Intelligent Magnetic Gripping Revolutionizes Ferrous Automation Applications

Intelligent Magnetic Gripping Revolutionizes Ferrous Automation Applications

Magswitch Electric Series (E-Series) intelligent magnetic grippers can be used for a variety of applications, including bin picking, fixture tooling, ergonomic lift assist and machine tending.

Originally published on The Robot Report.

Robotic end effectors enable a robotic arm to interact with the world around it. As robotic arms are used in more diverse industries, the demand for end effectors that can adapt to multiple use cases has risen.

Magswitch Electric Series (E-Series) intelligent magnetic grippers can be used for a variety of applications, including bin picking, fixture tooling, ergonomic lift assist and machine tending.

Festo, a Magswitch distribution partner since 2019, reports surging interest in the E-Series of magnetic grippers from Magswitch.

Intelligent Magnetic Grippers

Magswitch E-Series intelligent magnetic grippers are not electromagnets nor are they electropermanent magnets (EPMs). Magswitch E-Series units contain proprietary switching technology that enables reduced energy consumption, faster actuation, intelligent magnetic gripping, part correct/part incorrect feedback capabilities and two to three times the holding forces of any similarly sized electromagnet or electropermanent magnet. Pole shoes that shape the magnetic field are offered in standard and custom configurations to ensure the correct grip for the application.

Magswitch E-Series intelligent grippers are smaller than electromagnets, which reduces the size of end of arm tools. With less weight and size, designers are frequently able to use a smaller robot, thus lowering capital cost as well as reducing footprint.

E-Series magnetic grippers are sought after in stamping applications, including progressive dies. In a stamping operation, intelligent variable field output can separate a single blank from a pile and then identify whether the blank is the correct thickness. These units can identify and grip individual blanks down to .6 mm in thickness.

In resistance spot welding applications, E-Series units provide single-sided gripping technology, eliminating the need for clamps. With clamps removed, the spot weld gun is provided simpler access to the product. With a rapid on/off actuation time of 250 milliseconds, the E-Series lowers cycle time compared to clamps.

E-Series Magnetic Grippers

E-Series intelligent magnetic grippers can be used in many other applications, including automotive assembly, white goods manufacturing, heavy industrial manufacturing, electronic assembly, bin picking, measuring, checking, ergonomic lift-assist and collaborative cells.

“We are just at the beginning of envisioning the range of possibilities for intelligent magnetic gripping,” said Josh Bond, Automotive Industry Segment Specialist, Festo.

Intelligent Magnetic Gripping

Bond gave two examples of novel uses of intelligent magnetic gripping. In one unexpected application, an E-Series unit detects the presence of a welded bolt inside an automotive B Pillar and alerts if the bolt is missing. The solution was low cost and saves the manufacturer a considerable amount in rework from the early detection of missing bolts.

Gripping of A-Class Surfaces

E-Series units with non-marring polymer offsets are being used for safe, fast and effective gripping of A-Class surfaces without blemishing those surfaces. The magnet uses a small amount of force to gently attach to, not bump, the surface, thus preserving the integrity of the finish. Once the part is gripped and separated from adjacent parts, the tool automatically switches to full power for maximum performance. With the E-Series proprietary switching reducing magnetism to zero in the off state, ferrous particles fall off the gripper, ensuring a clean surface.


E-Series units feature world-class weight-to-force ratios and deliver breakaway forces from ounces to tons. They operate on 24 volts DC with serial communication protocols. There are options for control via any Ethernet protocol.