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SCHUNK Launches Bio-Inspired Adhesion Mechanisms

By Schunk Press Release

With the help of adhesive forces, geckos have been moving easily over smooth surfaces for millions of years. SCHUNK is using this principle to develop various fields of handling applications with ADHESO, its new gripping technology. SCHUNK GmbH & Co. KG is headquartered in Lauffen/Neckar, Germany, and its U.S. operations are based in Morrisville, N.C.

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An adhesive gripper with ADHESO gripper technology is customized to the individual application. This way, wafers and small electronic components can be handled, as well as foils or workpieces from the fields of metalworking and automotive assembly.

Components can be gripped in a sensitive way, without leaving any residues or requiring additional energy, according to the company. The solutions are custom made. Glass fibers as light as feathers, smallest SMD components or micro-mechanical parts can be handled, but also sensitive battery components, plastic films, paper and glass, as well as automotive or mechanical engineering components of a weight of 15 kg and more. Automated separation of breathable components is also feasible.

The bionic-inspired gripper technology ADHESO is based on the principle of adhesion, using the intermolecularly acting Van der Waals forces for handling. The patented surface architecture is made of special polymers and is optimized by numerical simulation. The result is a structure of finely structured legs, which adheres to different materials and objects. The structure is gently pressed onto the workpiece during the gripping process, thus increasing the contact surface, and the Van der Waals forces can start acting on the workpiece. This effect can be reversed by applying a slight pressure/rotary movement so that the gripper can be loosened residue-free from the handling object. The alternative use of a wiper ensures that the object is gently put down.

Large Variety of Variants

The respective adhesive forces and removal of ADHESO depend on the variation of material, topography, and miniaturization, and is customized to the different requirements of the relevant environment. Therefore, the adhesive structures can be adapted, application-specific, to the required size and the loading condition (horizontal/vertical), and can be designed transparent, translucent or opaque. This high degree of individualization ensures that components with dimensions of a few hundred micrometers can be handled as reliably as those measuring several meters, according to the company. SCHUNK specialists are available to support users during the design and planning phase.

Also For Cleanrooms and Vacuum Environments

Effort and costs for installation and commissioning are minimal, since the adhesive technology is gentle on components, low-noise, and doesn’t require compressed air, vacuum or current, according to SCHUNK. An external energy supply is not necessary for gripping or for maintaining the gripping force. In case of a power failure in the handling system, the holding forces of the gripper are reliably maintained. SCHUNK ADHESO allows gripping times of < 100 ms. It can be used in conventional industrial environments, but also in cleanrooms and vacuum environments. In the field of micro handling, repetitive positioning accuracies of < 0.01 mm can be achieved with this technology and it can be also used in collaborative applications. The ADHESO gripper has a bayonet lock and therefore the grippers can be exchanged in a few steps.

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