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Festo PowerGripper: gripping following the role model of the bird's beak


Gripping following the role model of the bird's beak

The role model for the gripper is the complex kinematics of the bird's beak. Applied to technology, the bionic principle is called Watt's linkage, which is implemented in the PowerGripper with the aid of two type DMSP-5fluidic muscles.

Optimized power-to-weight ratio

With the use of Watt's linkage, relatively large opening distances can be achieved in a very compact installation space. Due to the lightweight structure used, the very lightweight DMSP pneumatic muscles and a titanium alloy as material for the basic components, the gripper achieves a very good ratio between force and weight.

Unique form finding through generative production

The lightweight structures on the inner and outer sides of the gripper are designed according to the direction of force flow on the component and can only be produced in this form by the laser melting process – Selective Laser Melting. A laser beam melts the metal powder layer by layer. This results in unique design possibilities for form finding and individual 3D printing of complex products.

Preliminary scientific work: looking at the bird's beak

The PowerGripper is a university project within the Bionic Learning Network. Together with renowned educational institutions, institutes and development companies, we investigate the transfer of biological principles to technology in order to develop innovative solutions for industrial practice.

The PowerGripper concept was based on a lecture by Dr. Martin Fischer, Professor of Special Zoology and Evolutionary Biology at the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena. In his lecture on the topic of gripping systems in biology, he dealt with the complex kinematics of a bird's beak, which had already been described by Dr. Cornelius Schilling and Dr. Klaus Zimmermann, both from the Technical University of Ilmenau, in 1994.