Piab’s Kenos KCS vacuum grippers

Grippers Designer to Work with Cobots

Aug. 15, 2018
Working in close proximity with people, cobots usually require gripping and releasing workpieces.

A cobot (a shortened term for collaborative robot) is a robot intended to physically interact with humans in a shared workspace. Working in close proximity with people usually requires gripping and releasing workpieces, so the more versatile the cobot, the better.

That’s the strategy behind the Kenos KCS gripper, from Piab USA., Hingham, Mass. The Kenos KCS grippers enable a cobot to handle a wide variety of objects, making them especially useful for small businesses, where flexibility is essential. “The KCS is the perfect small business all-rounder,” says Josef Karbassi, vice president of Piab’s Automation Div. “Its modular, plug-and-play design means it can be adapted for universal use within a company,”

Coming Up with the Design

Originally developed together with a cobot manufacturer as a tailor-made automation tool for one customer, the resulting vacuum gripper proved so successful that Piab officials decided to offer it more widely. The assembly combines Piab’s proprietary air-driven COAX technology for high-efficiency vacuum generation with an easily replaceable engineered foam gripper that molds itself around a wide variety of surfaces and shapes. This eliminates the need for accurate identification of a workpiece in many cases. When the foam layer is worn, it can simply be exchanged—without needing to replace the entire gripper.

Standard ISO interface adapters, made of a lightweight, 3D-printed material, allow attaching the entire unit to any cobot type and can be easily moved to perform different jobs in different parts of a production site, warehouse, or other setting. A quick-change system allows the same unit to be fitted with a special gripper for plastic bags. A simple twist and a secure locking mechanism allow reconfiguring the Kenos KCS gripper for new tasks within seconds, improving the productivity of operations and reducing system downtime.

“We have also made sure that the KCS gripper is easy to clean and service, with all parts and areas easily accessible,” adds Karbassi. “The Kenos KCS is designed with rounded edges and fitted with an efficient silencer, making is safe and user-friendly for successful and harmonious human/robot cooperation.”

COAX vacuum generator technology is based on a multi-stage concept for creating vacuum with compressed air. By integrating the internal components of a multi-stage vacuum generator into a vacuum cartridge, COAX creates a small, efficient, reliable, and highly flexible component that is particularly helpful for users who plan to design a modular system to address specific application needs.

Quick and Versatile

Piab officials say that because COAX vacuum cartridges are up to twice as fast as other cartridges and provide three times more flow than a conventional generator with the same air consumption, Piab’s vacuum pumps can provide high performance even at low or fluctuating feed pressures from 25 to 90 psi. Additionally, COAX vacuum pumps begin producing vacuum immediately when the pressure valve is turned on, making maximum use of the compressed air and consuming significantly less energy than traditional vacuum pumps.

For more information, call Piab at (800) 321-7422, or visit www.piab.com.

Click here to watch a video explaining COAX vacuum technology.

Click here to watch a video demonstrating the different sizes and shapes of object the Kenos KCS gripper can handle.

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