Shape Memory Alloys (SMA’s) are known as actuators with very high energy density. This fact allows for the construction of very light weight and energy-efficient systems. In the field of material handling and automated assembly process, the avoidance of big moments of inertia in robots and kinematic units is essential. High inertial forces require bigger and stronger robot actuators and thus higher energy consumption and costs. For material handling in assembly processes, many different individual grippers for various work piece geometries are used. If one robot has to handle different work pieces, the gripper has to be exchanged and the assembly process is interrupted, which results in higher costs. In this paper, the advantages of using high energy density Shape Memory Alloy actuators in applications of material-handling and gripping-technology are explored. In particular, light-weight SMA actuated prototypes of an adaptive end-effector and a vacuum-gripper are constructed via rapid-prototyping and evaluated. The adaptive end-effector can change its configuration according to the work piece geometry and allows the handling of multiple different shaped objects without exchanging gripper tooling. SMA wires are used to move four independent arms, each arm adds one degree of freedom to the kinematic unit. At the tips of these end-effector arms, SMA-activated suction cups can be installed. The suction cup prototypes are developed separately. The flexible membranes of these suction cups are pulled up by SMA wires and thus a vacuum is created between the membrane and the work piece surface. The self-sensing ability of the SMA wires are used in both prototypes for monitoring their actuation.