End effectors are critical components in every robot. Read on for detailed information on these gadgets and how to utilize them.
If you are utilizing robotic systems for the first time you may find them complex. Many robots need an entire collection of add-ons and accessories to function accordingly and execute various tasks in your enterprise.
Understanding the robot end effector can be difficult because there are numerous end effectors from a wide range of manufacturers in the market today. Seeing that many end effectors come with a similar appearance, users may be more confused. However, it is worth mentioning that each end effector comes with unique specifications.
Understanding Robotic End Effectors
An end effector is an external gadget that is fixed on a robot’s wrist to ensure the unit interacts with the intended task. A big percentage of end effectors are electromechanical or mechanical and operate as sensors, process tools, and grippers. They can either be pick-and-place two-fingered grippers or complex sensor systems made for robotic inspection. Often, the end effector is also known as End of arm tooling.
Remember, without an end-effector, the robot cannot execute its tasks accordingly. You can program a connected robotic arm to a specific location in the workspace. However, you will still need an end effector to facilitate task execution.
Basic End Effector Types
While there are numerous types of end effectors, we shall discuss the basic ones that you may encounter often. They are:
The humble gripper is the most popularly used robot end of arm tooling. It allows users to pick and manipulate items, making it ideal for pick and place, machine tending, and assembly tasks. There are numerous types of grippers that you can use to execute a wide range of tasks. Some of the most popular grippers are fingered options which are available in 5,4,3, or 2 fingers. You can even use a six-fingered gripper based on your task even though it is hardly necessary.
Magnetic, vacuum, and needle grippers are also available with manufacturers releasing advanced and new gripper technologies regularly.
You can integrate a sensor into your robot. Doing so allows you to use the unit as a programmed sensor-adaptation gadget. This is specifically ideal for various applications such as robotic inspection which reduces the hands-on duration that an inspection engineer may require to collect data. Many sensors available today can act as end effectors. They include laser scanners, ultrasonic sensors, infrared sensors, and 3D and 2D cameras.
· Process Tools
One of the simplest ways of illustrating process tools is envisioning a worker running a power tool. Remember, grippers are only capable of grasping the object while process tools can modify the workpiece. There is a wide range of process tools that match the various applications in the manufacturing sector.
These include robot machining tools, robot welding tools, 3D printing tools, and robot painting tools. If you can execute your task using a power tool then it is ripe for execution with robotic technology. Again, if you can execute your task using a different automated machine you could do it using a robot.
· Tool Changers
Tool changers may not be technically categorized as end effectors. However, they attach to the robot’s end-effector. They are located in between the end of arm tooling and wrist location. Tool changers allow robots to shift between different tools autonomously.
Choosing the Ideal End Effector for Your Application
There are numerous varying end effectors available. As a result, choosing the best one for your application can be challenging. First, you want to determine whether or not your business or operations need a gripper.
If you do, determine the right option as well as the required specifications. Decide whether you need a process or picking tool. Remember, the end effector you choose depends on your needs. To choose the ideal end of arm tooling for your operations, determine what you want to achieve from your task. Here are some tips to help you choose an appropriate end effector.
After determining the objective of your task you should:
- Figure out the actions your robot will need to execute to accomplish the task
- List down the different end effector types that may help you achieve those actions
- Evaluate each end-effector type and consider their complexity, cost, and any other suitable factor you can think about.
- Now pick the end effector that suits the requirements of your specific task appropriately
You can leverage a wide range of methods to accomplish the same task with varying robotic end effectors. For instance, assuming you want to perform a spray painting task. You could fix a spray painting end of arm tooling as a process tool along the robot’s wrist, which can be easy to execute.
On the other hand, you may utilize a gripper to hold a spray gun which may enable the robot to move to another task fast without needing a customized end effector. Both options are appropriate depending on what you want to achieve.
Utilizing an End Effector with the Robot
Each end effector operates differently. They rely on varying programming interfaces and communication protocols and need a different skill level to keep them running. To utilize any end effector with your robot you should:
- Physically attach the end of arm tooling on the wrist of the robot
- Fix any required power connections like pneumatic, electric, or hydraulic.
- Fix necessary communication interfaces between the computer, robot controller, and end effector
- Integrate the end effector programming in the robot’s program
The final programming stage can be one of the most challenging steps that entrepreneurs struggle with. Sometimes you may need to hire a professional for assistance. Today, programming an end of arm tooling does not to be a challenging task. With suitable robot programming software, you may start using any version or end effector in record time.
Robots operate better, faster, longer, and more precisely than humans. As a result, using a robot end effector in your business operations helps you automate the entire manufacturing process. Advanced gadgets allow you to complete tasks faster than you would while doing them manually.