The adoption of collaborative robots, across multiple sectors, continues at a pace as increasing numbers of manufacturers realise the potential these robots have to provide a cost effective and productive solution to a wide range of applications. And gripper technology from Schmalz is supporting this growth.
Designed specifically to be able to work safely alongside humans, collaborative robots generally feature an aesthetically pleasing smooth rounded design, with no sharp edges which could cause injury if the robot accidentally comes into contact with an operator during its cycle. In addition, the arm joints are usually encapsulated to ensure that there are no pinch or trap points for human fingers or hands.
Just as these robots have evolved in recent years to provide greater reach and payload capabilities, so too have the gripper technologies they use, not only to cater for the wider range of applications where these robots are being applied, but also to ensure that the gripper design and functionality complies with ISO TS 15066, which provides guidance for collaborative robot use. In addition, to maximise the Cobot’s potential for operational performance and flexibility, the gripper systems themselves need to exhibit characteristics which promote ease of integration and use across a diverse range of applications.
Collaborative vacuum gripper technology
There has been a significant uptake in the use of collaborative robots for product handling, palletising, and de-palletising applications in recent years. This has been the catalyst for the development by Schmalz of a comprehensive range of gripper systems targeted at collaborative robot applications.
To maximise the performance and payload capabilities of the collaborative robot, the weight of the gripper system should be optimised and, in keeping with the ease-of-use concept promoted by suppliers of collaborative robots, ideally the pneumatic vacuum generation technology should be integrated within the gripper unit to simplify integration and operation.
New additions to the Schmalz range include the FXCB / FMCB area grippers, which are designed to support handling tasks with collaborative robots. These gripper systems will be a valuable asset for a wide range of applications within intralogistics, such as end-of-line packaging, and pick-and-place applications. The design of these gripper systems, which uses 3D printing as part of the manufacturing process, complies with ISO TS 15066, and the FXCB variant also includes integrated vacuum generation. Additional features of this range include innovative communication technology via IO-Link, and an integrated NFC (near field communications) chip.
The Schmalz FQE range also offers flexible handling of workpieces, regardless of size and geometry from different pick-up positions. Also designed for use with collaborative robots, these gripper systems provide solutions to handling applications across multiple sectors such as the automotive, glass or electronics industry, in addition to end of line packaging and intralogistics tasks.
The ‘X-variant’ of this area gripping system comes compete with a particularly energy-efficient, fully integrated pneumatic vacuum generation system, with the alternative ‘M variant’ designed for operation with an external vacuum generator. With their low weight and low noise levels, together with their smooth rounded design, these grippers are also suitable for human-robot-collaboration applications, meeting the ISO TS 15066 standard.
The design of these gripper systems from Schmalz promotes and supports the safe environment requirements for employees when working alongside collaborative robots. In addition, the low weight and dynamic geometry of these compact and energy efficient grippers, ensure optimum operational robot cycles, whilst the process and condition analysis functionality which is also available, provides useful information for maintenance personnel and which can be accessed using a smart-phone.
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