With this exhibit, superconductors allow a gripper to be used in suspension. The unique characteristics of superconductors come to the fore here by making low-energy, efficient motion possible in suspension – even beyond walls.
Superconductors are materials which below a certain temperature can “freeze” the field of a permanent magnet at a defined distance and thus cause it to hover. The resultant gap remains stable in any spatial position. By this means, objects can be held in position contact-free without any control technology and can be moved with only minimal energy requirement. After several years of intensive research and three years of experience in this field at trade fairs, Festo is now meeting with partners and customers to discuss and explore their ideas for application.
“Entirely new forms of movement can be generated with superconductors that have until now seemed impossible. We have now realised twelve different concepts that have already given our customers a great deal of inspiration for new applications. We are currently working on implementing initial pilot projects,” says Georg Berner, Head of Strategic Corporate Development, Group Holding Festo and Project Coordinator for the SupraMotion concepts.
SupraGripper: mechanical gripping despite spatial separation
With the SupraGripper two grasping elements, each with three fingers, hover freely above two semicircular plates. This technology could enable objects to be grasped and transported within enclosed spaces – a practical solution for clean rooms or for working in liquids, gases or in vacuum.
The hovering effect is generated by three cryostats in all, which are installed beneath the plates and can be driven upwards or downwards. The grippers thus either hover above the plates or are set down onto them. In addition, the two plates can be rotated and precisely positioned by means of two rotary drives, so that the two grippers can be transported from one cryostat to the next.
To grasp an object, electrical spools fitted to the cryostats emit an impulse, which either severs the stored connection to the magnetic gripper elements or restores them, as required. This impulse causes the individual finger elements to fold upwards or downwards, which makes the grippers open or close.