The best 5-finger gripper for your robot

February 6, 2024
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What's a 5-finger robot gripper?

A 5-finger robot gripper is an end-of-arm tool designed to grasp and manipulate objects with five individually articulated "fingers". These hyper-dexterous grippers give a robotic arm human-like grasping abilities. 

These 5DOF, or “Five Degrees of Freedom” arms allow the robot to pick up oddly shaped or delicate items that would otherwise be hard or impossible for a robot to handle.

Each digit can move independently to conform to the shape of the object, applying the right amount of force. This lets the gripper handle (pun intended) precision tasks like grasping eggs, assembling electronics, or even manipulating surgical tools.

To sum it up, a 5-finger robot gripper is an honest, actual robot hand with capabilities that match, or sometimes even exceed, what humans can do. 

What should you look for in a 5-finger robot gripper?

You’ll have to thoroughly answer several questions before you go out and get a 5-finger gripper, especially if you’re considering other, less dexterous alternatives. 

First, how much grip force do you need? Grippers come with a range of grip forces, from a few pounds up to hundreds of pounds. The idea is to choose one that can handle the weight of the objects you need to lift.

Second, what’s your method of actuation? Whether it's pneumatic (air-powered), hydraulic (fluid-powered), or electric, you’ll need to actuate your robot hand. 

Second, how strong is its handshake? Pneumatic and hydraulic grippers typically offer more grip force but require additional equipment, while electric grippers are often more compact but may have lower grip forces. 

Third, what’s the finger material and the padding? Softer, rubberized digits will grip objects more gently without damage while hard jaws can grab onto stuff like nobody’s business. Think carefully about the surfaces of the objects you need to grab onto.

Fourth, what’s the size and weight of your gripper? You want one that won't be too heavy for your robot arm to maneuver while still being large enough to handle the items you need to lift. 

Finally, is your 5-finger gripper compatible with your robot? Any gripper you choose will need to interface properly with your robot arm. Most grippers out there use some form of the standard M4 or M8 mounts but some may require a custom adapter. 

(Make sure to double-check that your robot controller software also supports the specific gripper you want to use).

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How do you integrate your 5-finger robot gripper with your robot?

Got your robot hand already? Now, it’s time to get it up and running

There are a few key things to keep in mind for integrating your new gripper:

First, determine how you'll power the gripper. While most grippers run on standard robot power supplies, often 24V, make doubly sure your robot's power supply can handle the additional load. If not, you may need an auxiliary power source.

Next, figure out how the gripper will physically connect to your robot. Check if your robot arm has an M4, M8, or universal connector that the gripper can attach to. If not, you may need to look into an adapter plate. 

Then get a grip on how you’ll control the gripper. Many robot software platforms support various gripper models, which allows you to control them right from your robot's teach pendant or programming interface. 

The best 5-finger robot gripper on the market

While we normally take this opportunity to provide a rundown of the best gripper models on the market, the truth is 5-finger robot grippers are still mostly experimental. 

And we say mostly, because while there are prosthetic and general-purpose hands available, one manufacturer in the industrial space beat everyone to the punch.

The best 5-finger robot grippers is:

SCHUNK SVH 5-finger robot hand

The SVH gripper by SCHUNK is a high-performance, absolutely state-of-the-art electric 5-finger robot gripper that provides extremely high gripping forces up to 1200 N. Don’t go trying to greet it with a handshake!

It has a wide jaw opening range and adjustable gripping force for handling heavy, oddly shaped, or fragile objects. 

The gripper is made of robust aluminum and stainless steel, with optional silicone finger pads for non-slip grabbing. 

It’s compatible with most Collaborative and Industrial robots. And while it’s on the higher end of the price scale, it’s an extremely durable and powerful option for demanding applications.

Check out its specs:

  • Number of fingers: 5
  • Degrees of freedom: 9
  • Maximum payload: 4 kg
  • Gripping force range: 20 N - 140 N
  • Weight: 1.4 kg
  • Communication: CANopen, EtherCAT
  • Price (estimate): ~$30,000+


How do I provide power to the gripper?

Most 5-finger grippers are powered via a standard power cable that you'll connect directly to your robot arm. Some may use an adapter to convert to a universal connector like M8 that many robot brands use.

How do I control the gripper?

5-finger grippers are typically controlled via digital I/O, analog, or bus communication like CAN bus. Make sure your robot's control system is capable of interfacing with and controlling the specific gripper you choose. Many robot brands offer plug-and-play integration with certain gripper brands. Check with the manufacturers for details.

What's the maximum payload?

Payload refers to the total weight a gripper can lift and hold. Choose a gripper with a payload rating higher than the combined weight of your robot arm and the items you need to grip. As a general rule, more fingers mean a higher payload, but more fingers also mean a heavier, more complex gripper. Find the right balance for your needs.

What materials can the gripper handle?

5-finger grippers are available with jaw pads of different hardnesses, from soft rubber to hard metal. Soft pads generally enable more dexterity and accuracy, but less durability, while hard pads can handle heavy and irregular items but may damage more delicate objects.

How do I change the gripper?

If your robot supports tool changers, you can easily swap different grippers, so look for a gripper that’s compatible with your robot's tool-changing system. If tool changing is not an option, you'll need to manually remove one gripper and install another, which requires accessing the wrist of your robot arm. 

Summing up 

So, there you go, that’s all there is to know about the best 5-finger robotic hand!

If what you’re looking for is to be on the absolute bleeding edge of industrial progress, then the Schunk SCHUNK SVH opens up myriad manufacturing opportunities that lesser models could only dream of. 

Next steps

Looking for a robot arm that’s compatible with a cutting-edge 5-finger robot hand? RO1 from Standard Bots is what you’re looking for.

It has universal M8 connectors and is fully compatible with OnRobot's range of end-effectors, offering maximum versatility for both large and small workshops.

  • Affordability advantage: The RO1 stands out for its cost efficiency in its category, with pricing that's about half compared to similar models in the market. Its attractive leasing options start from as low as $5 per hour.
  • Advanced visual technology: The RO1 is outfitted with superior vision systems, making it highly adept at precise tasks thanks to its user-friendly, code-free programming interface. This feature is particularly useful for identifying minute defects and inconsistencies.
  • Safety and cooperative operation focus: Safety is a cornerstone of the RO1's design, integrating essential safety sensors and advanced collision detection mechanisms, ensuring its reliable and secure functioning throughout your workshop.

Contact our expert team today for a free, 30-day on-site trial to integrate your new robot arm with your shop floor. 

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