Parallel Robot Grippers: Which is Best?

There are so many options for grippers! Which one is best? We compare two types of grippers head-to-head.

Parallel grippers, adaptive grippers, big grippers, small grippers… there are a lot of different terms for robot grippers out there!

But, the real question is… Which is best?

In this article, we compare the advantages and disadvantages of the two gripper types, and compare them head-to-head… in a showdown.

Related: Benefits of Using a Parallel Robot Gripper

Each New Gripper Makes Selection a Little Bit Harder

Why are we asking this question now? Well, you see, we have just released our Hand-E Adaptive Gripper. We’re very excited about it!

It’s our first translational gripper. It’s got many of the advantages of our popular 2-Finger Adaptive Grippers — which we’ve been building for 10 years — but with the added bonus of being a highly customizable parallel gripper suited to precision applications.

We understand if you’re a bit apprehensive about this new gripper. After all, it makes the decision of which gripper to buy just that little bit harder. You may be wondering: What are the advantages of a translational gripper over a rotational one? Is this gripper more flexible? Which is the best for my application?

Relax. Don’t worry. Let’s clarify the differences between the two types.

What is a Rotational Gripper?

All of our adaptive grippers allow a robot to pick up a wide variety of different objects without ever needing to change the gripper. However, our rotational grippers (2F-85 and 2F-140) have the capability to adapt to the shape of objects, allowing a secure grip without the need for custom fingertips.

The flexibility of the fingers comes from their parallel linkage mechanism. This cool (and patented) mechanical design allows the fingertips to remain parallel as they grasp together and allows them to curl around objects for an encompassing grip.

Our 2-Finger and 3-Finger Adaptive Grippers have been game-changers in the collaborative robot market — if we can say so ourselves! As their flexibility comes from stiff, parallel linkages, they have a higher gripping force compared to some other adaptive grippers on the market which use flexible materials to adapt their shape around objects.

What is a Translational Gripper?

Translational parallel grippers allow the robot to perform precision grasps on objects within a narrow range of sizes. They tend to have a small stroke (the distance between the gripper being fully open and closed) — most parallel grippers on the market have a stroke of less than 50 mm.