Robotic arms help manufacture all kinds of products, but who manufactures these robotic arms? In this case study, we worked with a robotic arm manufacturing company to 3D print a customized set of end effectors for a toy assembling plant.

Robotic arm manufacturers often receive requests for the arms to be used in a wide variety of industries, for example, toy, automobile and medical. A customized set of end effector is needed for each of these different applications. Some industries even require customization within the industry as well.

In this case study of 3D printing end effectors for a toy assembling plant, different end effectors are needed for the assembly of the different parts of the toy. 3D printing is highly effective and suitable for this due to the highly customizable nature of 3D printing itself. We were able to produce the specialized designs of the different end effectors for the use in each specific toy part.

Usually, the conventional method of Computer Numerical Control (CNC) is used. However, as CNC is usually used for metal parts, an end effector made completely out of metal was too heavy for the light robotic arm to move around swiftly. Some of the end effectors also had complicated shapes that increases the cost of CNC usage. Therefore, a customized set of end effectors was required to be manufactured instead, and 3D printing was selected. 3D printing was able to address the issue of weight and design complexity. The cost of 3D printing the end effectors is also lower than using CNC as the design complexity does not affect the cost of 3D printing, since the factor for 3D printing cost is only based on the volume of material used.

Therefore, we used the Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) method to 3D print the end effectors, as FDM is one of the most economical method of 3D printing. The Nylon material was also chosen as it is an extremely tough material and much lighter than metal. This resulted in the end effector being light enough for the robotic arm to function at its optimal speed.

Nowadays, toys and even the machines producing the toys are starting to be 3D printed. For more information on 3D printed toys, you may visit our case study on Toys here.