PowerGripper

PowerGripper

Gripping modelled on a bird’s beak 

The PowerGripper is modelled on the complex kinematics of the bird’s beak. In mechanical terms, this is known as Watt’s linkage. In the PowerGripper project, the developers implemented this bionic principle using the DMSP-5 Fluidic Muscle from Festo.

Optimised force-to-weight ratio

With this Watt’s linkage, relatively large opening strokes can be realised within a highly compact installation space. Thanks to the lightweight structure, along with the the very light pneumatic muscle and a titanium alloy as the material for the basic components, the PowerGripper from Festo attains a very favourable force-to-weight ratio.

  • Bird-skull kinematics: model for the PowerGripper

    Bird-skull kinematics: model for the PowerGripper

  • Transfer to technology: the gripping principle of Watt’s linkage

    Transfer to technology: the gripping principle of Watt’s linkage

  • Lightweight structure with optimised force flow: reduced tare weight and material savings with the laser-melting process

    Lightweight structure with optimised force flow: reduced tare weight and material savings with the laser-melting process

  • Metal laser sintering process: generative production of diverse components

    Metal laser sintering process: generative production of diverse components

Unique form-finding with generative manufacturing

The lightweight structures on the interior and exterior of the PowerGripper are designed in accordance with the forces acting on the component and can only be produced in this form by means of the metal laser sintering process, in which the metallic powder is melted, layer by layer, by means of a laser beam controlled by 3D CAD data. This provides unique opportunities in form-finding and allows individualised 3D printing of complex products.

Preparatory scientific work

PowerGripper is a university project conducted as part of the Bionic Learning Network. Together with renowned educational establishments, institutes and development companies, Festo is investigating the transfer of biological principles to technology in order to generate innovative solutions for industry.

The concept of the PowerGripper dates back to a lecture by Prof. Dr. Martin Fischer, Professor of Systematic Zoology and Evolutionary Biology at the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena. In his presentation on the topic of gripping systems in biology he discussed, among other things, the complex kinematics of the bird’s beak, which had been described in 1994 by Dr. Cornelius Schilling and Dr. Klaus Zimmermann, both of the Ilmenau University of Technology.