By 2019, more than 1.4 million new industrial robots will be installed in factories around the world—that’s the latest forecast from the International Federation of Robotics (IFR).
“Automation is a central competitive factor for traditional manufacturing groups, but is also becoming increasingly important for small- and medium-sized enterprises around the world,” says Joe Gemma, IFR president and chief regional officer of KUKA Robotics Corp.
The worldwide population of industrial is expected to total 2.6 million by 2019. Some 70 percent of those will be employed in the automotive, electronics, metal and machinery industries.
The USA is currently the fourth largest market for industrial robots in the world. With a stable economic situation, North America is expected to see average annual growth of 5 to 10 percent in robot sales from 2016 to 2019.
It’s hardly surprising, then, that The ASSEMBLY Show played host to more than 30 suppliers of robots and robotic accessories. The following are some of the robotic technology that were seen on the show floor.
EPSON Robots has added three new models to its lineup of SCARA robots: the LS20, LS6-500 and LS6-700.
Built to carry heavy objects at high speeds, the LS20 can carry a maximum payload of 20 kilograms and is available in arm lengths of 800 and 1,000 millimeters. Both arm lengths feature a 420-millimeter Z-Axis length. Notable features include high-speed cycle times; superior acceleration and deceleration rates with smooth start and stop motion; and reduced vibration due to EPSON’s QMEMS vibration-sensing technology. The robot is ideal for applications that require a longer reach, larger payload or increased tooling size, such as heavy parts assembly, material handling, large-area dispensing, and packaging.
The LS6-500 features 500 millimeters of reach, and the LS6-700 features 700 millimeters of reach. Both can carry a maximum payload of 6 kilograms.
All LS-Series robots come with EPSON’s user-friendly RC90 controller. The RC+ 7.0 development software features a multitude of options, including vision guidance; DeviceNet, Profibus, EtherCat, Microsoft .NET support; and GUI builder. The robots are available in standard and ISO 4 clean room models.
ATI Industrial Automation offers a variety of robotic peripheral equipment, including tool changers, multiaxis force and torque sensing systems, utility couplers, deburring tools, collision sensors, and compliance devices.
Compliance devices allow lateral and pivoting movement in multiple directions. These devices allow robots to reliably grip or route workpieces even if the parts are severely misaligned. The LCC and PCC compliance devices provide high endurance, high repeatability and high moment loads.
Three new tool changers will be on display: the QC-160 for 200-kilogram robots, the QC-18 electrically actuated unit, and the QC-001 micro tool changer for high-speed delta robots. These devices allow robots to automatically exchange end-effectors or other peripheral tooling. The devices function reliably for millions of cycles at rated load while maintaining high repeatability.
Utility couplers can be manually coupled and uncoupled quickly. They are used in applications where there is a need to quickly connect utilities, such as air, fluid, power and electrical signals in docking and fixturing operations.
ATI Industrial Automation
Six-Axis Robot for Foundry Applications
The IRB 1200 Foundry Plus 2 is a compact six-axis robot for precision die-casting processes, such as those for smartphone cases and other electrical components. The robot withstands harsh environments and meets the requirements for IP66 and IP67 protection, meaning that the robot’s electrical compartments are sealed against liquid and solid contaminants. The robot resists corrosion and can withstand high-pressure steam washing.
The robot comes in two variants. The 700-millimeter reach variant can carry a payload of 7 kilograms, while the 900-millimeter reach variant can carry a payload of 5 kilograms. The robot is also available with clean room protection.
Modular Vacuum Gripper
The MVG modular vacuum gripper can be configured to adapt to any application. Engineers can customize the gripper’s size; vacuum generators; gripping interfaces (shape, materials); and vacuum level control (electronic vacuum switch or vacuum gauge).
The gripper allows the creation of multiple independent gripping zones, which allows engineers to optimize vacuum management. This “multi-zoning” is particularly useful for staggered gripping and releasing, handling objects of different formats, or optimization of palletizing layers. The gripper’s high degree of adaptability enables engineers to deal with most handling situations without having to install several grippers together.
Coval Vacuum Technology Inc.
Like all of this company’s AGVs, Super NSI models follow a magnetic tape guide path. However, this series is unique in three ways. First, they travel limited distances off the guide path. Second, they can be programmed to spin right or left up to 240 degrees. Third, they move in reverse and feature a rear custom hitch that interlocks with the tongue of a platform cart. A built-in proximity sensor verifies when the hitch properly engages the cart’s tongue. Payload capacity for all models is 2,000 pounds. Other standard features include 50-course programming and RFID functionality for command and traffic control.
Compact Delta Robot
The M-1iA family of intelligent “genkotsu” robots are lightweight, compact parallel-link robots for small part handling, high-speed picking, packing, kitting and assembly applications. The robot is easy to learn and easy to integrate into assembly lines.
The family includes the M-1iA/0.5A six-axis model; the M-1i A/0.5S and the M-1iA/0.5SL four-axis models; and the M-1iA/1H three-axis model. The unique parallel-link structure provides higher speeds and accuracy compared to traditional handling robots. The robots operate with FANUC’s latest integrated intelligent functions, such as iRVision, force sensing and Robot Link. The latter controls and coordinates up to ten robots through a network exchange of robot positional data.
The robots are lightweight: 12 kilograms for the three-axis model; 14 kilograms for four-axis model; and 17 kilograms for the six-axis model. The six-axis design enables part feeding from the sides of a work zone, increasing the useable workspace. Multiple installation orientations accommodate a wide range of work areas.
FANUC America Corp.
Dual-Arm SCARA Robot
A preferred integrator for Kawasaki Robotics and other leading robot manufacturers, this company will showcase the recently launched Kawasaki duAro dual-arm SCARA robot. The robot safely collaborates with humans in work operations, and is flexible enough to use on production lines with short product cycles and frequent changeovers. It has a payload capacity of 2 kilograms per arm and a single-axis configuration that enables it to perform coordinated, human-like arm movements. This capability makes it ideal for assembly, material handling, machine tending and dispensing applications.
Desktop Selective Soldering Robot
The UNIX 410S desktop selective soldering robot is available with a high-precision feeder, offering a 15 percent improvement in speed. It feeds solder wire from 0.5 to 1.2 millimeters diameter. An optional feeder can handle wire 0.2 millimeter in diameter.
Four models are available, with work areas ranging from 200 by 200 millimeters to 510 by 510 millimeters. All are available with many options, such as a clean-cut feeder, an XYZ tip-correction mechanism, machine vision, tip cleaner, fume extractor, residual solder sensor, wire preheater, nitrogen generator for lead-free applications, and a locking mechanism for the feeder.
One head can perform both point-to-point and line soldering. Solid-core solder tips with 0.5 millimeter of plating retain heat from point to point. The tip can be changed in 30 seconds by removing the heater block assembly. A 200-watt cross heater with built-in thermocouple is standard; a 300-watt unit is optional. A graduated angle setter with tooling pins accurately reproduces solder feed position when changing programs. Tip temperature can be set as high as 450 C.
The robot path, speed and all soldering conditions can be programmed through the teach pendant. Alarms sound if the robot runs out of solder, the solder wire jams, or the heater control malfunctions.
Pair of Small Robots
Both the Racer5-0.63 and 5-0.8 robots are small enough to use in restricted-space applications, including handling, assembly and pick and place. The robots feature the company’s Racer3 technological platform and are operated by the R1C controller, which is rack mounted and integrates into a single cabinet. Model 5-0.63 has a reach of 630 millimeters,
and the 5-0.8 an extended reach of 809 millimeters. Each model is rated for a 5-kilogram payload. OpenRobotics versions are available that directly integrate into an automated machine or assembly line using technology from B&R Industrial Automation Inc.
High-Speed Gantry Robot
The highly dynamic EXCH gantry robot is 30 percent faster than conventional Cartesian handling systems. The robot is ideal for dynamic assembly operations in which small and light mass-produced articles need to be positioned quickly and flexibly.
The robot covers the working space of two SCARA robots, and its rectangular working area is significantly larger than that of delta robots. The robot is very flat. It has a low center of gravity and a simpler frame than high-speed delta robots. Its optimized acceleration and braking characteristics enable an accuracy of 0.1 mm during suction pick-up and gripping.
The H-gantry has a speed of 5 meters per second and achieves acceleration rates of 50 meters per second squared, thanks to a design that connects both toothed-belt axes to the cross member with a single rotating toothed belt around the drive shaft. The belt is driven by two servomotors. An added benefit is that there is no need to move a motor in the XY plane, which has two degrees of freedom. This reduced mass facilitates fast, dynamic motion and results in less wear.
Gripper Combines Electric, Pneumatic Actuatation
With its combined electro-pneumatic operation, the hybrid parallel gripper unites the benefits of two drive systems: speedy servo-driven positioning and reliable pneumatic gripping.
The integrated servo motor allows strokes to be freely programmed, so that tools of different sizes can be managed. This minimizes the cycle times due to exact gripper jaw prepositioning. The gripping force is applied pneumatically. The gripper securely handles sensitive workpieces weighing up to 80 kilograms. Continuous regular operation of the servomotor is not necessary thanks to pneumatics, which protects the motor and reduces energy costs.
Because the gripper’s servomotor is integrated into the robot control as an additional axis, the robot can communicate with the gripper. This guarantees speedy and simple interaction. With accessories, the hybrid parallel gripper can also be used for measurement and inspection tasks.
Universal Gripper Handles Different Workpieces
The FXP and FMP vacuum grippers provide maximum flexibility for automated handling processes. These universal grippers make it possible to automate palletizing, depalletizing, order picking and sorting of varied goods with only one gripper. The grippers can handle workpieces made from varied materials, such as cardboard, wood, metal and plastic, with and without cut-outs.
The grippers generate 86 percent higher suction force, on average, than comparable grippers. They can handle workpieces wider than 20 millimeters, regardless of material, geometry, surface and position. Optimization of the flow ensures that energy is used more efficiently, which reduces operating costs. The grippers are quiet, with a sound level of only 74 decibels.
Digitally Controlled Gripper
The PGN-Plus-E and PGN-Plus P are digitally controlled, mechatronic grippers.
The PGN-plus-E features multi-tooth guidance for higher moment capacity, a continuous lubrication pocket in the guide contour, and wedge-hook kinematics with high-surface coverage in all stroke positions. The gripper is powered by a brushless DC servomotor, which ensures high process stability and a long service life.
With an identical mounting pattern to its pneumatic counterpart, the 24-volt gripper is easily controlled by digital I/O. Up to two gripping positions can also be monitored by means of an additional M8 standard connection. The required control and power electronics are already fully integrated into the compact module, so no additional space is needed in the control cabinet.
With the PGN-Plus-P, permanent lubrication is provided through continuous lubrication pockets in the guidance. For short strokes in particular, this design ensures quick and even distribution of the lubricant, making the gripper nearly maintenance-free and considerably extending its service life.
This gripper also has an enlarged drive piston area, which increases grip force so that higher workpiece weights can be handled. In addition to the larger piston, the wedge drive mechanism has been redesigned for lower friction and greater surface area which transmits more energy to the jaws creating even more grip force than previous generations.
The TX2 six-axis robot is fast and precise. Its enclosed structure makes it easy to clean and use in clean or hostile environments. Its rigid structure provides better dynamic performance. Multiple mounting configurations give engineers flexibility in cell design. A unique gear reduction system ensures precision, flexibility, speed and less maintenance. The robot is rated at IP65 (the wrist is rated at IP67). I/O and Ethernet connections are located on the robot’s forearm.
Maximum payload is 2.3 kilograms. Maximum reach is 515 millimeters. Repeatability is ±0.02 millimeter.