Vacuum gripper benefits for collaborative robots

Vacuum grippers can be beneficial for collaborative robots, but the type of application and the potential costs associated with them need to be considered.
By Robotic Industries Association (RIA) January 16, 2019
Courtesy: Bob Vavra, CFE Media

Vacuum grippers can be an effective and simple gripping solution in a wide range of applications. With the right part and the right integration, vacuum grippers can provide powerful and safe grips for collaborative robot applications. However, there are several other types of grippers out there that rely on force to grip the inside or outside of parts. This can make it difficult to know if a vacuum gripper is the best solution for a collaborative robot.

Vacuum gripper types and applications for collaborative robots

There are several types of vacuum grippers available for collaborative robots. Each have advantages and disadvantages. Most collaborative robots utilize either a miniature electromechanical pump or a compressed air-driven pump.

Miniature electromechanical pumps excel in applications with a high degree of mobility. However, they often generate less power than a compressed air-driven pump. Compressed air-driven pumps can provide superior lifting capacity. However, they may end up increasing operating costs because of the electricity required to run the compressor.

Vacuum grippers work when the difference between atmospheric pressure and the vacuum, or negative pressure, is enough to provide the ability to lift, hold, move and more. This occurs when one side of a part is large enough and flat enough for a vacuum gripper to create enough difference in pressure.

Because of this, parts with large flat sides to them are most ideally suited to the use of vacuum grippers. Additionally, excessively heavy parts may not be suited for vacuum grippers, as an enormous amount of negative pressure would have to be produced. Vacuum grippers are most effective in collaborative robot applications with light, flat parts.

This article originally appeared on the Robotics Online BlogRobotic Industries Association (RIA) is a part of the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), a CFE Media content partner. Edited by Chris Vavra, production editor, Control Engineering, CFE Media,

Robotic Industries Association (RIA)