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Get the custom item you need for your EOAT from EMI.

From 1 part to 100 parts, simple or complex, EMI’s 3D printing service is fast and economical.

3D Printing by EMI

Since 2013, EMI’s engineers have been utilizing Additive Manufacturing (AM) in robotic handling applications for the automotive, medical, consumer good and plastic injection molding industry. As an industry leader in robotic End-of-Arm-Tooling (EOAT), we have found new, innovative ways to approach the traditional EOAT application. From custom nests to advanced gripper fingers, EMI is continually pushing the limits of 3D printing to support automation in the plastic injection molding industry.

3D Printing Processes from EMI

EMI’s Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) printer has the ability to print with a base nylon material and incorporate a continuous strand composite filament (carbon fiber, fiber glass, Kevlar or high-temp fiberglass) into the workpiece for added strength.

Our high volume production printer uses Multi-Jet Fusion (MJF) technology. It is a powder based machine that has the ability to print components in PA-12 (nylon) and provide functional components with isotropic mechanical properties. This printing method is ideal for nesting fixtures, gripper fingers, brackets and components with internal pneumatic channeling.

Our third, is a Stereolithography (or SLA) printer that has the ability to print at a layer height as low as 25 micron (0.025 mm), providing exceptional detail. This printing method has proven to be effective for high precision alignment nests, 2-piece fingers and complex vacuum manifolds. The wide variety of materials available for this printing method make it an extremely versatile 3D printer.

EMI also provides 3D printed components for clean room applications. Please contact EMI EOAT Engineering for more details.

SZ16 with machined and 3d printed fingers

Machined vs 3D Printed Fingers

Our engineers will work with you to develop an optimal product by analyzing your project requirements and time considerations. 3D printing materials have advanced significantly, and the resins we use are well suited to 3D printing gripper fingers and other EOAT components. See our comparison chart below for more information.

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3D printed Nest for pneumatic magnet gripper

Magnet Gripper Part Nest

Small metal molding inserts can be tough to orient and handle. Pictured is a magnet gripper/nest setup that can precisely place a special insert into a mold cavity. Using a magnet gripper with a nest specifically designed to grip an insert in a complex orientation can simplify the insert loading process.

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3D printed Nest with Soft fabric

Fiber Lined Parts for Soft Touch (Flocking)

Fiber lined parts are used as a soft-touch interface for injection molded components that require a gentle interacting surfaces. This soft touch surface can be applied to custom nests (pictured), fingers, pins, and fixtures broadening the applications that additive manufacturing can benefit. Fiber lined parts are being tested for the durability and endurance that the injection molding industry requires.

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3d printed pneumatic finger gripper

SGP-S Lightweight Finger Blanks

Components that require very specific geometries can be quickly prototyped using FDM (left finger pictured) and validated before a tool is finished giving ample time for design changes to improve performance. When a final geometry is chosen, the parts can be manufactured (either traditional machining or through additive manufacturing) knowing that they will work perfectly (right finger pictured).

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3d printed gripper finger

HNBR Padded Gripper Finger Stops

Custom angled paddle gripper fingers with HNBR pad mechanically fastened. Pads create a soft touch surface and can be replaced easier than glued pads.

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3d printed fingers for electric grippers

3D Printed Fingers for Electric Grippers

EMI has a range of electric grippers available. We can supply the gripper, custom fingers, and mounting interface for your robotic application.

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3d printed fingers for eoat toolings

3D Printed Components used in EOAT

3D printed components offer solutions for parts with geometries where gripping is often difficult. They are also useful in applications with tight space restrictions. These components are tailor made to fit your parts for an improved process.

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3d printed fingers for electric grippers

Custom 3D Printed Nests for Clean Room Applications

Contact our Engineering Department to discuss your Clean Room EOAT project.

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3d printed sla material

How EMI is using the SLA printer:

  • We are developing the SLA printing method to solve light wight and high accuracy applications.
  • We see opportunities for high precision alignment nests, 2-piece fingers, and complicated vacuum manifolds.
  • SLA is known to be of a significantly higher quality print than our other methods, so this helps with very small and intricate printed parts.

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History of Additive Manufacturing at EMI

EMI first used 3D printing to prototype gripper fingers for insert-load applications back in 2013. We quickly adopted Additive Manufacturing and successfully applied it to our custom EOAT applications. Reduced cost coupled with the fast turnaround time of AM streamlined our design process and enabled us to explore new implementations of the technology.

We began by developing our own in-house test pieces to validate the performance of different printing methods and materials to find which would be the best fit for EMI.

After EMI's years of research, field-testing and customer feedback, we found that Multi-Jet Fusion (MJF) was the best solution for end-use, production components in EOAT. For proto-typing, internal use and non-critical components, our engineers have been using Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM).

Take a Closer Look! Compare the CAD rendering with the a photo of the actual printed part!

Additive Manufacturing vs Machine made Parts

Advantages of Additive Manufacturing Advantages of Machined Parts
Relatively high temperature High Temperatures
Light weight Strong
Short lead times Rigid
Less design constraints -
Less waste -
Easily integrate vacuum circuits Rigid

Material Specs

The nylon (PA12) that our components are printed in is a suitable material for end of arm tooling in the injection molding industry. Heat deflection temperature gives a good look at the temperature that our parts can withstand, keeping in mind that these values are measured when the entire plastic sample is saturated at the tested temperature. Tensile strength and elongation values help quantify that the material is both strong and to some degree flexible, these are beneficial properties for gripper fingers that have to withstand many cycles and still retain their precision. Strength and flexibility are assets that can be tuned through design, this becomes appropriate when creating rigid nests or fixtures that have to be precise and stable to hold parts in the exact orientation desired.

Melting Point 187°C / 369°F
Part Density 1.01 g/cm^3
Tensile strength, XY 48 MPa/6960 psi
Tensile strength, Z 48 MPa/6960 psi
Elongation at break, XY 20%
Elongation at break, Z 15%
Heat deflection temperature (@ 0.45 MPa, 66 psi), XY 175°C/347°F
Heat deflection temperature (@ 0.45 MPa, 66 psi), Z 175°C/347°F
Heat deflection temperature (@ 1.82 MPa, 264 psi), XY 95°C/203°F
Heat deflection temperature (@ 1.82 MPa, 264 psi), Z 106°C/223°F

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