3D designing for robotic arms is now easier thanks to a collaboration between Berlin-based 3D printing service providers Trinckle and German selective laser sintering (SLS) company Kuhn-Stoff.

Kuhn-Stoff are a partner of metal additive manufacturers EOS and use additive manufacturing to make components, such as robotic grippers. This expertise is now integrated into Trinkle’s proprietary Paramate 3D design software. The software aims to remove a key barrier to the wider adoption of 3D printing with a user friendly interface.

Robotic “hands”

Robotic arms are an essential component of the Smart Factory of the future -aka Industry 4.0- for operating on production lines, and recording information. The gripper at the end of robotic arm, also known as an end effector, comes in a variety of forms dependent upon its purpose, i.e. holding a 3D scanner to detect defects, or maneuvering glass panes with suction cups.

Suction cups on the 3D printed robotic gripper designed in the Paramate software. Photo by Trinckle

Suction cups on the 3D printed robotic gripper designed in the Paramate software. Photo via Trinckle

3D printing is the perfect solution for such made-for-purpose parts, the only problem is a new CAD file is needed each time. Making these files can be time consuming, as Christian Waizenegger, Business Development Manager Industry at EOS, explains,

With our AM systems, clients can produce robotic grippers that are lightweight, durable, and outperform those made by conventional means. But, many of our clients struggle with the manual design workload for customer-specific components. The gripper configurator is the missing piece that brings everything together, and can serve as inspiration for countless other industrial applications.

Automated by Paramate

The robotic gripper 3D design solution is integrated into Trinckle’s proprietary Paramate software.

trinckle paramate 3D design software.

Trinckle Paramate 3D design software in use. Photo via Trinckle

Paramate is a web-based platform that simplifies a component’s design process, not only for robotic grippers, but also for other cross-industry applications such as jewelry and consumer products. Hannes Kuhn, CEO of Kuhn-Stoff, adds,

The web-based configurator will grant clients without significant CAD-knowledge access to the design of robotic grippers. This is particularly relevant, when, in the construction of such systems, changes have to be made quickly

With Paramate the average design time of a 3D printable robotic gripper is reduced from around 8 hours to 10 minutes, and doesn’t require any previous CAD experience. Paramate. as the name implies, automatically takes into account all of the parameters needed to create a perfectly viable and lightweight 3D printed component.

A finished 3D printed robotic gripper with suction caps designed by paramate Photo via trinckle

A finished 3D printed robotic gripper with suction caps designed by Paramate Photo via trinckle

As Trinckle continues to reach new applications with their Paramate software, it will be exciting to see if automation comes to other needlessly time-consuming areas of design, and frees up the time of designers to use their skills in more constructive ways. Enhancing the process in this way complements the whole idea of 3D printing as a faster and more economical approach to custom products. Dr. Olo Bröker, Head of Business Development at Trinckle, adds,

In the industrial context, we see an enormous potential for individualized solutions: in the creation of products with a perfect fit, in the ability to integrate clients more deeply in the production process, and in cost-efficient automated processes. Additive manufacturing offers all of these possibilities – we at Trinckle want to make them usable for businesses.

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Featured image shows robotic arms moving panes of glass for cars. Photo via: ICAPlants/Wikimedia Commons 

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