What are Robotic End-Effectors?

A robotic end-effector consists of a special device at the end of a robotic arm whose purpose is to interact with other tools and environments. Application is the key to how the end-effector will look like and what function it will do.

Robotic end-effectors originate from serial robotic manipulators, the end-effector being the last link (or end) of the robot. At this endpoint, the tools are attached. In the broader sense, an end-effector can be seen as the part of a robot that interacts with the work environment.

In most cases, end effectors may consist of a tool, a gripper, or a combination of them.

Types of Robotic End-Effectors

When referring to robotic grippers, there are many categories, including the following:

  • Jaws / Claws – these physically grasp the object through direct impact.
  • Vacuum cups – an airflow through a vacuum cup that can generate a consistent force that can help with object manipulation.
  • Pins, needles, or hackles – these physically penetrate the surface of the object (they are mostly used for textile, carbon, and glass fiber handling).
  • Astrictive grippers – attractive forces that are applied to the surface of the objects (whether by vacuum, magnetic adhesion, or electroadhesion).

A stable grasp is the main physical effect desired to be achieved by a robotic end-effector. 

Industrial grippers may also make use of mechanical, suction, or magnetic means. Vacuum cups and electromagnets are widely spread in the automotive and metal sheet handling fields. 

Less frequently used applications include:

  • Electrostatic grippers and van der Waals grippers based on electrostatic charges  (i.e. van der Waals’ force).
  • Capillary grippers and cryogenic grippers, based on a liquid medium.
  • Ultrasonic grippers and laser grippers employing two contactless-grasping principles.

There are also end-effectors that can combine multiple types of gripping systems, depending on the application, all of them being positioned on a main frame.

Robotic end-effectors can serve a wide variety of different purposes, including spot-welding assemblies, uniform spray-painting, and other activities where the working conditions present a high risk to human beings. 

How SEE Engineering can help you

SEE Engineering offers turn-key integrated solutions based on several types of end-effectors and applications, which involve all gripping systems mentioned above. These end-effectors cover various ranges of capacities which make them suitable for specific applications. 

If you have already decided on a certain end-effector, we also offer end-effector integration services. Our skills and knowledge cover any end-effector application, as most end-effectors use the same basic principles.

Don’t hesitate to contact us for any end-effector related needs.