Robotics Online - RIA - Robotic Industries Association
Editorials

The Full Spectrum of Vacuum Gripping Systems

Schmalz, Inc.

It was once held that mechanical, electromechanical, pneumatic and vacuum-operated gripping systems would only ever be as reliable as the product being gripped allows. This thesis has been proven incorrect by vacuum specialist Schmalz, with its comprehensive range of gripping systems that can reliably handle the most varied of materials, goods, containers and packaging. The product range is based around a modular system of standardised components that can be combined with other components from the same series, allowing customers to realize customized vacuum gripping systems. Schmalz’s range comprises the FX/FXC, FM/FMC and SBX large-area vacuum gripping systems, the SPZ layer gripping system, and the SSP vacuum spider.

FX/FXC and FM/FMC large-area vacuum gripping systems

Large-area vacuum gripping systems are ideal for automated palletising, depalletising, picking and sorting workpieces that have different dimensions and are made from various materials such as cardboard, wood, metal and plastic, whether with or without gaps in the surface.

The FX/FXC is a compact vacuum gripping system with a fully integrated pneumatic vacuum generator. The main body features an aluminium profile with integrated function modules in each end cover, a sealing change plate, an integrated plug-in ejector and integrated valve technology. The main body’s aluminium profile can vary in length, and the option to use multiple main bodies in combination depending on the required application makes it variable in width. The sealing change plate is made of a robust custom material and can easily be replaced when needed. The variable plate raster allows can quick adjustment to different workpiece dimensions or to different surfaces that need to be gripped to handle the goods in question. In addition, the integrated vacuum generator and intelligent valve technology ensure that vacuum is generated fast (short cycle times and dynamic handling) and guarantee high energy efficiency.  

The FM/FMC large-area vacuum gripping system is a variant of the FX/FXC with external vacuum generation, which is an advantage if multiple large-area grippers need to be supplied with suction. The user also has a choice between ejector-based or vacuum-pump-based compressed air generation. The FM/FMC is also differentiated by its low height and weight, which is useful for certain applications. Otherwise, the areas of application are identical to those of the FX/FXC large-area vacuum gripping system.

SBX large-area vacuum gripping system

The SBX large-area vacuum gripping system is the first choice for handling layers of large, heavy goods such as doors, sheet materials, sawn timber and steel profiles or transport materials with contorted, rough surfaces. This heavy-duty product is by no means itself heavy − its compact dimensions make a big contribution to ensuring that goods can be positioned quickly and reliably per robot. Depending on the requirements, the SBX’s vacuum generation can be provided by a compressed air ejector, vacuum pump, or blower, delivering the highest possible efficiency through fast vacuum generation and minimum cycle times.

What makes the SBX gripping system special are the flow valves integrated into the suction surface. These ensure that unused suction openings are automatically and immediately closed, allowing suction to be generated quickly and ultimately providing high holding power, particularly when handling goods with difficult surfaces. Two SBX large-area vacuum gripper units can be used in tandem and fitted with a modified cross-arm to handle goods that are extremely long, narrow and flat.  

SPZ layer gripping system

The SPZ vacuum layer gripping system can be used to palletise and depalletise entire product layers, intermediate product layers, pallets, cases, boxes or film-packaged products with the lowest possible cycle times. The layer gripping system is also extremely flexible in its implementation, and provides optimal fit to the workpiece surface structure. This goes as far as to make it unnecessary to change grippers when handling “heterogeneous” goods with different surface structures.
 
The suction plate is made from special foam and even functions absolutely reliably at -28 °C. The suction plate can be fitted with an auxiliary mechanical gripper, e.g. for palletising and depalletising part-pallets. Alternatively, a suction surface can be constructed from many individual suction pads depending on the requirements of the product and the product’s layer arrangement.  Customers can optionally implement the patented “curtain concept”, which creates a vacuum chamber that can be used to handle products that, until now, had to be handled manually or were much more difficult to handle automatically

SSP vacuum spider

SSP vacuum spiders are the preferred system for use in the robotic handling systems used to join the individual components of press lines in sheet metal series production. They are also used to remove injection moulded parts from their moulds and to load cutting and machining centres with wood, plastic and sheet metals. 

The series is based on a building-block system of coordinated components that can be used to build custom vacuum spider systems by putting together standard parts. It is also possible to combine different gripping technologies, e.g. vacuum, magnetic, mechanical, and pneumatic, in order to handle difficult-shaped goods fast and reliably. The vacuum spider’s main body is made of aluminium profiles, steel pipes and plastic connection/fastening components. The vacuum components (vacuum generator, valves, switching and monitoring components) are then mounted on these pipe and profile components. In this way, it is possible to realize gripping solutions that are tailored to the user’s requirements. Here, too, intelligent valve and control technology ensures that suction openings that are not in use automatically close, providing extra-strong holding power. And it goes without saying that the SSP vacuum spiders are completely at home when handling glass sheets, loading packaged goods, moving solar panels and other such tasks. In fact, the spiders grip anything that enters their reach.

Schmalz is the leading supplier of Vacuum Automation Components as well as Robotic and Gantry style Vacuum Gripping Systems. Schmalz supplies modularly constructed area and layer vacuum grippers for flexible handling of varying material properties, configurations and shapes - such as non-rigid cardboard boxes, plastic film and porous materials. Schmalz grippers can handle varying dimensions and undefined positions. The product range of Vacuum Components includes suction cups in (11) standard materials and cup lines for special industry needs, e.g. Automotive cups or cups for the Packaging industry. The product range also includes vacuum generators, mounting elements and system monitoring devices. Schmalz, founded in 1910 in Germany, is family owned and operated in third generation. Schmalz is one of the few positive-energy companies worldwide and has been rewarded for its sustainability several times. Schmalz is ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certified for more than 10 years.

Schmalz Inc., founded in 1999, is the US-subsidiary of Schmalz. Located in Raleigh, NC, Schmalz Inc. has its own outside sales force and Authorized Schmalz Distributors in all states.
 Schmalz Inc. is committed to provide an outstanding and timely service nationwide.

Automated Imaging Association Motion Control Association