Robot of the Week: 2 Hands Are Better Than One

A custom designed and 3D printed end of arm tool can make tasks that seem impossible for a robot easy, fast, and ultra reliable. Here's one example in action.

May 31st, 2023 2 min read

Clever custom gripper design is a critical enabler of automation, but too few systems integrators take advantage of modern design and production tools like 3D printing. As a result of the industry's dependence on off the shelf grippers, there are tons of applications that are considered "impossible".

Our Rapid Machine Operator Danica is working at Sko-Die, a precision metal former in the Chicago area. Danica handles multiple SKUs, each with a different pattern of die cut holes. Off the shelf grippers couldn't reliably pick parts -- suction cups would regularly hit holes, resulting in dropped parts. Our engineers developed a custom gripper that is able to identify the die cut pattern and dynamically adjust gripper placement to reliably pick up the part without dropping it. Even cooler, the RMO's gripper design allows it to do a pick and a place at the same time, enabling the cobot to hit a short cycle time that would have been impossible even for a faster robot with an off the shelf gripper. 

A traditional systems integrator would have struggled to solve these challenges without hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of additional equipment. Others -- like the variance in parts -- might have caused the integrator to disqualify the implementation entirely. Rapid's mechanical engineers were able to solve all of these challenges, without adding any additional cost to the deployment.

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