Pneumatic Parallel Gripper

What is a pneumatic parallel gripper?

A pneumatic parallel gripper is a type of pneumatic gripper, which serves as a work holding device that is used to hold the workpieces during the cutting processes, and release them once the processes are finished. The pneumatic parallel gripper is air driven, which the compressed air is fed into the gripper through the cylinders that are equipped inside.

Work holding is one of the important things that determine the success or failure of the works on vertically mounted milling machines or lathes, which make the cuts perpendicular to the direction of the workpieces, since that if the workpieces are not held firmly, the cutting tools cannot successfully cut through the right parts on the workpieces as is required. 

Furthermore, as the cutting tool travels the workpieces with the wrong routes, it may result in the deformation of the products. In other words, in addition to other parameters that have to be followed, only when the workpieces are firmly secured that the cutting processes can go smoothly, which is the reason why a gripper is required in the work holding system.

A gripper consists of two to three gripping jaws, which are also called fingers, to cover around the workpieces or support the workpieces when they are opened. Depending on the requirements of the manufacturers or the limitations of the working environments, the grippers can be made as either parallel or angular form. Based on the configurations, the fingers on the former are able to be opened wider than that on the latter.

However, since the parallel grippers are able to be fit for the limited environments and perform equally well as their angular counterparts, they are more versatile in the availability when they are applied. Besides, with the control of the cylinders that are driven by the compressed air, the practicality of the parallel grippers is enhanced even more.

How does a pneumatic parallel gripper form?

A pneumatic parallel gripper has a cuboid shape with two fingers that protrude from the front of the cuboid. Inside the cuboid, it consists of the piston, and the cylinders that are connected to the power supply.

● Fingers
The fingers on the pneumatic parallel gripper are the parts that hold the workpieces. On the parallel form, there are two fingers that are arranged parallel to each other. The fingers are capable of holding or releasing the workpieces with the parallel opening and closing of them, which are controlled by the movements of the piston.

● Piston
The piston is set in the middle of the cuboid, which is applied to facilitate the opening and closing of the parallel fingers. When the compressed air is fed into the gripper, the piston would drive the fingers to be opened. In contrast, as the compressed air is released, the piston would close the fingers.

● Cylinders
Depending on the different applications, the pneumatic parallel grippers may come in single acting or double acting form. The single acting form contains only one cylinder, while the double acting form, which is more commonly adopted, contains two cylinders instead. 

The cylinders in the gripper are used to receive and release the compressed air through the inlets and outlets, which can be recognized as parts of the motion driving system.

● Power supply
The power supply of the pneumatic parallel gripper is the compressed air, which is provided from the tank on the outside of the gripper, through the inlets of the media, which are the cylinders, and into the gripper.

How does a pneumatic parallel gripper work?

When the pneumatic parallel gripper is operated, whether to hold or release the workpieces that it serves for, it would undergo three phases, including air supplying, piston moving, and opening or closing of fingers. As the gripper runs through these three phases, it means the completion of a cycle in the operation.

1. Air supplying
When a device is supposed to be driven, the power supply is required. For the pneumatic parallel gripper, the compressed air is supplied as the power source. In this phase, the compressed air is fed into the gripper through the cylinders. Depending on the single acting or double acting form that the gripper is designed, the delivering of air would be slightly different. 

The single acting form of the gripper is only equipped with one cylinder, and the air here travels through the only inlet. As for the double acting form, the rear cylinder is applied for the forward movement of the piston, and the front cylinder is in charge of the backward movement of the piston as the compressed air is provided.

2. Piston moving
When the compressed air is fed into the gripper, the piston would be pushed forward, which thus pushes the fingers on the front, and allows them to be opened. Once the air is released, the piston would move backward to its original position, and the fingers are closed accordingly.

3. Opening/closing of fingers
The opening or closing of the fingers, which are driven with the movements of the piston, determine the holding or releasing of the workpieces. Based on the different types of the grippers, they can be divided into internal gripping that grips the workpieces as the fingers are opened, external gripping that closes the fingers to hold the targets, or combined gripping. 

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