Vacuum Grippers are very popular as they pick any object small or big with comparative ease but it has its limitations. They are not suitable for every application. They are a popular end-effector in robotics but are not suitable for every application by themselves and may depend on the type of payload. Here are 4 doubts that are debunked in trying to unravel the myth of vacuum grippers.
My object is very heavy
You must have seen vacuum grippers lifting lighter loads with ease but doubt the veracity of them lifting higher loads. You need not fret or fume.
This need not sound worrisome, with the vacuum gripper quite capable of carrying both small and heavy loads without a hitch. It all depends on the suction cups which have an impressive lifting force and if the weight is too much, you can consider adding more suction cups or adding a pneumatic supply which would also do the job. One 2 cm suction cup lifts over 10 kg weight and do not underestimate the lifting power of suction cups however small they may look.
Need an External Air Supply
You might be under the impression that the Vacuum Gripper will require a pneumatic supply to go with it but if the application is merely for robotics only, you could do well with an internal vacuum generator for instance, Robot E-PIck is pulled by the same power source as the inbuilt vacuum generator, though a pneumatic supply will give features of better air flow, more responsive picking and a more solid grip.
It will not handle poros material
There are certain pain points with vacuum gripper failing to handle porous objects such as wood, food and concrete which causes vacuum to escape and though this much is true for vacuum grippers that poros material hinders suction integrity causing the gripper to drop the load. Here, this can be avoided by adding a pneumatic supply which increases the flow rate of air that makes up for the loss of vacuum. AirPIck is a standing example that increases flow rate by 7 times as EPick thus being able to handle porous material also.
It won’t be precise enough
This surely comes across as a weighty problem because you would not expect a vacuum gripper to handle small loads such as electronic chips or pen internals but which can definitely be overcome by changing the suction cup in use. This effectively boils down to matching the diameter of the suction cup to the load to pick, and that is all that is required to pick any small object with deadly preciseness. Thankfully suction cups go right down to diameter of a few millimeters, hence being able to lift the tiniest of objects, thus resolving any problem that could have cropped up.
With all vacuum grippers, you need to match the suction cup diameter with the diameter of the object to be picked and understandably so suction cups come in sizes down to a few millimeters. The threads sizes are also normal and Air nodes use common G1/4 thread. Adapters convert thread sizes and it will be heartening to learn if a small enough suction cup exists which you could use.