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Project: Optimization of additive manufacturing of gripper systems and development of a design guideline

Starting point 
In the course of the current trend towards digitalization and automation, object handling by robots has become an integral part of the industrial environment. The grippers represent the key interface between the robot and the real world. Typical applications include pick-and-place tasks such as loading and unloading machines, packaging goods, and loading and positioning components for further processing. Depending on the object to be handled, a variety of gripping principles are used, such as mechanical (gripper jaws, three-finger grippers...), pneumatic (suction cups) or magnetic variants.

However, grippers available on the market can often only meet the requirements of individual applications to a limited extent or have to be adapted at great expense. Which is often not economically viable, especially for SMEs. The combination of suitable CAD modeling technology and additive manufacturing (AM) represents a possible solution: with existing know-how of the advantages and limitations of AM processes, grippers can be individually designed for your own application and additively manufactured at comparatively low costs and quickly. As a digital process, AM enables gripper production "on demand", fast iteration cycles during development and flexible restoration of the gripper after a possible failure. In addition, AM offers significant weight-saving potential: grippers can be manufactured up to 50% lighter, allowing the use of smaller and more energy-efficient robots.

As part of the project, gripper concepts are tested and optimized for their suitability for plastic-based AF, depending on the intended application. The gripper system is considered holistically, including gripper material, interfaces, gripping mechanisms, control, and AF design principles. First, the common AF processes are analyzed for their suitability for the production of grippers in order to test the use of appropriate AF materials in the next step (temperature and corrosion resistance, wear, fatigue, etc.). Based on this, AF-suitable designs are systematically created and tested in practice. The integration of sensor technology and interfaces between the robot and the component to be handled will also be analyzed. In particular, massive metal components of conventional gripper systems are to be replaced by weight-optimized AM lightweight plastic constructions.

Benefits for your company
The intended results of the industrial project culminate in the creation of a design guideline and a collection of best practice guidelines for the design of AF grippers in your own company. This results in a higher degree of flexibility in production, especially for SMEs, as the AF grippers are profitable even for small quantities of pick-and-place operations and can be used largely independently of suppliers. Our aim is to make the project results available to you on a company-specific basis to offer you maximum added value from the project.

General conditions
SKZ enabler projects are industry-financed contract research projects on current and technologically valuable topics. The participating companies share the costs and benefit jointly from the practical research results. As no public funds are acquired, the findings are not made public and are reserved exclusively for the participating companies. The project is planned to start in spring 2024 with a project duration of one year and a participation fee of around €10,000 per project participant.

If you would like to take part in this exciting research project, please send a short e-mail to Your request is non-binding. I will be happy to advise you personally on the planned process and further details. 
Did you know?!
You can claim research achievements for tax purposes under the Research Allowance Act!
On the website of the Federal Ministry of Finance you can find out which legal framework conditions apply.
Please contact us if you have any questions.
We look forward to work with you on this topicand to take this alternative path in contract research. 

Kevin Popp

Kevin Popp
Senior Scientist | Research Additive Manufacturing

Duration: 12 month
Start: Spring 2024
Costs:  approx. 10,000 € / company

Request more information now!

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