The adaptive shape gripper DHEF from Festo is designed
to pick up, gather and set back down objects of different shapes without the
need for manual adjustment. Similar to how a chameleon’s tongue grips insects,
the DHEF adaptive shape gripper uses a silicone cap to precisely adapt to a
wide range of geometries. The elastic silicone cap can fold itself over and
grip objects of virtually any shape, creating a firm, form-fitting hold. When
combined with a pneumatic drive, the adaptive shape gripper requires minimal
energy for a secure grip.
Conventional mechanical grippers available on the market
can only grip specific components; however, the adaptive shape gripper stands
apart for its extreme flexibility. 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
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 and the bayonet lock for easy replacement of the cap
are additional useful features.
Inspired by Nature
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 named ‘FlexShapeGripper’.
For more information, please visit www.festo.com/dhef.