Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche

The National Research Council (CNR) is the largest public research institution in Italy, with the mission of developing, diffusing, promoting research activities in the main fields of the knowledge, and studying their application for scientific, technological and economic progress of Italy. “Valorizzazione della Ricerca” Structure coordinates and manages CNR’s activities regarding research marketing, intellectual property protection and exploitation, setting up of new technological enterprises. The Structure relies on in-house expertise and acts in collaboration with the scientific network of Departments and Institutes, and with other offices of the Central Administration.

Piazzale Aldo Moro,7 - 00185, Roma

Micro-Gripper: Device and Method for the manipulation of components based on vacuum principle

managed by CNR


The manipulation of millimetric and sub-millimetric components presents several issues, often negligible at the macro-scale. Indeed, at the micro-scale, the high surface-to-volume ratio leads to the predominance of the superficial forces (e.g. electrostatic, van der Waals and capillary forces) over the gravitational force; therefore the manipulation of micro-parts is very challenging. The release is particularly a critical phase of the manipulation operation. In fact, the components often stick to the gripper and, since the gravitational force does not overcome the adhesion force, their release becomes uncertain and unreliable.
Starting from the prior art problems depicted above, our researchers have invented an innovative method for manipulating (grasping and releasing) micro-components, of different shape and dimension, by using vacuum forces; also they set up a new vacuum micro-gripping device adopting said method, realising an innovative micro-gripper able to cope with the micro-parts release issues.
Vacuum grippers are simple, cheap and allow the manipulation of a large variety of components as long as their surface is smooth and not porous. Due to the superficial forces, the release can be an issue (sticking), reducing therefore their possible range of applications. Many solutions have been implemented so far to improve the release phase, such as the use of a soft blow or additional tools, but their drawbacks make them unsuitable in several applications.
Our new vacuum manipulation device (micro-gripper) uses the same actuating system (a vacuum pump) for grasping the parts and controlling an innovative mechanical system to assist the release. The mechanical system is inside the gripper body and can move between two main positions, one of which allows the grasping of the component by vacuum and the other forces and improves its release as soon as the pump is turned off. It allows to manipulate micro-parts of different shape and material.


Our micro-gripper is effective, simple, low-cost, low-weight, easy to use and to be integrated inside a manipulation system.
The device allows the precise, reliable and safe manipulation of micro-parts, also of different shapes and materials, avoiding any considerable increase in weight nor excessive complication of the system. Our micro-gripper can be easily mounted on a robot or integrated in a manual or tele-operated manipulation system.




The micro-gripper developed may be applied in many fields since the manipulation of millimetric and sub-millimetric components is nowadays in use in several sectors, including for instance:
- electronics (e.g. (re-)manufacturing applications)
- micro-mechanics
- packaging
- telecommunication
- automotive
- medicine
- biomedical devices
- jewellery

Readiness Level (TRL)

technology validated in lab
"A first prototype has been fabricated and is currently used in the Laboratory of Micro-robotics at ITIA-CNR. Several experimental tests proved its ability to grasp and release micro-components of different shape and dimension. The prototype has shown very good potentialities in terms of reliability, precision and ease of integration."
(The pie chart refers to the entire portfolio contained in the database of the helpdesk)

Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) are a method of estimating technology maturity of Critical Technology Elements (CTE) of a program during the acquisition process. The use of TRLs enables consistent, uniform, discussions of technical maturity across different types of technology.

Patent Grading Report

Patent Grading Report

The Grading Patents Report evaluates and grades US patents

Sample Buy from Wisdomain


Current status

EP Patent


Available for

licensing, assignment, partnership for R&D projects


S. Ruggeri, I. Fassi, G. Fontana, C. Pagano, G. Legnani, CNR - Institute of Industrial Technologies and Automation (ITIA)


Case manager: Silvia Cella

EU-Japan Centre
European CommissionMeti