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Publication date: 24 April 2007

Anna Eisinberg, Arianna Menciassi, Paolo Dario, Joerg Seyfried, Ramon Estana and Heinz Woern

The aim of the research is to perform an accurate micromanipulation task, the assembly of a lens system, implementing safe procedures in a flexible microrobot‐based…



The aim of the research is to perform an accurate micromanipulation task, the assembly of a lens system, implementing safe procedures in a flexible microrobot‐based workstation for micromanipulation.


The approach to the micromanipulation research issue consists in designing and building a micromanipulation station based on mobile microrobots, with 5 degrees of freedom and a size of a few cm3, capable of moving and manipulating by the use of tube‐shaped and multilayered piezo‐actuators. Controlled by visual and force/tactile sensor information, the micro‐robot is able to perform manipulation with a motion resolution down to 10 nm in a telemanipulated or semi‐automated mode, thus freeing human operators from the difficult task of handling minuscule objects directly. Equipped with purposely‐developed grippers, the robot can take over high‐precise grasping, transport, manipulation and positioning of mechanical or biological micro‐objects. A computer system using PC‐compatible hardware components ensures the robot operation in real‐time.


The robots and the grippers described in this paper are highly interesting tools. Even if each specific application may require specific modifications, the proposed solution is extremely versatile, due to the ability to manipulate with a very large stroke (being the size of the base the robot works on) with a very high motion resolution. These positive aspects do make the robots very suitable also for working in a scanning electron microscope, for wafer inspection in a laboratory, and so on.

Research limitations/implications

Future work will include modifications to the existing system in order to enhance the flexibility of the workstation: e.g. other robots and other tools with different characteristics will be designed and fabricated. Research efforts will be devoted in particular to further miniaturization of the actuators.

Practical implications

This workstation can be used as a platform for assembling novel prototypes, and as a test bench for testing new assembly procedures or new products, e.g. the lens assembly procedure described in this work, even if not suitable for mass production, was useful to assess the performance of the two‐lenses assembly system itself, compared to standard systems with just one lens.


The system proves that the development of mobile micro‐robots is a promising approach to realise very small and flexible tools useful for different applications. By means of its intuitive teleoperation mode, the system enables the user to work in the micro‐world; due to the force feedback the user is almost immersed into the micro‐world and gets a sense for the handled object.


Assembly Automation, vol. 27 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-5154


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