Politecnico di Torino - Corso Duca degli Abruzzi, 24 - 10129 Torino, ITALY

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Grasping system with magnetic coupling for robotic handling

magnetic locatormagnetic manipulatormanipulation of flexible objectsmechano-magnetic plierstextiles


The invention consists of a method and related device for the automatic handling of flexible items, such as clothes, bags and the like. The device includes a mechanical manipulator coupled to a magnetic manipulator with independent actions, able to position the mechanical manipulator at specific points of the flexible object to be manipulated, thanks to the magnetic interaction between the magnetic manipulator and a ferromagnetic source placed on the critical points of the flexible object itself. The magnetic positioning of the mechanical actuator then allows you to automatically change the configuration of the flexible object, for example by folding a garment or in reverse, by opening an originally folded garment.

Technical features

Robotic manipulators relate to the object to be manipulated. For the manipulation of flexible objects, the initial gripping points are central, whose positioning determines changes in the final configuration assumed by the object. Even with electromagnetic control to improve robotic manipulation, the difficulty of direct maneuvering of flexible objects by magnetic manipulators remains. The present invention (TRL= 3) uses electromagnetism to further control the gripping points of the object. The manipulator is composed of a mechanical end-effector, for the direct manipulation of the object, and a magnetic end-effector independent of the mechanical end-effector that allows to move the manipulator along the object near small ferromagnetic elements (between 1 and 10 cm3) present on it. The specific localization of the ferromagnetic element allows the mechanical end-effector to grasp the object around or behind the ferromagnetic element. In addition, the magnetic end-effector is connected to the mechanical end-effector via an opposition link, allowing the magnetic end-effector to move in opposition to the mechanical end-effector. This allows the flexible object to be lifted by the mechanical end-effector, therefore improving grip. Several manipulators can act simultaneously on the same object due to the ferromagnetic elements strategically placed on the flexible object to be manipulated.

Possible Applications

  • Handling flexible items;
  • For packaging;
  • For handling fabrics, clothes, bags and the alike.


  • Increased handling effectiveness due to a smaller size of the ferromagnetic gripping point(s) embeddable in a label or sticker applied to the object, without the need for additional supports or hangers, including heavier flexible objects;
  • Reduces the formation of wrinkles during the initial stages of the setting;
  • Increased predictability of the subsequent configuration of the article during its manipulation;
  • Reduction of heating of the flexible item;
  • Energy saving.