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The Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology (IWU) in Chemnitz has unveiled prototypes for a new generation of industrial grippers . The grippers are made by 3D printing and equipped with sensors for pressure or temperature measurement during the gripping process. As soon as the gripping pressure is too great, for example, the operator is given corresponding feedback and can counteract it. This allows material wear to be reduced. The pressure-sensitive grippers also have the advantage that they are suitable for parts of a tool with different properties. For heat-sensitive components, the gripping pressure can be set on the basis of the measured temperature.

The team led by Dr. Ines Dani , Head of the Department of Functional Integration and Lightweight Construction at the Fraunhofer IWU, uses selective laser beam melting (LBM) for additive manufacturing of the grippers. This allows metal components to be made that could not be produced with traditional manufacturing techniques. During the additive manufacturing, small robots insert the sensors at the points where they will subsequently carry out measurements. This process is referred to as in-situ integration.