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Design News, May 2013

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Fluid Power/Motion Control Getting a Grip on Automated Manufacturing Machine designers must select and size the right gripper in order to design a well-functioning automated process. BY JON DENT, PHD T SOURCE: PHD he majority of automated manufacturing assembly processes require the reorientation or "picking and placing" of parts at least once. Examples include parts being loaded into an automated assembly machine, or components requiring machining with automated loading and unloading. Nearly all consumer items require packaging at some point in the manufacturing process, and generally these operations employ either pneumatically or electrically powered grippers. In order to design a well-functioning automated process, the machine designer must select and size a gripper. PNEUMATIC VS. ELECTRIC GRIPPERS The first decision the machine designer must make is whether to use a traditional pneumatic gripper or an electric gripper. Pneumatically powered grippers have been comApplication Input: Sizing software simplifies the gripper sizing and selection process. For instance, this software provides choice of gripper jaw tooling. GRA01: These micro-grippers provide excellent moment capacities, high grip forces, and an ultra-precision jaw guidance system in a very compact package. [w ww. d e s i g n n e w s . c om] magenta cyan yellow black mercially available for a few decades, and their sophistication and capability have improved dramatically over the years. Early gripping mechanisms were designed and built by machine builders utilizing a combination of pneumatic cylinders and external tooling customized for each individual application. The maturing of this market and the versatility of today's products allow for a wide selection of types and sizes for machine designers. Today, the market is certainly growing for electrically driven grippers. Recognition of the total cost of compressed air, along with a desire for better motion control, has caused many companies to pursue more electrically powered devices as a solution to their automation needs. The number of different electric grippers is increasing, but still lags considerably behind their pneumatically powered counterparts. While the cost of electric grippers continues to drop, the grip force per dollar cost and grip force to unit size still both favor the pneumatically powered types. MAY 2013 F LUID P O WE R / MO T IO N CO NT R O L / A S UP P LE ME NT TO DE S IG N NEWS F7 ES244624_DN1305_F7_FP.pgs 05.02.2013 07:03 UBM

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