Grippers can be designed to function effectively in any type of operating environment, with many environments falling into either the “dirty/contaminated” or “clean room” category. Depending on the operation, the gripper’s components, the production surroundings, or both, will need to be protected by standard or custom-designed shields or seals.
The shield or seal must function in a way that it reliably deflects debris away from the gripper mechanism in a dirty environment or helps keep grease and internal contaminants from escaping the gripper into a clean environment.
The need to find the best type of shield or seal to protect the gripper raises the complexity of the selection process, but it is imperative that proper shielding or sealing be identified to avoid any possible malfunctions or breakdowns that will compromise the overall performance of the workholding or pick-and-place system.
A sealed gripper is protected by a covering that cuts it off entirely from the exterior atmosphere. There are two types of gripper seals available:
Buna-N (nitrile) is the most common seal material, with Viton® and silicone used in high-temperature applications, and metal seals are available for handling extreme heat and/or contamination.