Automation: New Grippers for Cobots

Two new gripper solutions for collaborative robots.

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Two companies recently came out with innovative grippers designed particularly for the new breed of “collaborative” robots, or “cobots.”

Piab in Hingham, Mass., introduced the Kenos KCS gripper that reportedly “can handle just about anything, anywhere, at any time.” It combines Piab’s proprietary pneumatic COAX technology for highly efficient vacuum ejection with an easily replaceable “technical foam” pad that molds itself around any surface or shape. Standard ISO interface adapters enable the unit to attach to any cobot type on the market, Piab says. The body is made of a lightweight 3D printed polymer material. A quick-change system allows the same unit to be fitted with a special gripper for plastic bags.

Meanwhile, the new firm of Purple Robotics introduced its first product, the PR10 dual electrical vacuum gripper for cobots. Purple Robotics is a Danish firm recently established by veterans of Universal Robots, a Danish pioneer in the cobot field. With its double-grip function, the PR10 can handle several items in a single operation. Unlike standard vacuum grippers, it requires no external air supply, so there are no cumbersome air hoses to manage, and the gripper is unaffected by changes in line pressure or the cleanliness or availability of external air. The gripper reportedly can be installed in less than 30 min with no prior training.

Purple Robotics has signed two U.S. distributors, Olympus Controls, Tualatin, Ore., and Thinkbot Solutions, Austin, Texas. Nick Armenta, automation engineer at Olympus Controls, says, “The PR10 is a one-size-fits-all solution that eliminates the barrier to entry that is typically caused by customers’ unfamiliarity with pneumatics. A single package that can be bought off-the-shelf and quickly deployed without any engineering is a huge benefit for our customers.”