A few years ago I wondered if there was much more advancement coming with industrial robots. Then two technology trails appeared. One was the development and interest in collaborative robots. The other applied new technologies for improved grippers and end effectors. This piece of news comes from Festo, who reports increased interest in the Electric Series (E-Series) of intelligent magnetic grippers from Magswitch, Lafayette, Colorado. Festo has been a Magswitch distribution partner since 2019.

Magswitch E-Series intelligent magnetic grippers are not electromagnets nor are they EPMs (electropermanent magnets). Magswitch E-Series units contain proprietary switching technology that enables reduced energy consumption, faster actuation, intelligent magnetic gripping, part correct/part incorrect feedback capabilities, and two to three times the holding forces of any similarly sized electromagnet or electropermanent magnet. Pole shoes that shape the magnetic field are offered in standard and custom configurations to ensure the correct grip for the application. 

Magswitch E-Series intelligent grippers are smaller than electromagnets, which reduces the size of end of arm tools. With less weight and size, designers are frequently able to use a smaller robot, thus lowering capital cost as well as reducing footprint.

E-Series magnetic grippers are sought after in stamping applications, including progressive dies. In a stamping operation, intelligent variable field output can separate a single blank from a pile and then identify whether the blank is the correct thickness. These units can identify and grip individual blanks down to .6 mm in thickness.

In resistance spot welding applications, E-Series units provide single-sided gripping technology, eliminating the need for clamps. With clamps removed, the spot weld gun is provided simpler access to the product. With a rapid on/off actuation time of 250 milliseconds, the E-Series lowers cycle time compared to clamps.

E-Series intelligent magnetic grippers can be used in many other applications, including automotive assembly, white goods manufacturing, heavy industrial manufacturing, electronic assembly, bin picking, measuring, checking, ergonomic lift-assist, and collaborative cells.

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