What are end effectors, and what makes them crucial to robotics?




One of, if not the most crucial part of a robotic arm is the end effector, also known as end-of-arm tooling. An end effector is what makes a robotic arm functional. End effectors are what enable the robotic arm to do a task, be it a gripper, welding torch, camera, or something else completely. The growing popularity of robotic arms as an automation solution makes it more crucial than ever to comprehend end effector details, which is precisely what this article will address. 

What kinds of end effectors are there?

The three primary categories of end effectors that are most often distinguished are grippers, process tools, and sensors. Prior to delving into the subcategories that each of these has (which will be discussed subsequently), it is important to comprehend the distinctions among the initial three types.


Because of their adaptability to a wide range of applications and generally lower cost when compared to other end effector types, robotic arm grippers are by far the most popular and well-known end effectors. Robotic grippers are the preferred choice for automated pick and place, material handling, and assembly jobs due to their ability to grasp and handle things. However, they may also be used in a wide range of other applications.  Similar like a human hand, the fingers of several gripper types may separately grab and release items. To grasp and move items, some more sophisticated grippers might employ suction cups, magnets, needles, and other tools. Applications for grippers are the same regardless of shape.

Process Tools

Thinking about process tool end effectors in terms of grippers may be the simplest. Grippers are used to handle and move items, whereas process tools (such as welding or painting) physically alter them.


Robotic arm sensors can be employed as an end effector on their own or as an auxiliary part of an end effector. Sensors are frequently utilized as end effectors when fitted to check parts using cameras to make sure procedures have been carried out correctly. Not all sensors can be employed as end effectors; other options include laser scanners, infrared sensors, and ultrasonic sensors (Source: FerRobotics).  Sensors are still widely used when supporting an end effector. Force sensors are useful for grippers because they can measure the pressure in hydraulic and pneumatic systems and identify leaks or other issues as soon as they happen. A robot arm may also use cameras as a vision system to precisely identify which parts need to be picked up and transported, independent of where the part or the arm are located. 

3D printed grippers

Despite the wide variety of gripper variations available, there are plenty of specialized applications that call fo


r a more distinctive gripper. Because 3D printing has the ability to generate complicated geometries that are typically not attainable using injection molding or machining, it is a viable solution to take into consideration in situations like these. Moreover, 3D printed plastic grippers are less expensive and lighter than traditional metal grippers. A prime illustration of a 3D printed gripper success story is Carecos Kosmetik GmbH. They decided to move from machined aluminum grippers to igus 3D printed grippers since the aluminum grippers were too expensive and took too long to arrive. In addition to being 85% less expensive and arriving 70% quicker, the 3D printed grippers provide reliable, long-lasting function.

End effector compatibility

There’s always the installation issue to consider, even if you’ve done your homework on robotic end effectors and chosen the ideal one for your needs. In the event that the arm and end effector are incompatible, compatibility issues might surface and complicate matters further.


Regardless of how you approach it, robot end effectors may be a challenging subject. But maybe now that you’ve read this blog, you have a better grasp of the subject and are prepared to proceed with developing your own robotic applications.

If you are interested in robotic arms or want to know more about how to improve production efficiency. Please contact Robotnext today for advice and cost support. Details via hotline: 0909 914 837.

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