FIPA’s lightweight EOAT enhances the performance of advanced robotic automation systems


FIPA Inc. recently created a custom EOAT that complements and enhances the performance of an advanced robotic automation system. Designed for FANUC America Corporation, a leading global supplier of innovative robotics, CNC systems, and other factory automation solutions for industries spanning automotive and metal fabrication to food and pharmaceuticals, FIPA’s extremely lightweight, 15-pound EOAT solution extends the range of parts that their robots can handle, and helps maximize efficiency.

Built in FIPA’s American facilities, and installed in the testing and demonstration laboratory at FANUC headquarters in Rochester Hills, Michigan, this latest custom EOAT solution features four flat vacuum cups especially designed for the dynamic handling of oily metal sheets, a heavy-duty ejector for the highest possible process reliability, a carbon fiber frame that provides a superior strength-to-weight ratio, and partially black anodized aluminum components for improved wear-resistance and ease of maintenance.

“At only 15 pounds, the EOAT that FIPA developed for us allows us to maximize the utilization of our robot’s payload capacity,” said Timothy Holcomb, senior segment engineer at FANUC America Corporation. “It also allows our robot to carry more value-added content, and, with a few easy adjustments, allows it to handle a much wider range of parts than it could before, including full-size car doors. Additionally, the rigid design of the EOAT ensures that any part it handles experiences very little to no deflection or stress.”

“The EOAT that we developed for FANUC was the product of a successful collaboration between our American and German engineering and assembly teams, and we are extremely pleased that our custom design provided FANUC with an efficient, effective, extremely reliable, and competitively priced solution that complements their advanced robotic automation system and satisfies all of their process requirements,” said Rainer Mehrer, president of FIPA.

The SM-F Series flat vacuum cups employed in the FANUC EOAT enable the process-secure and slip-free handling of oily metal sheets in a variety of automotive, metal processing, and mechanical and plant engineering applications, and are especially well suited for use in auto body and vehicle construction. Featuring a robust design that combines large area, multi-part, anti-slip cleats with large anti-slip supporting ribs, SM-F Series vacuum cups provide an extremely high degree of slip resistance, effectively absorb the high lateral forces that result from maneuvers like tipping metal sheets, and prevent the deep-drawing or deformation of thin metal sheets, which is critical in applications like auto body manufacturing. Made of silicone-free NBR materials with a hardness of 60° Shore A, the flat, round vacuum cups feature a soft, flexible sealing lip that delivers a perfect seal on both flat and slightly curved products to minimize leaking, and a vulcanized aluminum connection thread (available in several different options) that guarantees a tight fit, even in highly dynamic gripping cycles.

The heavy-duty ejector employed in the FANUC EOAT (item number 65.120) delivers high-reliability vacuum generation in harsh environments — including the automotive manufacturing, building material, timber, and packaging industries — and is ideal for use in applications that handle light- to medium-weight workpieces. FIPA’s heavy-duty ejectors accurately compensate for compressed air fluctuations between 3 bar (43.5psi) and 6 bar (87psi) to provide the greatest possible process reliability, and feature a compact and robust rectangular aluminum housing that enables the space-saving parallel block assembly of multiple ejectors in both centralized and decentralized vacuum systems. FIPA’s heavy-duty ejectors are also available with auxiliary inputs for blow-off, which enable rapid product release for extremely short depositing times; auxiliary inputs for connecting a vacuum switch, which enable process monitoring; and silencers for noise-optimized operations. The series is available in units weighing between 0.1lb (48g) and 0.5lb (225g), and with suction power spanning 30Nl/min to 130Nl/min.