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Thorite helps with a gripping new product

Thorite helps with a gripping new product

Thursday 9th July 2009

Thorite, the UK's largest supplier of compressed air products and process systems, has supplied pneumatic equipment to enable the development of a revolutionary mechanical gripper which multiplies the gripping power and accuracy of robot arms used in automated production applications.

Launched as the RadiGrip, the new device is the brainchild of John Ridehough, a partner in Lancashire-based Radical Technologies. The secret of the RadiGrip lies in its use of a Thorite-supplied SMC pneumatic rotary actuator, rather than the linear actuator normally used in this type of device. Linear actuators are difficult to synchronise, but RadiGrip works through 180°, operating by either pulling or pushing on two rods, combined with linear slide rails.

The resulting unit can carry huge amounts of load - tests at Lancaster University have demonstrated that with 100psi input the RG 600 is able to multiply this force into a massive 300kg of gripping power. For added safety the gripper also features a toggle closing action, which ensures the gripper cannot open if the compressed air supply should fail.

Speaking of the new gripper John Ridehough said: "The RadiGrip is a parallel gripper, which is desirable for the majority of automated handling applications and is able to multiply gripping forces exponentially, yet has been designed with simplicity and ease of maintenance uppermost. Thorite personnel have been exceptionally helpful in supplying us with key components and advice during the development stage and we can now offer industry a range of RadiGrip models of differing sizes and capacities."

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