Robotic arms carry out a wide range of functions in this modern age of manufacturing. With FDM technology, companies can now produce custom end of arm tools tailored to sophisticated applications and processes, at a fraction of the cost.
Robotic arms carry out a comprehensive range of tasks, including material handling, sorting, palletizing, transporting, and even inspecting or machining. The EAOT of a robot is the key piece, which interacts with an object, for example through gripping or welding. While some arms are generic in design, many processes require customized arms to engage unique objects with complex features.
Custom EOATs tend to be machined from metal due to their low volume nature. However the extensive programming times and costs to machine custom arms can deter companies from investing in them. Companies may instead be compelled to settle for stock solutions, which are limited in their ability to manipulate complex objects.
FDM technology can produce custom EOAT’s tailored to sophisticated applications and processes. Thermoplastic arms printed directly from 3D CAD files are lighter than metal, allowing for faster movement, increased motor efficiency and a reduction in component wear. They are also durable yet they won’t scratch the objects they grip. The FDM build process even allows users to embed internal components into the arm such as magnets or sensors. Integrated vacuum channels can also be inserted to perform additional functions.
The design freedom of 3D printing makes it possible to produce complex EOATs at a fraction of the time and cost. Increased complexity has no effect on cost, and revisions can be made seamlessly to conform to a particular intricate shape.
With the flexibility of FDM, engineers can dive deep into the design process without worrying about traditional machining constraints. The outcome is an escalation in productivity with an increase in overall speed to market.
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