Tools as end effectors

A tool is equipped in the robot for carrying out several operations on the work parts instead of grasping it. A tool acts as an end effector when it is attached directly to the robot’s wrist. In some applications, there will be a need for multi-tool task, and changing the tool all the time from the robot wrist will be highly difficult. As a result, a gripper is used in this process to grasp and manipulate the tool. It certainly helps the robot to handle several tools in an operation, and thus makes the multi-tooling function possible. Moreover, the time taken to change the tool is very low.

For example: In a deburring operation, various sizes of deburring tool will be required to hold for reaching every surface of the work part. Here, the tool is equipped in the gripper for quick exchange from one tool to another.

Examples for tools used as end effectors:

In robot applications, the most commonly used three tools as end effectors are listed below:

  • Spot welding tools
  • Spray painting nozzle
  • Arc welding torch

The rotating spindle for routing, drilling, grinding, and wire brushing operations also comes under this category. Some other examples of tools used as end effectors are liquid cement applicators, water jet cutting tool, and heating torches.

In all the above examples, the actuation of a tool must be coordinated by an industrial robot. An example of this case includes the spot welding operation in which the robot must control the actuation as a part of its process. The control of this process is very similar to the opening and closing of a mechanical gripper.

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