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Why Choose Flexible Robot Grippers over Tool Changers?

Catherine Bernier
by Catherine Bernier. Last updated on May 05, 2016 5:10 PM
Posted on Oct 01, 2013 9:52 AM. 3 min read time

Nowadays, flexibility is the key factor that manufacturers are aiming for when handling applications. To achieve this goal, different devices exist such as adaptive grippers that can adapt to any part shape, as well as tool changers where you can change gripping devices directly on the line. These two robotic solutions become useful in high mix and low volume productions. However, when comparing these two solutions, adaptive grippers are often the best choice. Let’s find out why.tool-changer-gripper-end-effector-flexibility

Cycle Time

First, production systems need to be efficient and need to have low cycle times. This is why manufacturers always want their lines to produce the same product in the least amount of time to improve their productivity and also their profits. With the use of tool changers, the cycle time is most likely to increase, since the industrial robot needs to stop each time a change needs to be done. A flexible servo gripper can adapt to any kind of object without stopping the production line. This therefore reduces cycle time.

Floor Space

Second, the floor space in a manufacturing plant is an important asset to consider. In order to use a tool changer, you need to have space to stock all the possible devices. An adaptive end effector such as the 2-Finger Adaptive Gripper - 85 or the - 200 will be able to offer your production line the flexibility needed with only one unit.

Torque and Payload

Third, each time a end effector is installed on a robot arm, its weight will count in the robot’s payload. In order to use a tool changer with different tools, a device has to be added at the wrist. This device is meant to connect and disconnect the tool to the robot arm in a simple way. However, this device adds weight and distance between the robot wrist and the tool. Since the robot joints are designed for a certain torque and payload, the added weight and distance can modify these specifications. The more distance you have between the payload and the joint, the more torque you will have. In other words, your robot payload is most likely to diminish when using a tool changer.

Robotic Gripper Robotic hand Robotiq IMG 9468

When installing the 3-Finger Adaptive Gripper, you can fix it directly to the robot wrist, so the payload of the robot is only modify by the weight of the end effector.

Design of Different Devices

Fourth, using a tool changer means that you have different devices for different tasks or part productions. Designing several custom devices can be quite expensive since this task needs employees, time and prototyping. Moreover, with today’s flexible production, you will surely have to add new parts to your production. Therefore, new devices will need to be designed adding more cost to your production.


Finally, if you have low mix and high volume production or only a couple of devices for your handling application, tool changers could work for you. However, if you are talking about flexibility and high mix production with many handling applications that need robot grippers, you should definitely consider buying flexible robot grippers.

GET THE EBOOK: Electric Robot Gripper Advantages

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Catherine Bernier
Written by Catherine Bernier
Catherine is an Application Engineer here at Robotiq. Drawing from her expertise with manufacturing processes, production management and business management in general, her main focus is helping her clients find the solutions that will best serve their needs. If you have any questions about Robotiq's products and how they can serve your application, get in touch with her at
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