The best 3 magnetic end-effectors for your Industrial robot

January 30, 2024
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What is a magnetic end-effector?

A magnetic end-effector, also referred to as a magnetic gripper or end-of-arm tooling, is a device attached to the end of a robot arm that uses magnetic force to pick up, move, and place objects.

Therefore, we could say that it's an end-effector specifically designed to utilize magnets as the gripping mechanism.

Let’s take a look at their salient characteristics: 

  • Magnetic end-effectors use electricity to generate a magnetic field that allows them to securely grip and hold ferromagnetic materials like steel, iron, and nickel.
  • They offer a no-contact, no-mark gripping solution that is ideal for delicate or polished workpieces that could be scratched or damaged by mechanical grippers.
  • Magnetic end-effectors come in many different designs but tend to consist of an array of permanent magnets, electromagnets, or a combination of both.
  • Permanent magnet grippers use strong neodymium rare earth magnets to generate consistent magnetic force. That’s why they are simple and reliable but do not allow the magnets to be turned on/off.
  • Electromagnetic grippers use electric current to magnetize copper coils or iron cores temporarily. This allows them to be switched on and off as needed.
  • Hybrid electromagnetic systems combine permanent magnets with electromagnetic coils to get the benefits of both. The magnets supply constant force while the coils can modulate the field.
  • Most magnetic end-effectors integrate some type of release mechanism to allow the workpiece to be dropped when needed, like an air blast, mechanical release, or demagnetizing the field. These can be more delicate than they seem.

What should you keep in mind when choosing a magnetic end-effector?

You can’t just go buying the first magnetic end-effector that you find online. First, you’ll have to pause and take a moment to reflect on a few considerations.

They are:

  • Is it compatible with your robot arm? - Make sure the end-effector is designed to integrate with your specific robot model. Consider the connector type, communication protocols, and any special adapters or cables needed. You want a plug-and-play solution.
  • How much can it lift? - Choose an end-effector rated to handle the weight of the parts you need to lift. Factor in the weight of the end-effector itself too. Exceeding load capacity can damage the magnets.
  • What is the type of workload? - Is this for Pick and Place of machined metal parts? Lifting sheet metal? Handling oily automotive components? The gripper material and magnet type should be a perfect match for the application.
  • What actuation method does it have? - Pneumatic, electric, or permanent magnet? Each has pros and cons. Pneumatic is simple but needs compressed air. Electric allows more control, while permanent magnets are passive.
  • What are the power and control requirements? - Make sure your robot controller or PLC can integrate with the end-effector. Some plug right in, while others need extra I/O modules or programming.
  • What’s the environment? - Will the end-effector be exposed to coolants, solvents, and impacts? IP rating, magnet material, and housing should be able to comfortably withstand the conditions.
  • Will it break the bank? - Prices range widely based on features. Balance cost with performance needs. Quality magnetic end-effectors are a long-term investment.

Our picks for the best 3 magnetic end-effectors for Industrial robots

We’ve rounded up the best magnetic end-effectors so you don’t have to go around willy-nilly trying to find a suitable one – or worse, do trial-and-error until you get it right. 

Here are our top 3 picks to make your life a little easier: 

OnRobot MG10:

  • Features: Permanent magnet gripper with powerful holding force (up to 150 kg) and easy integration with various robot brands. Lightweight design for fast robot movements. Automatic activation/deactivation for seamless operation.
  • Applications: Ideal for automated handling of ferrous metal parts of various sizes and shapes in machine tending, assembly, and logistics applications.
  • Price range: $2,500 - $3,500 (estimated).

Goudsmit Magnetics HFG-S:

  • Features: A permanent magnet pneumatic gripper with high holding force (up to 110 kg). Compact and lightweight design. Adjustable pole pieces for diverse gripping configurations.
  • Applications: Superb for handling ferrous metal parts of various sizes and shapes in machining, automotive, and fabrication industries.
  • Price range: $200 - $500 (estimated).

Schunk EMH:

  • Features: Modular electromagnet gripper with flexible gripping force control. High-temperature resistance (up to 180°C). Integrated collision protection.
  • Applications: Well-suited for handling hot steel parts, heavy loads, and applications requiring precise force control like stamping and forging.
  • Price range: $4,500 - $9,000 (estimated).

Of course, while there are other great options on the market, we’ve aimed to give you a comprehensive look at not just the best-of-the-best, but also great picks at diverse budget points.

After all, even though a magnetic end-effector will offer a very good ROI (automation tends to pay for itself in 1-3 years) price tends to be a significant hurdle, so we’ve covered a wide range.

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How do you connect and control your new magnetic end-effector?

Connecting your new magnetic end-effector to your robot arm can seem daunting, but it’s actually easy with the right integration. 

Here are some tips to follow:

  • Try to use only the manufacturer’s connectors to ensure compatibility - Most end-effectors are designed to plug right into the robot arm's end-of-arm tooling (EOAT) interface. This might be an M8 or M4 connector, so using the manufacturer's cables and connectors gives you full compatibility and performance.
  • Choose software with end-effector support - You'll need robot programming software that is capable of controlling the end-effector. Many packages like RobotStudio and RoboDK have add-ons to support major brands, so always go with software that works with your specific end-effector model.
  • Configure the end-effector in your program - Once connected, you'll need to configure the end--effector in your robot programming software. This involves setting up the tool geometry, defining the I/O connections, and programming grip/release commands. Always check the user manual and let an expert handle this. 
  • Always test for the full range of motion (ROM) - Before running full automation, test that your robot has a full range of motion with the end-effector payload To do this thoroughly, adjust speed, acceleration, and pose configurations if needed to avoid collisions.
  • Always keep an eye out for vision and sensors - Many applications require vision cameras or sensors to provide feedback. Make sure your software integrates these and that you have the right wiring in place.


How do I choose the right magnetic gripper for my application?

Always keep in mind the size, shape, and material of the parts you need to handle. The gripper needs to be able to generate enough magnetic force to securely lift the parts, so measure how much force is required to detach the parts from the magnets. Also, make sure the gripper is compact enough to fit in your workspace but provides enough reach and degrees of freedom.

What surface finish do I need on my parts for magnetic gripping?

You want a smooth, clean surface with minimal rust or paint. The smoother the surface, the better the magnetic grip. However, some textured or machined finishes can work. Test sample parts to ensure the magnets can grip them securely.

How do I integrate the gripper controls with my robot?

Most models provide digital or analog I/O for controlling grip/release. Make sure your robot controller or PLC has spare outputs to control the gripper. The vendor should provide detailed wiring instructions. You may need an interface cable specific to your robot brand.

Should I use an electric or pneumatic gripper?

Electric grippers are easier to integrate and do not require compressed air. Pneumatic grippers generate higher forces but need air plumbing. Electric grippers have faster grip/release cycles. Consider your budget, integration complexity, and force requirements when choosing.

How often do the magnets need replacement or maintenance?

Magnets gradually lose strength over time. Inspect them periodically for chips or cracks. Most can last for years with proper use. Also, keep surfaces clean of metal debris. Follow the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations. Replacement magnets are always available when needed.

What safety precautions should I follow?

Keep your hands and fingers clear of the magnets during operation. Wear gloves if handling magnets directly. Remember to follow any lockout/tagout procedures when servicing. Note that magnetic fields can interfere with pacemakers or medical devices if exposed at close range. Always consult your safety coordinator.

Summing up

The top 3 magnetic end-effectors that will help you supercharge your productivity and, after reading this list, we hope you won’t have to spend too much time browsing online before you make your choice. 

To compile this list, we looked at essential factors like magnetic force, payload capacity, weight, and compatibility to find the grippers that will serve you best.

Now that you're armed with this knowledge, it's time to purchase the perfect magnetic end-effector to suit your application, workpieces, and facilities.

Next steps

If you're searching for the perfect pairing of a robot arm and magnetic end-effector, then the search is over: RO1 from Standard Bots is engineered for versatility. 

RO1 is compatible with a diverse array of mechanical grippers, including magnetic end-effectors with M8 or M4 connectors.

Its adaptability makes it well-suited for a variety of applications in machine shops of all sizes. 

Here are the standout features of RO1:

  • Budget-friendly: RO1 stands out as a highly affordable option in its class, offering significant cost benefits when compared to other leading brands. Its competitive pricing makes it approximately half the cost of similar models available in the market.

  • Advanced vision tech: Equipped with the most up-to-date vision technology, RO1 simplifies complex operations. Its user-friendly, no-code programming interface is perfect at detecting even the most subtle discrepancies, enhancing the precision of tasks.

  • A big focus on safety and collaboration:  RO1 is designed with integrated safety sensors and collision detection, ensuring a secure and cooperative environment in your workplace.

Chat with our team of experts for a complimentary 30-day trial at your site. Take advantage of our deep expertise and receive all the essential guidance to effectively integrate RO1 into your industrial operations.

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