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A Gripper is Usually NOT the Solution

In the business of designing and manufacturing specialty-type material handling equipment, we work with many customers doing a lot of interesting things. We are flexible and receptive to the requirements and desires of our customers and we never want to say “no”. It is a great benefit and service we offer that we are willing and able to accommodate unique design requirements and modify our products or design completely customized products for our customers and so we enjoy saying “yes we can” the majority of the time!

Over the course of 50 years doing this, we have learned a great many valuable lessons. We have found a lot of things that work, and quite a few that don’t work! One lesson that stands out is a special case of manipulator and gripper devices. A multi-axis manipulator with gripper is a unique device suited for applications where small parts need to be maneuvered easily and articulated into various positions. The manipulator itself can have up to 3-axes of motion: pitch, roll, and yaw. Utilizing only two of these axes is usually sufficient to achieve the positioning necessary and reduce cost, but it always depends on the particular application.

The gripper is the end effector that holds the part. It can take the form of a jaw gripper like what might typically come to mind when you picture “robotic gripper”, but it can also be a flat gripper with parallel jaws or an expanding coil ram gripper, a vacuum cup suction cup gripper, or a number of other possibilities. What we have found is that a complex design of a gripper such as these is actually cumbersome, over-complicated, and more often than not, completely unnecessary!


Nevertheless, many customers specifically ask for a gripper! The more and more we experience this, the more we realize that it is a psychological issue that creates this misconception. Didn’t see that coming? Stay with me here! We are all human, at least most of us, and we are born with these two hands and ten fingers and these are the tools we use to interact with the world. With this in mind, it actually makes perfect sense that when humans think about how they want to handle some parts or some heavy load, they tend to visualize it with their hands and how their fingers might grip and how their wrist and elbows might articulate it. I know, cognitive biases are crazy!

Armed with this knowledge (no pun intended), we can attempt to break this mind-set. We have such a diverse line of products to perform necessary operations in multiple ways. In most cases, a gripper is not actually the best way to accomplish these tasks. We are creative and resourceful and we can generally suggest more simple, economical, and safer methods for these handling or positioning operations. Now all we have to do is break that psychological barrier!!

Click here and Challenge Us to solve your lifting or handling project WITHOUT a gripper!

Click here to view our product line.

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NEW Mini-Articularm with 6-Axes

Your Economical Solution for Complex Projects

Mentor, Ohio June 11, 2019 – Air Technical Industries (ATI) announces the development of an exciting, unique, multifunctional mini-Articularm. The unit is agile and flexible with an articulating arm reach of 72”. It can be a worker’s best friend by giving the operator extra muscle strength of 150 lbs of lift, and ability to position effortlessly in X-Y-Z-R axis in a 12′ circle area.

Mini-Articularm with finger gripper

The unit helps the operator ergonomically to use more brain power instead of his muscle power for lifting, reaching, bending, pulling, and pushing. This prevents injuries as well as increasing production, performance, saving time, improving moral, getting the job done easier and faster.

The 6 axes of articulation are:

  1. Lifting action
  2. Wrist rotation 360°
  3. Forearm swing 270°
  4. Vertical tool arm swing 360°
  5. Gripper, lifting hook or fixture action
  6. Tool arm roll axis

The mini-Articularm can be electrically powered 110 volt single phase, 240-480 3 phase or air powered for hazardous areas. The controls are momentary rocker switch built into the control handle.

The mini-Articularm is an ideal tool for machine loading, assembly work, precise positioning, inverting and upending an item, picking it up from a horizontal position, rolling to vertical, or any angle desired.

The variety of end-effector or lifting tools are available and custom built for specific projects or multi tasks of different items to be handled.

Modernize your operation today, for a better future in the growing manufacturing sector, made in the U.S.A.

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For more information, Contact Us

Go to Articularm product page

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Meet “MIRA” – Mobile Industrial Robotic Arm

The versatile and self-propelled cherry-picker is up to the task.

Mentor, Ohio February 26, 2019 – Air Technical Industries (ATI) announces the development of an exciting new mobile, industrial, robotic crane, affectionately called “MIRA”. The robotic knuckle boom has 9-axes of articulation that give it the versatility and agility to perform a multitude of tasks that are difficult or dangerous for humans to perform.

MIRA - Mobile Industrial Robotic Arm

MIRA – Mobile Industrial Robotic Arm

The unit has an extended reach of 156” and height of 192”. It’s functional capabilities are mobility, steering, mast rotation, main arm lift, knuckle reach, automatic end effector leveling function, pitch, roll, and gripper or other end effector function such as fire hose nozzle or electromagnet, vacuum cup, expanding coil ram, etc.

Optional attachments include round ram for lifting coils, scoop to pick-up bulk items, or lift platform, lifting forks, or other custom attachments.

According to the needs of particular, unique requirements, MIRA can be a good craftsman and can handle loads in hard to reach areas, can handle a saw, drill, and can lift and position items for assembly. It can be equipped with suction cups to handle large or delicate fuselage components on an assembly line.

MIRA is capable of handling many unusual tasks too high or far for people to reach. It has an arm length of 152” and reaches up to 192” high.

MIRA is battery powered, 24 volts DC and has joystick and push button operated radio controls. It can be equipped with a search light and camera so that the operator can remotely see all the tasks at hand.

For operations in dangerous, flammable or explosive areas, MIRA can also operate on air pressure pneumatically for spark proof operation and underground for mining or some type of smooth surface.

MIRA is radio remote controlled and the operator can be hundreds of feet away in a safe area, controlling and manipulating MIRA to do dangerous tasks in areas that are toxic, explosive, flammable, chemical, etc, and can remove items from the area.

MIRA can of course perform conventional tasks such as loading, unloading, stacking, reaching on high shelves, or into enclosed containers, typical lifting and positioning of parts. Capacities available are 250 lb, 400 lb and 1000 lb and 3 arm length sizes 156”, 120” and 96” long.

Traveling speed is infinitely variable from zero to 4 mph and is equipped with automatic braking, red running light, battery gauge/hour meter, and a horn.

MIRA can really make the most routine, extraordinary, or dangerous job safe and easy with finger tip control and for sure – it can save human backs and lives.

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For more information, Contact Us.

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