Everything you need to know about End-of-Arm-Tooling.


What is End-of-Arm-Tooling?

End-of-Arm-Accessories refers to the associated equipment that is equipped at the end of a robotic arm that interacts with parts or components in the production processes.

The 3 Basic Types of End Effector

There are a multitude of end effectors, and as much as it would be good to list all of them, it would not be helpful. Instead this can be broken down into 3 basic types that you would most likely come across when in the journey of choosing the right end-of-arm-tooling that is fit for your needs.

1. Grippers

The most common collaborative robot end effector is the gripper. As mentioned previously in “How to Choose the Right Collaborative Robot Gripper?”, a gripper essentially allows you to pick up and handle objects and materials. This is ideal for tasks such as picking-and-placing, assembly and machine tending.

2. Process Tools

A simplified example to understand process tools is much like a worker operating a power tool, whether it be a drill or a hammer. We have learnt how grippers can only grasp the tools, whilst the process tools allow the operations to take place.

Examples of the types of End-of-Arm-Accessories:

  • Grippers

  • Magnets

  • Vacuum Heads

  • Cameras

  • Drills or Cutting Tools

  • Brushes

  • Force Sensors

  • Screwdrivers

  • Weld Tooling

  • Adhesive Dispensing

  • Paint Spray Guns

  • Sanders

  • Wrist Cameras

3. Sensors

It is very possible to attach a sensor to the collaborative robot. This would act as a programmable sensor-orientation device, which is particularly useful for applications such as robotic inspection which would overall reduce the amount of hands-on time that their human counterparts would spend collecting data.

Having understood the three basic types of end-effectors, it is important to have a good grasp of how to choose the right end-of-arm-tooling.

Things to consider when choosing an End-of-Arm-Tooling:

  • First and foremost, able to safely collaborate with their human counterparts.

  • Cost-effective tooling that can potentially reduce the future need for additional equipment.

  • Efficient, easy to program and able to employ immediately.

  • Flexibility and ability to quickly and efficiently change tooling reducing any potential downtimes between processes.

  • Flexible tooling that can be utilized for a range of functions.

  • Handle components of varying shapes and sizes - able to adapt to various environments.

Moving to the types of tooling available, there is a range and these are just some examples to take into consideration.

Types of tooling:

Collision Sensors:

With collision sensors, they are used to prevent any damage, either towards the robot tooling, the parts being processed or the collaborative robot in general.

Collision sensors can disengage or transmit signals to the robot to halt any movement if and when a collision is detected.

Force-Torque Sensors:

Force Torque sensors or often referred to as FT, is an electronic divide that is designed to detect, monitor, record and regulate both linear and rotational forces applied upon it. A more technical approach to define FT is they are pucks installed between the robot flange and the tool that overall interacts with the component.

Force torque sensors are used when the force that a collaborative robot applies is required to be controlled. These functions typically include assembly or part insertion.

Material Handling:

This can range from palletizers to machine loading and unloading.

Material Removal Tools:

As the name suggests, these tools include cutting, drilling, deburring.

An example of this is, the component will be given to the cobot tasked with material removal where it will either wield a cutter or any material removal device.

Tool Changers:

Tool changers are used when an array of end-effectors are needed to be used in sequence by a single collaborative robot.

Welding Torches

Welding is a popular robotic application, hence welding torches have become very efficient end-of-arm-tooling that can be controlled for optimized welding. In some cases, some torches can come with wire feeders for a relatively better control of the welding process.

Important advice to take into consideration:

A Collaborative System:

An important part of a collaborative system is to ensure that a cobot maintains its collaborative status. This means that the end-of-arm-tooling is safe. When designed to a high safety standard, grippers for cobots will not only just be safe, it will also offer intuitive programming through its programming methods such as the collaborative robot’s teach pendant.

End-of-Arm-Tooling Control:

The collaborative robot controller controls the end-of-arm-tooling. For end effectors that need to communicate more information to and from the cobot, industrial communication protocols are used.

End-of-Arm-Tooling Design

It should be noted that for important and special jobs, an end-of-arm-tooling can be customized. This can either be accomplished by those who are involved in the designated process or by a specialized robotic integrator.

To learn more about end-of-arm-tooling.

Updated 16/05/2022