The best 5 electric grippers for your Industrial robot

January 30, 2024
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What is an electric gripper?

An electric gripper is an end-of-arm tooling device designed to grasp, grip, and manipulate objects. It attaches to the wrist of your robot arm and provides the “fingers” to pick up parts, tools or other items.

Electric grippers use electric motors and actuators to open and close mechanical “fingers” or pads. This allows them to grab onto objects with extreme precision force and movement.

Some of the main benefits of these grippers are: 

  • Programmable grip force and motion for handling delicate or heavy items.
  • Integration with robot programming for automated pick and place, CNC machine tending, and many more tasks.
  • Options like auto-release when power is cut – for safety!
  • Interchangeable fingers/pads for a huge range of applications.
  • Built-in sensors for slip detection, collision detection, etc, to prioritize safety. No head bumping here!

Moreover, these electric grippers can use parallel motion mechanical fingers, angled fingers, or “fingers” made of rubber pads or suction cups to grasp objects. 

This allows for huge flexibility in the size, shape, and material of the objects they can pick up.

They are a popular choice for adding much-needed flexibility to Industrial robot arms in factory automation. 

What you should know before choosing an electric gripper

Choosing the right electric gripper for your robot can be tricky. 

Here are some important things to keep in mind before making a purchase: 

  • Grip force: This is the amount of force the gripper can apply to grasp and hold objects. What you want to make sure of is that the grip force is high enough to securely grip the parts and materials you need to handle, but not excessive. Typical electric grippers offer 10-300N of grip force.
  • Grip method: Electric grippers use different methods to grab objects, like parallel clamps, angular clamps, or vacuum suction cups. Keep in mind the shape, size, weight, and surface of the objects you need to pick up. Angular clamps work well for irregular shapes. Suction grippers are good for smooth, flat surfaces.
  • Payload capacity: The payload capacity is the maximum weight the gripper can safely lift. This must be higher than the combined weight of your robot's arm, the gripper, and the heaviest object you need to lift.
  • Weight: A lighter gripper puts less strain on your robot arm and joints. But it also needs enough weight and rigidity for grasping force and stability. Carbon fiber or aluminum grippers are great for striking a good balance.
  • Force sensors: Built-in force sensing allows the gripper to detect contact and grip objects with the right amount of force. This protects delicate items from getting crushed under a vise grip. 
  • Tool changers: Some electric grippers have automatic tool changers to switch gripping tools or fingers for different purposes, which adds a lot of versatility.
  • Control and integration: Make sure your robot software and controller supports integrating and controlling the electric gripper you choose. Some of the most high-end ones offer plug-and-play connectivity.
  • Power requirements: Most electric grippers run on 24V DC, so make sure your robot has an outlet or power supply to connect it. Some have batteries but run time is limited.

How do you connect an electric gripper to your robot?

Connecting an electric gripper is actually quite straightforward once you get acquainted with the options. 

Here are some tips for getting your gripper connected, powered up, and ready: 

  • Check voltage requirements first - Grippers run on a variety of DC voltages, commonly 12V, 24V, or 48V. Find yourself a gripper with a voltage that matches your robot's power system.
  • Use an interface or adapter - Many robot arms have quick-connect electrical interfaces that allow plug-and-play connection of grippers and tools, so look for a gripper designed for your robot's specific interface. Another option is a universal power adapter that converts your robot's interface to match the gripper.
  • Connect to a robot outlet - Some robots have general-purpose power outlets you can plug a gripper into directly. Just make sure the outlet provides sufficient amperage for the gripper!
  • Use a junction box - For robots without built-in interfaces, use a junction box or breakout box. This provides terminals to connect the gripper's power and control wires to the robot controller.
  • Run an extension cable - If the robot arm doesn't reach the gripper, run a cable extension from the robot's interface or outlet. Make sure the gauge matches the required amperage.
  • Connect pneumatic lines - For pneumatic grippers, connect air hoses from the robot's pneumatic system using push-to-connect fittings or tubes.
  • Program the gripper - Most electric grippers can be programmed directly in the robot controller software. This allows opening, closing, and setting grip force. But always make sure your robot brand supports integration with the gripper.
  • Add I/O control - Some robot controllers have digital or analog I/O to directly control basic gripper functions. You'll need to wire the gripper to the I/O ports.
  • Use a PLC - For advanced control, connect the gripper to a PLC. The PLC can interface with the robot to coordinate motions and gripper actions.

Implement a communication protocol - Grippers that support industrial protocols like Ethernet/IP allow advanced integration and control. Make doubly sure your robot or controller is compatible.

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The top 5 electric grippers for Industrial robots: Our rundown

With so many options available, every single one claiming to be the best, trying to find a great electric gripper can make your head spin.  

So, we've compiled this list of top grippers to keep in mind across a range of needs and budgets:

OnRobot VG10 Electric Vacuum Gripper

  • Great for handling flat, smooth materials like glass, metal sheets, and plastic films
  • No external air supply required
  • Adjustable suction cups conform to your chosen surface
  • Payload up to 10 kg
  • Integrates with all major robot brands
  • Estimated price: Starts at around $5,500

Robotiq 2F-85 & 2F-140 Adaptive Robot Grippers

  • Self-contained electric parallel grippers with no air supply needed
  • Built-in force control senses forces for extra safety
  • Various finger pads are available (silicone, metal, magnet)
  • Payloads of up to 6 kg (2F-85) or 14 kg (2F-140)
  • Plug-and-play with Universal Robots, Techman, Doosan, etc
  • Estimated price: 2F-85 starts at $6,495, 2F-140 starts at $7,995

Piab Vacuum Gripper VGXM

  • Creates vacuum suction to grab parts
  • Multiple suction cup sizes and array options
  • Ideal for flat, non-porous objects like plastic, glass, and sheet metal
  • Integrated electric vacuum pump
  • Payloads up to 15 kg depending on model
  • Estimated price: Starts at $2,995

Zimmer PA Series Pneumatic Parallel Grippers

  • Rugged, adjustable pneumatic parallel grippers
  • Internal sensors provide position feedback
  • Interchangeable gripping surfaces - rubber, silicone, grooved, magnetic
  • Payloads up to 50 kg
  • Requires external compressed air supply
  • Estimated price: Starts at $1,995

Schunk EGP 40 Electric Parallel Gripper

  • Compact electric parallel gripper with integrated control
  • Pressure sensors for precise handling
  • Stroke length up to 40 mm
  • Payload capacity up to 5 kg
  • A variety of finger options like serrated silicone
  • Estimated price: Starts at $1,500

Summing up

There’s the lowdown on picking the perfect electric gripper for your robot, and finally get into the automation game. 

Now, it’s time to make sure your new robot arm matches your gripper, and get cracking! 


What are the main benefits of electric grippers?

Electric grippers offer several advantages over manual or pneumatic grippers:

  • More precise control and force application - You can grab onto delicate items without crushing them, or get a stronger grip on heavier items. Electric grippers have built-in force control.
  • Much faster cycle times - Electric grippers can open and close much faster than air-powered grippers. This increases throughput.
  • Lower maintenance costs - No air lines to deal with; electric grippers just need power.
  • Adaptability - Many electric gripper models allow you to quickly change fingers/pads to handle different items.
  • Integration - Electric grippers can integrate with tool changers and be controlled directly through your robot controller software.

How do I power an electric gripper?

Most electric grippers run on 24V DC power, and you’ve got a few options to provide power:

  • Use the power supply built into many robot controller cabinets. Look for a 24V DC output.
  • Use a separate 24V DC power supply mounted near the robot, and connect it via cables.
  • For mounting directly on the robot arm, use a compact 24V DC power supply that can mount on the robot arm or end-effector.
  • For payload-limited arms, low-voltage battery-powered electric grippers under 12V are available.

Also, make sure your power supply or robot controller can provide sufficient amperage for the gripper.

How do I control and integrate an electric gripper?

  • Robot-specific electric grippers will directly integrate with your robot controller software with little effort.
  • For general purpose grippers, most models accept various inputs like digital I/O, RS485 serial, Ethernet/IP, Profinet, etc, so choose a model compatible with your robot control methods.
  • For basic open/close control, digital I/O may be the easiest method. However, serial communication allows more monitoring and control.
  • Contact the gripper manufacturer for integration support! They will have detailed documentation on communications protocols, wiring, and example robot programs.

What type of fingers or pads should I use?

Electric gripper fingers and pads come in many shapes, sizes and materials:

  • Silicone rubber pads provide good grip on smooth objects like plastic parts or glass.
  • Serrated rubber pads grip textured surfaces.
  • V-groove fingers allow careful grasping of rods, shafts and tubular items.
  • Flat metal or plastic fingers work for sheet materials.
  • Custom 3D-printed fingers can be designed for specialized applications.

Next steps

We know you’re looking for that perfect combination of robot arm and end-effector for your specific needs, check out RO1 by Standard Bots

RO1 is compatible with a wide selection of grippers right from the start, with universal M8 connectors, and compatibility with OnRobot end-effectors, making it an ideal choice for both large and small machine shops:

  • Cost-effective: RO1 stands out as the most budget-friendly option in its category, priced significantly lower than many other established brands, and starting at half of its nearest competition. 
  • Advanced vision capabilities: Equipped with top-tier vision technology, RO1 simplifies tasks with its user-friendly, no-code programming, capable of detecting even the tiniest flaws.
  • Cooperative design: RO1 is designed with safety in mind, featuring integrated safety sensors and collision detection to ensure that your shop floor stays safe. 

Connect with our expert solutions team today for a complimentary, 30-day onsite trial. Gain professional insights and all the necessary information to successfully implement your first robot.

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