More power to women’s hands

To help the growing number of female workers in the manufacturing sector, a “female” version of Bioservo Technologies’ Ironhand robotic glove has been developed to help compensate for the difference in grip strength between men and women. Eichenberger Gewinde’s five drive screws are at the heart of this system: they convert the rotary movement of the small servo motors into clean linear motion.

In terms of equal rights between women and men in the professional field and particularly in industry, many reforms are still necessary. Eichenberger Gewinde is on the side of progress and is helping to even out the difference in grip strength between women and men. In many industries, advanced mechanization and digitization enable modern machines to perform physically difficult work and lighten loads. In the Ironhand robotic glove, designed by Bioservo Technologies, five application-optimized drive screws give the user a high grip force.
This mechanical glove strengthens the human grip thanks to the patented SEM technology. A grip is normally initiated by the forearm and hand muscles. These muscles pull the tendons leading from the five fingers. Ironhand works in the same way: pressure-sensitive sensors at the fingertips of the glove detect when the user grasps an object, and a microcomputer calculates the power required. Servomotors drive the five robust, cold-rolled, 5×2 mm (Ø5 mm, 2 mm pitch) Eichenberger ball screws, which are attached to the glove with thin wires. The slender connections move the fingers, and the additional force is generated by the thin glove. The higher the pressure on the sensors, the more power the glove delivers. Ironhand thus recognizes how the user grips an object and intuitively and automatically adjusts the gripping movement.

Ironhand mimics the user’s gripping movements, adding strength and endurance.
Ironhand mimics the user’s gripping movements, adding strength and endurance.

Five drive screws give women more hand power

Ironhand is available in four different sizes and can be worn by both left and right-handed people. The battery pack, which is worn like a backpack, contains both a computer unit and the ball screws with the motor that bring the various finger joints to life. The five ball screws convert the rotary motion of the small servomotors into a clean linear motion. Mastery of highly accurate positioning with the shortest of strokes and high dynamics in continuous operation, no compromises on safety and reliability, these are the requirements specified by Bioservo Technologies for the ball screws used in Ironhand. Maintenance intervals, service life and, of course, costs, all play a major role as well. Eichenberger ball screws combine speed, precision and minimum space requirements. In addition, the ideal ratio of spindle to pitch enhances the efficiency of the movement. The screws, each with three ingeniously conceived returns integrated in the nut, are also surprisingly light and increase the cost-effectiveness of the overall solution.

To change the Ironhand’s profiles, the user simply presses a button on the remote control mounted in the chest area.
To change the Ironhand’s profiles, the user simply presses a button on the remote control mounted in the chest area.

Improved ergonomics

Ironhand mimics the user’s gripping movements, adding strength and endurance. This extra power relieves muscles and conserves workers’ energy, improving their well-being and productivity.
For example, a woman, with less effort, can perform intense, highly repetitive and/or static work with ease using this robotic glove, which provides a maximum of 80 N of grip force in just a few milliseconds. In assembly work, where cables are stripped, crimped or cut by the operator using pliers, Ironhand helps operators by reducing their workload. Ironhand also helps when they have to hold objects for long periods of time, for example when installing glass. When handling heavy equipment on construction sites, including grinders, screwdrivers or even jackhammers, Ironhand provides exceptional strength, giving operators the power they need. This power could be to cut metal using and angle grinder or in logistics, to load and unload boxes of parts, the range of applications is vast. Users can predefine different programs. Eichenberger ball screws allow the fingers to be moved with extreme precision and positioning accuracy. Ironhand distinguishes between combinations of sensor sensitivity, force, finger symmetry and locking tendency. To change the profiles, the user simply presses a button on the remote control mounted in the chest area. With these settings, it is possible to react flexibly to different requirements during the working day, for example when less strenuous tasks are performed in the morning and more physically demanding tasks are performed in the afternoon. This also means that different users can work with one system.