3D printing allows for lighter and less expensive End of Arm Tooling

Article by Rod Mackay updated August 28, 2019


FDM technology provides an alternative method for producing End of Arm Tooling (EOAT) that can provide dramatic time and cost savings while optimizing performance. FDM is an additive manufacturing (3D printing) process that builds plastic parts layer by layer using data from 3D computer-aided design (CAD) files.

With 3D printing, EOATs can be customized and tailored to a specific application while often accelerating implementation on the production floor. Watch the video below to learn more:

End of Arm Tooling Performance Advantages

FDM technology and materials make End of Arm Tools/EOATs that result in many performance advantages for robots.

FDM produced End of Arm Tooling is lighter than those made with metal, which means that robots can move faster or carry larger payloads. Weight reduction also improves motor efficiency and reduces component wear, extending the time between preventive maintenance (PM) cycles. FDM technology easily makes hollow internal structures and the thermoplastic materials are lightweight, yet durable. When combined, weight reductions of ninety percent or more are possible.

Plastic Advantages

Plastics have two additional advantages: they won’t scratch the products they grip, and they dampen impact forces so that a tool crash is less likely to damage the robot. An FDM End of Arm Tooling can also have components like magnets and sensors embedded during the FDM build process. Fully encased, the components are protected and won’t mar the parts that come in contact with the EOAT.

ULTEM 9085 Robot Arms

Robot Arms 3D printing with ULTEM 9085

Improved fabrication

FDM EOATs can be as simple or complex as needed, which gives designers the freedom to create tooling solely for its specific function. For example, EOATs can have integrated vacuum channels, assemblies consolidated to a single part, or organic shapes that conform to the object being manipulated by the robot.

This design flexibility provides a unique opportunity to optimize robot performance and with FDM technology, design complexity doesn’t increase cost.

Easily make changes

FDM EOAT manufacturing is responsive, efficient and straightforward, turning EOAT design projects into simple tasks. If a design needs to change, FDM can produce a new tool in as little as one day.

New or revised designs and replacement EOATs are delivered and mounted on the robot quickly, regardless of complexity. During robot testing and validation, a quick response avoids delays in starting up a production line. Once FDM EOATs are operating in production, rapid revisions keep the line running at peak performance.

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Rod Mackay

Rod has been using 3D CAD software for over 25 years and has trained thousands of designers to use their CAD systems more effectively. Rod is the Javelin Webmaster and is based in Ottawa, ON., Canada.