Flexshape Gripper – grasping like a chameleon’s tongue. In addition to learning from nature, the aims of the Bionic Learning Network also include the timely recognition and promotion of new ideas and their joint implementation across company borders. Festo introduced the Flexshape Gripper as an excellent example of this.
In close cooperation with the University of Oslo, Festo has presented a gripper with a working principle derived from the chameleon’s tongue. The chameleon strategically uses the tip of its tongue to catch its prey; it can target highly diverse insects in this process. Its tongue adapts flexibly to the particular insect. Once the chameleon has sighted its prey, it rapidly shoots out its tongue like an elastic band. The captive insect then adheres to it and is drawn in as on a fishing line.
Water-filled silicone cap fits form
The Flexshape Gripper can grip, collect and release several objects of very different shapes in the one process without the need for manual conversion. This is made possible by its water-filled silicone cap, which wraps itself around the items being gripped in a flexible, form-fitting manner. This ability to adapt to different shapes gives the Flexshape Gripper its name. The holding and release mechanisms both operate pneumatically. No additional energy is required for the holding process. The yielding nature of the compressible air facilitates the coordination of the handling and the gripper during the grasping process.
Soft gripping for assembly tasks
In future, the Flexshape Gripper could be used wherever differently shaped objects are to be handled simultaneously, for example in service robotics, in assembly tasks or in the handling of small components. The bionic model demonstrates approaches for new solutions in gripping technology with the help of pack-and-place processes and makes manufacturing units more flexible and adaptable. In the production of the future, increasingly flexible systems and components will be required that autonomously adapt to individual products. Adaptable grasping devises like the Flexshape Gripper can assume a significant role in this process. pb