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Using 3D-printers to optimise the food industry

3D printed solutions are slowly becoming an integral part of daily operations at Danish factories. The Danish Technological Institute together with robot technology company RoboTool, has developed a 3D printed gripper that allows for precise, agile, and accurate movement which is essential on the production line. 

The possibilities of 3D printing are seemingly endless. Industry robots found at many of today’s manufacturing plants are equipped with a robotic gripper, which they use to perform various predetermined tasks such as picking up and holding objects. This enables manufacturers to automate key processes, such as inspection, assembly, pick & place, and machine tending.

At Tulip Food Group these robotic grippers had to hold on to slippery packaging containing soup, which made it difficult for the robot to be accurate as the contents of the soup – e.g. whether it was thick or thin – had an impact on the positioning on the production line. This is where 3D technology comes into play. The attachment needed for precision jobs at manufacturing plants often requires a complex design, and 3D printing allows for cost-efficient and easily customisable production.

The wonders of 3D technology

Danish robotics company RoboTool together with The Danish Technological Institute came together and developed a robotic gripper that allowed for agile and precise movement, which enabled the robots at Tulip’s factories to pick & place soup products with crucial precision. The flexibility of 3D printing offers the ability to create customer-specific components, which permits the production of multiple grippers: “We are always manufacturing customer-specific grippers in very few amounts as they have to fit the specific robot. Therefore it is obvious for us that we have to 3D-print several kinds of grippers”, says Ingolf Sveidahl, Project Manager at RoboTool.

The demand for 3D-printed solutions is constantly on the rise according to The Danish Technological Institute. Manufacturing companies are always seeking to innovate and streamline their production, and 3D printing might be a way to do so. Lighter materials, increased flexibility, and efficient production are among the key factors.

Source: The Danish Technological Institute (In Danish)