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Get a Grip: How Miniature Electric Motors Power Electric Grippers

August 31, 2023

Electric grippers are devices used in automation and robotics to grasp and manipulate objects. They are designed to mimic the grasping and releasing actions of human hands, allowing machines to interact with objects in various applications, such as manufacturing, assembly, packaging, and material handling. Electric grippers provide a means of controlled and precise object manipulation, improving efficiency and accuracy in industrial processes. A critical component of these industrial tools? Miniature electric motors!

Electric Grippers Rely on Electric Motors

When it comes to designing a new gripper solution, electric motors are often preferred over pneumatic motors due to several advantages they offer in terms of performance, efficiency, control, and simplicity:

  • Precise Control. Electric motors allow for precise control over position, speed, and torque. Grippers often require precise positioning and gripping force control, which can be achieved more effectively with electric motors compared to other types of actuation systems.
  • Variable Grip Force. Electric motors offer the ability to adjust the grip force according to the requirements of the application. By controlling the motor's current or voltage, the grip force can be modulated, allowing for delicate handling of fragile objects or secure gripping of heavier loads.
  • Repeatability: Electric motors provide high repeatability, meaning that they can repeatedly perform the same motion with a high degree of accuracy. This is crucial in gripper applications where consistent gripping and releasing actions are required.
  • Speed and Acceleration. Electric motors can achieve high speeds and accelerations, enabling quick and efficient gripping operations. They can rapidly open and close grippers, reducing cycle times and improving productivity in automated systems.
  • Compact Size. Electric motors, especially miniature motors, can be designed to have a compact form factor. This is advantageous in gripper applications where space is limited, allowing for easier integration into the gripper mechanism.
  • Flexibility. Electric motors can be easily controlled and interfaced with different control systems, including programmable logic controllers (PLCs), microcontrollers, or computer systems. This flexibility enables the seamless integration of grippers into various automation setups.
  • Energy Efficiency. Electric motors, particularly brushless DC motors, are known for their high energy efficiency. They convert electrical energy into mechanical energy with minimal wasted energy, resulting in reduced power consumption and improved overall system efficiency.
  • Reduced Cost of Ownership. Electric grippers replace traditional pneumatic grippers that require complex air supply systems, including compressors, filters, regulators, and valves. By eliminating the need for pneumatic components, electric grippers reduce the cost associated with installing, maintaining, and operating pneumatic systems.

Brushless DC Motors for Electric Grippers

Brushless DC motors are ideal for gripper applications due to their excellent speed and torque control, compact size, high peak torque, and high peak speed capabilities. Two of Portescap’s motor series that are particularly suitable for the rapid and accurate gripping movements required by grippers include:

Portescap also offers motion accessories like gearboxes to increase torque capabilities and encoders to increase position control accuracy. Reach out to our experts who can offer personalized assistance and recommendations tailored to your gripper application needs.