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Pneumatic gripper `overcomes drawbacks`
Published:  03 July, 2009

An inventor based in Lancashire, UK, as designed a mechanical gripper which, he says, overcomes limitations of other gripper systems and can enhance the gripping power and accuracy of robot arms.

John Ridehough’s pneumatically-powered RadiGrip device (below) is said to solve the problem of pneumatic grippers that can drop their workpieces if the air pressure drops. The new gripper has a toggle closing action which ensures that it cannot open if the air supply fails.

The RadiGrip is also said to overcome a drawback of grippers powered by linear actuators, which can be difficult to synchronise. It operates through 180 degrees by either pulling or pushing on two rods combined with linear slides.

“The RadiGrip is a parallel gripper,” Ridehough explains. “This is desirable for the majority of automated handling applications and is able to multiply gripping forces exponentially, yet has been designed with simplicity and ease of maintenance uppermost.”

Tests at Lancaster University have shown that with an input air pressure of 100psi (6.9 bar), the RadiGrip can produce 300kg of force.

The technology is being marketed by Radical Technologies, a Blackburn-based business set up last year by Ridehough and his partner, Francis Welch.

The RadiGrips are powered by SMC rotary actuators supplied by the UK pneumatic distributor, Thorite.

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