Within the past few decades, robotic arms have allowed the manufacturing industry to develop into the fast production entity it is today. First used in the automotive industry, robotic arms can be programmed to take on any task that calls for high repeatability and precision. Today, robotic arms are used in almost every industry imaginable: from medical, to agriculture, to electronics manufacturing- and additive manufacturing tools like 3D printing is making the technology even more accessible.
End of arm tooling (EOAT) refers to this device that is attached to the end of a robotic arm to increase its ability to complete fine motor tasks. These tools can come in all shapes and sizes and are created to fit the specific needs of an application. In short, an EOAT is essentially the “hand” of the robotic arm, allowing it to increase efficiency and accuracy.
EOATs are typically used to directly come in contact with a specific part or object, which offers near endless application, but requires the tool to be very specialized for the task. For example, used within the medical industry an EOAT could be made to hold a small scalpel that allows the robot arm to successfully and precisely remove a tumor without damaging any surrounding tissue. In the food industry, robot arms with a soft gripping EOAT can be programmed to sort fruits and vegetables without bruising or breaking apart the food.
Creating EOATs using 3D Printing Technology
By using additive manufacturing to create and prototype EOATs, engineers can easily cut down on production costs and time. 3D printing an EOAT also allows for more detailed design and lighter parts that are able to move with ease and speed.
Using fused deposition modeling (FDM) technology, the engineers from Genesis System Group, a manufacturer of robotic work, created EOAT grippers that were not only cost and time efficient, but they were also able to use FDM's ability to create intricate and complex shapes along with a vacuum effect within the grip to hold parts.
This unique feature was used to hold parts while they were cut by a water jet, creating a safe environment to create the desired application. Typical manufacturing for this type of part is about twenty days, but by using the FDM technology, Genesis was able to manufacture it within three days total. They also saved 94% in their total cost.
EOATs are a great addition to any manufacturing process that utilizes (or wants to utilize) robotic arms, due to their ability to interact directly with an application in a safe and efficient way. By using a 3D printing technology like FDM, innovators and engineers can quickly create the EOATs necessary to complete their projects in a timely and cost-efficient manner.
Interested in learning more about Genesis Systems Group's experience? Click on the button below to download our case study.