Novel Additive Manufacturing Pneumatic Actuators and Mechanisms for Food Handling Grippers

Autores UPV
Año
Revista Actuators

Abstract

Conventional pneumatic grippers are widely used in industrial pick and place robot processes for rigid objects. They are simple, robust and fast, but their design, motion and features are limited, and they do not fulfil the final purpose. Food products have a wide variety of shapes and textures and are susceptible to damaged. Robot grippers for food handling should adapt to this wide range of dimensions and must be fast, cheap, reasonably reliable, and with cheap and reasonable maintenance costs. They should not damage the product and must meet hygienic conditions. The additive manufacturing (AM) process is able to manufacture parts without significant restrictions, and is Polyamide approved as food contact material by FDA. This paper presents that, taking the best of plastic flexibility, AM allows the implementation of novel actuators, original compliant mechanisms and practical grippers that are cheap, light, fast, small and easily adaptable to specific food products. However, if they are not carefully designed, the results can present problems, such as permanent deformations, low deformation limits, and low operation speed. We present possible solutions for the use of AM to design proper robot grippers for food handling. Some successful results, such as AM actuators based on deformable air chambers, AM compliant mechanisms, and grippers developed in a single part will be introduced and discussed.