Market Overview

OnRobot's Gecko Gripper Wins 2018 IERA Award for Robotics and Automation


Prestigious award recognizes Danish manufacturer for industrial
application of innovative NASA technology, the first market-ready
adhesive gripping system of its kind

Danish manufacturer OnRobot today announced that its self-cleaning
won the coveted Innovation and Entrepreneurship Award (IERA)
at the 50th International Symposium on Robotics in Munich this summer.
The technology offers a new approach for collaborative industrial
robotics and makes new applications possible in areas such as sheet
metal processing or in the fabrication of solar panels.

Since 2005, the IEEE
Robotics and Automation Society
(IEEE/RAS) and the International
Federation of Robotics
(IFR) have honoured companies for pioneering
achievements in the field of automation technology. The Gecko Gripper,
priced this year, is based on a concept developed by NASA Jet Propulsion
Laboratory (JPL) and Stanford University: Due to strong Van der Waals
forces, millions of microscopically small fibres on the gripper's four
surfaces adhere to workpieces pressed against it. The adhesion works
just like that of gecko feet, even on smooth surfaces.

The former start-up Perception Robotics, now part of OnRobot, licensed
and developed the technology to marketability. "We are very proud of the
award," said Enrico Krog Iversen, CEO of OnRobot. "In the
next couple of years, robots will gradually become an industrial
commodity. Innovation and added value will then increasingly come from
the applications themselves, their environment, end effectors and
sensors. Receiving the award reflects this trend."

Novel adhesion technology in human-robot collaboration

The Gecko Gripper is the world's first market-ready adhesive gripping
system of its kind. In contrast to conventional vacuum grippers, the
system can easily lift and deposit materials with holes or porous
workpieces such as printed circuit boards. Adhesion happens almost
instantaneously and residue-free, which leads to increased throughput in
production. Light pressure is sufficient to ensure that a workpiece
adheres reliably.

Although the adhesive process requires some electricity to engage, the
grip does not diminish, even in the event of power failure. At the same
time, failure-prone compressed air and hose systems are no longer
needed, which reduces energy and maintenance costs remarkably. Because
of its high energy efficiency, the Gecko Gripper is also superior to
electrostatic grippers. Its payload reaches up to eight kilograms,
depending on the surface structure and contamination of the objects to
be lifted. An integrated sensor automatically detects workpieces with a
thickness of up to 240 millimetres and determines the necessary force
for a secure adhesion process.

As a result, pick-and-place tasks involving long, flat workpieces such
as solar panels, in glass production or sheet metal processing, can be
automated extensively for the first time. The gripper is also suitable
for handling ceramic tiles, screens, windscreens or lids of cosmetics,
guaranteeing a wide range of applications. It is compatible with
Universal Robots, Kawasaki and Fanuc robot arms.

Self-cleaning technology for sustainable production

Since the gripping surfaces' functionality diminishes with increasing
contamination of their fine microstructures, OnRobot has developed a
special self-cleaning mechanism. It is integrated under the four
gripping surfaces and ensures a long-lasting use of the fibres. The
technology combines piezoelectric ultrasound with an electrostatic
process. Within 15 seconds, it can compensate for a
contamination-related loss of adhesion of 10 percent. Repeated cleaning
and contact cleaning can then restore 99 percent of the original
adhesive strength.

Download high-resolution images here.

About OnRobot

OnRobot, based in Odense, Denmark, offers technologies — both hardware
and software — used in end-of-arm tooling, mainly for collaborative
robots (cobots). OnRobot is based on On Robot, which was founded in 2015
by Bilge Jacob Christiansen and Ebbe Overgaard Fuglsang. OnRobot
integrates grippers, sensors and other cobot equipment to facilitate the
use of the technology in applications such as packaging, quality
testing, material handling, machine tending, assembly and welding, and
is planning to acquire and manufacture additional technologies with
worldwide support. In addition to its headquarters in Denmark, OnRobot
now has consolidated sales offices in Germany, China, U.S., Malaysia and
Hungary. For more information, visit

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