Pick and Place Example: Choosing the right equipment for challenging substances
There are many off the shelf gripper solutions but a challenging task sometimes calls for a new solution, as was the case with the example here.
Our customer required a machine that would coat a metal blank in an air drying substance, in batches so that the machine could be left to do a uniform job on a number of pieces. The challenges for the gripper here was that it would be regularly submerged in the chemical dip and using if the contact area with the subject was too large it would restrict the flow of chemical to the surface of the subject.
Previously the substance was applied to the subjects in a manual fashion and required some skill or practice to produce an even finish and meant close exposure to the chemical dip, the business sought a machine application and we were identified us as a local provider of non-standard machines. Gripper design for us started with a jug of the chemical and a number of tests to understand the nature of the coating liquid and how best we could, not only, hold the piece and apply it, but keep it at the desired consistency and from clogging up the machine and gripper parts. To speed the drying of the coating the machine would also include heating in the drying area, this would also have to be considered for the technology platform and materials of the gripper as it would travel from wet to dry, cold to hot, repeatedly in a short space of time.
Our final gripper was built off a powerful SMC gripper (MH-Series) and with the custom gripper fingers produced the correct contact with the subject to hold it's weight securely while performing the task, with points of contact slim enough so as not to interfere with the coating process and withstand the rigors of chemicals and heat.
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