DH-Robotics and MEMS Manufacturer Infineon Collab For Next-Gen Electric Gripper
DH-Robotics and Infineon team up to create the AG series, an advanced electric gripper for energy-efficient control with integrated industrial communications and position sensing.
In order for a robot to perform tasks it needs to have an end effector, which is typically a pneumatically controlled gripper. Pneumatics require compressed air which takes a lot of energy to produce and is a source of dangerous energy that needs to be released when operators enter the machine. DH-Robotic, a supplier of electric robot grippers, electric actuators, and linear coil actuators, has recently partnered with Infineon, a major supplier of microcontrollers, sensors, transistors, and other electronic devices used in automation.
The result of the partnership is the AG series, an advanced electric gripper that provides precise control in an energy-efficient design with built-in communication and position-sensing capabilities.
The new electric gripper by DH-Robotics incorporates many purpose-driven integrated circuits from Infineon. Image used courtesy of DH Robotics
Electric Power for Robot Grippers
The goal of any robot gripper is to hold onto a customer’s component without causing damage, but still apply enough force that the robot can move the part at a high rate of speed without the part losing grip and flinging across the facility.
For many years, pneumatics has been the common choice for robot grippers. The flow and pressure of the compressed air can easily be controlled, and compressed air is readily available on most manufacturing floors. In recent years electric grippers have grown in popularity, as servo and computing technology have evolved to become more economical. Today, electric grippers offer more precision and control compared to a typical pneumatic gripper, while the cost difference continues to decrease.
DH-Robotics Next-Gen Grippers
DH-Robotics has joined forces with Infineon to develop a line of electric grippers that will use state-of-the-art technology. The grippers employ Infineon’s MOSFETs, integrated EtherCAT microcontrollers, high-precision Hall effect sensors, gate drivers, and PSoC 6 microcontroller units. By combining these devices DH-Robotics can produce a very smart and programmable robot gripper with integrated industrial protocol capabilities.
OptiMOS Power MOSFETs
A MOSFET is the shortened name for a metal oxide semiconductor field effect transistor, designed to work with high-frequency switching of circuits. The OptiMOS 5 has been engineered for the telecom, server power supply, solar, and low-voltage drive industries. This integrated circuit has a very low on-state resistance, meaning that while energized, more energy is conserved, leading to lower operating costs and loss due to waste heat in the circuit.
32-bit ARM Controller
The XMC4800 is an Arm Cortex-M4 processor microcontroller (MCU), which offers energy-efficient embedded applications in a small package. The MCU is built for industrial applications with a temperature range of -40 °C to 85 °C and is the first EtherCAT node integrated directly into an Arm Cortex processor.
The MCU, sensors, and transistors, all from Infineon, form the basis for a reliable embedded control system in the gripper. Image used courtesy of Infineon
High Precision Hall Effect Sensor
Position sensing is important when designing a gripper. Control software needs to know where the actuators are in the physical world. A Hall effect sensor, like the TLE4963 from Infineon, detects the presence and magnitude of a magnetic field. As the field is stronger, the output voltage of the sensor grows. Positional motions of the gripper components are detected with ultra-high precision for superior control.
Electric Grippers for Robotic Applications
Given the careful consideration of the individual components, it’s easy to follow the design process behind the new generation of DH-Robotics grippers. Perhaps one of the most exciting innovations in this gripper line is the integrated EtherCAT technology. Opting for an electric gripper is great, but if the product includes only discrete inputs and outputs, there is not much of an advantage. If there is an industrial-standard protocol on the gripper, it’s far easier to retrieve gripper position, status, and diagnostic data directly from the device.
By teaming up with an electronics supplier such as Infineon, DH-Robotics will be able to integrate advanced features into their products, allowing the devices to be manufactured more easily with added benefits to ease the burden of installation and troubleshooting for engineers.