3D Printed Passive Gripper Helps Factory Robots Change Gears, Easily Pick Up Any Object


3D Printed Passive Gripper Helps Factory Robots

20 out of 22 objects, including a drill, tennis ball, wedge-shaped doorstop and a 3D-printed bunny, could be picked up by the passive grippers.

Automakers like Ford immediately shifted their focus from producing automobiles to masks and ventilators when the COVID-19 epidemic first emerged.For the transition, these companies used assembly-line labour.It would have been too challenging for robots to make this change as they are limited to their normal tasks.In theory, a robot could pick up almost anything if its grippers could be adjusted according to the task.To save money, these grippers might be passive, scooping up items without changing their shape, similar to the tongs on a forklift.University of Washington researchers created a new tool that can construct a passive gripper that is 3D printed and can decide how to pick up an object most efficiently.

The researchers tested this method on 22 items, including a drill, tennis ball, wedge-shaped doorstop, and a 3D-printed bunny.The designed grippers and pathways performed as intended for 20 of these objects.Two of these were the wedge and a pyramid with a curved keyhole.Both forms are challenging for different types of grippers to grasp.

These results will be presented by the team on August 11 at SIGGRAPH 2022.

Adriana Schulz, a senior author, stated, “We still make the majority of our products on assembly lines, which are fantastic but also incredibly rigid.The epidemic taught us that we require a simple method for adapting these industrial processes.Our plan is to make special tooling for these production lines.As a result, we have a very basic robot with a single task-specific gripper.I simply replace the gripper as I change the task.

Historically, objects have been created to fit a specific gripper because passive grippers cannot alter to fit the objects they are picking up.The tongs on a forklift, according to co-author and assistant professor of mechanical engineering at UW Jeffrey Lipton, are the most powerful passive gripper in the world.The drawback was that forklift tongs could only be used with specific types of objects, like pallets, thus whatever you wanted to grab needed to be on a pallet.

If it were made poorly, a gripper may run into it while picking it up.To solve this issue, the researchers came up with a few key discoveries.The points of contact between the gripper and the object are essential for the thing to stay steady in the grip.The grip configuration is the name given to this arrangement of points, according to the study’s principal investigator, UW freshman Milin Kodnongbua.Kodnongbua continued by saying that in addition, the gripper had to make contact with the object at those predetermined locations and link those points to the robot arm as a single, solid unit.

The team submitted a 3D model of the object and its orientation in space to the computer before designing a new gripper and trajectory.When the computer found a good match, it issued two sets of instructions: one describing the trajectory of the robot arm once the gripper had been created and attached, and the other specifying how to create the gripper using a 3D printer.

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