Components with highly sensitive surfaces are used in automotive, semiconductor and display technologies as well as for complex optical lens systems. During the production process, these parts are transferred in between many process steps. Each pick-up and release with conventional gripping systems involves the risk of either contamination of the surfaces with residues from transportation adhesives, or damaging due to mechanical gripping. Suction cup systems diminish residues, but fail in a vacuum or on rough surfaces. Researchers at the Leibniz Institute for New Materials (INM) enhanced the Gecko adhesion principle that adhesion can be switched on and off in vacuum.
With the "gecobot 2.0," the researchers from the INM will be presenting their new Gecomer® technology at the International Innovation Conference and Expo TechConnect World from June 16 to 17, Washington DC, USA, at Stand 301in the German Area.
"Artificially produced microscopic pillars, so-called gecko structures, adhere to various items. By bending these pillars, the adhesion can be switched off. Thus, items can be lifted and quickly released," explains Karsten Moh from the Program Division Functional Microstructures. "This technique is particularly interesting in vacuum, as suction cups fail here," says Moh. Parts, for example, can be moved within a reactor chamber for vapor phase deposition (CVD or PVD). With the currently developed adhesion system, objects with smooth surfaces can be lifted and released, having a weight of approximately 100 grams per square centimeter (ca.0.03 lbs per square inch)." In our test runs, the system has proved successful even after 20,000 runs," says the upscaling expert Moh.
The development group is now working on the gripping of more complicated objects without leaving residues using this adhesion principle. "Then, we could also move glass lenses or automobile bumpers without damaging them in the production process," says Moh.
From June 16 to 17, the researchers of the INM present this and further results at Stand 301 in the German Area. This includes new developments in the field of display techniques, printed electronics, corrosion protection, antifouling and antifriction.
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