How to Choose the Best End Effector

Robot End Effector: How It Works And What To Choose – Industrial Robots

Robotic systems are quite complex to use, especially if you are using them for the first time. Most robots require a whole set of add-ons and accessories to be used to execute any tasks in a company. Robot end-effectors are particularly sophisticated and hard to wrap your head around. 

There are numerous robot end effectors on the market. What is even more confusing is that most of these effectors look the same. However, there is a huge difference in their specifications and application. This article identifies some of the common types of robot end effectors and gives you advice on how to choose one suitable for your company. 

What to Consider When Choosing the Best End Effector

Choosing the Best End Effector is a process that requires a comprehensive review of the end effectors and their areas of application. It would be best to consider some of the following factors before purchasing these systems, payloads, tooling lengths, budget constraints, and part parameters. For example, if you want to choose between vacuum clamps and mechanical grippers, you would have to consider the weight and size of the items moved by the end of arm tooling. In a situation where the end-effector moves an object over a long distance, you may need to choose a robot with a quick change tooling device that allows the robot to switch between different end effectors while quickly executing the task. 

Types of Robot End effectors

End effectors are also called the end of arm tooling. They include all devices that are installed at the wrist of a robot. Examples of robot end effectors include: 


These are the most common types of end of arm tooling. They can use different actuation styles and grasping methods. Some gripper robot end effectors look like hands, while others have projections with two to three fingers. Other grippers look like claws and have giant suctions cups. Some gripper robots don’t have finger-like or claws but giant suction cups, magnetized tips, or soft round balls to grip irregular objects. 

There are many types of grippers, but they can be categorized into four main groups’ servo-electric grippers, pneumatic grippers, and hydraulic grippers. When selecting a gripper robot for your company, you need to consider how delicate or heavy your products or parts are. If your company deals with edible products, you must ensure that the gripper is certified for food handling.   

Force-Torque Sensors

These electronic devices are designed to detect, monitor, regulate and record rotational and linear forces exerted upon the device. Force-Torque Sensors in a mechanical system or a robot end effector can also be defined as micro-receptors that equip the machine with a sense of touch. 

Being contact sensors, these devices are designed to operate in a wide variety of climates, interact with physical objects around their environment, such as sound waves and debris. Depending on the model and function of the robot, the Force-Torque Sensors can send analog or digital signals as well as measure dynamic and static forces. 

Material Removal Tools

A material removal tool is an end of arm tooling device used to remove materials from an object. Some of the tasks completed using these robots include deflashing, deburring, cutting, drilling, edge-breaking, and surface finishing. These end effectors are attached to the robot’s wrist. Material removal tools use either electrical-powered motors or pneumatic motors for power and have a wide range of speed options and compliance. 

Welding Torches

Welding is one of the most popular robotic applications. A welding torch is a type of robot end effector that is used to direct the welding electrode into the arc to shield the arc area and conduct welding power to the electrode. Welding torches come in different builds and styles. 

When choosing a robot with a welding torch end effector, choose one with a durable outer jacket that protects the robot from cutting, abrasion, and fixture in the welding cell. It would be best to consider getting welder torch end effectors that are irradiated with electron beams because they are more resistant to abrasion and cutting. 

You should also select a robot with a welding torch that can be controlled in a sophisticated way for optimized welding and a wire feeder that better controls the welding process.

Collision Sensors

Also known as an impact sensor, a collision sensor is a piece of safety equipment on a robot. It is a robot end-effector that detects impacts through vibrations. This end of arm tooling is used in many industrial and manufacturing settings to prevent damage to products, tools, and the robot itself. 

The quick detection of collision with objects reduces the cost of repair or replacement, and injuries to human beings, especially in environments where robots and humans work together. Collision sensors register impacts on the robot head and absorb shock as soon as a collision is detected. Avoiding damage leads to increased safety in the work environment and saves a considerable amount of money. 

Tool Changers 

Tool changers are end effectors with a tool-side and master tool that can be coupled together automatically. Tool changers can be automatic or manual. They are used when numerous different end effectors need to be used in a particular order by a robot. Tool changers standardize the interface between the flange of the robot and the base of the robot. Most robots that lock the tool and master sides together are powered by pneumatics. 

Bottom Line

It is important to find the best end effector for your robot. Some of the factors that you need to consider before purchasing a robot end effector includes payloads, tooling lengths, budget constraints, and part parameters. You also need to review available end effectors to find the one that best suits your company’s needs.

Getting the right end of arm tooling reduces damage and prevents downtime, thereby increasing productivity. Choosing the right end of arm tooling allows industrial robots to perform their tasks properly prevent damage to the robot which could slow your production lines. 

Stacee R. Grigg

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