Traditional grippers used in industrial automation are designed for specific tasks and their mechanisms are composed primarily of stiff components. These systems tend to be expensive, heavy, bulky, and not easily adaptable to a wide variety of object shapes, sizes, and compliances. New industrial applications increasingly involve a wider range of parts to be grasped, and to accommodate part variety in size and complexity grippers need to be changed on the go, requiring tool changers and other supporting hardware. As a result, operational cycle times increase due to the constant need to pause for tool changes, and cell space is reduced due to the need to place multiple grippers (i.e. one for every possible task) on a fixture in the work space.
In contrast, soft grippers, thanks to the soft materials used in their structures, allow direct handling of various components which might differ in size, complexity, weight, and compliance. Their soft structures can achieve better control over the contact area with objects and facilitate various grasping modes such as pinching, wrap around, pincer, tong, etc.
S. Jain, T. Stalin, V. Subramaniam, J. Agarwal and P. V. y Alvarado, “A Soft Gripper with Retractable Nails for Advanced Grasping and Manipulation,” 2020 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Paris, France, 2020, pp. 6928-6934, doi: 10.1109/ICRA40945.2020.9197259.