• The best known universal gripper - the human hand


• Useful classifications are,

- Grippers

- multiple/single

- internal/external

- Tools

- compliant

- contact

- non-contact


• End of arm tooling is typically purchased separately, or custom built.


1.4.1 EOAT Design


• Typical factors to be considered are,

Workpiece to be handled

part dimensions


pre- and post- processing geometry

geometrical tolerances

potential for part damage






Power source of EOAT





Range of gripping force

object mass

friction or nested grip

coefficient of friction between gripper and part

maximum accelerations during motion


gripper length

robot accuracy and repeatability

part tolerances


number of cycles required

use of separate wear components

design for maintainability




dirt, corrosives, etc.

Temperature protection

heat shields

longer fingers

separate cooling system

heat resistant materials


strong, rigid, durable

fatigue strength

cost and ease of fabrication

coefficient of friction

suitable for environment

Other points

interchangeable fingers

design standards

use of mounting plate on robot

gripper flexible enough to accommodate product design change


• The typical design criteria are,

- low weight to allow larger payload, increase accelerations, decrease cycle time

- minimum dimensions set by size of workpiece, and work area clearances

- widest range of parts accommodated using inserts, and adjustable motions

- rigidity to maintain robot accuracy and reduce vibrations

- maximum force applied for safety, and to prevent damage to the work

- power source should be readily available from the robot, or nearby

- maintenance should be easy and fast

- safety dictates that the work shouldn’t drop when the power fails



• Other advanced design points,

- ensure that part centroid is centered close to the robot to reduce inertial effects. Worst case make sure that it is between the points of contact.


- holding pressures/forces/etc are hard to control, try to hold parts with features or shapes


- compliance can help guide work into out-of-alignment conditions.

- sensors in the EOAT can check for parts not in the gripper, etc.

- the gripper should tolerate variance in work position with part alignment features

- gripper changers can be used to make a robot multifunctional

- multiple EOAT heads allow one robot to perform many different tasks without an EOAT change.

- *** Don’t try to mimic human behavior.

- design for quick removal or interchange of tooling by requiring a small number of tools (wrenches, screwdrivers, etc).

- provide dowels, slots, and other features to lead to fast alignment when changing grippers.

- use the same fasteners when possible.

- eliminate sharp corners/edges to reduce wear on hoses, wires, etc.

- allow enough slack and flexibility in cables for full range of motion.

- use lightweight materials, and drill out frames when possible.

- use hard coatings, or hardened inserts to protect soft gripper materials.

- examine alternatives when designing EOAT.

- the EOAT should be recognized as a potential bottleneck, and given extra design effort.

- use shear pins, and other devices to protect the more expensive components.

- consider dirt, and use sealed bearings where possible.

- move as much weight away from the tip of the gripper towards the robot.



1.4.2 Gripper Mechanisms


• A gripper is specifically EOAT that uses a mechanical mechanism and actuator to grasp a part with gripping surfaces (aka fingers)


• Quite often gripper mechanisms can be purchases, and customized fingers attached.


• Fingers are designed to,

1. Physically mate with the part for a good grip

2. Apply enough force to the part to prevent slipping



• Movements of the fingers

- pivoting (often uses pivotal linkages)

- linear or translational movement (often uses linear bearings and actuators)


• Typical mechanisms

- linkage actuation

- gear and rack

- cam

- screw

- rope and pulley

- miscellaneous - eg. bladder, diaphragm





 - Vacuum grippers


• Suction cups can be used to grip large flat surfaces. The cups are,

- typically made of soft rubber or plastic

- typically round, or oval shapes


• A piston operated vacuum pump (can give a high vacuum), or a venturi valve (simpler) can be used to generate the vacuum.


• The surfaces should be large, smooth, clean.


• The force of a suction cup depends on the effective area of the vacuum and the difference in the vacuum, and air pressures.



• e.g.



• Advantages,

- requires only one surface of a part to grasp

- a uniform pressure can be distributed over some area, instead of concentrated on a point

- the gripper is light weight

- many different types of materials can be used


• Disadvantages,

- the maximum force is limited by the size of the suction cups

- positioning may be somewhat inaccurate

- time may be needed for the vacuum in the cup to build up



1.4.3 Magnetic Grippers


• Can be used with ferrous materials


• Electromagnets,

- easy to control, requires a power supply, and a controller

- polarity can be reversed on the magnet when it is put down to reverse residual magnetism


• Permanent magnets,

- external power is not required

- a mechanism is required to separate parts from the magnet when releasing

- good for environments that are sensitive to sparks


• Advantages,

- variation in part size can be tolerated

- ability to handle metal parts with holes

- pickup times fast

- requires only one surface for gripping

- can pick up the top sheet from a stack


• Disadvantages,

- residual magnetism that remains in the workpiece

- possible side slippage - Adhesive Grippers


• Can handle fabrics and other lightweight materials


• These grippers are basically a sticky surface on the end of the robot


• As the adhesive gripper is repeatedly used, it loses stickiness, but a tape roll can be used to refresh the sticky surface.



1.4.4 Expanding Grippers


• Some parts have hollow cavities that can be used to advantage when grasping.


• A bladder can be inserted into a part, and then inflated. This forms a friction seal between the two, and allows manipulation. When done the pressure is released, and the part freed.



• Expanding grippers can also be used when gripping externally.




1.4.5 Other Types Of Grippers


• Most grippers for manipulation are sold with mounts so that fingers may be removed, and replaced.


• Gripper fingers can be designed to reduce problems when grasping.