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End of Arm Tooling Options for Industrial Automation

End of Arm Tooling (EOAT), or end effector as it often called, is the device attached to the end of a robotic arm that allows the robot to interact with the environment. There are many types of EOAT depending on the components being handled and the tasks the robot is required to perform. End effectors are typically powered electrically, hydraulically, or pneumatically. There are also EOAT that utilize magnetic force or vacuum cups.

There are many different EOAT to choose from and some of the most common types are listed below. EOAT are either pre-engineered and available off the shelve, or customized when an application is complex and requires more sophisticated functionality. It is critical to select the right EOAT for a given application. Without the correct EOAT attached, robots will struggle to provide the higher productivity and profitability levels expected. Companies should work with a knowledgeable automation partner, like Concept Systems, to ensure all of the EOAT options are well understood and the best end effector is selected – offering manufacturers a clear competitive edge!

  • Grippers: these are the most common EOAT for industrial automation given that sorting and pick-and-place tasks are often automated. Grippers are jaws that grasp and manipulate parts directly. There are many different types and sizes of grippers designed to pick up a wide variety of parts and materials. Grippers comprised of vacuum cups, pliers, or a finger assembly are common in industrial automation. Grippers can be powered pneumatically or electrically. Examples of grippers include 2- jaw that is used when you are grasping parts by two parallel, flat surfaces, 3-jaw that is used for cylindrical objects, needle that is used to pick up textiles by penetrating the surface with sharp needles, and adaptive is used when real-time feedback to the controller is needed to adjust the grasp. A good understanding of the components that need to be manipulated is critical in identifying which gripper should be used. The main factors are size, shape, and weight.
  • Welding EOAT: welding is a very common task for automation. Welding torches and welding guns have become very effective EOAT that are often used for arc welding and spot-welding processes. The main advantage of automated welding is the ability to produce high-quality welds in a short cycle time. Many industries, especially automotive, employ robots for welding tasks; and these robots are a good solution to the workforce gap within the welding profession.
  • Material Removal EOAT: this category of end-of-arm-tooling includes drilling and tapping to machine holes and threads into materials; and trimming, grinding, deburring, and cutting to reach the desired product size, shape, and smoothness. These forms of end effectors are found in many industrial applications especially automotive assembly lines.
  • Vacuum EOAT: these end effectors are very common and are known for their cost-effectiveness. Vacuum EOAT are suitable for most components and surfaces and are able to handle products with a soft touch. The air pressure responsible for operating vacuum grips can be adjusted to accommodate various levels of force. These forms of end effectors are common in the automotive industry as well as high-speed pick-and-place applications such as packaging.
  • Magnetic EOAT: end effectors operating with magnets are capable of automated pick-up and placement of iron, steel or other ferromagnetic objects. Within this type of EOAT there are electromagnets and permanent magnets. Electromagnets are powered by electricity and can, therefore, be shut off whereas permanent magnets do not require power to operate but are always on and have a push-off pin on the EOAT to facilitate separation from the part.

Additionally, Industrial automation technologies continue to advance, requiring more innovative EOAT to meet demands. Some end effectors that have recently hit the market include soft grippers that have a more delicate touch and are able to grasp items such as food without causing damage, safe grippers that have built-in sensors to ensure safe interaction with humans, and connected EOAT that are IoT (Internet of Things) connected for real-time information collection and optimization.

Automation Vision and Robotics at Concept Systems

When you can’t find the right robot gripping tool off the shelf, we can assist in designing a solution to meet your exact needs. By evaluating your robotic platform, part handling conditions, tolerances, and throughput requirements, we collaborate with you to deliver the right solution. Our experience ranges from handling steel to paper, space craft parts to battery assembly.

With the technologies available today there are countless robotic and machine vision applications that can help you address your business challenges. From basic picking and sorting to enhanced vision inspection, from custom built end of arm tooling to complete work cell design and integration, our team of expert engineers design and integrate solutions that enhance the efficiency and profitability of your operations. Leverage the advances in technology to improve your manufacturing – contact us today!

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