Metal 3D printed spherical gripper

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David Durbin

May 24, 2023

Strong and light end-of-arm tooling using generative design

This application concept was designed by application engineers at UltiMaker to showcase one of the many possible ways that metal FFF technology can improve existing processes.

Our team used their experience working alongside partners in a wide range of different industries to identify a valuable use case that leverages the unique advantages of metal printing on UltiMaker printers.


End of arm tooling (EOAT) needs to be strong while remaining light. Excessive mass can reduce the payload capacity and movement speed of the robotic equipment. Slower, heavier EOAT can thus negatively impact production throughput.

This type of EOAT consists of two custom-shaped end effectors installed on two sliding arms. The grippers' surface envelops spherical objects from both ends, securing the product during pick-and-place operations.

An auxiliary suction cup is installed on the top channel as an off-the-shelf component showing full integration with readily available production accessories.

MFFF Spherical-Gripper-Body-ultimaker-metal-3d-printing-1
This end of arm tooling (EOAT) needed to be strong while remaining light. Therefore, MFFF combined with generative design were used


The structure of this concept part was optimized using Autodesk® Fusion 360® generative design software.

Starting from a set of fixed geometrical constraints such as the shape of the item being picked-up, connecting base geometry, and suction cup position, the software was able to significantly reduce the weight of the part while still complying with MFFF design principles.

MFFF Spherical-Gripper-Body-ultimaker-metal-3d-printing-2
Excessive mass in this end of arm tooling part can reduce the payload capacity and movement speed of robotic equipment


The result is a lightweight and easy to print part. Because of the generative design software used, the part has an internal air channel that was generated with a 45-degree angle and a diameter of less than 8 mm so that it provides an obstruction-free passage while still not needing internal supports to print.

Interested in 3D printing metal?

This part showcases the many ways metal 3D printing can achieve breakthrough results in the production of functional stainless steel prototypes.

Click below for more explore more MFFF application inspiration. Or discover how to buy the Ultimaker Metal Expansion Kit for yourself.

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