Company: Piab

Equipment Snapshot: Piab is proud to introduce the new soft gripping tool piSOFTGRIP, developed especially with food industry automation in mind. The vacuum-based soft gripper will grip sensitive and lightweight objects of odd geometries and/or an unusual surface. Bin-picking of small irregularly shaped objects, such as toys, is another potential application.

piSOFTGRIP has three gripping fingers and a vacuum cavity, all made in one piece, resulting in a simple and robust product. As it is vacuum-driven, the gripping force is easily adjusted and controlled by the applied vacuum level.

“The piSOFTGRIP is a cost-effective solution for sensitive and difficult to grip objects. The soft gripper can grip objects with a diameter of up to 2 in. However, we are planning to follow up this first release with the introduction of larger models at a later stage,” says Lennart Ryberg, Piab’s global product manager.

The soft gripping vacuum tool is as easy to control and install as a suction cup, and it uses the same fittings as Piab’s piGRIP suction cups. An optional stainless-steel fitting offers wash-down provision to assist cleaning. Its intuitive and user-friendly design makes piSOFTGRIP easy to integrate into automated procedures, where it can help to secure the quality of products and increase overall productivity.

Made in detectable silicone approved for direct contact with food, in accordance with FDA 21 CFR and EU 1935/2004 regulations, the piSOFTGRIP vacuum gripper is the first of its kind. The food-compliant silicone gripper enables the food industry to extend their automated food handling to include a wider range of products. Unpackaged, fresh and delicate food items can be handled without risk of being spoiled due to crushing.

The silicone-made piSOFTGRIP vacuum gripper is also a lightweight automation tool, which means that very little extra weight is added when fitted to robot arms. It has a building height of approximately 80 mm, allowing it to be used even where space is limited.

Combined with Piab’s end-of-arm vacuum tool piCOBOT, the piSOFTGRIP offers a powerful and flexible “plug and play” extension for collaborative robots. As both piCOBOT and piSOFTGRIP offer compressed air saving functionality (ES), virtually no energy is needed to perform a grip and release. The handy and application-friendly soft gripper is already UR certified for such use.