Different types of End Effectors
The term grippers or end effectors is given to any number of different tooling heads applied to a crane or lift assist which contacts the lifted component. There are a large range of standard different types of end effectors for generic applications as well as bespoke versions for more complicated components or specialised processes.
At Andron Handling, we have designed countless bespoke end effectors for our clients over the years but we also supply many systems configured from ‘off the shelf’ products to suit the customers application.
In selecting the type of gripper there are a number of factors to take into consideration for any particular application.
Vacuum lift assists, whether they are a vacuum tube lifter or another vacuum gripper end effector on a manipulator or crane system, are preferred methods of gripping in many industries. They present a very secure and reliable grip without complicated mechanisms. Many different cups have been developed for almost any conceivable product which provides a range of tools at the disposal of the end effector manufacturer.
The surfaces of a component may, for example, be smooth and flat and, therefore, ideal for a simple vacuum end effector. Alternatively the surface may be textured or contoured which might drive a more sophisticated vacuum manipulator or a gripper end effector. If the component is ferrous then a magnetic end effector would be suitable.
When considering a vacuum or suction end effector, the orientation of the component can also be an important factor. If it remains the same way up – ie, pick and place – and the process is relatively simple and fast then a vacuum tube lifter is likely to be the best option. However, if it requires rotating or positioning with overhead restriction or with guidance, a pneumatic vacuum gripper mounted on a manipulator may be preferable. A pneumatic end effector mounted in this way is able to reach into and fully invert the component, or if a small angle is required, it can take form of a tilting vacuum lifter.
New advances in development of vacuum gripper systems have enabled vacuum grippers to lift components which are more porous and inconsistent than would previously have been considered for bespoke vacuum lifting equipment. Vacuum tube lifters solve this problem with a high air flow rate through the tube lifter vacuum system, combined with special types of end effectors to minimise leakage. Alternatively, intelligent systems select and isolate areas where there is little or no contact with the component and this keeps the vacuum manipulators lifting these difficult loads reliably and consistently.
An alternative approach is to have a number of end effectors specifically designed for each product and have a quick release vacuum coupling to enable quick change of the end effector gripper.