Form Automation produces more cost-effective end-of-arm-tooling with Stratasys F370

Form Automation, a UK-based company that specializes in robotics, is relying on the Stratasys F370 to quickly and cost-effectively produce replacement end-of-arm tools (EOAT) for its network of robots.

The core of their business is the pick and place machines which are essential in the food packaging industry. Used worldwide, the machines need to run 24/7 which means any downtime would potentially be costly. In an event of breakage, getting a part replacement in aluminum by outsourcing to an external party is both laborious and time-consuming.

The end-of-arm robot tools are complex, and if any part of the stem gets bent, the whole tool is out of action. Thankfully, with the F370, I can now have a new tool within just a few hours.Martin Grisdale, Company Director at Form Automation
3D printed EOAT produced using TPU material with an F370.

Produced using Stratasys’ flexible TPU elastomer, the 3D printed stem is more than 50% lighter than a conventionally-produced aluminum part — resulting in better machine performance.

“As the 3D printed version of this tool is much lighter, only one engineer is required to refit the replacement tool to the machine,” Grisdale said. “The reduced weight also improves the efficiency of our robots, which can now run at much faster speeds thanks to the lighter tools.”

Comprised of only two individual parts, refitting the robot is reduced to just two minutes instead of 50.

The resilience and flexibility of the TPU material have also seen a reduction in the frequency of damage. Previously, the tool stems would bend or snap easily.

The F370 has also helped Form Automation to simplify the complex designs of their tooling. When produced using traditional methods, an end-of-arm-tool was made from 20 individual, intricate, and often hard to assemble pieces.

With the freedom of additive manufacturing, the team used GrabCAD Print software to overhaul the design completely. Instead of 20 individual pieces, they reduced it to only two — a dramatic reduction of 90%.

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