also be customized to better adapt the gripper to the workpiece features.

Linear Grippers

Finally, a linear gripper is a basic option that can be useful in numerous situations. Usually, there is a mounting platform and a slider. The slider is usually controlled with some form of a precise stepper motor and can be used to adjust the distance between the two fingers, thus allowing the two slides to grasp the workpiece. The fingers can be customized to accommodate a wide variety of workpiece sizes and shapes.

Contact GripShape Today for Help Selecting the Right Gripper Actuation

These are just a few of the many types of grippers that are available. If you have a project that you need help with, you should count on the experts from Gripshape to help you. We work with all major gripper module manufacturers and we can customize the tooling to meet your specifications. Contact us today to speak to a member of our team!

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