Most modern robots are built with both affordability and practicality in mind. This is because there is work that robots can do really well, and there are some simple things that human beings can do better than robots.
It is for this reason that collaborative robots have gained popularity in all major industries – robots that work alongside humans to not only increase productivity, but also safety in facilities.
Collaborative robots can be programmed to do almost any task.
However, in order to get the most out of the robot, you have to ensure that you have armed it with the right tools and features to do the job efficiently and effectively.
This makes choosing a collaborative robot’s gripper one of the most important decisions that a business can make. Here are tips that will come in handy in helping you make this decision.
The shape of the part being handled
The choice of the gripper that you settle on should be determined by the part that you intend the robot to handle. It is easier for some grippers to handle some shapes than others.
For example, if the part is flat and is not raised high enough, then something that grips it from the top is the best solution. For such a part, opting for a gripper with fingers is just too inefficient. An adhesive grip is a better option. Therefore, if you can get your hands on a suction cup gripper, that will be ideal.
A part with parallel faces can also be picked up by a suction cup. However, the grip will be more effective and efficient if it is done with a gripper with fingers. This is because the fingers are better suited to closing in on flat surfaces.
A simple exercise that you should perform is to imagine a human being picking up the item. Think about how many fingers the human being would need to pick it up, and if using fingers would be effective.
And if the human being would rather prefer using a pulling force to pick up the item. Doing this will simplify the process of deciding which collaborative arm to go with.
The friction of the part being handled
This quality is important when deciding which fingers to use for your robot. Generally, cylindrical shapes are trickier to handle when using fingers because of their shape. Centering the object is normally harder and as a result, choosing grooved fingers is advisable.
If a part has rugged edges that can provide friction, then opting for non-grooved fingers may be okay since the edges will give the gripper the resistance it needs for a better grip. But if the part is smooth or cylindrical, investing in a grooved-finger gripper is advisable.
Just like every other investment, your investment in a gripper has to be justified. This will depend largely on what you are using your robot for. If the robot is handling very important objects – things that need utmost care during handling – then investing in a specialized gripper may be justified.
However, if the parts or processes are inexpensive and do not form an integral part of the business, then going for relatively affordable grippers will be prudent.
Furthermore, the amount that you have allocated for buying a gripper will determine which gripper technology you end up adopting.
This is because there is a difference in the cost of pneumatic, electrical, suction, hydraulic and magnetic grippers. Since these technologies are generally priced differently, what you end up with will depend on the money at your disposal.
Customizing a gripper to fit the shape of the object that the robot will be handling is an option that is available to companies.
While these grippers have better handling capabilities, as far as the object is concerned, they tend to be limited in terms of their flexibility.
If you can afford to use customized grippers for different applications, this is an option that you should definitely opt for.