An Overview of Robotic End-of-Arm-Tooling
In this article we will take a closer look at:
2. Typical End-of-Arm-Tooling Subsystem Components
> Robot Wrist
> Tool Changer
> End Effector
A robot wrist assembly is a set of rotary joints between the robot arm and the end-effector that allow the end-effector to be oriented to the workpiece. In most cases, the wrist can have degrees of freedom that enable it to grasp an object with roll, pitch, and yaw orientation.
The robot end-effector is integrated with the wrist assembly which is attached to the end of the robot arm.
Though not technically classed as end effectors themselves, tool changers also attach to the end of the robot — between the wrist and the end effector. They allow the robot to quickly change between different tools.
Tool Changers are end-effectors with two mating parts, a Master-side and a Tool-side that are designed to lock or couple together automatically, carry a payload and have the ability to pass utilities such as electrical signals, pneumatic power, water, etc. Most robot couplers use pneumatics to lock the Master- and Tool-sides together.
The Robot Tool Changer provides the flexibility for any automated process to change tools and pass various utilities. The Master-side of the Tool Changer mounts to a robot. The Tool-side of the Tool Changer mounts to tooling, such as grippers or modular tools.
A Robot Tool Changer is also known as a Quick-Change device (QC), an automatic tool changer (ATC), robot tool changer, robot coupler, robotic coupler, or robotic connector.
An end effector is a peripheral device that attaches to a robot’s wrist, allowing the robot to interact with its task or workpiece. Most end effectors are mechanical or electromechanical and serve as grippers, sensors or modular tooling. They range from simple two-fingered grippers for pick-and-place tasks to complex modular tooling systems and sensor systems for robotic inspection.
End effectors are the “business end” of every robot.
It should also be noted that programming an end effector doesn’t need to be difficult. With the right robot programming software, you can have a version of any end effector working in about 5 minutes.
Robotic workholding, also known as end-of-arm tooling (EOAT), is the key to a successful manufacturing automation solution. The robot itself can’t do any work without end-of-arm tooling such as grippers, sensors and other automation peripherals.
The design, selection, control and successful implementation of a robotic system rely heavily on the end effector (workholding) subsystem. End effectors are the “business end” of every robot.
Versatile EOAT including sensors, grippers, and quick changers allows robots to handle adaptive, high-precision applications that have been too complex to automate until now.
EOAT/End Effector designs and technology continue to evolve with new actuators, sensors and modular tooling devices.