A short electric pulse is all it takes to generate and release a powerful vacuum in the blink of an eye. The novel vacuum gripper developed by the research team led by Professor Stefan Seelecke at Saarland University enables robot arms to pick up objects and move them around freely in space. The system works without the need for compressed air to generate the vacuum, it is energy efficient, quiet and suitable for use in clean rooms. The specialists for intelligent materials systems make use of artificial muscles, which are bundles of ultrafine shape memory wires that are able to tense and relax just as real muscle fibres do. The wires also function as sensors and can sense, for example, when the gripper needs to readjust or tighten its grip.
From April 23th to April 27th, the engineering team from Saarbrücken will be at Hannover Messe exhibiting the capabilities of their vacuum grippers at the Saarland Research and Innovation Stand (Hall 2, Stand B46). The team is looking for industrial partners with whom they can develop their system for specific practical applications.
Vacuum grippers are common tools in industrial production lines, where they are used to sort, convey and hold smooth and relatively flat objects so that screws can be driven in, surfaces painted or components assembled. Using vacuum grippers is typically a fairly noisy affair. The most common systems use compressed air, which not only makes them loud, but also means they need heavy ancillary equipment, which drives up costs and makes the entire system somewhat inflexible. They also consume significant amounts of energy.
The situation is quite different in the case of the new vacuum technology that has been developed by Professor Stefan Seelecke of Saarland University and the Center for Mechatronics and Automation Technology in Saarbrücken (ZeMA). The shape-memory vacuum gripper can produce a powerful vacuum using nothing more than a robot arm to guide it into position. It does not require any additional electric or pneumatic drive system, it is light, adaptable, cost-effective to produce, and it runs noiselessly. It only needs electric current – more precisely, it needs small pulses of electric current: one to generate the vacuum and one to release it. No additional electric power needs to be supplied while the gripper is holding an object, even if the object has to be gripped for a long time or if it has to be held at an angle.
The technology is based on the shape memory properties of nickel-titanium alloy. ‘The term “shape memory” refers to the fact that the material is able to “remember” its shape and to return to that original shape after it has been deformed. If electric current flows through a wire made from this alloy, the wire becomes warmer and its lattice structure transforms in such a way that the wire shortens in length. If the current ceases, the wire cools down and lengthens again,’ says Stefan Seelecke, explaining the key underlying material phase transitions. The ultrafine wires therefore contract and relax like muscle fibres, depending on whether an electric current is flowing or not. ‘These shape memory wires have the highest energy density of all known drive mechanisms, which enables them to perform powerful movements in restricted spaces,’ explains Seelecke.
To construct a vacuum gripper, the researchers arrange bundles of these fibres in the manner of a circular muscle around a thin metal disc that can flip up or down, like a frog clicker toy. Applying an electrical pulse makes the wires in the ‘muscle’ contract and the disc flips position. The disc is attached to a rubber membrane and if the membrane has been placed onto a flat smooth surface, when the disc flips position it pulls on the membrane, creating a strong and stable vacuum. By bundling the wires together, the resulting motion is both powerful and very rapid. ‘Multiple ultrathin wires provide a large surface area through which they can transfer heat, which means they can cool down very swiftly. As a result, the bundle of fibres can shorten and lengthen rapidly, making it possible for the gripper to grab or release an object very quickly,’ explains Susanne-Marie Kirsch. Kirsch and her research colleague Felix Welsch are research assistants within the group and are developing and optimizing the vacuum gripper technology as part of their doctoral research studies. ‘Currently, the gripper is able to securely hold objects weighing several kilograms. The gripper’s lifting capacity is scalable, with correspondingly more wires being used in large grippers,’ explains Felix Welsch.
And because the material from which the wires are made has sensory properties, the vacuum gripper is itself aware if the object is not being held securely. ‘The wires provide all the necessary information. The electrical resistance data correlates precisely with the extent of deformation of the wires. By interpreting the measurement data, the controller unit therefore knows the exact position of the wires at any one time,’ says Professor Seelecke. The gripper thus has an autonomous means of determining whether or not its vacuum is stable enough for the current task. It can also issue warnings in the event of a malfunction or material fatigue.
The Latest on: Artificial muscles
via Google News
The Latest on: Artificial muscles
- AI and cancer care explored in Clevelandon October 14, 2019 at 7:12 am
CLEVELAND--Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning and smart computing are all rapidly ... "This is a great opportunity for Cleveland to show off its muscle--to showcase to the world the ...
- Real Time Pain Relief Partners with Legendary Champion George Foreman to Launch New Knockout Formulaon October 14, 2019 at 6:10 am
This powerful new formula for muscle strains, sprains, simple backaches ... It's a product you can feel good about because it contains 24 of nature's ingredients without any parabens, SLS, artificial ...
- US Army’s acquisition boss on artificial intelligence and the evolving procurement processon October 14, 2019 at 2:02 am
The major muscle movements are: AFC has lead responsibility in the space between concepts ... How are you looking at the acquisition and management of artificial intelligence and other cutting-edge ...
- Advancements in the use of AI in Oncology explored at Clevelandon October 13, 2019 at 10:58 pm
Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning and smart computing are all rapidly ... This is a great opportunity for Cleveland to show off its muscle--to showcase to the world the world-class ...
- List of Best CBD Creams & Topicals For Sale in 2019on October 11, 2019 at 7:57 pm
Green Roads Muscle & Joint Relief Cream makes second on our list because of their socially ... Plus, their products have no parabens, PEGS, artificial colors, dyes, synthetic fragrances, or sulfates.
- Visiting professor collaborates with researchers on artificial muscleson October 8, 2019 at 4:55 pm
The Army's corporate research laboratory recently hosted a professor from Florida A&M University-Florida State University College of Engineering to collaborate on chemically-powered artificial muscles ...
- Astronauts grow meat in space for the first time...but admit the taste of their artificial beef 'needs to be improved'on October 8, 2019 at 1:28 pm
Bovine cells taken from cows on earth were transported to the International Space Station before being grown into muscle-tissue to create a small strip of steak. The experiment led by 3D Bioprinting ...
- An intelligent, shape-morphing, self-healing material for integrated artificial muscle and nervous tissueon October 8, 2019 at 6:07 am
Because it has neural-like electrical pathways, it is one step closer to artificial nervous tissue." Majidi is a pioneer in developing new classes of materials for use in soft matter engineering and ...
- How tech giants muscle their way into hoarding your personal dataon October 6, 2019 at 4:49 am
Tapping into users' posts and reactions online and filtering those into key data points via Artificial Intelligence (AI), real-time analytics and deep algorithms will bring unimaginable wealth for ...
via Bing News