End of Arm Tooling enables robotic arms to perform a wide range of activities in the manufacturing process including gripping, sanding, painting, and welding. Often times, End of Arm Tooling (EOAT) is highly customized to a specific operation and industry; as a result components typically are produced out of metal or plastic using traditional machining techniques.
Stratasys FDM Technology disrupts the traditional method of EOAT by allowing for fast production of customized and complex components out of strong, durable, and lightweight plastics. Using Additive Manufacturing for EOAT also permits engineers to produce complex geometries, integrate hollow interiors and consolidate design features into a single component.
Incorporating Additive Manufacturing (AM) into the design process allows for a greater degree of customization and faster design cycles for EOAT components. Robai, a producer of high precision robotics, implemented Stratasys FDM to produce components to the exact needs of their customers. The introduction of FDM was a departure from the CNC machining processes that Robai had used for EOAT production. Robai’s decision to switch to a new process of manufacturing allowed for a dynamic approach to the design and manufacturing of EOAT that delivered customized components quickly.
Robai Chief Development Business Officer, David Askey said of Stratasys, “With FDM, we’re able to print the part, tailor it exactly to the customer’s needs and have it ready for them in a day or two. That lets us deliver quick, high quality solutions for our customers.”
Robai’s Savings with FDM Technology
FDM has also played a key roll in manufacturing EOAT for Genesis Systems Group, another designer of automated robotic systems. Genesis found that, in addition to significant time savings, FDM also drastically reduced the weight of the components they were making. Engineers at Genesis used lightweight ULTEM 9085 thermoplastic to produce a gripping tool designed to hold metal parts for water cutting.
By using a Fortus 450mc Production Series FDM system over machined metal, Genesis was able to reduce the weight of the tool by consolidating design features, typically made up of several different components, into a single part. Additionally, AM decreased lead times in the production of replacement components if a part was lost or damaged.
As a technical advisor for Genesis Systems Group, Doug Huston points out, “Switching to FDM dramatically reduced the cost of building grippers. Delivery time was substantially reduced too, which is important because if a tool is destroyed in production, we have to shut down until a replacement is built.”
A typical example: Genesis using FDM for EOAT
For companies that require the production of highly customized parts needed in demanding and complex EOAT operations, Stratasys FDM offers a robust solution that delivers design freedom into the hands of their engineers.