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Drilling and Tapping End Effectors Information

Drilling and tapping end effectors consist of tooling adapted to connect to the end of robotic arms. Their objective is to interact with the local work environment according to the activity they are designed for. End effectors are configured to execute a broad scope of machining and industrial tasks comprising drilling, drill-tapping, rigid tapping, milling, and counter-boring.


drilling and tapping end effectors specification guideEnd effectors constructed for drilling and tapping perform machining of holes and threads in targeted materials. In addition to fulfilling these requirements, the units offer supplementary capabilities, including pressure sensing, surface contact sensing, and position feedback data. Select models offer automation to support other procedures that include cutting tool substitution or change-over, chip evacuation, automatic connect/disconnect via pressure-foot, and automatic linking/detachment of the end effector and the robot arm.


The use of robots for drilling and tapping benefits from the ability of the machine's sufficient rigidity to withstand high axial forces involved in drilling activities. This applies when working with hard metals. As a result, the tooling relies on unique drilling methods to handle individual circumstances depending on axial pressures. The technology is deployed in applications such as automotive assembly lines.


Types of Drilling and Tapping End Effectors


Drilling and tapping end effectors come in an assortment of categories. Some are designed for industry or application-specific jobs. The products accommodate robotic or CNC frame style platforms, or both in certain cases. Assembly line operations featured in the automotive industry employ these components.


Some examples of specialized structures are found below.


Rotary-percussive corer (ROPEC): The primary purpose of the unit is collecting samples on interplanetary missions for scientific objectives. It uses an actuator system containing five drills allowing for enhanced control. It offers autonomous operation as well as the ability to change drill bits. The device is capable of assisting in astrobiology functions along with missions focused on sample return. The ROPEC drill has the capacity to deposit a complete drill bit containing gathered rock core into a cache architecture for examination back on Earth. Autonomous bit changes allow for expanded capability.


Bit attachments include:


  • Rock abrasion brushing bit (RABBit): The performance of these items is comparable to rock abrasion tools seen on the Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers.
  • Core preview bit: The bits permit movement of acquired cores out of the bit to a preview tray for observation before they are stored in sample caches.
  • Powder acquisition bit: The element comprises a hollow drill bit featuring an internal sleeve for acquiring drill cuttings.


Orbital drilling end effectors: Structures relying on orbital drilling technology are a recent innovation aimed at overcoming obstacles related to the lack of rigidity in robotic operations. The process is analogous to helical procedures implemented by machine tools when creating holes of distinct sizes with a single cutter. As the element spins on its axis, the spindle head starts rotating to the point of forming a hole of a specified diameter.


The spindle head incorporates a mechanism with inner and outer eccentric bodies. Their arrangement facilitates mutual rotation to maintain the tool at a sustained radial offset adjustment. Solutions with a programmable cycle are available as well. The attribute allows the creation of holes of numerous shapes and dimensions, including complex forms. The orbital option generates less thrust force compared to the conventional approach. With this feature, the machines produce holes free from burrs in materials such as carbon fiber reinforced plastic and titanium.


When drilling occurs, the tool experiences limited contact with a workpiece. At the same time, air cooling is directed at the cutting device and the surface of the hole, allowing for machining with little or no lubrication. Heat extraction lowers the chance of matrix melting in composites or metals. Chips are subject to removal by airflow extraction.


Orbital drilling works well for making holes in stacked materials. These include CFRP/aluminum and CFRP/titanium serving aerospace applications. Differing wear factors and compensation curves are experienced with stacked materials. The orbital approach is accompanied by software to direct dynamic tool offset adjustments as necessary for reducing tool wear. This enables formation of substantial numbers of holes at tight tolerance levels with significant improvement in instrument life.


How Drilling and Tapping End Effectors Work

drilling and tapping end effectors specification guide 

Robots equipped with drilling and tapping end effectors rely on force closure to grip equipment. This is achieved with grippers or mechanical fingers. Industrial machines integrate two-finger grippers. Determining gripping surface shape is dependent on the objects subject to handling. Concavity on a gripper surface aids in grasping spherical items while a plane surface is suitable for square shaped pieces.


Frictional force acts on objects held by mechanical arms. The gripping surface construction using soft materials possessing a high coefficient of friction helps avoid damaging the article. The instrument must bear acceleration and motion generated by the movement of the item as well as its weight. Typical grippers employed in industrial areas are mechanical. However, they sometimes operate via suction or the magnetic force. Both metal sheet handling and automotive applications use vacuum cups and electromagnets.


Grippers consist of the following types:


Mechanical grippers: The majority of the models implement force closure grasping and consist of two, three, or more mechanical fingers.


Bernoulli grippers control an object without making direct contact by confining it to the force field. This alternative is appropriate for silicon wafer and photovoltaic cell handling as well as in the textile industry.


Electrostatic grippers function based on the difference in charge between the gripper and a part, known as the electrostatic force. The device activates the force.


Capillary grippers engage surface tension of a liquid meniscus located between the gripper and the item for centering and grasping it.


Cryogenic grippers: Units of this class operate by freezing a small amount of liquid and using the force of the resulting ice to lift and handle an object.


Ultrasonic grippers: Pressure standing waves raise an element and hold it at a certain height while a laser source generates pressure to move micro-parts such as cells in fluids.


Needle grippers: Also called intrusive grippers, these combine friction and form closure when operating.




The tooling is featured in an array of fields, including:


  • Space
  • Medical
  • Manufacturing
  • Textiles
  • Semiconductors

Selecting Drilling and Tapping End Effectors


Drilling and tapping end effectors are highly specialized pieces of equipment. When selecting a product, determine if a recommended version designed for the application in question is available. Check manufacturer's specifications to ensure that the system under consideration meets the functional parameters.


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