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Gecko technology – A new gripper generation?

New scientific developments in material sciences makes it possible to achieve attachment systems, which are indepentent on any supply system and are versatile regarding the properties of the components. [1 – 3]

The new materials are mainly bio-inspired technologies that are based on the gecko effect. This effect has been intensely studied since the last two decades. Thus, the effect is well known until know and becomes a serious alternative to commonly used techniques like vacuum tips and grabbing tools.

The gecko technology do not need any additional supply like vacuum or electricity to realize the attach/detach process. The reason for that can be found in its special micro structure as shown in Fig. 1. The micro structure is based on simple micro pillars. These pillars are responsible for a non-chemical adhesion force between the attachment system material and the component that has to be handled. The attachment process is realized by just tipping on the component. The detachment of the component can be realized by mechanical forces but also by other stimuli like temperature or (electro-)magnetic fields [3]. The main reason for the detachment is the buckling of the pillars. [3]

Using this technology it might be possible to even handle components which have hard limitation in its current handling. Such limits could be perforated components or components with a very sensitive and complicated surface structure. So, the future of attachment systems in micro assembly industry might be bio-inspired with quite promising advantages.


[1] Arzt E, Gorb S, Spolenak R, 2003, From micro to nano contacts in biological attachment devices, P NATL ACAD SCI USA, 100 (19), pp. 10603–6

[2] Greiner C , Campo A, Arzt E, 2007, Adhesion of Bioinspired Micropatterned Surfaces:  Effects of Pillar Radius, Aspect Ratio, and Preload, Langmuir, 23 (7), pp. 3495–3502

[3] Paretkar D et al., 2013, Preload-responsive adhesion: effects of aspect ratio, tip shape and alignment, J R SOC INTERFACE, 10 (83)


Fig. 1 Micro structure showing small pillars which are able to mimick the gecko effect [3]

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