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AirPicker & AirGripper end effectors are Firestone's new rubber and fabric inflatable ID and OD grippers. These parts use similar technology to the air spring, but expand radially instead of axially to grip either the ID or OD of an object. Soft, compliant air expands a sensitive rubber envelope to grip the surface evenly and completely. They offer the user a wide range of advantages over traditional pick and place work holding devices.
Simply by varying the air pressure in the picker or gripper, the user can conform the end effector to the diameter that is being handled and the force being applied to the workpiece. This is especially critical in applications with sensitive, thin-walled, or fragile objects. The object being picked up does not have to have a circular configuration. Since it has an elastomer bladder construction, it will conform to any shape.
Each picker or gripper can work with a wide range of diameters and workpiece weights. Firestone offers a wide range of standard configurations and sizes of AirPickers® and AirGrippers™ to meet most industrial applications. Special AirPickers® and AirGrippers™ can be, and in many cases already have been, developed to meet specific needs of a particular customer.
Recent additions to the AirPicker® and AirGripper® product line have been made in response to customer needs. These include thin-walled rubber wear sleeves (replaceable wear component designed to reduce abrasion on AirPickers® and extend life) and nose cones (plastic cones used to guide AirPickers® into workpieces in applications where alignment in inconsistent.)
The inflatable rubber construction of AirPicker and AirGripper end-effectors allows a multiple number of shapes to be handled with one model.
The large expansion of Firestone end-effectors allows for multiple part sizes to be handled with just one size model. The diameter of an AirPicker can grow as much as 1.86 times the deflated diameter, while an AirGripper can grip around an object that is only 40% of the deflated diameter.
The absence of bearings or moving parts means that no lubrication is required for a long durable life.
Firestone AirPicker end-effectors typically cost less than comparable mechanical grippers.
The AirPicker and AirGripper end-effectors do not use seals or bearings, which results in a more durable gripper in dusty environments.