Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited
Keywords: Grippers, Insertion
Applicant: Systems Engineering Co. (US)Patent number: US5953804Publication date: 21 September 1999Title: Automated workpiece insertion method and apparatus
The invention is a method and apparatus for inserting a plurality of workpieces into a receptacle to form a tightly spaced array of workpieces. An assembly mechanism is used to individually grasp the workpieces and insert them into an open slot within a receptacle. The assembly mechanism includes a robot arm having an insertion head. The insertion head includes an upper rotatable drive portion, an intermediate drive portion, and a pair of gripper fingers. The gripper fingers are pivotally mounted to a pair of mounting blocks on the intermediate drive portion. The mounting blocks are movable between an extended position and a retracted position, such that the distance between the pair of gripper fingers can be adjusted. When the mounting blocks are moved to the retracted position, the gripper fingers close to capture an individual workpiece between the fingers. Each of the gripper fingers is mounted to one of the mounting blocks by a resilient mounting structure. The resilient mounting structure includes a spring member positioned between an arm on the gripper finger and the mounting block. The spring element exerts a bias force to pivot the gripper finger into a gripping position. The intermediate drive portion is mounted within the upper, rotatable drive portion to permit movement between the drive portions. At least one sensor is mounted between the intermediate drive portion and the upper drive portion to indicate when the gripper fingers or workpiece contact an immovable object in the downward direction.