Advertorial: Additive Manufacturing FDM End of Arm Tools deliver quick, cost-effective results

Editor: Barbara Schulz

Genesis Systems Group, headquartered in Davenport, Iowa, designs, builds and implements robotic automation systems. Its expertise enables the production of a wide array of products in the automotive, construction, aviation and recreational vehicle industries, to name a few.

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Traditional EOAT with bulky, machined components. “Normally it would take weeks to get traditional grippers made. With the FDM gripper, you can have a new end of arm tool complete and bolted up to the robot within a day or so.” — Doug Huston, Technical Advisor, Genesis Systems Group
Traditional EOAT with bulky, machined components. “Normally it would take weeks to get traditional grippers made. With the FDM gripper, you can have a new end of arm tool complete and bolted up to the robot within a day or so.” — Doug Huston, Technical Advisor, Genesis Systems Group
(Source: Stratasys)

One of Genesis’ specialties is building robotic, waterjet cutting systems used to trim composite parts. Because many of its parts have complex geometries, the normal approach for trimming was to mount the waterjet cutter on a robotic arm and move the cutter around the part. This approach lost favor however because one wrong move of the robot’s arm could cause the high pressure waterjet to become dangerous for employees.

In response, Genesis pioneered a safer process which utilized an end of arm tool (EOAT). The EOAT gripped the part and moved it around the cutter to safely trim the part. The greatest challenge to this approach was that the company had to design and build a custom gripper for each unique part to be trimmed. Genesis depended on CNC machining to create the grippers, but the lead time and cost were very expensive.

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Solution

Genesis engineers examined the feasibility of using 3D printing to reduce the time and cost of making EOAT grippers. They determined that while most 3D printed parts were not rugged enough to withstand the rigors of the water jet cutting process, grippers created with FDM® technology were more than equal to the task. In addition, engineers were able to leverage FDM’s ability to create intricate and complex shapes by creating an internal channel for a pneumatic airline. This allowed the grippers to hold parts with a vacuum. It also reduced the need for cumbersome, external pneumatic lines that could be damaged in the waterjet environment.

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