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Strong robots learn soft gripping

Strong robots learn soft gripping

Weiss Robotics from Ludwigsburg manufactures sensitive grippers for powerful industrial robots. The grippers are electrically controlled and can therefore move particularly fragile objects. This is unique in the industry.

Small robots work away behind a glass wall. The robots grip, lift and place various objects with the utmost precision. One of them simultaneously picks up four filled glasses and places them in a container one meter away. Then the robot turns and picks up four more jars. Another places very small screws from one plate onto another. Almost none of this can be heard. Die fleißigen Roboter summen in angenehmer Lautstärke in der Eingangshalle von Weiss Robotics vor sich hin. Until now, industrial robots have mainly used compressed air to grip. The grippers from Weiss Robotics are controlled electrically instead - a considerable added value for industrial companies.


Electric grippers with feeling

Weiss Robotics GmbH & Co. KG from Ludwigsburg manufactures grippers for industrial robots and cobots. Cobots are robots that work together with humans and, compared to industrial robots, can perform even smaller tasks automatically. For example, they can remove bread rolls from the oven in a bakery and sort them onto a shelf. The electric grippers from Weiss Robotics make it possible to move delicate objects such as young lettuce plants, raw eggs and fragile glasses from A to B with sensitivity - quickly and precisely, without damaging them. "We see gripping as the sensitive, tactile handling of objects that are not really stable," says Managing Director Dr. Karsten Weiß. Compressed air grippers, which have so far mainly been used in industry, lack the necessary sensitivity for this.


Evaluate images and transfer data

A lot of data provides this feeling.This includes camera images, which are viewed, evaluated and transferred to the gripper.With further information on the nature of the material and the size and weight of the objects, the grippers understand how much force they need to apply to which object.How far the grippers spread their gripping fingers also depends on the data fed in.Weiss Robotics offers its intelligent grippers in 16 variants.They all combine mechanical with sensitive, almost human characteristics - a benefit for industry and its automation.


Grippers in use in New York

One of the world's most renowned universities has long since recognized this:Columbia University in New York is researching the automation of tomorrow with special grippers from Weiss Robotics.Scientists at Columbia are currently using the grippers in a research project to grip textiles.The aim of the project is to train gripping with fabrics such as cotton in order to fold T-shirts and pants automatically.If this is successful, electric grippers could soon be providing support in hospitals or dry cleaners.The fact that the grippers are being used in research in New York is an accolade for Managing Director Weiß and his company.


At home in the Stuttgart region

Weiss Robotics has strong roots in the Stuttgart region, as many customers come from the surrounding area: "We are a small company and are strongly focused on the domestic market.We have a clear locational advantage here in the region because we can reach our customers very quickly," says Weiß.The smart grippers are used in industries where automation is a top priority.These include companies in the automotive, electrical and pharmaceutical industries.As the grippers can be connected to all well-known manufacturers of industrial robots and cobots, they are in high demand.Managing Director Weiß therefore always has to weigh up which orders are feasible for his team.


Centerpiece: development and production

"We are lucky and are in a growth market.Automation and manufacturing are becoming increasingly important in Germany," says Managing Director Weiß, who won a lifelong sponsorship from Bosch as a 14-year-old in a young talent competition and was allowed to use the supplier's workbenches and tools for his tinkering completely free of charge.At the same time as graduating from high school, Weiß won the national "Jugend forscht" competition in 1998, and his grippers have been on the market since 2015.Today, around 20 people work in his team.Development and production are at the heart of the company.In a small hall, employees are constantly milling, grinding and wiring the special aluminum grippers.


Successfully into the future

The business situation is good: "The demand for our gripping systems is unbroken.Automation is becoming more demanding, partly because the industry's requirements for highly sensitive materials are becoming more stringent," says Weiß.This is why the company is also looking to expand in the Stuttgart region.The Ludwigsburg-based company recently recorded double-digit annual growth.Sensitive grippers will also be needed in the future when fuel cells and batteries are assembled and disassembled in rows.Until then, the robots in the entrance area of Weiss Robotics will continue to hum and work diligently - screw by screw, glass by glass.


Wirtschaftsförderung Region Stuttgart GmbH

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