The hand is one of the defining stepping stones of human evolution: with its thumb opposing the other fingers, the human hand is an ideal tool for gripping, exploring, and working. As such, it is the key to cultural activity and technical progress. Industry often exploits this ingenious principle: one of the processes for which machines are used is the automated gripping of almost any desired part for transporting to the next operational step.
Such gripping machines are masterpieces of engineering. Kuhn-Stoff GmbH & Co KG has dedicated itself to specialized engineering through the application of EOS additive manufacturing technology. The process entails the formation of machine parts, layer by layer, from plastic powder that is melted with a laser beam. In this way, Kuhn-Stoff has developed and produced an extremely lightweight, strong, and durable bronchial gripper for Wittmann Robot Systeme GmbH, in Nuremberg, Germany. Four of these grippers sit on a support frame with integrated pneumatic ducts.
We have been deploying parts constructed using Additive Manufacturing across various sectors of automation for years. The bronchial gripper meets all of our requirements – surpasses them in fact. The part is very reliable in terms of its everyday performance.
The team from Kuhn-Stoff began by examining the functionality and working requirements of the gripper: when compressed air flows into a flexible membrane, the claws of the gripper will open; likewise the system closes when the compressed air is turned off. In addition to the plastic's flexibility, the part should be able to swivel through 90° to carry out the necessary motion sequence. Taking these requirements into consideration, it was possible to reduce the necessary number of parts to just two components.
With the completion of the design process, Kuhn-Stoff began work on the production of the new grip system using a FORMIGA P 100. In just a few hours the two components of the grip system were produced from polyamide. Thanks to EOS technology the pneumatic ducts and connectors were fully integrated in the base plate.
“As usual, production using the EOS system was smooth and problem-free. The end result, once again, impressed all those involved. In a single process step we were able to create a functionally integrated part that exceeded all of the requirements of the client. In short: Additive manufacturing is now an every-day reality, but the results are still extraordinary," says Hannes Kuhn, CEO at Kuhn-Stoff GmbH.
We have been using EOS technology for more than eight years and have had exclusively positive results. When applied correctly, the design flexibility offers significant benefits that can give our customers almost unrivaled advantages in the marketplace.