April 13, 2021

SoftRoboticsmGrip400x275Soft Robotics has announced the expansion of its mGrip Modular Gripping System with new capabilities and an IP69K rating that enables safe food handling of proteins and dairy products. The company said these new features put more capabilities into the hands of machine builders to design flexible end-of-arm tools that can withstand high-pressure washdown environments.

Launched in 2019, the mGrip system is a suite of configurable gripper and controller products that allow for reliable, high-speed picking of traditionally hard-to-grasp items. The company said with hundreds of systems in production globally, mGrip has addressed some of the hardest picking challenges for Fortune 100 companies in the food processing and consumer packaged goods industries.

Robotic automation in the protein and dairy industries has lagged behind other food segments due to the variability and strict hygienic requirements, which often require food contact surfaces to be cleaned-in-place with high-pressure solutions, Soft Robotics said. “The needs of protein and dairy customers are unique and their automation options have been limited as a result,” said Austin Harvey, director of product management at Soft Robotics. “We’ve seen a lot of demand from the protein and dairy industries throughout the pandemic and we’re excited to bring a new level of versatile and cleanable grasping solutions to our customers to help grow their businesses.”

Soft Robotics said the expansion of mGrip offers four new features for machine builders:

  1. The ability to deploy in washdown environments: All food-grade mGrip grippers maintain IP69K compliance, allowing for high-pressure washdown to further prevent food-borne illnesses from stopping production.
  2. Custom tool creation: New adapters and accessory interfaces give integrators greater flexibility, allowing them to rapidly prototype and build custom, production-grade tooling by combining Soft Robotics technology with other technologies, including part presence sensors or suction cups.
  3. Picking of smaller products: New compact finger modules enable tighter grip spacing, down to 20 mm, to improve picking performance for smaller items. Soft Robotics said these smaller, lighter finger modules result in lower mass tools that leave more robot payload for product handling, permit faster rates, and cause less system wear over time.
  4. Flat product picking: Designed for meat and poultry patties, the new angle-tipped fingers can safely lift and grasp thin products from flat surfaces without damage.

“Simple, clean, reliable. These three words best describe why Soft Robotics tools have been the choice for us on a number of direct food handling projects,” said Daniel Woodbridge, a mechanical design engineer at JMP Solutions. “With one of their IP69K grippers, we are able to easily and reliably handle products of varying shapes and sizes, while vastly reducing the number of parts and surfaces that would be required by a traditional mechanical gripper design. From raw meat to fresh buns, these tools have proven themselves to be the answer on many food-handling projects.”

For more details on Soft Robotics and its technologies, visit its website.

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