2020/05/18
ID: 2923

The automated chameleon tongue

The adaptive shape gripper DHEF by Festo can pick up anything

Gripping workpieces just as a chameleon's tongue grips insects – that is the operating principle of the adaptive shape gripper DHEF from Festo. This unusual gripper can pick up, gather and set back down again objects of many different shapes without the need for manual adjustment.

The silicone cap of the adaptive shape gripper DHEF can fold itself over and grip objects of virtually any shape. This creates a firm, form-fitting hold. The elastic silicone enables the gripper to precisely adapt to a wide range of geometries. When combined with a pneumatic drive, the adaptive shape gripper requires little energy for a secure grip.

 

Formless, round, sensitive

Unlike the mechanical grippers currently available on the market that can only grip specific components, the adaptive shape gripper is extremely flexible. It can even manage components with freely formed shapes and round geometries. The absence of sharp edges makes it ideal for gripping sensitive objects such as air nozzles or trim strips. In principle, the gripper can pick up several parts in one movement, for example nuts from a bowl.

 

This means that the bionic gripper can be used to handle small parts in classic machine building, in the electronic or automotive industry, in supply units for packaging installations, for human-robot interaction during assembly tasks or for prosthetic extensions in medical technology.

 

Practical product characteristics

The gripper has an elastic silicone membrane that is flexible and pliable; once it is supplied with compressed air and the standardised robot interface with integrated air connections has been added, it is ready to be used as a practical automation component. The standard sensor slot for position sensing as well as the bayonet lock for easy replacement of the cap are additional useful features.

 

Nature as a model

The unique combination of force and form fitting of the chameleon's tongue can be observed when it is on the hunt for insects. Once the chameleon has its prey in its sights, its tongue shoots out like a rubber band. Just before the tip of the tongue reaches the insect, it retracts in the middle whilst the edges continue to move forwards. This allows the tongue to adapt to the shape and size of the prey and firmly enclose it. The prey sticks to the tongue and is pulled in as though caught on a fishing line. The Festo Bionic Learning Network with researchers from the University of Oslo used these observations when developing a prototype with the name "FlexShapeGripper".

Festo è sia un attore globale che un'azienda indipendente a conduzione familiare con sede a Esslingen am Neckar in Germania. Fin dagli inizi Festo ha stabilito degli standard nella tecnologia dell'automazione industriale e nella formazione tecnica, contribuendo così allo sviluppo sostenibile dell'ambiente, dell'economia e della società. L'azienda fornisce tecnologia di automazione pneumatica ed elettrica a 300.000 clienti dell'automazione di fabbrica e di processo in oltre 35 industrie. Il settore LifeTech con la tecnologia medica e l'automazione di laboratorio sta diventando sempre più importante. I prodotti e i servizi sono disponibili in 176 paesi del mondo. In tutto il mondo, circa 20.000 dipendenti in 61 paesi con oltre 250 filiali hanno generato un fatturato di circa 2,84 miliardi di euro nel 2020. Di questo, circa l'8% viene investito annualmente in ricerca e sviluppo. Nell'azienda che apprende, le misure di formazione e sviluppo rappresentano l'1,5% del fatturato. Festo Didactic SE è un fornitore leader di istruzione e formazione tecnica e offre ai suoi clienti in tutto il mondo soluzioni complete di apprendimento digitale e fisico nell'ambiente industriale.

© Festo SE & Co. KG
DHEF Adaptive Shape Gripper 1
Adaptive shape gripper DHEF: like a chameleon’s tongue, it reliably grasps irregular, round and sensitive objects. Festo’s gripper won the internationally acclaimed iF Design Award and Red Dot Design Award for this extraordinary gripping concept.
© Festo SE & Co. KG
Stefanie Seiler and Nenja Rieskamp
Stefanie Seiler (Product Management, on the left) und Nenja Rieskamp (Product Development).

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