addFlex - Additive manufacturing for lightweight design of flexible grippers

Key Info

Basic Information

01.06.2022 to 31.05.2025
Organizational Unit:
Chair of Production Engineering, Innovation Management
Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action

Research partner

    • Plan Software GmbH
    • Feinwerktechnik Otto Harrandt GmbH
    • Zimmer GmbH
    • LASER Bearbeitungs- und Beratungszentrum NRW GmbH
    • TWT GmbH Science & Innovation




Due to the increasing degree of automation in many industrial sectors, industrial robots are coming into focus as sources of CO2 emissions. End effectors such as grippers are a significant factor influencing the energy requirements of a robot. The use of flexible, additively manufactured lightweight grippers promises optimization potential here. This is the subject of the BMWK-funded research project "addFlex - additive manufacturing for lightweight design of flexible grippers". The project is funded in the context of the “Technologietransfer-Programm Leichtbau”-Programme for Lightweight Design. The aim is to develop the use of topology optimization, gripper simulation, and additive manufacturing in a digital and automated process chain and to exploit the potential for increasing sustainability.

Currently, there is no such process chain that allows industrial users to develop and manufacture lightweight grippers intuitively and independently. The focus of the whole project is therefore the digitalized process chain as a standardization solution for the automated design of gripper fingers to connect to a basic gripper module.

The project addresses two main research areas: Firstly, the handling process is virtually validated by using a computer-aided simulation. This technology is used to determine robot trajectories and process forces, which can be used to check manufacturing and design parameters. A gripper that has previously been designed automatically can thus be tested virtually before it is manufactured and used in the real process. On the other hand, possible technologies and inherent process parameters for the additive manufacturing of gripper fingers are analyzed and selected for the intended applications by carrying out a detailed parameter study. In addition, an integration of Re-X strategies for the realization of a recycling capability of the grippers is being researched. This will enable the recycling of the gripper fingers and the re-use of the basic gripper module. The recycled material from the gripper fingers can be used to produce new gripper elements for integration into the basic gripper.