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"With a pioneering spirit and perfection we are setting worldwide standards." Schunk focuses on this mission statement. The 2000-employee German company sells clamping technology and gripping systems but has recently begun to make a name for itself in additive manufacturing. The company already uses 3D printing exclusively to manufacture plate frame holders for electrically operated gripping systems. A hole gripper made of polyamide is also made with additive manufacturing. Thanks to the easy scalability of the AM process the gripper can be adapted to various components with no difficulty.

At HANNOVER MESSE 2015 Schunk will show "the world’s first fully automated 3D design tool for additive manufactured gripper fingers." Users need only to enter certain information such as the weight, the gripper’s mounting position or the length of the fingers. The SCHUNK eGRIP will then autonomously suggest the best three-dimensional contour along with the price and the delivery time. This open source browser-based web tool reduces the construction and order time for custom-made gripper fingers to 15 minutes.

The web tool, which was developed with a software partner, can be used without a separate CAD program (CAD). "It’s the first configurator to enable our customers, with the aid of a computer, to design their own products and then send them into automated production. They can select the details themselves in a typical Internet environment," explains Dr. Markus Klaiber, Technical Director at Schunk.

The ordering process is simple: The customer uploads the 3D data of the component that the ensuing gripper will manipulate. "When configuring the part, the software takes into consideration all the requirements and customers preferences needed in the design such as the dimensions and the weight of the components," explains Klaiber. Then the customer can place an order just like in any other Internet shop. Within a few days the top jaws will be manufactured out of lightweight, wear-resistant polyamide 12.

The SCHUNK eGRIP can also create more complicated forms in a short period of time. The more complex a part, the bigger the effect, says Markus Klaiber. Serial production is also possible but is only economical if the products to be manufactured are "small, complex and customized."

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