A CAD program, online shop and additive manufacturing – the intelligent web-tool Schunk eGRIP offers three convenient functions in a single application. Within 15 minutes, gripper jaws can be designed, ordered and prepared for delivery within a few days thanks to a digital intercompany production network. As an added bonus, the Schunk eGRIP metal fingers feature an integrated lightweight design structure that reduces their weight by up to 50 percent.
The Development Agency for Lightweighting Baden-Wuerttemberg presented this innovation as its ThinKing for April 2017. Leichtbau BW GmbH grants this distinction every month to innovative products and services from the lightweighting sector in the German federal state of Baden-Wuerttemberg to promote new technological developments in the region.
The web-tool offered by Schunk is designed as a quick and easy interface. Instead of spending several hours with the product design as well as the shaping and processing of the gripper blanks, a few clicks at www.egrip.schunk.com is all that is needed to move the order into the additive manufacturing phase. Similar to an online photo service, the user can configure the desired gripper fingers and upload a design file (STEP or STL) and set a series of variables such as material, gripper form, installation position and gripper finger length.
Once the configurations are set, the tool outputs a time of delivery and the exact price. If variables such as the material a changed, the price is automatically updated allowing the user to easily compare the different materials that are available. By using a volume based pricing model, the company is able to pass the efficiency and low costs of the additive manufacturing process directly to its customers. The base price for polyamide grippers could be significantly reduced due to the streamlining effect of the fully digitized processing chain.
The gripping fingers can be manufactured not only out of nylon 12 but also out of aluminum (AlSi10Mg) and stainless steel (1.4404). While the heavy-duty polyamide gripper fingers are relatively low weight by nature, Schunk takes advantage of the technical potential of the selective laser melting process to create lightweight metal gripper fingers. These are crafted out of aluminum or steel as lightweight components by integrating hollow spaces or lattice structures. This process reduces the production time and amount of material required and also benefits users by producing metal fingers that weight 10 to 50 percent less than comparable components.
In 2015, the web based 3D design tool for gripping fingers produced through additive manufacturing helped make the family owned company from Lauffen am Neckar one of the top five candidates for the Hermes Award – one of the industry’s most prestigious awards. This impressive achievement was topped this year as the manufacturers was presented at the Hannover Messe with the 2017 Hermes Award for the Schunk Co-act Gripper JL1, an intelligent gripper system designed for human-robot collaboration.